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Azure Stack Prototypes from Dell, HPE and Lenovo Debut at Ignite

Thousands of IT pros and developers have now had their chance to see what the first Azure Stack systems might look like when the Microsoft public cloud platform is made available for datacenters and hosting facilities next summer.

Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Lenovo each had prototypes spec'd for Azure Stack on display at last week's Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta, where the company also announced it has released the second technical preview of the software.

Attendees crowded around the various displays of the prototypes on the Ignite exhibit floor, while technical sessions on the topic were standing-room-only. For its part, HPE disclosed it will offer a 4-node and 8-node Azure Stack system built on its popular DL380 servers and up to 14-cores per node. The company will offer usage-based pricing, said Ken Won, HPE's director of integrated cloud solutions.

Of the three suppliers, only Won would offer a hint to what the systems might cost -- likely $250,000 to $300,000, though he described that as a "guesstimate." Those going with usage-based pricing plans can get one bill from HPE for their datacenter and Microsoft Azure public cloud consumption, Won said.

HPE provides its Operations Bridge multi-cloud and datacenter management suite to manage Azure Stack, and it will work with its own ArcSight SIEM and security analytics platform. Won said ArcSight, though not part of Microsoft's Azure Security Center marketplace, is fully compatible with Azure, which HPE CEO Meg Whitman has described as the company's preferred public cloud.

"We can pull data, log information, out of Azure to the extent that they publish it, and use it as part of the ArcSight solution to look at all of the data you need to look at to identify any security issues," Won said.

At the Lenovo booth, the company was showcasing its Azure Stack prototype, as well. Lenovo previewed its converged 8-node system running 22 cores per Intel Broadwell-based CPU.

The Azure Stack systems were popular among those visiting the booth, said Lenovo advisory engineer Michael Miller, noting a vast majority of those inquiring about the systems were those representing enterprises of all sizes, primarily from Europe, a region with strict data sovereignty regulations.

"We've talked to a lot of developers who use Azure who are interested in doing their work on-premises and then be able to move it into the public cloud," Miller said. "There's been a lot of interest from health care companies [and] actually some interest from government agencies and at least two transportation agencies. A lot of people want to know pricing, and we've told them that hasn't been worked out, that the system is still in development."

Jim Ganthier, vice president and general manager of engineered solutions for the HPC and cloud units at Dell-EMC, said his company will be "on stage when Microsoft releases Azure Stack," but steered the conversation toward the launch of its new SQL Server 2016 and Exchange Server integrated solutions, only saying that Dell doesn't talk about unannounced products -- though it, too, had a prototype on display at Ignite.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/03/2016 at 9:06 AM


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