Dell EMC Announce Azure Stack Hybrid Cloud Solution

May 4, 2017 – 1:33 pm
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

Greg Schulz – Microsoft MVP Cloud and Data Center Management, VMware vExpert (and vSAN). Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press), Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier) and twitter @storageio. Watch for the spring 2017 release of his new book "Software-Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials" (CRC Press).

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