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Microsoft has introduced a second version of its Azure Stack HCI service. The completely new version of the service allows Azure Stack HCI to run on its own existing hardware and is no longer based on Windows Server like the first version.

The Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) service Azure Stack HCI (introduced in 2019) enables virtualized workloads to run on-premise while being connected to the Azure public cloud. The tech giant states that Azure Stack HCI is an evolution of the various Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions previously made available by the various hardware vendors.

With the service, customers who have not previously been able to run Azure in their data centers or those of their partners can still benefit from the services of Microsoft Azure. Microsoft is competing with differents multi-cloud vendors, Nutanix, Google Anthos and Red Hat Open Shift.

Tip: What is Google Anthos? Is this the modern cloud infrastructure you’re looking for?

Azure Stack HCI v2 features

The second version of Azure Stack HCI, which has been released as a preview, has undergone a complete revision. The solution is no longer based on Windows Server but is, in fact, a new OS. It has been specifically developed to run HCI and is integrated with Azure with native hybrid capabilities.

Another important update is that customers can now run the solution on their own existing hardware. However, certain node solutions validated by the tech giant must be adhered to.

Version 2 also offers the possibility to manage various clusters and virtual machines running on Azure Stack HCI with Azure Arc. The latter solution is the Microsoft management tool for multicloud environments.

There is also new functionality such as a new rollout wizard, free Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2008 VMs, Stretch Cluster for high data availability and disaster recovery.

Hardware support

In addition, Azure Stack HCI is supported by major hardware systems from vendors such as Dell Technologies, HPE and Lenovo. Users may need to purchase special NICs or HBAs. However, the tech giant indicates that many companies may already have servers qualified to run the new Azure Stack HCI version, but these companies need to do a reinstall.

The preview of Microsoft Azure Stack HCI v2 is now available. The tech giant has not yet indicated when the solution will become publicly available.

Tip: What is Nutanix and how it conquers the hybrid and multi-cloud world