server storage I/O trends

Dell EMC Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud Solution

Dell EMC have announced their Microsoft Azure Stack hybrid cloud platform solutions. This announcement builds upon earlier statements of support and intention by Dell EMC to be part of the Microsoft Azure Stack community. For those of you who are not familiar, Azure Stack is an on premise extension of Microsoft Azure public cloud.

 

What this means is that essentially you can have the Microsoft Azure experience (or a subset of it) in your own data center or data infrastructure, enabling cloud experiences and abilities at your own pace, your own way with control. Learn more about Microsoft Azure Stack including my experiences with and installing Technique Preview 3 (TP3) here.

 

software defined data infrastructures SDDI and SDDC

What Is Azure Stack

Microsoft Azure Stack is an on-premise (e.g. in your own data center) private (or hybrid when connected to Azure) cloud platform. Currently Azure Stack is in Technical Preview 3 (e.g. TP3) and available as a proof of concept (POC) download from Microsoft. You can use Azure Stack TP3 as a POC for learning, demonstrating and trying features among other activities. Here is link to a Microsoft Video providing an overview of Azure Stack, and here is a good summary of roadmap, licensing and related items.

 

In summary, Microsoft Azure Stack and this announcement is about:

  • A onsite, on-premise,  in your data center extension of Microsoft  Azure public cloud
  • Enabling private and hybrid  cloud with good integration along with shared  experiences with Azure
  • Adopt, deploy, leverage cloud on your terms and timeline  choosing what works best for you
  • Common processes,  tools, interfaces, management and user experiences
  • Leverage speed of  deployment and configuration with a purpose-built integrated  solution
  • Support existing and cloud-native  Windows, Linux, Container and other services
  • Available as a public preview via software download, as well  as vendors offering solutions

What Did Dell EMC Announce

Dell EMC announced their initial  product, platform solutions, and services  for Azure Stack. This includes a Proof of  Concept (PoC) starter kit (PE R630) for doing evaluations, prototype, training,  development test, DevOp and other initial activities with Azure Stack. Dell EMC also announced a larger for production  deployment, or large-scale development, test DevOp activity turnkey solution. The  initial production solution scales from 4 to 12 nodes, or from 80 to 336 cores  that include hardware (server compute, memory, I/O and networking, top of rack  (TOR) switches, management, Azure Stack software along with services.  Other aspects of the announcement include initial  services in support of Microsoft Azure Stack and Azure cloud offerings.


server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

The announcement builds on joint Dell EMC Microsoft  experience, partnerships, technologies and services spanning hardware,  software, on site data center and public cloud.

server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

Dell EMC along with Microsoft have engineered a hybrid cloud  platform for organizations to modernize  their data infrastructures enabling faster innovate, accelerate deployment of resources. Includes hardware  (server compute, memory, I/O networking, storage devices), software, services, and support.
server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

The value proposition  of Dell EMC hybrid cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack includes consistent  experience for developers and IT data infrastructure professionals. Common experience across Azure public cloud and Azure  Stack on-premise in your data center for private or hybrid. This  includes common portal, Powershell,  DevOps tools, Azure Resource Manager (ARM), Azure Infrastructure as a Service  (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS), Cloud Infrastructure and associated  experiences (management, provisioning, services).
server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

Secure, protect, preserve and serve applications VMs hosted  on Azure Stack with Dell EMC services along with Microsoft technologies. Dell  EMC data protection including backup and restore, Encryption as a Service, host  guard and protected VMs, AD integration among other features.
server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

Dell EMC services for Microsoft Azure Stack include single contact support for prepare, assessment, planning; deploy with rack  integration, delivery, configuration;  extend the platform with

applicable migration,  integration with Office 365 and other applications,  build new services.
server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

Dell EMC Hyper-converged scale out solutions range from minimum of 4 x PowerEdge R730XD (total raw specs include 80 cores (4 x 20), 1TB RAM (4 x 256GB), 12.8TB SSD Cache, 192TB Storage, plus two top of row network switches (Dell EMC) and 1U management server node. Initial maximum configuration raw specification includes 12 x R730XD (total 336 cores), 6TB memory, 86TB SSD cache, 900TB storage along with TOR network switch and management server.

