Metered Usage for Azure Stack Infrastructure
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 00:00:00 -0000|
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Metered Usage for Azure Stack Infrastructure
When it comes to building modern applications and adopting a cloud operating model, Azure Stack is an extension of Azure. While the primary focus is the ability to develop and run Azure services in a Hybrid Environment, Microsoft has also brought the Azure economic model to Azure Stack with usage-based billing. At Dell EMC, our goal is to complete that experience by providing a metered usage consumption offering for the Dell EMC Cloud on Microsoft Azure Stack. Now with the recent introduction of Flex on Demand from Dell Financial Services (DFS), you have the option to pay for your Azure Stack Infrastructure based on the usage data from your Azure Stack Usage API Endpoint.
Capacity Planning and Flex capacity
An important consideration for many of our Hybrid Cloud customers is the ability to scale applications and services rapidly. This could apply to the ability to accommodate bursty workloads as well as scenarios where you see rapid growth yet keep some buffer capacity to cushion the impact of that growth. Our goal at Dell EMC is to provide you with the business model that accommodates both options softening the impact of time related to capacity planning.
Usage based billing consistent with Cloud Economics
Most of target personas for Hybrid cloud are focused on the application developer or the IT operator. As Hybrid Cloud adoption grows, a company’s finance, accounting along with procurement stakeholders are realizing the benefits of cloud economics. Eliminating the need to manage un-planned capital expenses, while benefiting from procurement of equipment as a service enables you to simplify accounting, free up cash flow and make procurement of new services more streamlined.
With Flex on Demand from DFS, consistent with Azure, your infrastructure charges are tied to usage and aligns with the OPEX type consumption models that customers desire. You pay Dell EMC for the services you consume plus a pre-negotiated fixed cost monthly. This covers the usage costs associated with the Hardware, Lifecycle Management SW and Maintenance while you continue to pay your subscription costs to Microsoft for the Azure Services running on Azure Stack.
Meters consistent with Azure
While metered service is a key tenet of Cloud computing, picking the right resources and meters is equally important. In discussing options with our customers, the consistency with Azure and the Cost transparency were highlighted as key goals. In keeping with the notion that Azure Stack is an extension of Azure, we applied a similar approach to the usage measurements and billing of the Azure Stack Infrastructure.
To do this, we extract and report back the per-subscription resources leveraging the usage API endpoints from Azure Stack Provider Resource API. Consistent with Azure Stack, we measure the VM Hours and capture the VM Type. From this data, we compute the resource consumption. Based on the Scale Unit Type (Balanced/All Flash), we then assign a rate and a bill is generated.
Whether you are looking for a financial model consistent with Azure or looking to keep some buffer capacity to accommodate growth, working with Dell Financial Services, we are delighted to bring this Measured Service capability to the full stack and in a way completing the final piece of the Hybrid cloud puzzle. For more information you can go to Flex On Demand from DFS.
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Azure Stack with PowerScale
Tue, 04 Aug 2020 14:52:59 -0000|
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Dell EMC Integrated System for Microsoft Azure Stack Hub has been at the forefront in bringing Azure to customer datacenters, enabling customers to operate their own region of Azure in a secure environment that addresses their data sovereignty and performance needs.
As data growth explodes at the edge, many of our customers are looking to process PB scale data in the context of file, image/video processing, analytics, simulation, and learning. With Azure Stack Hub, built on hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), the need for external storage to handle this growth in data was critical. Additionally, for applications that use file storage with CIFS/NFS today, Azure files storage service is currently not supported.
As we set out to identify the right storage subsystem that met our customers’ needs (with performance, multi-tenancy, multi-petabyte scale-out storage, and advanced data management features), we did not have to look far. Dell Technologies has a large product portfolio that enables us not only to integrate with other infrastructures but to innovate in other areas to deliver the Azure consistent experience our customers expect.
With newly announced Azure Stack Hub integration with Dell EMC PowerScale, customers can run their Azure IaaS and PaaS on-premises while connecting to data that is generated and stored locally. In the context of Azure consistency, depending on your application needs, there are two ways to consume this storage.
- Azure Consistent Storage (ACS): Applications that are using Azure Block Blob storage
- Integrated NAS (File Storage): NFS and CIFS
Here are some highlights about the choices and differences:
Regardless of your protocol of choice, you have two personas engaged:
- The Azure Stack Hub Cloud administrator (screen below) is responsible for creating offers, quotas, and plans to offer the underlying storage, via subscriptions, to Azure tenants.
- The Azure Stack tenant can consume storage and be metered and billed consistent with other Azure Services. All of this, without having to manage anything in PowerScale.
With this strategy, our customers can tap into external PB storage to consume Azure Block Blob or Files via CIFS/NFS while maintaining the Azure consistent experience. Additionally, for customers looking to keep their applications in the public cloud while maintaining their data on-premises, Dell Technologies Cloud PowerScale extends OneFS running on-prem to Azure.
To read more about it, see this solution brief:
With the work Dell Technologies has been doing with Azure and Azure Stack Hub, your data is secure and compliant. You also have the choice to run your application in Azure or Azure Stack Hub and connect to your on-prem data without sacrificing bandwidth or latency.
Azure Stack HCI Stretch Clustering: because automatic disaster recovery matters
Mon, 29 Mar 2021 18:19:31 -0000|
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If history has taught us anything, it’s that disasters are always around the corner and tend to appear in any shape or form when they’re least expected.
To overcome these circumstances, we need the appropriate tools and technologies that can guarantee resuming operations back to normal in a secure, automatic, and timely manner.
Traditional disaster recovery (DR) processes are often complex and require a significant infrastructure investment. They are also labor intensive and prone to human error.
