Howard on HCI: DataON & Microsoft are Starting a New Era with Azure Stack HCI!

Last Thursday Microsoft announced the general availability of Azure Stack HCI, the new subscription service for hyper-converged infrastructure from Microsoft Azure. It’s the next step in the evolution of software-defined infrastructure from Microsoft, bringing together the familiarity and flexibility of on-premises virtualization with powerful new hybrid capabilities. It’s come a long way from the early days of Storage Spaces and Storage Spaces Direct. To complement Azure Stack HCI, DataON has also announced integrated systems for Azure Stack HCI and MUST Pro. They are part of the complete Azure Stack HCI ecosystem from DataON, designed to simplify your entire HCI experience.

Here’s a summary of these announcements and what they’ll mean for you.

General availability of the new Azure Stack HCI Azure Stack HCI fans have been waiting for the general availability of Azure Stack HCI since Microsoft’s announcement in July! It’s now a standalone operating system and separate from Windows Server, focused on being the best virtualization host with Hyper-V.  It’s now delivered as an Azure hybrid service and you’re charged only $10 per month per physical processor core, and on the same bill with any Azure services that you already consume. As part of this new subscription service model, all features updates are included!

You can use Azure Stack HCI in a number of scenarios:

  • Modernize your data center and retire legacy SANs
  • Industry-best two-node solution for branch office, retail, and edge
  • Superior hybrid cloud integration and convenience for Azure customers
  • General-purpose platform for any application
  • Industry-best performance for SQL Server databases
  • Virtual desktops with edge-local access
  • Tightly integrated Kubernetes

Also, Gartner released its Magic Quadrant for Hyperconverged Infrastructure this month. For the fourth time in a row, Microsoft was named a Visionary! In fact, Microsoft is the only vendor to be named a Visionary since 2018. Here’s what Gartner lists as strengths for Azure Stack HCI:

  • Microsoft provides organizations a comprehensive edge, core data center and cloud portfolio, with many common components and familiar management tools.
  • This product offers common management with the Azure Cloud Platform and the ability to use Azure cloud services, such as Azure Site replication, Azure Cloud backup and Azure Kubernetes.

Gartner also notes that the high expense for offerings from the Leaders in its Magic Quadrant and may not be the most cost-effective for scaled-down and edge deployments.

Check out the Microsoft blogs and resources for Azure Stack HCI:

You can also learn more about Azure Stack HCI at the DataON website.

New integrated systems for Azure Stack HCI – Integrated systems are a new offering for Azure Stack HCI adopters. They are designed to completely simplify your entire Azure Stack HCI experience, from hardware to software, from on-premises to cloud, from pre-deployment to post-deployment, from support to warranty services – EVERYTHING is included!

Start with choosing an integrated system configuration from a partner like DataON. DataON is one of first three Microsoft partners in the world to offer integrated systems and has all-flash and hybrid storage models with premium-level validation and certification from Microsoft and Intel. DataON will pre-install Azure Stack HCI, along with Windows Admin Center and DataON MUST & MUST Pro. The entire integrated system will be warranted for three years and cover both the hardware and the software! DataON deployment services are included, with deployment training, testing & benchmarking, project documentation, and more. Plus, you’ll get integrated support from both DataON and Microsoft, with the ability to warm transfer any support tickets.

 “As customers’ IT and business needs change, Microsoft and its partners continue to provide solutions that are robust and flexible. Microsoft is proud to have partners like DataON who have developed solutions for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI that meet the needs of customers who are shifting to hyper-converged infrastructure with hybrid capabilities to simplify infrastructure on-premises and take advantage of public cloud value.”

Talal Alginawi, Senior Director, Azure at Microsoft Corporation

You can learn more about DataON integrated systems for Azure Stack HCI on the DataON website and read our press release.

New DataON MUST Pro with cluster aware updatingDataON MUST Pro is a new extension for Windows Admin Center that is exclusive for DataON integrated systems for Azure Stack HCI. It leverages Microsoft’s cluster aware updating feature to simplify deployment and updates to Azure Stack HCI. MUST Pro compares your server nodes against the latest quarterly validated server component image baseline from Microsoft. It ensures that servers have the same OS version, drivers, firmware, BIOS, and BMC, and checks the drivers for network cards, host bus adapters, and SSD and HDD drives. With a single click, your entire cluster can be updated, keeping your system updated and secure against the latest server exploits. The best part is that all this happens with minimal disruptions to your system, in just a few minutes!

MUST Pro is complementary to DataON MUST, our original extension for Windows Admin Center. Included with all DataON solutions for Azure Stack HCI, MUST adds to the Windows Admin Center experience with enhanced disk mapping, alert services, and call home services.

Both MUST and MUST Pro are accessed through Windows Admin Center for complete monitoring and manageability from a single console.

I hope you’re as excited about the new Azure Stack HCI and integrated systems as I am.  Hyper-converged infrastructure AND hybrid cloud infrastructure has never been easier!