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June 22nd, 2023 03:00

Top Microsoft Azure Stack HCI & Azure Arc Questions Answered by experts

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Your top questions submitted to Matt, Kenny and Anita during our live learn session for Microsoft Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc.  Check out the responses below or submit a question for our experts to answer.  We look forward to engaging with you on all things Azure Stack HCI!

Question: With Azure Stack HCI...is there a policy-based control to make sure workload run at the right location based on performance, availability and DR rules.

Kenny replies: You can set anti-affinity rules to control where workloads run within a cluster. This can keep sspecific VMs on specific hosts, CSVs for storage performance, or away from other specific VMs.

Question: Kenny, at some point can you comment on any differences between tasks that Azure ARC can perform on ASHCI vs those WAC / PowerShell is required for?

Kenny replies: Today, the tasks performed with Arc predominantly focus on more of the day-2 type-operations. Overall visibility into the clusters, fleet management of multiple clusters, VM deployment from Azure (preview) and the onboarding of other Azure Services, such as Azure Monitor. The tasks that are performed with WAC and/or PowerShell, are more blended. They allow you to perform the lower level, somewhat less-frequent tasks, such as hardware/software lifecycle management, BIOS configuration, hardware security settings etc as well as some of the day-2 operations, such as VM deployment. This will continue to blend into the future, and lower-level functionality will find it's way to Arc, but a middle-ground may be the use of WAC inside Azure, rather than running WAC exclusively on-prem. This would mean you can perform more tasks from "inside Azure", albeit some of them from WAC-in-Azure, and some from Azure Arc.

Question: Is Horizon Cloud on Azure service supported ?

Matt replies: Horizon will be complementary with Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI - see VMware blog here: https://blogs.vmware.com/euc/2021/11/vmware-horizon-next-gen-architecture-to-support-azure-virtual-desktop-on-azure-stack-hci.html

Question: Thank you for the session today. I wonder, what is the most efficient and effective way to migrate virtual machines from VMWare to Microsoft Azure HCI?

Kenny replies: There are a number of tools available for migration. Many organizations are using their existing backup tooling for migration, with vendors such as Commvault and Veeam supporting cross-hypervisor restore. In addition, tools from the likes of Acronis, StarWind and Carbonite are also being used for migration.

Question: Can I import from any other format like VMware or other hypervisor VMs?

Matt replies: You will need to convert existing VMs, there are a number of tools for doing this in a straightforward and seamless way including Carbonite, Veeam, Commvault and others

Question: Are we able to update Memory and CPUs on the fly for our VMs using this?

Kenny replies: Memory can be set to dynamic, and this updated without downtime. There is no hot-add of CPU available.

Question: Could we use Azure Arc for BIOS / RAID configuration? > no UEFI Secure boot is demanded %2B TPM 2.x. at best integrated system that even offer more features. RAID controllers may not be used. Azure Stack HCI leverage software designed storaged based on Storage Spaces Direct and the latest of enhanced ReFS filesystem.

Kenny replies: Today, granular configuration of those hardware-level, and cluster-level settings is still handled through local tooling like WAC, with the OpenManage extension. WIth WAC now available in the Azure portal, once OEM extensions are supported, you'll have a similar level of granular control from Azure-based WAC. Longer term, as Microsoft allow for more OEM integration into Azure services such as Azure Update Management, Dell will plug into this as appropriate to provide more fleet management capabilities.

Question: Please review the On prem VPN to Azure cloud process and explain the Virtual network gateway and local network gateway.

Kenny replies: Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc have no requirements on a S2S VPN between on-prem and Azure. However, if you do wish to deploy a S2S VPN between on-prem and Azure, there's lots of info here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/vpn-gateway/design. At a high level, the vNet Gateway and Local Network Gateway live in Azure. The Local Network Gateway is essentially a specific object in Azure that represents your on-premises location (the site) for routing purposes, and utilizes specific network settings from your on-prem VPN endpoint device (firewall, dedicated VPN device etc) to establish a connection. Again, Azure Stack HCI doesn't need this to be in place, but traffic to/from the Azure Stack HCI environment can traverse this S2S network if your routing is set up that way.

Question: Can you discuss a use case where Azure ARC and IOT Hub/IOT Edge are used at the same time as Azure ARC along with HCI?

Matt replies: Azure Arc, at a high level, is a control plane to project non-Azure resources into Azure for the purposes of management, governance, compliance and security. In addition, you can push select Azure services out to run on the Arc-enabled infrastructure. As it stands today, Azure Stack HCI natively integrates with Azure Arc, for management, VM deployment, ease of monitoring onboarding and more, however, Azure IoT Hub (which lives in Azure) and Azure IoT Edge (which can run in a VM/Container on top of Azure Stack HCI) aren't reliant, or integrated with Azure Arc specifically. However, there could be a scenario where a single resource group in Azure, contains both workloads (VMs, Containers) on Azure Stack HCI (projected into Azure using Azure Arc), and IoT Hub/Edge resources, and as a result, can be centrally managed from one place, but in terms of management and control, you'd be using IoT Hub to manage the IoT side of things, and Arc/Azure Stack HCI to manage and control the underlying Azure Stack HCI infrastructure and workloads.

Question: Where can I find training for this topic?

Anita replies: We’re offering a 2-day Microsoft Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc training course – attached are the details, feel free to message me if you’re interested in attending at tech_exchange@dell.com

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