Microsoft rolls its own hyperconverged appliance program

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Microsoft’s revealed it’s signed up several server vendors to make hyperconverged appliances running Windows Server natively.

Hyperconverged appliances have, to date, nearly always been about giving vSphere a nice place to live. But plenty of those who use vSphere in any environment do it to run Windows Server. Which is a little odd given that Redmond’s server platform includes Hyper-V for compute virtualization, VXLAN for network virtualization and plus Storage Spaces for software-defined storage.

Those three ingredients are the basis of any software-defined data centre and indeed also any hyperconverged appliance. That’s not passed Microsoft by, but the company has been rather busy getting Azure Stack out the door.

Now the company has revealed an effort called “Windows Server Software-Defined” that sees approved hardware partners offer “validated solutions” that wraps Windows Server into three packages, namely

  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Standard: Compute and storage in one cluster;
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure Premium: Billed as a “software-defined data center in a box” because it adds software-defined networking and Security Assurance features to HCI Standard.
  • Software-Defined Storage: Software-defined storage built on commodity servers and billed as a replacement for standalone arrays, with support for all-flash NVMe configurations and scale-out.

HPE, Lenovo, Fujitsu, Supermicro and QCT have signed up as partners, as has Windows-centric software-defined storage concern DataON.

Will anyone care? The Register understands that Microsoft people and Redmond’s partners will all emerge with fatter pay packets if they sell Azure capacity rather than anything licensed to run on-premises. Microsoft’s also making rather more noise about Azure Stack than Windows Server these days. And let’s not forget that Hyper-V has been more-or-less free for years, yet VMware kept the majority of the virtualization and hyperconverged infrastructure markets.

The Register‘s virtualization desk therefore expects the Windows Server Software-Defined will be appreciated by some buyers, but won’t markedly change the hyperconverged infrastructure market. That’s Azure Stack’s job and when it lands in September it looks like doing it well. ®

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