by Adam Armstrong

Microsoft Expands Azure Stack With Edge & HCI Solutions

Today at Sync, Microsoft announced new solutions to its Microsoft Azure Stack. Microsoft is adding hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions to Azure Stack both addressing a customer need. The company also released its Azure Data Box Edge, an appliance with edge compute and network capabilities. 

As we said around the launch of Azure Stack, Microsoft Azure offers several benefits from its tight integration with other Microsoft products to high reliability and strong support. Azure Stack can take some of the benefits of Azure and extend them to on-premises. Companies can work on applications and processes and have them transferable between Azure and Azure Stack. Azure Stack allows for IaaS and PaaS services to be ran on-premises. This bolsters the need for hybrid cloud adoption and allows applications to be more easily moved. Azure Stack is delivered through integrated systems that are designed to continuously incorporate Azure innovation in a predictable, non-disruptive manner. Since its release, the hybrid approach has grown even more popular. 

Azure Stack has expanded its offerings to broaden its customer base. Knowing that customers need to run virtualized applications in their own infrastructure, Microsoft rolled out its Azure Stack HCI Solutions. Microsoft has brought its existing HCI technology to Azure Stack to let customers run virtualized applications in a manner they are familiar with while lowering costs and improving performance. With Azure Stack HCI solutions admins can use Windows Admin Center to integrate to several Azure solutions including:

  • Azure Site Recovery for high availability and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). 
  • Azure Monitor, a centralized hub to track what’s happening across applications, network and infrastructure – with advanced analytics powered by AI. 
  • Cloud Witness, to use Azure as the lightweight tie breaker for cluster quorum.
  • Azure Backup for offsite data protection and to protect against ransomware.
  • Azure Update Management for update assessment and update deployments for Windows VMs running in Azure and on-premises.
  • Azure Network Adapter to connect resources on-premises with VMs in Azure via a point-to-site VPN.
  • Azure Security Center for threat detection and monitoring for VMs running in Azure and on-premises (coming soon).

As edge computing become more important, Microsoft released its Azure Data Box Edge. These edge appliances provide a cloud managed compute platform for containers at the edge, enabling customers to process data at the edge and accelerate Machine Learning workloads. Using an FPGA powered by Azure Machine Learning and Intel Arria 10, Data Box Edge enables customers to transfer data over the internet to Azure in real-time for deeper analytics or model retraining at cloud scale. The 1U Data Box Edge comes with the following benefits:

  • Local Compute – Run containerized applications at on-prem location. Use these to interact with the local systems or to pre-process the data before it transfers to Azure. 
  • Network Storage Gateway – Automatically transfer data between the local appliance and Azure Storage account.  Data Box Edge caches the hottest data locally and speaks file and object protocols to the on-prem applications.
  • Azure Machine Learning utilizing an Intel Arria 10 FPGA - Use the on-board FPGA to accelerate inferencing of the data, then transfer it to the cloud to re-train and improve user models.
  • Cloud managed – Easily order user's device and manage these capabilities for the fleet from the cloud using the Azure Portal.

Azure Data Box Edge also comes as a standalone virtual appliance, Data Box Gateway. 

Axellio Inc.

Axellio announced today that its all-NVMe sever, FabricXpress has received validation for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI. This makes Axellio FabricXpress another choice of hardware to leverage for users of Azure Stack HCI. FabricXpress is all about performance and low latency with its 72 NVMe SSDs per server, of which two can be put into a 2U footprint. The company has been able to demonstrage 1 million IPS per node and states that a 4U space can house 460TB of capacity. Axellio states that FabricXpress all-NVMe for Azure Stack HCI uses the same Hyper-V based software-defined compute, storage and networking as Azure Stack.

Microsoft Azure Stack

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