Azure Stack administration basics
Applies to: Azure Stack integrated systems and Azure Stack Development Kit
There are several things you need to know if you're new to Azure Stack administration. This guidance provides an overview of your role as an Azure Stack operator, and what you need to tell your users for them to become productive quickly.
Understand the builds
If you're using an Azure Stack integrated system, updated versions of Azure Stack are distributed through update packages. You can import these packages and apply them by using the Updates tile in the administrator portal.
If you're using the Azure Stack Development Kit, review the What is Azure Stack? article to make sure you understand the purpose of the development kit, and its limitations. You should use the development kit as a "sandbox," where you can evaluate Azure Stack, and develop and test your apps in a non-production environment. (For deployment information, see the Azure Stack Development Kit deployment quickstart.)
Like Azure, we innovate rapidly. We'll regularly release new builds. If you're running the development kit 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 development kit 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.
By default, Azure Stack includes the following "foundational services" when you deploy Azure Stack:
- Key Vault
With these foundational services, you can offer Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to your users with minimal configuration.
Currently, we support the following additional Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) services:
- App Service
- Azure Functions
- SQL and MySQL databases
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.
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 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. You must install PowerShell, download additional modules, and configure PowerShell.
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 should 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. You must 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, such as virtual machine images. The easiest way is to download marketplace items from Azure to Azure Stack.
If you want to test your plans, offers, and services, you should use the user portal; not the administrator portal.
In addition to providing services, you must perform all the regular duties of an operator to keep Azure Stack up and running. These duties include the following:
- Add user accounts (for Azure Active Directory deployment or for Active Directory Federation Services deployment)
- Assign role-based access control (RBAC) roles (This is not restricted to administrators.)
- Monitor infrastructure health
- Manage network and storage resources
- Replace bad hardware, for example Replace a failed disk.
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:
- Key considerations: Using services or building apps for Azure Stack
- Considerations for Virtual Machines in Azure Stack
- Storage: differences and considerations
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 a development kit environment, if a user doesn't have Remote Desktop access to the development kit host, they must configure a virtual private network (VPN) connection before they can access 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 such as 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 access services, they must subscribe to an offer that you've created as an operator.
Where to get support
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 click the Help and support icon (question mark) in the upper-right corner of the administrator portal, and then click New support request, this opens a site where you can directly open a support request.
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.
For the development kit, you can ask support-related questions in the Microsoft forums. If you click the Help and support icon (question mark) in the upper-right corner of the administrator portal, and then click New support request, this opens the forums site directly. These forums are regularly monitored. Because the development kit is an evaluation environment, there is no official support offered through Microsoft CSS.