The technical preview requires a pretty beefy physical server: Microsoft recommends a system with 16 physical processor cores, 128GB of RAM, a Hyper-V enabled BIOS and a network interface controller certified for Windows Server 2012 R2. The system will need five physical disk drives (either SSDs or traditional spinning hard drives) with one dedicated OS disk with at least 200GB available, and 4 disks for storing data with 250GB of space available.
For companies that will buy new hardware to test Azure Stack, Microsoft recommends Dell R630 and HPE DL 360 Gen 9 servers. At this point, it's not possible to run the preview on the public cloud version of Azure, since nested virtualization requires Windows Server 2016 as the host operating system.
When Azure Stack is made generally available at the end of this year, administrators will have to dedicate at least four physical servers to running it. Microsoft hasn't offered the final minimum system requirements for all of those devices, but Vijay Tewari, a principal group program manager at Microsoft, said it will likely be similar to what's needed to run the proof-of-concept technical preview.
That configuration (whatever it is) will be enough for companies to run production workloads, but using the minimum hardware will limit the number and type of workloads that can be run. Companies will be able to build their own Azure Stack environments starting with a cluster of four physical servers, and Tewari said that Microsoft also will work with server manufacturers like Dell and HPE to create systems for running Azure Stack out of the box.
All of this is intended to create a compelling hybrid cloud system for enterprises that are trying to bridge the world between on-premises infrastructure and the public cloud. Azure Stack is one way to do that, with a set of consistent tools intended to let developers work across both environments seamlessly. If Microsoft’s push is successful, it could be a boost to the company’s cloud business both while people are paying for Azure Stack and as they start spending more on public cloud services.
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