Azure Stack administration basics

If you're new to Azure Stack administration, there are several things you need to know. This article provides an overview of your role as an Azure Stack operator, and what you need to tell your users so you can help them become productive.

Understand the builds

Integrated systems

If you're using an Azure Stack integrated system, update packages distribute updated versions of Azure Stack. You can import these packages and apply them by using the Updates tile in the administrator portal.

Development kit

If you're using the Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK), review What is Azure Stack? to learn the purpose of the ASDK, and its limitations. You can use the ASDK as a sandbox, where you can evaluate Azure Stack, and develop and test your apps in a non-production environment. For deployment information, see Azure Stack Development Kit deployment.

Like Azure, we innovate rapidly. We'll regularly release new builds. If you're running the ASDK and you want to move to the latest build, you must redeploy Azure Stack. You cannot apply update packages. This process takes time, but the benefit is that you can try out the latest features. The ASDK documentation on our website reflects the latest release build.

Learn about available services

You'll need an awareness of which services you can make available to your users. Azure Stack supports a subset of Azure services. The list of supported services will continue to evolve.

Foundational services

By default, Azure Stack includes the following "foundational services" when you deploy Azure Stack:

  • Compute
  • Storage
  • Networking
  • Key Vault

With these foundational services, you can offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to your users with minimal configuration.

Additional services

Currently, we support the following additional Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) services:

  • App Service
  • Azure Functions
  • SQL and MySQL databases
  • Kubernetes (in preview)

These services require additional configuration before you can make them available to your users. For more information, see the "Tutorials" and the "How-to guides\Offer services" sections of our Azure Stack operator documentation.

Service roadmap

Azure Stack will continue to add support for Azure services. For the projected roadmap, see the Azure Stack: An extension of Azure whitepaper. You can also monitor the Azure Stack blog posts for new announcements.

What account should I use?

There are a few account considerations to be aware of when managing Azure Stack. Especially in deployments using Windows Server Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) as the identity provider instead of Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). The following account considerations apply to both Azure Stack integrated systems and ASDK deployments:

Account Azure AD AD FS
Local Administrator (.\Administrator) ASDK host administrator ASDK host administrator
AzureStack\AzureStackAdmin ASDK host administrator

Can be used to sign in to the Azure Stack administration portal

Access to view and administer Service Fabric rings
ASDK host administrator

No access to the Azure Stack administration portal

Access to view and administer Service Fabric rings

No longer owner of the Default Provider Subscription (DPS)
AzureStack\CloudAdmin Can access and run permitted commands within the Privileged Endpoint Can access and run permitted commands within the Privileged Endpoint

Can't sign in to the ASDK host

Owner of the Default Provider Subscription (DPS)
Azure AD Global Administrator Used during installation

Owner of the Default Provider Subscription (DPS)
Not applicable

What tools do I use to manage?

You can use the administrator portal or PowerShell to manage Azure Stack. The easiest way to learn the basic concepts is through the portal. If you want to use PowerShell, there are preparation steps. Before you get started, you might want to get familiar with how PowerShell is used on Azure Stack. For more information, see Get started with PowerShell on Azure Stack.

Azure Stack uses Azure Resource Manager as its underlying deployment, management, and organization mechanism. If you're going to manage Azure Stack and help support users, you can learn about Resource Manager. See the Getting Started with Azure Resource Manager whitepaper.

Your typical responsibilities

Your users want to use services. From their perspective, your main role is to make these services available to them. Decide which services to offer, and make those services available by creating plans, offers, and quotas. For more information, see Overview of offering services in Azure Stack.

You'll also need to add items to the marketplace, like as virtual machine images. The easiest way is to download marketplace items from Azure to Azure Stack.

Note

If you want to test your plans, offers, and services, you can use the user portal; not the administrator portal.

In addition to providing services, you must do the regular duties of an operator to keep Azure Stack up and running. These duties include the following:

What to tell your users

You'll need to let your users know how to work with services in Azure Stack, how to connect to the environment, and how to subscribe to offers. Besides any custom documentation that you may want to provide your users, you can direct users to the Azure Stack Users Documentation site.

Understand how to work with services in Azure Stack

There's information your users must understand before they use services and build apps in Azure Stack. For example, there are specific PowerShell and API version requirements. Also, there are some feature deltas between a service in Azure and the equivalent service in Azure Stack. Make sure that your users review the following articles:

The information in these articles summarizes the differences between a service in Azure and Azure Stack. It supplements the information that's available for an Azure service in the global Azure documentation.

Connect to Azure Stack as a user

In an ASDK environment, if a user doesn't use Remote Desktop to connect to the ASDK host, they can configure a virtual private network (VPN) connection to connect to Azure Stack. See Connect to Azure Stack.

Your users will want to know how to access the user portal or how to connect through PowerShell. In an integrated systems environment, the user portal address varies per deployment. You'll need to provide your users with the correct URL.

If using PowerShell, users may have to register resource providers before they can use services. (A resource provider manages a service. For example, the networking resource provider manages resources like virtual networks, network interfaces, and load balancers.) They must install PowerShell, download additional modules, and configure PowerShell (which includes resource provider registration).

Subscribe to an offer

Before a user can use services, they must subscribe to an offer that you've created as an operator.

Where to get support

Note

To find support information for earlier releases of Azure Stack (pre-1905), see Help and Support for earlier releases Azure Stack (pre-1905).

Integrated systems

For an integrated system, there is a coordinated escalation and resolution process between Microsoft and our original equipment manufacturer (OEM) hardware partners.

If there is a cloud services issue, support is offered through Microsoft Customer Support Services (CSS). If you select the Help and support icon (question mark) in the upper-right corner of the administrator portal, and then select Help + support and then select New support request under the Support section. Open a support request.

If there is an issue with deployment, patch and update, hardware (including field replaceable units), and any hardware-branded software, like software running on the hardware lifecycle host, contact your OEM hardware vendor first.

If there is an issue with deployment, patch and update, hardware (including field replaceable units), and any hardware-branded software, such as software running on the hardware lifecycle host, contact your OEM hardware vendor first. For anything else, contact Microsoft CSS.

Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK)

For the ASDK, you can ask support-related questions in the Microsoft forums. If you select the Help and support icon (question mark) in the upper-right corner of the administrator portal, and then select Help + support and then select MSDN Forums under the Support section. The forum site opens. These forums are regularly monitored. Because the ASDK is an evaluation environment, there is no official support offered through Microsoft CSS.

Next steps

Region management in Azure Stack