Azure Stack HCI is an ideal platform for a number of technical use cases and workloads. Dell Technologies takes a workload-focused approach when determining what configurations we choose to design and validate. Our supported configurations can be found in the Microsoft Azure Stack HCI Catalog. The following figure summarizes the technical use cases and workloads best suited for Azure Stack HCI.
Windows server/ Hyper-V refresh
Many Microsoft-centric virtualization clusters running Windows Server and Hyper-V today are approaching End of Support and End of Life. These clusters are running Windows Server 2012 or older on antiquated and inflexible infrastructure. Refreshing these environments is of paramount importance, and many customers would be best served adopting a modern HCI platform. They gain greater performance, reliability, and flexibility while also simplifying life cycle management and increasing operational efficiency.
Trusted enterprise virtualization
With Azure Stack HCI, businesses can deploy trusted enterprise virtualization by providing a highly secure infrastructure for workloads through virtualization-based security (VBS). VBS relies on Hyper-V to implement a mechanism seen as Virtual Secure Mode (VSM) which creates a dedicated, isolated region of memory within its guest VMs. Through programming techniques, a designated security-sensitive operation can be carried out while blocking access to it from the host-OS, limiting potential vulnerability from kernel-based exploits.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)
An Azure Stack HCI cluster is well suited for large-scale VDI deployments delivering user desktops with the help of virtual desktop brokers such Microsoft Remote Desktop Service (RDS) or Citrix Xen Desktop. Dell Technologies has also performed extensive testing with Azure Virtual Desktop, which will become generally available later in CY2022. Azure Stack HCI provides additional benefits by including centralized storage and enhanced security. It provides businesses a secure way to deliver client desktops on a wide range of devices without allowing users to store any data locally or upload any data from those local devices.
Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO) and Edge Infrastructure
Azure Stack HCI meets the typical requirements for retail stores, branch offices, field sites, and other edge sites. With a low-level entry price point, customers can start with two-node clusters combined with a cloud witness or USB drive-based file share witness to set up their Remote Office Branch Office (ROBO) or edge locations. They can also avoid expensive network switch upgrades to support RDMA storage networking in ROBOs using a switchless storage networking topology. This topology relies on directly connecting Ethernet adapters that support RDMA between cluster nodes. From the management perspective, Azure Arc can be used to view and manage remote Azure Stack HCI deployments from Azure Resource Manager.
Microsoft SQL Server
High performance, latency sensitive applications like Microsoft SQL Server greatly benefit from higher-end integrated system configurations. These configurations could consist of a single storage tier of all NVMe drives and 100GbE RDMA networking to maximize throughput and minimize latency. There is also a broad range of processor core counts in our portfolio for optimizing SQL Server licensing costs.
Tightly Integrated Kubernetes
Azure Kubernetes Service on Azure Stack HCI (AKS-HCI) automates running containerized workloads at scale on-premises with fully integrated life cycle management and security. AKS-HCI is designed to be operated in a hybrid environment using code, consistent design patterns, and best practices from Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). This means that software developers can start creating modern applications in Windows or Linux-based containers and run them on AKS or AKS-HCI without modifying code. With AKS-HCI in place, customers can use Azure Arc-enabled infrastructure and services to manage their entire IT estate from Azure and build cloud-native applications in Azure and deploy to AKS-HCI.