As the digital landscape evolves, businesses are constantly seeking ways to harness the power of technology to stay competitive and efficient. While cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer, offering unparalleled flexibility and scalability, many enterprises still grapple with the challenge of integrating their on-premises infrastructure with the cloud. Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI presents a compelling solution to this dilemma, bridging the gap between traditional data centers and the innovative world of the cloud. In this article, we delve into the unique advantages of Azure Stack HCI and why it stands out as the preferred choice for businesses aiming to modernize their IT infrastructure.
Azure Stack HCI is Microsoft’s solution that allows you to create a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) for running workloads in an on-premises environment, with a strategic connection to various Azure services. Azure Stack HCI has been specifically designed by Microsoft to help customers modernize their hybrid data center, offering a complete and familiar Azure experience on-premises. If you need more information about the Microsoft Azure Stack HCI solution, I invite you to watch this video.
In my daily interactions with customers, I am often asked why they should choose Azure Stack HCI over other well-known solutions that have been on the market for a long time. In the following paragraphs, I will outline what I believe are the main reasons to opt for Azure Stack HCI.
Modernize your on-premises infrastructure by bringing innovation
Azure Stack HCI is not synonymous with a virtualization environment but allows you to achieve much more. It is ideal if you want to modernize your infrastructure by adopting a hyper-converged architecture that allows you to:
- Activate virtual machines based on consolidated technologies that make the environment stable and highly available, especially suitable for workloads that require high performance and scalability.
- Deploy and manage modern applications based on microservices, alongside virtual machines, in the same cluster environment, using Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). In addition to running Windows and Linux apps in containers, AKS provides the infrastructure to run selected Azure PaaS services on-premises, thanks to Azure Arc.
- Activate virtual machines with Windows Server 2022 Azure Datacenter edition, which offers specific features not available in the classic Standard and Datacenter editions. To learn more about the features available in this edition, you can consult this article.
- Create Azure Virtual Desktop session host pools using virtual machines running on-premises. This hybrid scenario becomes interesting in situations where applications are latency-sensitive, such as video editing, or scenarios where users need to use a legacy system on-premises that cannot be easily accessed.
- Extend the features of the on-premises solution by connecting to various Azure services such as Azure Site Recovery, Azure Backup, Azure Monitor, and Defender for Cloud. This aspect ensures constant innovation, given the continuous evolution of cloud services.
The Azure Stack HCI cost model, detailed in this article, is straightforward. Specifically, for customers with a Software Assurance contract, adopting Azure Stack HCI results in a drastic reduction in the costs of modernizing the virtualization environment, making this solution even more cost-competitive compared to competitors in the market. Recently, when comparing the costs between Azure Stack HCI and VMware vSphere + vSAN over a 3-year projection, it emerged that Azure Stack HCI allows savings of up to 40%.
Increase the level of security
Azure Stack HCI offers cross-cutting security on hardware and firmware, integrated into the operating system’s features, capable of helping protect servers from advanced threats. Azure Stack HCI systems can adopt Secured-core security features, all through an easy configuration experience from Windows Admin Center. Additionally, Azure Stack HCI allows you to obtain important security patches for legacy Microsoft products that have passed the support deadline, through the Extended Security Update (ESU) program. Considering that October 10, 2023, marks the end of extended support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, Azure Stack HCI allows more time to embark on an application modernization path without neglecting security aspects.
Maximize existing investments
Azure Stack HCI can integrate with the existing environment and the most popular third-party solutions. Therefore, adopting this solution does not require new investments to introduce or adapt management, identity, security, and protection solutions. Specifically, the administrative management of Azure Stack HCI does not require specific software, but existing management tools such as Admin Center, PowerShell, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and even third-party tools can be used. Furthermore, by adopting Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc, it is possible to apply cloud management models to the on-premises environment, greatly simplifying the user experience. Azure Stack HCI allows you to fully exploit not only the investments already made concerning tools but also the skills of IT staff.
In today’s fast-paced technological era, the choice of IT infrastructure can significantly influence a business’s agility, security, and overall growth. While there are numerous solutions available, Azure Stack HCI emerges as a frontrunner, seamlessly merging the reliability of on-premises systems with the innovation of the cloud. Its unique features, cost-effectiveness, and robust security measures make it an invaluable asset for companies aiming to stay ahead of the curve. By choosing Azure Stack HCI, businesses not only safeguard their current investments but also pave the way for a future-ready, integrated, and efficient IT environment.