Dell Technologies has a distinct advantage over the competition because of our track record of delivering Microsoft solutions. With each evolutionary milestone in our journey for continuous innovation, we have learned and re-invested back into our Microsoft software-defined data center (SDDC) and HCI solutions. The following figure illustrates the SDDC and HCI milestones in the Dell Technologies partnership with Microsoft over the last several years.
We began this journey in 2017 when we certified Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions on Dell EMC PowerEdge 13th generation (13G) servers. The reference architectures explained how to implement Microsoft validated designs on PowerEdge servers, following engineering best practices for deployment and steady-state operations.
In 2018, we became the first solution provider to take a fully productized approach to running Microsoft software defined capabilities, including Hyper-V and Storage Spaces Direct (S2D). Our Dell EMC S2D Ready Nodes based on Dell EMC PowerEdge 14th generation (14G) servers were pre-configured with certified components and validated building blocks running Windows Server 2016. Dell engineering also validated network topologies using Dell EMC PowerSwitch network switches. We vastly simplified ordering and reduced deployment risks while providing a streamlined and collaborative Customer Support experience.
The S2D Ready Nodes were refreshed in 2019 with the validation of Windows Server 2019 on the supported platforms. We also introduced the 1.0 version of our Dell EMC OpenManage Integration with Microsoft Windows Admin Center. The Dell EMC OpenManage Integration extension added deep hardware monitoring, inventory, troubleshooting, and integrated iDRAC management for the S2D Ready Nodes.
More recently, our portfolio expanded in 2020 when we released the Dell EMC HCI Solutions for Microsoft Server, based on Windows Server 2019 running on our factory-ready, validated AX nodes from Dell Technologies. The AX nodes consisted of two Intel-based 14G models (AX-640 and AX-740xd) and a single AMD EPYC processor-based 15G model (AX-6515). The Dell EMC OpenManage Integration with Windows Admin Center was updated to v1.1, which added life cycle management of BIOS, firmware, and drivers using Cluster-Aware Updating. Using this new feature, IT staff could apply hardware updates with confidence and save significant time, reducing manual steps by 82% and reducing maintenance windows by 40%. Clusters could be fully updated with only a single reboot per node in the cluster and no impact to the business services running in virtual machines.
After the release of the purpose-built Microsoft Azure Stack HCI operating system in December 2020, Dell Technologies released the Dell EMC Integrated System for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI. This integrated system included AX nodes tested and validated to optimize the performance and resiliency of Azure Stack HCI clusters. By September 2021, the AX node portfolio consisted of the AX-650 and AX-750, based on Intel Xeon 3rd Gen scalable processors, and the AX-6515 and AX-7525, based on 2nd generation AMD EPYC processors.
The Dell EMC OpenManage Integration also went through two incremental updates to the current version 2.1. This extension now has a variety of features that continue to make IT administrators’ lives easier and ultimately provide the business with improved response times and reliability for their mission critical applications. The newest features include automated cluster creation, one-click full stack life cycle management using Cluster Aware Updating, dynamic CPU core management, and cluster expansion preparation.