What's the difference between express and distributed deployments of Windows Azure Pack? Where should I use each...
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There are two modes to deploy Windows Azure Pack: express mode and distributed mode. Although there are similarities, the purpose of each mode is distinctly different.
The express deployment is capable of installing Windows Azure Pack components on one system using the Web Platform Installer. The advantage of having an express deployment is its simplicity and limited hardware commitment. It's an ideal case for testing or doing proof-of-concepts deployments in a low-traffic lab setting, but do not use express deployments for production. As a rule, it's a good idea to also provision at least one optional service, such as Web Sites or virtual machines (VMs), to another machine to actually test the behaviors of Windows Azure Pack in a lab.
By comparison, Windows Azure Pack is intended for a distributed deployment -- spreading a variety of components across multiple systems or VMs -- so the distributed deployment is intended for production. There is no rule for combining VMs on physical servers, so virtualized systems may need a decent amount of performance tuning and workload balancing to optimize how you install Windows Azure Pack. Don't overlook the need to protect the install with snapshots or backups.
Once an organization has mastered virtualization, the next step is increasingly to take advantage of cloud computing -- bringing in self-service, automation, virtual machines and other capabilities to the organization. Windows Azure Pack builds on existing Microsoft infrastructure, such as Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center, to enable services for organizations seeking to serve as cloud providers. But if you deploy Windows Azure Pack, remember that the move demands ample proof-of-principle testing and evaluation to ensure adequate stability, performance and integrity for the business and its end users.
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