Microsoft first entered the virtualization market by introducing Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008, and it has since become a leader in the public cloud and HCI markets. Microsoft recently demonstrated its commitment to helping customers implement a hybrid-cloud-computing operating model by introducing Azure Stack HCI, version 20H2, an HCI operating system that is delivered as an Azure service. This new operating system is built on the software-defined capabilities that have run at scale in Azure and on-premises environments for years. Customers can use their existing skill sets and familiar operational tooling to manage the core architectural elements of Azure Stack HCI: Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, and software-defined networking.
Many high availability and DR solutions exist for the Microsoft ecosystem. These solutions are summarized here under the broader categories of third-party solutions, Azure services, and capabilities that are included with the Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI operating systems.
- Data protection software—Data protection software solutions like those found in the Dell EMC Data Protection Suite play a central role in Hyper-V and Azure environment DR plans. These solutions offer a wide range of backup and recovery capabilities, including deduplication, encryption, replication, and continuous data protection (CDP).
- SAN integrations—Many storage arrays, such as those found in the Dell Technologies portfolio, include integrations that perform backup, recovery, and replication at the VM level. Some integrations interact with Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to create application-consistent snapshots of those VMs.
- Azure Backup—Azure Backup provides a simple, secure, and cost-effective way to back up and restore data from Hyper-V VMs using the Azure cloud.
- Azure Site Recovery—Azure Site Recovery replicates workloads running on Hyper-V VMs to Azure or to a secondary site.
- Capabilities included with Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI operating systems:
- Hyper-V Replica—Since Windows Server 2012, the Hyper-V role has included Hyper-V Replica as an integrated replication mechanism for VMs. It can asynchronously replicate one or more selected VMs between Hyper-V hosts.
- Storage Replica—Storage Replica is a block-level, volume-based replication service that comes with Windows Server. Storage Replica is flexible and works with any Windows Server volume, fixed disk storage, and storage fabric. Customers can configure synchronous or asynchronous replication to achieve the required RPO and RTO.
- Stretch clustering—Stretch clustering is one type of Storage Replica configuration. It allows customers to split a single cluster between two locations—rooms, buildings, cities, or regions. This document focuses on the stretch clustering implementation in Azure Stack HCI, which provides synchronous or asynchronous replication of Storage Spaces Direct volumes to provide automatic VM failover if a site disaster occurs.
Note: Stretch clustering is not supported on Dell EMC HCI Solutions for Microsoft Windows Server. Customers must be running Dell EMC Integrated System for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI to take advantage of stretch clustering.