Five Things about Microsoft Azure Stack HCI

If you’re planning to refresh aging hardware, consolidate virtualized workloads, and connect to Azure for hybrid cloud services, Azure Stack HCI is the right choice for you. Azure Stack HCI is a hybrid cloud solution built on validated partner hardware that includes virtualization (Hyper-V), software-defined storage (Storage Spaces Direct), and software-defined networking. It also has the flexibility of optional OS-integrated Azure services, such as offsite backup, site recovery, cloud-based monitoring, and more. Because it’s a Microsoft-validated solution, you can get up and running without lengthy design and build times

Here are five things you should know about Azure Stack HCI.

1. Azure Stack HCI is an all-in-one, complete hybrid cloud solution

With Microsoft’s Windows Server 2019 Datacenter license, you get a complete, virtualized software-defined hybrid cloud data center. That means you don’t have to pay for the hypervisor (Hyper-V), software-defined storage (Storage Spaces Direct) and software-defined networking as individual components, like you do with other vendors. These can cost up to 4x that of an Azure Stack HCI solution. And there are no tier-ups or upsells to unlock additional functionality.

Because Microsoft Azure services (optional) are OS-integrated and part of a validated Azure Stack HCI solution, you can move to the cloud seamlessly and quickly take advantage of Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, cloud witness, Azure Monitor, Azure Arc, and Update Management at any time.

Microsoft also has validated Azure Stack HCI with the most popular workloads. Whether you’ve running a production workload, branch office & edge, VDI, SQL Server, enterprise virtualization, or scale-out storage environment, you can be confident that your Azure Stack HCI solution’s configuration has been tested and validated. Look for the corresponding badge icons in the Azure Stack HCI catalog.

2. Azure Stack HCI offers flexible architecture
Whether for a large primary data center or a small ROBO deployment, Azure Stack HCI gives you the flexibility to start small and grow as your needs evolve. You can start as small as a two-node switchless solution and scale up to 16 nodes.

Azure Stack HCI is the only platform to support true 2- and 3-node switchless solutions, ideal for SMB, ROBO, edge and IoT environments. They feature superior performance, an affordable file witness (USB drive, local IT environment, or blob storage), and tolerance for multiple points of failure. Because the nodes are directly connected, you don’t need to buy a networking switch to connect the nodes, simplifying networking and saving money. If you need to scale beyond 2 or 3 nodes, you can add a switch and additional nodes.

3. Azure Stack HCI delivers unbeatable performance with incredible storage utilization and scale-out capability

Azure Stack HCI delivers superior and optimized software performance. It’s the only platform to offer a complete software stack from kernel, hypervisor, and guest OS, to applications like Microsoft SQL, Exchange and more. Azure Stack HCI also supports the latest technology, including Intel® Optane™ persistent memory and SSD cache for improved efficiency and lower latency.

In side-by-side comparisons, Azure Stack HCI beat VMware and Nutanix, two-to-one, with leading throughput up to 13.8M IOPS.

Deduplication and compression are now available for ReFS, Microsoft’s file system for Azure Stack HCI, enabling you to reclaim up to 90% of your storage for highly repetitive storage like ISO and VHDX backups.

But even with deduplication and compression, you can still run out of storage. With Azure Stack HCI, you can scale up to 400TB per node and 4PB per cluster.

Azure Stack HCI now features cluster sets, which allow you to scale out to hundreds of nodes without sacrificing resiliency. Choose two-way or three-way mirroring or mirror-accelerated parity for different levels of fault tolerance that will keep you up and running during multiple sources of failure.

4. Azure Stack HCI is secure

Security is on every administrator’s mind. Azure Stack HCI includes Windows-native BitLocker, enabling protection of entire volumes, end-to-end encryption of SMB data between the file server and clients. It also integrates Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, a unified platform that offers preventive protection and automated response. Azure Stack HCI provides encryption support for data deduplication and supports shielded VMs to protect against a compromised virtualization fabric.

5. Azure Stack HCI simplifies Windows Server, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), and hybrid cloud management with Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center is a free browser-based app that allows you to manage and monitor all your Windows Server environments, HCI and hybrid cloud from a single GUI console. You can use it anywhere: on-premises, in Azure or in the cloud. Windows Admin Center streamlines management and provides extensive visibility for VMs, Storage Spaces Direct volumes, SDN, Azure services, and more. It supports 3rd party extensions, including DataON MUST. MUST adds functionality to Windows Admin Center, including disk mapping, historical data reporting, system alerts, call-home service, and Azure deployment.

If you’re in the market for a data center refresh or looking to add ROBO, edge or IoT deployments to your infrastructure, DataON has a high-performance Azure Stack HCI solution for you.

Read our customer stories and see how our solutions for Azure Stack HCI have helped small, medium and enterprise sized customers succeed in their IT goals.

Contact us for a detailed consultation with our sales team and we can help turn your IT challenge into a success.