Microsoft's revealed that it will keep working on its first Azure-in-a-box product, Azure Pack, until 2022 and support it until 2027.
Azure Pack offers a cloud-like experience thanks to its use of the first-generation Azure GUI, but under the hood is Windows Server and System Center. The Pack can run on just about any x86 and storage you fancy.
The forthcoming Azure Stack, by contrast, will only work on specified and locked down hardware, will replicate the current Azure experience on-premises and is designed for users keen to hop aboard hyperconverged and hybrid cloud bandwagons.
Back to the Pack, which can now run Windows Server 2016 and will, Microsoft promises, “continue to evolve until 2022 and will be supported until 2027.” Redmond's not saying how much evolution is left in the platform, but does say it should be fit for use by service providers offering infrastructure-as-a-service.
The Register understands that Microsoft sales people have been given incentives that make it plain selling Azure is now the surest route to a fat pay packet and continued employment. We therefore imagine that the company won't exactly putting Azure Pack up in lights.
But the company is clearly willing to let its evolutionary-dead-end-of-a-cloud co-exist with its sleeker, more modern and adaptable cloud. There's also a hint of cross-breeding between the two evolutionary branches of Microsoft's on-premeises cloud, as the post announcing the lifecycle extension says “ Customers can choose Azure Pack offerings if they need to run their VMs in the external DC, and later they will be able to choose among many Azure Stack offerings if they need Azure capabilities from the local service provider.”
Microsoft has a third cloud-in-a-box, the Cloud Platform System, and has hinted it will be integrated with both Azure Pack and Azure Stack.®