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Microsoft Ignite

Recap Microsoft Ignite 2019

On November 4th, André (Managing Director) and I left for the Sunshine State. We were invited to join the DataOn booth team for the third time. On Sunday, with a healthy jet lag, we joined in our first of many activities of the Microsoft Ignite adventure.

At 1pm, the Storage Spaces Direct Slack Meetup started. It was great to kick off the week with all these amazing, like-minded people and talk about S2D and Azure Stack HCI. If you are also interested in subjects like Storage Spaces Direct and Azure Stack HCI, I can warmly recommend joining this amazing community on slack.


After the Meetup, we went to DataOn's Azure Stack HCI User Group Meetup. Here, we had a lot of exciting conversations about Azure Stack HCI installations with several of DataOn's customers. It is very rewarding to hear all the experiences of people who enjoy DataOn solutions and are just as excited about them as I am. The inspiring technical attendees present at both Meetups gave a promising first impression of the upcoming Microsoft Ignite days. 

Do you also have an Azure Stack HCI solution and would you like to be part of the User Group? Sign up here.

The most exciting announcements

Microsoft Ignite kicked off with a keynote from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. I knew that there would be some really cool announcements during this presentation. Microsoft has a hybrid cloud strategy. It is, in fact, a core pillar and a durable state. Like Jeff Woolsey, Principal Program Manager of Microsoft's tweet said. Therefore, in my personal opinion, the announcement of Azure Arc is a very logical, important and innovative game changer for Microsoft. 

Azure Arc

This newcomer to the Microsoft portfolio makes it possible to simplify complex and distributed environments across on-premise, Edge, and multi-cloud. With Azure Arc, you can manage resources both within and outside Azure, through a single control plane. All the resources registered with Azure Arc send logs to the central, cloud-based Azure Monitor. This makes it possible to obtain insights into distributed and disparated infrastructure environments. And withAzure Automation, routine and advanced maintenance work can be performed in public, hybrid and multi-cloud environments (Forbes,2019). To learn more about the possibilities of Azure Arc, I highly recommend you to read the following articles and watch the video:

Azure Stack portfolio including of Azure Stack Edge, Azure Stack HCI, and Azure Stack Hub

Azure Stack Family

In addition to the grand announcement of Azure Arc, Microsoft has announced that Azure Stack has become a family. 'But what does that mean exactly, a family?' I asked myself. The former Azure Stack is now called Azure Stack Hub. Data Box Edge will continue under the name Azure Stack Edge. Together with Azure Stack HCI, they form the Azure Stack portfolio. Read more about the Azure Stack Portfolio in the Microsoft Azure Blog.

A new version of Windows Admin Center: v1910

In the image on the left, you can see what the latest version of the Windows Admin Center (WAC) consists of. The possibilities of WAC expand and improve increasingly over time. Because of my own experiences since it was released, I would like to inform you about updates of the latest version. I am personally very excited about these updates.

Improving the Performance Monitor

This beautiful tool from Microsoft hasn’t been updated for years on Windows or Windows Server. However, the performance monitor has been improved and is incorporated in the latest version of Windows Admin Center, v1910. Thomas Maurer, Senior Cloud Advocate of Microsoft, has listed some of the advantages of the new performance monitor in his Blog. Examples of these advantages are easy remoting, sharing workspaces and the possibility to use different types of graphics. Reminder: you can also use the hardware management extension of DataOn MUST™in Windows Admin Center. This ensures complete end-to-end management of your Azure Stack HCI solution.

Kubernetes and Azure Stack HCI

Microsoft has also mentioned that it will certify Azure Stack HCI for Kubernetes workloads. The integration of Kubernetes into Azure and Azure Stack HCI will also be further developed. In addition, they are working on proper integration with Rancher and Openshift, among others. By linking these separate components together they can become very powerful. I am very curious to hear what else will be announced about Kubernetes and Azure Stack HCI. I hope to be able to inform you about this soon.

What’s new for Azure Stack HCI: 45 things in 45 minutes | by Cosmos Darwin

My goal for Ignite was to learn as much possible. A good session to make sure this happened was the fast-paced lightning round by Cosmos Darwin and Greg Cusanza from Microsoft. In this session, they highlighted their favorite 45 new things in 45 minutes.

Faster Resync Duration (shorter repair time!)

Through a new technology called 'sub-extend dirty region tracking', the new version of Windows Server vNext will shorten resyncs duration and make them more predictable. Rather than marking the extents in full, as requiring resync when one is written to on another server, it will remember a much smaller region. This will have a significant impact on how much data needs to be repaired. In the graphs below, you can see the results of benchmarking with the Insider Preview. A great development to look forward to!

Maximum capacity

To meet the needed data capacity, Microsoft pushed new boundaries with the arrival of each new version of Windows Server. With the announcement of Windows Server 2019, the maximum capacity has quadrupled from 1 PB to 4 PB. Cosmos was excited to announce that with the next version of Windows Server for Azure Stack HCI, the maximum capacity will be yet another 4 times higher. This makes it possible to go up to 16 PB per cluster! Cosmos also highlighted DataOn's ultra-dense storage solutions, that are a crucial part of this development. 

Watch entire 45-minute session, which includes 43 other innovations. The session will give you a glimpse of all the possibilities of Azure Stack HCI.

So much more!

In addition to the recommendations above, there is (of course), much more to discover. Unfortunately, I couldn’t include everything in this blog post but I still have some tips!

  • For a glimpse into the future of Stretched Clusters, I highly recommend John Marlin’s session. This session will show you what Stretched Clusters will look like in Windows Server vNext.
  • To jumpstart your Azure Stack HCI Deployment, you can watch this session from Cosmos Darwin, Carmen Crincoli and Dan Cuomo from Microsoft.
  • To learn about what’s next for software-defined storage and networking for Windows Server, watch this session from John Marlin, Creg Cusanza and Steven Ekren from Microsoft.
  • And last but not least, if you are interested in the Hyper-V Roadmap, this session from Ben Armstrong (Microsoft) is a must-watch.

If there’s anything you want to discuss regarding Azure Stack HCI solutions and everything that goes with it, please let me know!   

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my personal view on the latest updates from Microsoft.

Joost Dubbelman

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