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  • 4 min read

Deliver hybrid cloud capabilities with the next generation of Azure Stack HCI

Today, we’re delivering the next generation of Azure Stack HCI, an Azure service that combines the price-performance of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) with native Azure hybrid capabilities, all while letting enterprises leveraging existing skills.

Customers are increasingly moving their workloads to the cloud to save money, increase efficiency, and to innovate. At the same time, some workloads need to remain on-premises for compliance, latency, or other business and technical reasons. As organizations look for cost-effective solutions that bring hybrid capabilities to their datacenter while being able to use existing skills and investments, we are committed to giving them more choice and the best solution for their hybrid needs.

Customers have been using Azure Stack solutions to meet their hybrid needs across datacenters, remote offices, and edge locations. Customers have choice and flexibility for running hybrid applications with Azure Stack Hub that is Azure consistent and can be run connected or disconnected, high-performance virtualization on-premises with Azure Stack HCI or an Azure managed appliance that provides intelligent compute and artificial intelligence (AI) at the edge with Azure Stack Edge.

Today, we’re delivering the next generation of Azure Stack HCI, an Azure service that combines the price-performance of hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) with native Azure hybrid capabilities, all while letting enterprises leverage existing skills.

Azure stack video

Azure hybrid by design

The new Azure Stack HCI solution is an Azure service, giving customers the latest security, performance, and hybrid enhancements. It delivers an integrated management and operations experience with Azure allowing customers to manage Azure Stack HCI deployments and Azure resources, side-by-side, right from the Azure portal. Customers can monitor multiple clusters at scale and even view and manage virtual machines (VMs) running on Azure Stack HCI taking advantage of Azure Arc.

IT administrators can also use a new deployment wizard to quickly setup an Azure Stack HCI cluster and connect to Azure and take advantage of Azure Stack HCI native integration with core Azure services such as Azure Backup, Azure Security Center, and Azure Monitor, so customers can easily take advantage of Azure hybrid management capabilities.

Enterprise-scale and great price-performance

We give customers the flexibility to run small deployments, like remote and branch offices, or scale to datacenter grade deployments. The flexible per core subscription model enables customers to optimize cost based on their needs. For example, in a branch-office scenario, an 8 core server with less than 16 VMs, the upfront cost for Azure Stack HCI is 2.5 times less than other HCI solutions in market today.

In addition, the new Azure Stack HCI includes no cost Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows Server 2008 VMs running on it.

We want to help customers save money while delivering great performance. Early benchmarking shows Azure Stack HCI input/output operations per second (IOPs) in the 13 million+ range, and over one million requests/sec for TPC-c SQL server workloads—both in line with industry leading performance demonstrated with the first-generation Azure Stack HCI.

We also included new features, such as Stretch Cluster, which delivers native high availability (HA) and disaster recovery, so you can extend a cluster from a single site to multiple sites easily.

Familiar management and operations

IT teams can build on their knowledge and familiarity of Azure, Windows Server, and Hyper-V to run and operate Azure Stack HCI. Customers can use familiar tools such as Windows Server Admin Center or Azure portal to manage and monitor resources in your deployment. Management tasks are completely scriptable using the popular cross-platform Windows PowerShell framework.

Choice of hardware and deployment options

We are working with partners to bring Azure Stack HCI to a broad range of validated hardware solutions that meet our customer needs. These validated solutions are based on standardized reference architecture that are supported by Microsoft and our hardware partners.

To improve customer experience, we are bringing Azure Stack HCI integrated systems as a new purchasing option. Integrated systems offer an appliance-like deployment experience, for the quickest time-to-value with factory preinstalled bits enabling easy deployment, integrated updates across the full stack of firmware, drivers, agents, and the operating system, and many more unique capabilities.

Lenovo is one of the first partners that are bringing Azure Stack HCI integrated systems to market with their innovation on hardware and customer experience and we are truly excited with this partnership.

“Lenovo and Microsoft's long-time partnership continues to growtogether we are elevating our mutual customers’ experience by bringing Azure Stack HCI to our award-winning Server and Software-Defined portfolios, including our ThinkAgile MX1021 edge server platform. The combination of our technologies will further accelerate customers' modernization of their IT and journey to the hybrid cloud, leveraging hybrid capabilities with the seamless integration of Azure.” —Kamran Amini, Vice President and General Manager, Datacenter Infrastructure and Software-Defined Solutions, Lenovo Data Center Group

Intel is another partner that has long history of partnership with Microsoft, and investment in our mutual customers journey to the cloud and hybrid capabilities.

“We’re seeing an increased urgency for digital transformation, and technology is playing a critical role in helping customers find the resilience and reimagination required to navigate a time of disruption. Azure Stack HCI takes advantage of the latest technologies from Intel’s broad portfolio, so customers can quickly modernize their infrastructure. Customers can quickly adapt in a dynamic world and have cloud efficiency for on-premises workload, while getting the flexibility, performance, and scale they trust from Microsoft and Intel. —Jason Grebe, Corporate Vice President, General Manager, Cloud Enterprise Solutions Group at Intel

We are also offering the flexibility of running Azure Stack HCI on existing hardware if it matches our validated node solution. We believe this is an important new change for customers to get the most value out of their current hardware investment.

Modernize your datacenter

Azure Stack HCI can be used across a variety of use cases to modernize datacenters with high-density virtualization and storage. This is an ideal solution for organizations that want to reduce their datacenter costs especially for legacy hardware or SAN environments with modern hyperconverged infrastructure through both the savings in OPEX and efficiencies gained by centrally managing from Azure.

Banks, retail stores, factory floors, and edge locations can leverage the broad choices of hardware available from small systems to server class hardware to run solutions like virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or high performance SQL environments supported by a single control plane for fleet and cluster management through Azure.

Get started

We are excited about these big changes to Azure Stack HCI, and we want you to try it today. Visit Azure Stack HCI solutions and provide us with feedback while in preview to continue to bring you the best hybrid approach in the industry.