Microsoft has finally detailed what kind of server hardware customers will need to run Azure Stack in their own data centers. Now, customers interested in running the technical preview in early 2016 can start planning their server hardware investments.
"At this time, we're ready to share hardware requirements for Azure Stack Technical Preview," wrote Microsoft Technical Fellow Jeffrey Snover in a Dec. 12 blog post that spells out the server specifications required to run the software. "Our goal is to enable you to experience the Azure Stack Technical Preview in a single server, instantiated as a proof-of-concept (POC) environment."
Snover's post offers both minimum and recommended specs, the latter of which he advises IT administrators to follow to help "ensure a good experience." The differences between the two specs boil down to CPUs, system memory and storage capacity.
Azure Stack's minimum requirements call for a 12-core dual-socket server processor, 96 gigabytes of RAM and four drives for general storage, each with 140GB of capacity. The recommended specs suggest a 16-core dual-socket processor, 128GB of RAM and four drives, each with 250GB of storage capacity.
Otherwise, the software requires Hyper-V-enabled in BIOS with Second Level Address Translation (SLAT) support, a network interface card (NIC) certified to work with Windows Server 2012 R2 and an operating system (OS) disk with at least 200GB available for the system partition. Full specs are available in Snover's blog post, which also contains a YouTube video of an Azure Stack walk-though.
Although the software supports several storage configurations, including mixed solid-state drive (SSD) and hard-disk drive (HDD) setups, Microsoft warns in its Azure Stack server configuration matrix that all drives "must be of the same type (SAS or Serial ATA) and capacity. If SAS disk drives are used, the disk drives must be attached via a single path (no MPIO, multi-path support is provided)."
For customers looking for ready-built servers from leading vendors, Snover suggests Dell's R630 and HP Enterprise's (HPE) DL 360 Gen 9 hardware.
First announced at this year's inaugural Microsoft Ignite conference, Azure Stack is a set of core cloud services and user experiences that customers can deploy on-premises. Inspired by the Redmond, Wash., software maker's own, globe-spanning public cloud computing platform, the technology is intended to speed up and simplify private and hybrid cloud implementations for enterprises.
"The Microsoft Azure Stack has its origins in a true public hyper-scale cloud," said Natalia Mackevicius, partner group program manager at Microsoft, in a May 4 announcement. "We are bringing our innovations from running Azure at hyper-scale to our customer and partner on-premises and hybrid data centers."
In many respects, the offering symbolizes Microsoft's new "cloud-first" approach to enterprise software and IT services. "Microsoft Azure Stack will meet the business needs of agile development and operations by enabling self-service cloud experiences and APIs, helping IT effectively manage risk and changing demands," Mackevicius said. "Azure Stack will support both 'cloud-native' applications and traditional enterprise-grade applications."