Research Library

Microsoft Azure Stack HCI – Product Brief

Last updated December 16th, 2021 for end of year updates. Concise 6-page report exploring the deployments, usage, highlights and strengths of Microsoft Azure Stack HCI. Download the full brief now.

Azure Stack HCI is a hyperconverged solution comprised of Azure Stack HCI OS, purchased as a subscription through a Microsoft Azure account, and validated partners’ hardware. Azure Stack HCI OS includes Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) as the software-defined networking (SDN) layer, Hyper-V hypervisor and optional software-defined networking, managed by Windows Admin Center.

Azure Stack HCI (which was initially called “Windows Server Software Defined” or WSSD) was originally comprised of Windows Server 2019, which included S2D, Hyper-V and SDN on validated partners’ hardware.

Azure Stack HCI is marketed by server vendors in partnership with Microsoft, including Dell EMC, HPE, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Axellio, Supermicro and others. As part of Azure, Azure Stack HCI clusters connect easily to the Azure public cloud for cloud-based services like backup, disaster recovery, monitoring, etc.

Storage Spaces Direct

Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) provides the shared capacity for an HCI cluster supporting virtual machines on Hyper-V, which is also included in the Windows Server OS. S2D runs in the Windows Server kernel, not as a VM like the software-defined storage technologies that support most other HCI solutions, providing potential performance and cost advantages.

Azure Stack HCI clusters contain a minimum of two nodes, a maximum of sixteen, with a max capacity of 4PB (raw). All servers must have the same number of drives and Microsoft recommends that server nodes be of the same make and model. Nodes can be configured with either storage or compute functions on each node, enabling the cluster to scale storage and compute resources independently. Microsoft calls this the “converged” mode. S2D can also be set up with both storage and compute functions residing on the same node, called the “hyperconverged” mode.

Auzre Stack HCI Product Brief Includes: 

  • Overview
  • Highlight
  • Usage and Deployment
  • EvaluScale Product Review Methodology
  • Evaluator Group Opinion

Download the full Product Brief now!

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