Azure Stack as we know it since 2017, is an appliance you can buy from a hardware vendor and includes support. You choose a size and roll it into your datacenter. You consume a cloud that is consistent with Azure. Microsoft manages the software, the vendor the hardware. Users just operate it as an appliance.
Azure Stack allows the user to have a subset of Azure services running in their own datacenters. As with all the other edge devices which are meant to transfer data to Azure eventually, Azure Stack delivers on the same lines. Its bigger than a databox and definitely has more computing power. Imagine having an autonomous driving car like Tesla having data about the environment and a 5G that can connect these cars to a farm of distributed services running on Azure Stacks that are deployed at 5G antennas in the country. Services running on Azure Stack will allow communications to vehicles and, because of the intense compute power available, generalize and upload the data to Azure Storage for big data analysis. The ‘service’ the car connects to will have redundant endpoints to provide high availability.
Azure Services can manage it all. Security Center & AAD for security and identity across edge and cloud. A unified management experience and the Partner Eco system for reselling / co-selling.
The possible pitfall for Azure Stack
Azure is providing really good HA/DR solutions to serve the current customers and enterprises, but this needs to be more value add in Azure Stack. AWS announced AWS Outpost when Microsoft told the world they needed PaaS. It turned out the world wanted stateful virtual machines more than PAAS. AWS offered this and thus they won the first battle. Today a lot of customers still want this and demand the same in Azure Stack. Microsoft should not lose focus on the current ask. Otherwise AWS may gain enterprise market. An advantage of Azure Stack is that it can run fully disconnected while AWS Outpost does not. Where as in Cloud native, to gain the advantage we do need more and more Service offering in Azure Stack. Enterprises want control over cloud and to transform at their own pace.