 

The above configurations initially enable HCI nodes of small (low) 20 cores, 256GB memory, 5.7TB SSD cache, 40TB storage; mid size 24 cores, 384GB memory, 11.5TB cache and 60TB storage; high-capacity with 28 cores, 512GB memory, 11.5TB cache and 80TB storage per node.
  server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

Dell EMC Evaluator program for Microsoft Azure Stack including the PE R630 for PoCs, development, test and training environments. The solution combines Microsoft Azure Stack software, Dell EMC server with Intel E5-2630 (10 cores, 20 threads / logical processors or LPs), or Intel E5-2650 (12 cores, 24 threads / LPs). Memory is 128GB or 256GB, storage includes flash SSD (2 x 480GB SAS) and HDD (6 x 1TB SAS). and networking.
server storage I/O trends
Image via Dell EMC

 

Collaborative support single contact between Microsoft and Dell EMC

Who Is This For

This announcement is  for any organization that is looking for an  on-premise, in your data center private or hybrid cloud turnkey solution  stack. This initial set of announcements can be for those looking to do a proof  of concept (PoC), advanced prototype,  support development test, DevOp or gain cloud-like elasticity, ease of use, rapid procurement and other experiences of public  cloud, on your terms and timeline. Naturally,  there is a strong affinity and seamless experience for those already using, or  planning to use Azure Public Cloud for Windows,  Linux, Containers and other workloads, applications,  and services.

What Does This Cost

Check with your Dell EMC representative  or partner for exact pricing which  varies for the size and configurations.  There are also various licensing models to take into consideration if you have Microsoft Enterprise  License Agreements (ELAs) that your Dell EMC representative  or business partner can address for you. Likewise being cloud based, there is also time usage-based  options to explore.

Where to learn more

What this  all means

The dust is starting to settle on last falls Dell EMC  integration, both of whom have long histories working with, and partnering  along with Microsoft on legacy, as well as virtual software-defined data centers (SDDC), software-defined data infrastructures  (SDDI), native, and hybrid clouds. Some may view the Dell EMC VMware relationship as a primary  focus, however, keep in mind that both Dell and EMC had worked with Microsoft long before VMware came into being. Likewise, Microsoft remains one of the most commonly  deployed operating systems on VMware-based  environments. Granted Dell EMC have a significant  focus on VMware, they both also sell, service and support many services for Microsoft-based solutions.

 

What about Cisco, HPE, Lenovo among others who have to announce or discussed their Microsoft  Azure Stack intentions? Good question, until we hear more about what those and  others are doing or planning, there is  not much more to do or discuss beyond speculating  for now. Another common question is if there is demand  for private and hybrid cloud, in fact,  some industry expert pundits have even said private,  or hybrid are dead which is interesting, how can something be dead if it is  just getting started. Likewise, it is  early to tell if Azure Stack will gain traction with various organizations,  some of whom may have tried or struggled with OpenStack among others.

 

Given a large number  of Microsoft Windows-based servers on VMware, OpenStack, Public cloud services  as well as other platforms, along with continued growing popularity of Azure,  having a solution such as Azure Stack provides an attractive option for many environments. That leads to the question  of if Azure Stack is essentially a replacement for Windows Servers or Hyper-V  and if only for Windows guest operating systems. At this point indeed, Windows  would be an attractive and comfortable option, however, given a large number  of Linux-based guests running on Hyper-V  as well as Azure Public, those are also primary candidates as are containers  and other services.

 

Overall, this is an excellent  and exciting move for both Microsoft  extending their public cloud software stack to be  deployed within data centers in a hybrid way, something that those  customers are familiar with doing. This  is a good example of hybrid being spanning public and private clouds, remote  and on-premise, as well as familiarity  and control of traditional procurement with the flexibility, elasticity experience  of clouds.

software defined data infrastructures SDDI and SDDC

 

Some will say that if OpenStack is struggling in many organizations  and being free open source, how Microsoft can have success with Azure Stack.  The answer could be that some organizations  have struggled with OpenStack while others have not due to lack of commercial  services and turnkey support. Having installed both OpenStack and Azure Stack  (as well as VMware among others), Azure Stack is at least the TP3 PoC is easy  to install, granted it is limited to one node,  unlike the production versions. Likewise,  there are easy to use appliance versions of OpenStack that are limited in  scale, as well as more involved installs that unlock full functionality.

 

OpenStack, Azure Stack, VMware and others have their places,  along, or supporting containers along with other tools. In some cases,  those technologies may exist in the same environment supporting different  workloads, as well as accessing various public clouds, after all, Hybrid is the  home run for many if not most legality IT environments.

 

Overall this is a good announcement from Dell EMC for those who are interested in, or should become more aware about Microsoft Azure Stack, Cloud along with hybrid clouds. Likewise look forward to hearing more about the solutions from others who will be supporting Azure Stack as well as other hybrid (and Virtual Private Clouds).

 

Ok, nuff said (for now...).

Cheers
Gs