Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 is generally available
Published Feb 01 2024 09:00 AM 18.2K Views
Microsoft

Written by Cosmos Darwin, Principal PM Manager on the Azure Edge & Platform team

 

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Today we’re announcing the general availability of Azure Stack HCI version 23H2, the latest cloud-managed edge infrastructure from Microsoft Azure.


First introduced a few months ago in preview, Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 brings adaptive cloud principles to the full stack. You can deploy and operate everything from hardware to applications using Azure Resource Manager and core Azure management services, unifying siloed teams around a common platform. New container-based apps run alongside existing VMs with Azure Kubernetes Service, and every workload is automatically Azure Arc enabled, making it easy to leverage cloud-based configuration, observability, and advanced security across all your resources.

 

Ready for production

 

General availability means that Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 is ready for production use. Based on preview feedback and internal measurement, version 23H2 deploys and updates more reliably than any prior version. Starting today, new deployments can use version 23H2 and receive production-level technical support from Azure Support. Whether you’re experiencing an issue or just have a question, our dedicated team of engineers are standing by and ready to help. Version 23H2 is now the default and is no longer labeled ‘Preview’ in Azure portal.

 

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Screenshot: Use Azure Arc to provision and manage VMs on Azure Stack HCI.

 

General availability includes all the Azure Arc infrastructure needed to provision and manage workloads: the Arc Resource Bridge, Custom Location, and the new Azure Kubernetes Service powered by Azure Arc are all generally available today. Thank you to everyone who participated in the preview over the last two years. Your feedback has had a huge influence shaping the functionality that’s GA today, like role-based access control (RBAC), extensions support for VMs and Kubernetes, logical networks and storage paths management, and more.


Learn more about what’s new for Azure Kubernetes Service enabled by Azure Arc in their announcement blog post.

 

Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI

 

Today we’re also announcing the general availability of Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI. We’re committed to an adaptive cloud approach, empowering customers to leverage cloud technologies and services wherever they're needed. We’ll continue to bring the most popular Azure services to the edge with Azure Stack HCI.


Azure Virtual Desktop delivers remote desktops and applications anywhere and is the only cloud VDI solution fully optimized for Windows 11 and Windows 10 multi-session, which helps you improve productivity while keeping costs in check. Combining the benefits of Azure Virtual Desktop and Azure Stack HCI, this new Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI capability brings together the flexibility of an industry-leading cloud VDI service with the on-premises control you need to fit your unique business requirements. Whether you have regulatory compliance and data residency requirements, latency-sensitive workloads, or need to manage data gravity, Azure Virtual Desktop for Azure Stack HCI extends the capabilities of the Microsoft Cloud to your on-premises environment.


Watch the new how-to video from Microsoft Mechanics to see for yourself:

 

 

Learn more about features, pricing, and more in the Azure Virtual Desktop announcement blog post.

 

Choose turnkey solutions from your preferred vendor

 

We are pleased to partner with leading global vendors to deliver validated hardware-software solutions for Azure Stack HCI. Dell APEX Cloud Platform for Microsoft Azure, the first Premier Solution for Azure Stack HCI, will be available with version 23H2 next month. Integrated Systems including HPE ProLiant, Lenovo ThinkAgile, and those from DataON will also support version 23H2 in the coming months.

 

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Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 supports a wide variety of hardware platforms, from the ultra-dense to the ultra-small. There are over 250 validated nodes from more than 25 solution partners worldwide in the Azure Stack HCI solutions catalog. This broad selection lets you choose the right hardware for your needs, from the partner who offers the best service and support in your region.

 

Sneak peek at what’s next


We are continuously investing to broaden what’s possible with Azure Stack HCI. Alongside version 23H2, today we’re also introducing several new previews:


Azure Migrate to Azure Stack HCI (preview). Use Azure Migrate to move VMs from an existing Hyper-V environment to Azure Stack HCI version 23H2. This feature uses Azure Migrate as the control plane, but the data transfer stays entirely on-premises. Support for VMware vCenter source environments is coming soon. Learn more


Microsoft Defender for Cloud for Azure Stack HCI (preview). In addition to workload protections for VMs and Kubernetes, Microsoft Defender for Cloud now offers built-in security recommendations covering your Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 infrastructure. Learn more


Azure Arc Overview for Azure Stack HCI (preview). Navigate to the Azure Stack HCI section in Azure Arc to see built-in dashboards summarizing all your Azure Stack HCI clusters. Get an at-a-glance view of alerts, updates, and more.

