Azure Stack and the rest of the story

By | January 30, 2016

Now part two of my Azure Stack and Infrastructure story. Now Microsoft is doing a big leap in the Azure Stack release. With the release the current setup is moving towards more use of software-defined solution which are included in Windows Server 2016. This includes features like micro segmentation, load balancing, VXLAN, storage spaces direct (which is a hyperconverged confiuration of storage spaces)

We also have ARM which does the provisioning feature, using APIs and DSC for custom setup of virtual machine instances.

More details on the PaaS features will come during the upcoming weeks, and in the first release only Web Apps will be added.

So Microsoft is now providing features which before often being done by a third party and unlike Azure Pack this does not require any System Center parts and runs natively on Hyper-V


Now what else is missing in this picture? Since if we want to run this in a larger scale we need to think about the larger picture in a datacenter, using VXLAN will also require some custom setup.

Also with using Storage Spaces Direct in a Azure Stack fabric will also require RDMA networking infrastructure

(NOTE: Storage Spaces Direct has a limit in terms of max nodes)

(“Networking hardware Storage Spaces Direct relies on a network to communicate between hosts. For production deployments, it is required to have an RDMA-capable NIC (or a pair of NIC ports”) ref

This will also allow use the latest networking capabilities which is called SET Switch Embedded Teaming.

So in both cases you need a RDMA based infrastructure. So remember that! You need to rethink the physical networking. Another thing of the puzzle is backup. Now since Azure Stack delivers the management / proviosing and some fundamental services we need backup of our tenants data. Storage Spaces Direct deliver resilliency, but not backup. So for instance Arista has some good options in terms of RDMA, also since they support OMI which will allow for automation.

We need to enable a backup solution which can integrate to Hyper-V and have an REST API which can then allow us to build custom solutions into Azure Stack.

Also, a monitoring solution needs to be in place, Azure Stack adds alot of extra complecity in terms of infrastructure and alot of new services which are crucial especially in the networking/storage provider space. As of now I’m guessing that System Center will be the first monitoring solution which will support Azure Stack monitoring.

Another thing is load balancing, since we have more web based services for the different purposes and not MMC based consoles like we have in System Center, to deliver high-availability, (for instance the portal web, ARM interface and so on)

So in my ideal world, the Azure Stack drawning should look like this in my case.


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