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Dell EMC Takes Azure Stack to the Next Logical Level: Ruggedized

From the beginning, Microsoft's vision for the Azure Stack involved situations where you're getting your hands dirty.

The Azure Stack is supposed to bring much of the power of Azure cloud computing out to the edge, where users can run full artificial intelligence (AI) or other processing-intensive workloads without waiting to connect to the cloud.

Use cases cited by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2018 included early adopter Chevron deploying Azure Stack on oil rigs, for example. A demo video last year featured Scott Montgomery, a senior industry solutions manager at Microsoft, driving around in a one-ton Chevrolet Suburban decorated with the Microsoft logo and loaded with an Azure Stack in the cargo area (pictured above). The point was to highlight disaster relief scenarios, remote power line inspections with a drone and other scenarios.

Yet the first implementations of Azure Stack, which is sold as a complete hardware and software solution by a handful of OEM partners, were primarily designed for the standard datacenter, which is an exceptionally clean room in most cases. That was a good place to start as many of the less-photogenic implementations of Azure Stack call for data processing at a branch office or a remote facility that doesn't require the server kit to be mobile once it's installed.

This week brought the next logical step in the evolution of the systems with the unveiling of the Dell EMC Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack. You could think of it as the Toughbook of Azure Stacks -- or as Dell would probably prefer, the Dell Latitude Rugged of Azure Stacks.

The back side of the Dell EMC Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack. (Source: Dell EMC)

"Tactical Azure Stack is the first and only ruggedized Azure Stack product available for tactical edge deployments," wrote Paul Galjan, senior director of Microsoft Hybrid Cloud at Dell EMC, in a blog post announcing the system, which is expected to be available this quarter in the United States.

Unlike a laptop, the Azure Stack is a two-person lift at 380 pounds. That weight is light enough to qualify the system as fully mobile or highly portable given that it can be moved by two people. It's also a reasonable weight considering the 41.5" high and 25.6" deep box includes all the servers, storage and networking gear needed to run the Azure software. There's an option to use additional "core" transit cases to go up to the full node limits of Azure Stack.

"The Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack unlocks a wide variety of use cases for government, military, energy and mining applications," Galjan said. "It can also be ideal in forward deployments and mobile environments in marine, aerospace and other conditions that require MIL-STD 810G compliance."

Also this week, Microsoft, which integrated the Azure Stack with the Azure Government cloud last year, unveiled new Azure Data Box products for Azure Government. The on-premises appliances include the Azure Data Box Edge, available now in preview; the Azure Data Box Gateway and Azure Data Box, both available in March; and the Azure Data Box Heavy, set for availability in the middle of the year.

Posted by Scott Bekker on 02/06/2019 at 11:36 AM


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