Virtualization improvements for non-HCI installations


Microsoft states that Azure Stack HCI is an ultimate virtualization host. But it comes with its own downsides: first, it is quite costly (for us, for example, it costs 66% more, than Windows Server nodes, because it does not include Windows Server licenses for VMs), second - it has quite restrictive hardware requirements (not everyone needs high-end, for some workloads HDDs and 1Gbit network is enough).


What do you have in bag for those organizations which do not need hyper-converged infrastructure (or cannot use it due to hardware constraints) and would like to build their virtualization infra using regular Windows Server as hypervisors?

6 Replies
We are not taking anything away from Windows Server, so the HCI features are there in WS2022. With that said, you are correct that Azure Stack HCI is our strategic direction for HCI. We have always required 10 GB or higher NIC's and recommended RDMA enabled NIC's. While 1 GB might work for kicking the tires in a lab, it's not supported for production, see here:

We are working to grow the catalog of hardware that supports AzS HCI, but ultimately it's a matter of what the OEM's want to invest the time and energy to test and verify. So work with your OEM and they can submit what hardware you are interested in.

@Elden Christensen I am talking specifically about non-HCI installations. Yes you did put a lot of work into hyper-converged infrastructure, but not every environment can use it. I am asking about planned improvements for non-HCI virtualization.

We are also evaluating opening up Azure Stack HCI to empower choice in storage... so that customers have a choice of Software-defined Storage, or to use traditional block storage (FC / FCoE / iSCSI) or file based storage (SMB / NFS). We want AzS HCI to be the preferred virtualization host, no matter what your preference for storage is.

In that case I suggest you to re-evaluate the pricing model for Stack HCI, let it include Windows Server Datacenter licenses. Because with Windows Server 2019 datacenter on a hypervisor I can have both S2D and as many Windows VM as I want. With Stack HCI, I need to pay separate for the HCI capabilities (S2D) and for Windows Server - that's just too expensive.

Today unfortunately the model is not all the way there yet, you have the infra in a modern subscription offering and then licensing of the guests in a traditional perpetual license... we are looking at how to improve that to offer the guest licenses in a subscription model as well. That will bring alignment.

Well, we are a service provider, so we are already consume Windows Server as subscription through SPLA, so.. =)