Five Cool Things about Stretched Clusters in Azure Stack HCI

System administrators go through great lengths to build a successful backup and disaster recovery (DR) strategy. Many are excited about the stretch cluster feature in the new Azure Stack HCI operating system, which enables them to stretch a cluster across a hyper-converged infrastructure and increase resiliency. Delivered as a service, Azure Stack HCI is a complete hybrid cloud, hyper-converged solution streamlined and optimized for virtualization.

Here are five cool things about stretched clusters in Azure Stack HCI.

1. Stretched clusters enable you to create active workload-balanced data centers

With stretch clusters, you can distribute a cluster across two rooms, two buildings, or two cities. This delivers better workload mobility, less downtime, disaster avoidance, and load balancing. Storage Replica replicates volumes across sites keeping all servers in sync. If a site goes down, automatic failover restores production quickly.

2. Creating stretched clusters are easy

Windows Admin Center has improved to look more like Azure Portal and is stacked with more features for Azure Stack HCI. Deploying a stretched cluster is easy and it can be completely configured, deployed, and managed in Windows Admin Center without using PowerShell.

Compared to Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica in Windows Server 2019, stretched clusters are much simpler and faster to configure. After creating a new cluster in Windows Admin Center, Azure Stack HCI can automatically create stretched cluster sites using AutoSites, which you can also choose to configure manually.

Using ClusterPerformanceHistory, Windows Admin Center can automatically set up storage replication. From there, you can setup a data volume, replicate a volume between sites, choose replication direction, and pick between asynchronous or synchronous replication mode. After which, you can select volume size, replication type, resiliency, and media—and you can do it all within a few minutes.

3. Failover clusters are automatic

If site A goes down in a stretched cluster, Azure Stack HCI automatically repurposes replicated drives as data drives to be utilized for Windows and VMs at site B. Then Azure Stack HCI automatically starts the VMs at site B, minimizing down time regardless if you or other administrators are present.

4. Recovery times are fast and efficient

Once site A hardware is repaired, you can use Storage Replica to restore quorum. Because Azure Stack HCI keeps a log file of the cluster, you only need to synchronize the data that was lost or corrupted on Site A. This ensures a much faster recovery.

5. You can use Azure to monitor and manage stretch clusters

Azure Stack HCI natively integrates with Azure. With its built-in hybrid capabilities, you can manage stretch clusters within Azure Resource Manager and see your complete hybrid architecture.

With Azure Stack HCI, there is no need for complex agents or scripts, everything is natively integrated. This saves you time and reduces the learning curve, especially when training new administrators who aren’t familiar with PowerShell.

If you’re looking for an Azure Stack HCI solution, DataON can help you.

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