Microsoft targets multicloud with Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI

Aims for consistent management across public and private clouds

Microsoft has unveiled a public preview of Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI.

The announcement is further evidence of Microsoft's hybrid and multicloud ambitions and targeting customers that are seeking to stash parts of their workload in Azure and other cloud infrastructure.

Azure Stack HCI is, according to Microsoft, "a hyperconverged infrastructure service that allows customers to run workloads in virtualized Linux or Windows virtual machines or containers."

Lurking behind the marketing, however, is good old Windows Server (the Software-Defined Datacenter incarnation), which was rebranded in 2019.

The combination of Hyper-V, storage space, and software-defined networking makes the product more relevant for customers less willing to throw their lot in with Azure. Arc, on the other hand, is all about spanning public and private clouds, giving administrators a more consistent management experience so long as they are managing services supported by the technology.

Today's preview adds the ability to fully manage virtual machines on Azure Stack HCI through Azure Arc, be they Windows or Linux. The integration also provides Azure Resource Manager templates for VM CRUD with an eye to automating the deployment of infrastructure running on Azure Stack HCI.

The integration with Azure Arc also makes Azure Stack HCI and its VMs first-class entities in Azure. The upshot, according to Microsoft, is that "these entities can have role-based access natively through ARM which allows for self-service in VM provisioning."

In short, VM CRUD permissions can be delegated, meaning cloud resource management skills that previously applied to Azure can be applied equally on the infrastructure of Azure Stack HCI through the Azure portal.

Microsoft added to the Azure Stack HCI toolbox over the years. At its 2021 Ignite event, the company announced Azure Virtual Desktop for the platform, ideal for those preferring something on premises to the company's cloud. Azure Arc turned up in 2019 as a way of consolidating the management of services over various clouds (public and private), first by simply adding servers and Kubernetes clusters, but latterly with additional bells and whistles.

Going forwards, Microsoft intends to add support for extensions for VMs on Azure Stack HCI, enabling some intriguing post-deployment configuration possibilities and service integration. ®

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