 

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Screenshot: Manage Azure Stack HCI security in the Azure portal (preview).

 

You can try these preview features in the Azure portal with an Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 cluster. You don’t need to join the OS preview channel or install anything. We’re pausing the OS preview channel for the next few months: there won’t be new Azure Stack HCI builds. We encourage everyone to focus on version 23H2 and use the 60-day free trial for evaluation. We’ll share more about how to preview the next feature update, version 24H2, around mid-year. Watch this blog for that.

 

When to use version 22H2 (temporarily)


Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 is generally available and recommended for most new deployments, but it doesn’t yet cover 100% of the scenarios supported by version 22H2. Until it does, Microsoft will continue to offer and support both versions. If you need a scenario that’s not yet supported in version 23H2, you can deploy version 22H2 and then update to version 23H2 later when your scenario is supported.

 

Here are the most important limitations to know about:


Regional availability. Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 is available today in two cloud regions: East US and West Europe. More regions will be added quickly over the next few weeks. Eventually it will be available in all the same regions as version 22H2, including Azure China and Azure US Government. We are working hard to make all the features, like Arc-enabled VMs and AKS, available in those regions. [Update Feb 28th: region support for Australia East has been added.]


Stretch clustering. Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 is available today for “single room” deployments where all nodes are in the same room, connected to the same switch(es). It doesn’t yet support stretching the cluster between two rooms. We know that this scenario is critical for many customers, especially in manufacturing, and we are committed to providing multi-room high availability with Azure Stack HCI version 23H2, including key features like cloud-based deployment, updates, and VM provisioning. Development will take some time: we expect to share more details around mid-year. In the meantime, customers who require a stretch cluster should continue to deploy version 22H2.


System Center support. Our ambition with Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc is to simplify and consolidate your operational experience so that you can manage everything, from infrastructure to VMs to Kubernetes, with a single control plane, the Azure Resource Manager, and a single pane of glass, the Azure portal. We’ve heard your feedback about how important this is, and we are committed to rapidly growing the capabilities of Azure Arc to achieve this vision. We also know that many customers have an existing investment in System Center that they prefer to leverage. In the coming months, System Center will add support for Azure Stack HCI version 23H2. We’re working on another blog post, together with the System Center team, to detail our long-term roadmap.


Please note that Azure Virtual Desktop only supports Azure Stack HCI version 23H2 presently.

 

Coming soon: update from 22H2 to 23H2


Azure Stack HCI will offer an in-place update from version 22H2 to version 23H2. This is our fourth annual release since launching as a subscription service, and we’re heartened by our customers’ success keeping Azure Stack HCI up to date: over 97% of clusters are running the latest version, 22H2.


This year’s update is the most advanced yet: every cluster will get the Azure Arc infrastructure, the Lifecycle Manager, and more during the update. Our highest priority is to ensure that the update is seamless, so we’re taking some extra time for testing. We expect to start offering the update to a few customers as soon as next month, gradually expanding to everyone over the course of the year. Thank you for your patience as we get this right.


Until the 23H2 update has been offered to everyone, we'll continue supporting version 22H2.


There is no end date for Azure Stack HCI version 22H2 servicing or support at this time.


Thank you!


On behalf of the team in Redmond, thank you for choosing Azure to power your edge infrastructure. And a very special thanks to our preview participants who helped us find and fix so many things these last few months! Looking ahead, Azure Stack HCI has an exciting roadmap of monthly updates. We are committed to continuing to make Azure Stack HCI better for everyone, from the datacenter to the edge.


Want to try Azure Stack HCI right away? Check out the refreshed HCIBox from Azure Arc Jumpstart. It’s the quickest way to get a dedicated Azure Stack HCI virtual sandbox inside an Azure subscription for evaluation and testing, with step-by-step instructions and no hardware needed.


Ready to deploy on hardware? Contact your preferred vendor or browse the solutions catalog.

 

<3


- Cosmos

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