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Get an overview of the Azure Stack integrated system and Azure Stack internals.

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In This Chapter

  • Overview of Azure Stack Integrated System

  • Azure Stack Architecture Overview

  • Azure Stack Internals

  • Planning an Azure Stack Deployment

  • Data Center Integration

This chapter explores how Azure Stack architecture is designed to support a single Azure ecosystem. It provides a comprehensive overview of Azure Stack’s integrated system design. The chapter also includes an in-depth review of the design, focusing on Azure Stack’s three main pillars of compute, storage, and networking, and provides information on Azure Stack deployment planning and data center integration points.

Overview of Azure Stack Integrated System

An Azure Stack integrated system is a collection of software that is available in Azure, a set of tested hardware systems that supports Azure fabric, a set of support infrastructure with solutions from Microsoft and its original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partners, and a set of services such as rack and stack, placement, deployment, and so on, that builds up a full hybrid cloud ecosystem. Figure 3.1 shows the lifecycle of the Azure Stack Integrated System, explained as follows:

  • Architecture, hardware, and topology: Azure Stack’s underlying hardware and software is OEM hardware from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Cisco (with announcements from Huawei and Avanade for availability in 2018); Windows Server 2016; Storage Spaces Direct (S2D); software-defined networking (SDN); and so on. This combination delivers the performance, scale, and performance of Azure in your data center.

  • Deployment, configuration, provisioning: Microsoft works closely with OEM partners such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Cisco, Avanade and Huawei to understand how customers want to deploy services in their data centers, ensuring that the company can accommodate a variety of environments and configurations.

    FIGURE 3.1

    FIGURE 3.1 Azure Stack Integrated System lifecycle.

  • Validation: Validation is an integral phase where software and hardware are tested to ensure the right features and functions are delivered in the host bus adapter (HBA), network interface cards (NICs), servers, storage devices, and network switches that comprise Azure Stack, so that when you deploy Azure Stack these components are not only individually tested but also validated as an entire solution.

  • Monitoring and diagnostics: Maintaining a large system like Azure Stack requires that you understand what’s going on under the hood, what’s operationally functional, what proactive and reactive measures to perform for optimal performance, and how to integrate those diagnostics with your existing environment.

  • Field replacement of parts: As hardware and software will fail at some point, Azure Stack should be able to accommodate that eventuality. Microsoft and its OEM partners have their own supply chain cycles and support infrastructure, brought together to satisfy the overall service level agreed upon with customers in the event of a system failure.

  • Patching and updating: As Microsoft delivers software updates on a regular cadence in Azure, it is essential to have equivalent and consistent updates in Azure Stack as well. This includes providing services, security patches, firmware updates, and so on, in a way that is non-disruptive to the workloads running on top of Azure Stack.

  • Business continuity: Disasters of any form can impact an organization’s business, making it critical to have proper measures to ensure business continuity. Backup and disaster recovery options integrated in Azure Stack guarantee that your regular data center operations can avert a business outage in the event of such a disaster.

  • Security and privacy: Your deployment, management, and configuration of Azure Stack should meet the security requirements of your business, service delivery partners, and other stakeholders to ensure that the platform is secured against all threats.

Each of these elements is essential for optimal performance in Azure Stack, which is consistent with Azure lifecycle management and thereby provides a unified management experience.

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