Since December 2020, the situation has changed. Thanks to the new release of Microsoft Azure Stack HCI, version 20H2, we can leverage the new Azure Stack HCI stretched cluster feature on Dell EMC Integrated System for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI (Azure Stack HCI).
The integrated system is based on our flexible AX nodes family as the foundation, and combines Dell Technologies full stack life cycle management with the Microsoft Azure Stack HCI operating system.
It is important to note that this technology is only available for the integrated system offering under the certified Azure Stack HCI catalog.
Azure Stack HCI stretch clustering provides an easy and automatic solution (no human interaction if desired) that assures transparent failovers of disaster-impacted production workloads to a safe secondary site.
It can also be leveraged to perform planned operations (such as entire site migration, or disaster avoidance) that, until now, required labor intensive and error prone human effort for execution.
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. It provides synchronous or asynchronous replication of Storage Spaces Direct volumes to provide automatic VM failover if a site disaster occurs.
There are two different topologies:
- Active-Passive: All the applications and workloads run on the primary (preferred) site while the infrastructure at the secondary site remains idle until a failover occurs.
- Active-Active: There are active applications in both sites at any given time and replication occurs bidirectionally from either site. This setup tends to be a more efficient use of an organization’s investment in infrastructure because resources in both sites are being used.
Azure Stack HCI stretch clustering topologies: Active-Passive and Active-Active
To be truly cost-effective, the best data protection strategies incorporate a combination of different technologies (deduplicated backup, archive, data replication, business continuity, and workload mobility) to deliver the right level of data protection for each business application.
The following diagram highlights the fact that just a reduced data set holds the most valuable information. This is the sweet spot for stretch clustering.
For a real-life experience, our Dell Technologies experts put Azure Stack HCI stretched clustering to the test in the following lab setup:
Test lab cluster network topology
Note these key considerations regarding the lab network architecture:
- The Storage Replica, management, and VM networks in each site were unique Layer 3 subnets. In Active Directory, we configured two sites—Bangalore (Site 1) and Chennai (Site 2)—based on these IP subnets so that the correct sites appeared in Failover Cluster Manager on configuration of the stretched cluster. No additional manual configuration of the cluster fault domains was required.
- Average latency between the two sites was less than 5 milliseconds, required for synchronous replication.
- Cluster nodes could reach a file share witness within the 200-millisecond maximum roundtrip latency requirement.
- The subnets in both sites could reach Active Directory, DNS, and DHCP servers.
- Software-defined networking (SDN) on a multisite cluster is not currently supported and was not used for this testing.
For all the details, see this white paper: Adding Flexibility to DR Plans with Stretch Clustering for Azure Stack HCI.
In this blog though, I only want to focus on summarizing the results we obtained in our labs for the following four scenarios:
- Scenario 1: Unplanned node failure
- Scenario 2: Unplanned site failure
- Scenario 3: Planned failover
- Scenario 4: Life cycle management
Simulated failure or maintenance event
Unplanned node failure
Node 1 in Site 1 power-down
Impacted VMs should failover to another local node
In around 5 minutes, all 10 VMs in Node 1 Site 1 fully restarted in Node 2 Site 1.
This is expected behavior since Site 1 has been configured as preferred site; otherwise, the active volume could have been moved to Site 2, and the VMs would have been restarted on a cluster node in Site 2.
Outage in Site 1
Simultaneous power-down of Nodes 1 and 2 in site 1
Impacted VMs should failover to nodes on the secondary site
In 25 minutes, all VMs were restarted, and the included web application was fully responsive.
The volumes owned by the nodes in Site 2 remained online throughout this failure scenario.
The replica volumes remained offline until Site 1 was restored to full health.
Once Site 1 was back online, synchronous replication began again from the source volumes in Site 2 to their destination replica partners in Site 1.
Switch Direction operation on a volume from Windows Admin Center
Selected VMs and workloads should transparently move to secondary site
Within 0 to 3 mins, the application hosted by the affected VMs was reachable without service interruption (time depends on whether IP reassignment is required).
First, the owner node for the volumes changed to Node 2 in Site 2, and owner node for the replica volumes changed to Node 2 in Site 1. No service interruption.
At this time, the test VM was running in Site 1, but its virtual disk that resided on the volume was running in Site 2. Performance problems can result because I/O is traversing the replication links across sites. After approximately 10 minutes, a Live Migration of the test VM would occur automatically (if not manually initiated earlier) so that the VM would be on the same node as its virtual disk.
Update all nodes in the cluster by using Single-click Full Stack Cluster Aware Updating (CAU) in Windows Admin Center
Stretched cluster and CAU should work seamlessly together to provide full stack cluster update without service interruption and local only workload mobility for the Live Migrated VMs
The total process of applying the operating system and firmware updates to the stretched cluster took approximately 3 hours, and the process had no application impact.
Each node was drained, and its VMs were live migrated to the other node in the same site.
The intersite links between Site 1 and Site 2 were never used during update operations. In addition, the process required only a single reboot per node.
This behavior was consistent throughout the update of all the nodes in the stretched cluster.
To sum up, Azure Stack HCI Stretch Clustering has been shown to work as expected under difficult circumstances. It can easily be leveraged to cover a wide range of data protection scenarios, such as:
- restoring your organization's IT within minutes after an unplanned event
- transparently moving running workloads between sites to avoid incoming disasters or other planned operations
- automatically failing over VMs and workloads of individual failed nodes
This technology may make the difference for businesses to automatically stand up after disaster strikes, a total game changer in the automatic disaster recovery landscape.
Thank you for your time reading this blog and don’t forget to check out the full white paper!!!