What’s new for Azure Stack HCI at Microsoft Inspire 2022
Principal Program Manager for Azure Edge & Platform, Microsoft
Azure Stack HCI is delivered as an Azure service, which means it continuously gets better with new features and enhancements for all subscribers. In recent years, we’ve set the pattern of announcing new previews in mid-summer. Today at Microsoft Inspire 2022, we continue that tradition! Here’s a sneak peek at upcoming public previews for Azure remote support, the 22H2 feature update, and Azure Marketplace integration:
Public Preview of Azure Remote Support
Effortless customer support is an enduring reason that organizations adopt public cloud. With Azure Stack HCI, we’re extending the Azure support experience to edge infrastructure. Since launch, support requests for Azure Stack HCI have been managed through the Azure Portal and covered under your Azure support plan. Today we’re taking the next big step: Azure remote support for Azure Stack HCI.
With remote support, you can temporarily grant Microsoft Azure engineers direct access to your on-premises cluster to gather logs and fix issues. This can quicken time to resolution by eliminating the back-and-forth hassle of scheduling a call and uploading logs yourself. When an engineer connects to your cluster, they can only run Just Enough Administration (JEA)-approved cmdlets, and everything they do is recorded for you to audit. You can revoke access anytime. By default, remote support is off. It’s easy to turn on and manage with new PowerShell commands and a new tool in Windows Admin Center. Azure remote support is included for Azure Stack HCI at no additional cost.
The public preview will be available next week and works with your existing Azure Stack HCI cluster running version 21H2 or later.
Public Preview of Azure Stack HCI, version 22H2
The operating system at the heart of Azure Stack HCI gets a major update with new features and enhancements every year. After version 20H2 and version 21H2, the next version will be called… surprise! Azure Stack HCI, version 22H2.
Next month, the first significant preview of version 22H2 will become available to clusters enrolled in the public Preview channel. Like version 21H2, the new version 22H2 will be available as a free, non-disruptive, over-the-air update for all subscribers when it reaches general availability (GA) later this year.
Content-wise, the update is focused on fundamental improvements to the core hypervisor, storage, and networking, based on your feedback. Storage replication in stretch clusters is faster, and you convert existing volumes from fixed provisioning to thin provisioning. Network ATC has gained new abilities, including automatic IP addressing for storage networks, support for stretch clusters, and better network proxy support. Hyper-V live migration is faster and more reliable for switchless 2-node and 3-node clusters. And for new installations, version 22H2 starts with a stronger default security posture, including a stronger set of protocols and cipher suites, Secured-Core Server, Windows Defender application control, and other well-known security features enabled by default right from the start.
Public Preview of Azure Marketplace for Azure Stack HCI
Last autumn, we introduced Azure Arc-enabled VM management for Azure Stack HCI, enabling you to deploy and manage on-premises virtual machines through ARM, the Azure CLI, and the Azure Portal. Thank you to everyone who has participated in the preview and shared feedback thus far! A consistent top request has been the option to access VM images from the Azure Marketplace. I’m delighted to confirm that this feature is coming in public preview later this year.
With Azure Marketplace integration for Azure Arc-enabled Azure Stack HCI, you can conveniently access the latest fully-patched images from Microsoft, including Windows Server 2022 Azure Edition and Windows 10/11 Enterprise multi-session for Azure Virtual Desktop. Later, images from third-party publishers will be available too. It’s easy to add and manage images with new screens in the Azure Portal. This functionality is integrated directly into Azure Arc-enabled VM management: there are no additional agents or prerequisites to install. On the backend, we’re leveraging proven technology that’s powered Azure Stack Hub for many years.
The public preview will be available in early autumn and works with your existing Azure Stack HCI cluster running version 21H2 or later.