Ignite 2020: Microsoft Announces New Devices and Services for Azure Stack


Microsoft recently announced new additions to the Azure family at its annual event Ignite 2020. The event is being held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The major announcement at the event was the addition of three new edge-computing devices to the Azure Stack family. Microsoft continues to expand its cloud computing portfolio with multi-cloud and multi-edge hybrid capabilities, including Azure Arc updates and bringing Azure Kubernetes Services to Azure Stack HCI. 

The event witnessed Microsoft unveiling three new Azure Stack Edge (previously known as Azure Data Box Edge) devices. The upgraded devices are portable and come with storage, networking, and AI processing, forming a mini data center. It can handle analytics and even do AI processing locally on the device. The three different models are distinct in terms of GPU and power supply capabilities. They include –  

Azure Stack Edge Pro – an 11U rack-mountable device optimized for data centers, currently available with the NVIDIA Tensor T4 GPU. 

Azure Stack Edge Pro R – an improved data-center-grade device with a built-in NVIDIA Tensor T4 GPU. It is available in a portable transit case and has an optional Uninterruptable Power Supply.  

Azure Stack Edge Mini R – A portable battery-operated device that includes built-in Intel VPU for edge-processing.  

“Since the beginning, Azure has always been hybrid by design, providing customers consistency and flexibility in meeting their business needs and empowering them to invent with purpose,” said Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure. “As we expand our Azure hybrid capabilities, we give customers a holistic and seamless approach to run and manage their apps anywhere across on-premises, multi-cloud, and the edge.” 

The event also saw Microsoft announcing new capabilities of Azure Arc as a part of its hybrid cloud portfolio. Introduced in November 2019, Arc is available for both Windows and Linux servers for production workloads. Azure Arc allows users to manage end-to-end work from their Azure management portals in a centralized way, regardless of the server workload’s location. 

“Customers can now take advantage of the latest Azure managed database innovation, such as staying always current with evergreen SQL, elastic scale and a unified data management experience, regardless of whether it’s running in Azure, running in their data center or running in a different public cloud,” White said. “And these data services work in both connected and disconnected modes.” 

Microsoft also stated that Azure Arc-enabled data services, Kubernetes, and SQL Server are now available in public preview. Starting this week, Azure SQL Managed Instance and Azure PostgreSQL Hyperscale can be managed centrally — on on-premise servers, on the edge, or any Microsoft non-Microsoft public cloud.  

Microsoft also stated that Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) is available in preview on Azure Stack HCI. This will enable developers and admins to deploy and manage their containerized apps on Azure Stack HCI. Similarly, Windows Admin Center is now available in preview at the Azure Portal. It allows users to handle Windows Server OS management on their Azure virtual machines directly from the Azure Portal.  

“Customers can seamlessly organize and govern Windows and Linux servers—both physical and virtual machines—across their multi-cloud, multi-edge environment, all from the Azure Portal,” White said. He further added, “customers can now use Azure management services to monitor, secure and update servers, and audit them with the same Azure Policy across multi-cloud and multi-edge deployments. In addition, customers can implement standardized role-based access control across all their servers to meet important compliance requirements.” 

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