Microsoft adds more devices and services to its Azure Stack hybrid line-up

Microsoft is adding three new edge-computing devices and moving ahead, with various Azure-branded services that are part of its hybrid-cloud family.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is adding three new edge-computing devicesto its Azure Stack Edge family. It also is bringing Azure Kubernetes Services to Azure Stack HCI and making available more Azure Arc-enabled services as part of its continued hybrid-computing push. 

For those needing a refresher on Microsoft's continually-evolving branding, Azure Stack Hub is the new name for Azure Stack, Microsoft's initial hybrid computing platform. Azure Stack Edge, Microsoft's family of edge-devices, is the rebrand of Azure Data Box Edge. Azure Stack HCI (Hyperconverged Infrastructure), a way to run virtualized workloads on-premises while connecting to Azure, is still known as Azure Stack HCI. And Azure Arc is Microsoft's strategy and associated services/software for enabling customers to manage its cloud services centrally, regardless of which on which cloud they're hosted. 

Microsoft also is working on an Azure-Stack-branded competitor to AWS Outposts, which is codenamed Azure Fiji, but the company is not announcing this coming product -- which will provide Azure running on physical hardware directly to customers -- at the Ignite show this week. 

"Our approach is multi-cloud and multi-edge," said Azure Marketing Corporate Vice President Julia White in a video about Microsoft's hybrid announcements for its virtual Ignite 2020 conference. 

Credit: Microsoft

At Ignite, Microsoft is taking the wraps off three new Azure Stack Edge devices. Azure Stack Edge Pro with GPU is an 11U rack-mountable device optimized for datacenters or branch locations. It's currently available with the NVIDIA Tensor T4 GPU. There's also Azure Stack Edge Pro R, a ruggedized data-center-grade device with a built-in NVIDIA Tensor T4 GPU. It's available in a portable transit case and has an optional Uninterruptable Power Supply. And Azure Stack Edge Mini R is Microsoft's ultra-portable, ruggedized, battery-operated device that can fit in a backpack and includes built-in Intel VPU for edge-processing. 

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Microsoft is touting the ability of these edge devices to provide storage, compute, virtual machines, and Kubernetes workloads. They can be used to handle analytics and to do AI processing locally on the devices. 

Microsoft also is announcing new Azure Arc capabilities at Ignite this week. Azure Arc-enabled servers, initially announced a year ago at Ignite, is now generally available for both Windows and Linux servers for production workloads. Azure Arc allows users to manage everything from inventory and governance to server configuration and organization centrally from their Azure management portals, regardless of where these server workloads are located.

And as of this week, Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes and Azure Arc-enabled SQL Server are in public preview. And more Azure Arc-enabled data services also are now in public preview. Starting this week, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure PostgreSQL Hyperscale can be managed centrally, whether they are on on-premises servers, on the edge, or on any Microsoft or non-Microsoft public cloud. 

Also: Microsoft Azure: A cheat sheet TechRepublic

(Speaking of Linux, Microsoft is announcing this week that Azure is adding support for another Linux distribution, Flatcar Container Linux from Kinvolk. It's now available in the Azure Marketplace. According to Microsoft, Flatcar Container Linux is a good choice for migrations of container workloads because it is compatible with Core OS, which ended end of life on May 26, 2020.)

Microsoft's Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is available in preview form on Azure Stack HCI as of this week. This will allow developers and admins to deploy and manage their containerized apps on Azure Stack HCI and manage them using familiar tools. And on the topic of management tools, Windows Admin Center is now available in preview in the Azure Portal. Windows Admin Center allows users to handle Windows Server OS management on their Azure virtual machines directly from the Azure Portal. 

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