Microsoft Announces New Version of Azure Stack HCI Service
What is Azure Stack HCI? What are the Updates in the New Version?
Microsoft says that Azure Stack HCI is a new hyper-converged infrastructure operating system delivered as an Azure service providing the latest and up to date security, performance, and feature updates. It runs on virtualized Windows and Linux workloads in a hybrid on-premises environment. This includes a minimal local user interface and is designed for remote management. It is useful for people who are not able to run Azure inside their own or partners’ data centers but want to access Azure’ services. Launched on March 26, 2019, Microsoft characterizes it as an “evolution of Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions previously available from its various hardware partners.” WSSD is a certification program where hardware vendors can certify hardware to run in an optimal configuration Hyper-V and Storage Spaces Direct. Azure Stack HCI runs on standard x86 servers and uses commodity hardware components for its storage and computing. This week, Microsoft announced the release of a new version of Azure Stack HCI version 20H2. This is a new operating system that is now in Public Preview.
At its core, it has validated hardware from an OEM partner, an operating system, Windows Admin Center, Azure services. Through this, one can avail Azure features like Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Monitor, Azure Update Management, Azure Security Center, Azure Network Adapter, and Azure Cloud Witness. Basically, Azure Stack HCI is a rebranding of Windows Server 2019 configured on a minimum of two systems running Storage Spaces Direct (S2D). S2D is software-defined storage Microsoft first introduced with Windows Server 2016. To connect it with Azure, one needs to have a VPN connection or Microsoft’s ExpressRoute. One of the main management tools for Azure Stack HCI is the Windows Admin Center portal, which is a comparatively new GUI tool developed as the potential successor to Remote Server Administration Tools, Microsoft Management Console, and Server Manager. But users can also use the Azure Portal with the new preview product to view all hyper-converged clusters, alongside the Azure services they might use.
The new version 20H2, allows customers to run Azure Stack HCI on their own hardware if it matches Microsoft’s validated node solution. It offers the possibility to manage multiple clusters and VMs running on Azure Stack HCI using Azure Arc, Microsoft’s multi-cloud management offering. It contains a new deployment wizard and stretches Cluster for disaster recovery. Moreover, another update is, it has free Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2008 virtual machines. Other updates include faster Storage Spaces resync, synchronous and asynchronous storage replication, encryption, site-local resiliency, automatic VM failover, and full-stack updates.
Microsoft sites, Azure Stack HCI, can provide industry-best performance for SQL Server databases and other performance-sensitive virtualized workloads that require millions of storage IOPS or database transactions per second, offering consistently low latency with NVMe SSDs, a robust RDMA stack, and persistent memory. It works perfectly with existing data center processes and tools such as Microsoft System Center, Active Directory, Group Policy, and PowerShell scripting. Plus, because of its flexible and broad ecosystem, Azure Stack HCI empowers IT professionals the flexibility they need to build a solution that best meets their needs.