Public cloud offers a wide range of benefits to customers, including a cost-effective, consumption-based pricing model, vertical and horizontal scalability, elasticity, global presence, reliability, and security. While these benefits drive the increasing pace of cloud adoption, on-premises computing still represents a significant portion of the overall Information Technology landscape. Hosting resources in an on-premises datacenter is sometimes mandatory because of technical, regulatory, or compliance requirements. There is also a psychological aspect that hinders migrations to cloud, because it constitutes a significant departure from the traditional operating model that many customers are comfortable with. In addition, there are also scenarios in which a highly optimized on-premises infrastructure might be more cost-effective than a public cloud.

This module introduces you to the Azure Stack portfolio and describes basic architecture, core capabilities, and primary use cases of its products. You'll also learn about differences and similarities between Azure Stack HCI, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and Azure.


Contoso, Ltd. is a medium-size financial-services company with its headquarters in New York and a research facility in Dallas. It’s currently operating almost entirely on-premises, with the majority of its compute environment running on either Windows Server operating system or one of several Linux distributions. Its internal IT staff is well versed in Microsoft technologies, including its virtualization and software-defined datacenter offerings.

In recent months, as part of datacenter consolidation and modernization initiatives, Contoso IT migrated some of its applications to a range of Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) services. However, several highly regulated workloads will have to remain in the New York's on-premises datacenter.

Two of these workloads present a particular challenge because of their performance and resiliency requirements. The first workload is a two-tier Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) application of the Contoso’s loan-origination department. The application's PHP-based front-end tier runs on a pair of clustered Linux Ubuntu 18.04 servers, while its back-end tier consists of MySQL databases. The second workload is a yet-to-be implemented, isolated Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) farm for users in Contoso’s investment banking department, which is supposed to replace an aging Windows Server 2012 R2–based Remote Desktop Services (RDS) deployment.

Another workload that remains on-premises but presents operational challenges is a research application that leverages Machine Learning to process and analyze customer data and uploads it to Azure storage for long-term archival. The current process relies on a legacy code to scrub data to minimize the potential for exposing personal data, but unfortunately its accuracy and efficiency does not meet regulatory requirements.

Contoso’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) realizes that modernizing these workloads will require additional hardware investment, but before they commit the necessary funding they want to verify that the extra expense will help the IT organization deliver a modern technological solution and accelerate the datacenter-consolidation initiative. They also want to ensure that the new implementation will not only promote a consistent management approach that leverages existing IT skills, but also, whenever possible, promote transition to the managed services model. That approach should include integration with the cloud services from which Contoso is already benefiting, such as Azure Monitor. It’s also critical that the new solution provides multiple levels of availability and resiliency, protecting from localized failures and facilitating disaster recovery.

IT management has started its search for a solution that would satisfy these requirements. Your role, as the lead system engineer, is to assist with identifying the most viable candidate. To choose the optimal Microsoft-provided platform for your workloads, you need to understand the options available to you, their capabilities, and the corresponding intended usage scenarios. With increasing integration, the differences between public clouds, private clouds, and traditional on-premises operational models are less pronounced, which makes your task more challenging.

Learning objectives

After completing this module, you'll be able to:

  • Describe the Azure Stack portfolio.
  • Describe basic architecture, core capabilities, and primary use cases of Azure Stack Hub.
  • Describe basic architecture, core capabilities, and primary use cases of Azure Stack HCI.
  • Describe basic architecture, core capabilities, and primary use cases of Azure Stack Edge.


In order to get the best learning experience from this module, you should have the basic knowledge of, and experience with, the following:

  • Azure
  • Window Server software-defined storage
  • Windows Server software-defined networking
  • IoT technologies