Dell Technologies understands that there are certain situations where Dell EMC Integrated System for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI may not meet an organization’s requirements. That’s why we will also continue to offer Dell EMC HCI Solutions for Microsoft Server in our Microsoft HCI Solutions portfolio. The current integrated system comes pre-installed in the factory with Azure Stack HCI, version 20H2. The Windows Server HCI solution can arrive with Windows Server 2019 OEM pre-installed. These operating systems can also be manually installed. The following figure depicts the differences between the Windows Server operating system and Azure Stack HCI operating system.
The Azure Stack HCI operating system is a new product line and is forked from the Windows Server operating system main development branch. All innovation and investment in the Azure Stack HCI operating system focus on supporting and further enhancing the software-defined capabilities of Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, and Software Defined Networking. The Windows Server operating system remains a general-purpose operating system running the full complement of Windows Server roles and features such as IIS, DNS, DHCP, and Active Directory. The Windows Server operating system will also remain the runtime for the massive install base of Windows applications such as Microsoft SQL Server. Applications running on Azure Stack HCI will run inside of Windows or Linux-based VMs and containers.
Licensing is also different when comparing these operating systems. Windows Server host and VM licensing will continue to use Windows Server Data Center and Windows Server Standard licensing options. In contrast, Azure Stack HCI uses an Azure subscription-based billing model at the host layer. The cost at this layer is $10 per core per month. However, the Windows Server VMs running on the Azure Stack HCI platform still require Windows Server Data Center or Standard licensing.