Tag Archives: 2019

For Sale – Razer Blade Stealth Early 2019 16Gb /256Gb SSD / MX150

Selling my Razer Blade Stealth Early 2019 MX150 version with 16Gb RAM and 256Gb SSD.
Totally and truly immaculate condition and only used like a dozen times properly. Never left the house.

Comes complete with box and all accessories even the USB C is unused. Also including the original shipping packaging which i will use to ship out
Brought directly from Razer UK in late June 2019 and will have warranty until then. Will put the laptop back to factory.

Will send using Royal Mail Special insured to the value. Can chuck in a basic case that i purchased with it , albeit it is slightly too big for this slim laptop.

Will post pictures of the unit when i get home.

Any questions , let me know.

Looking for £900 inclusive of Royal Mail delivery method mentioned above. Or if your local , i will personally deliver it to you.

Thanks for looking.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Windows 7 sunset gives PC market a boost in 2019

Analysts reported this month that the global PC market did something in 2019 it had not accomplished in seven years: It grew.

The figures differ as to how much — IDC reported a 2.7% year-over-year growth in global shipments, while Gartner cited a 0.6% increase — but experts agree that the Windows 7 sunset helped to prompt a hardware refresh for the enterprise. Per Gartner, Lenovo, HP and Dell shipped the most PCs in 2019, seeing growth of 8%, 3% and 5%, respectively.

Whether the boost in growth will be a one-year blip is debatable, but there is consensus that, for the enterprise at least, the PC is here to stay.

Windows 7 sunset gives PCs a boost

Linn Huang, research vice president at IDC, attributed the increase to a confluence of factors. Companies found themselves in a unique position of having to migrate to a new OS amid the growing tensions of a trade war with China, where PC components are commonly manufactured.

“For starters, the January 2020 [end of support] of Windows 7 means businesses — large and small alike — [were] either completing or accelerating their Windows 10 migrations,” he said.

Huang also mentioned shortages and tariff issues may have affected the market as well. Intel faced CPU supply issues that eased during the course of 2019 and, in December, President Trump tweeted that “penalty tariffs” would “not be charged,” thanks to a new agreement with China.

Linn Huang, research vice president at IDCLinn Huang

Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at Gartner, said the shipment boost was not because of any renewed interest in using the PC, but almost solely because of the Windows 7 sunset, which occurred Jan. 14.

Mikako Kitagawa, senior principal analyst at GartnerMikako Kitagawa

Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt acknowledged the effect of the Windows 7 sunset, but said it was only part of the story.

“I also believe that the PC is becoming more important as organizations try to improve employee experience,” he said. “We know from research that if people can’t make progress every day at work, they’re vulnerable to burnout and can contribute to higher attrition. The PC sits at the heart of productivity, so organizations see it as an important driver of [employee experience].”

Yev Pusin, director of strategy at data storage firm Backblaze, said the business’ clients — especially on the enterprise side — indeed had a need for something that could contribute more to productivity than a smartphone or tablet.

“I think a lot more folks … realized that, for the multi-tasking and flexibility they want, they need an actual computer — a Mac or PC,” he said.

Will PC market growth continue?

Kitagawa expects to see shipments dip in 2020 and 2021 due to a weak consumer market, as the smartphone has largely subsumed the PC’s role in daily life. Smartphones have made inroads in the enterprise as well, especially among younger workers.

Andrew Hewitt, analyst, Forrester ResearchAndrew Hewitt

“People used to carry a laptop or tablet to do work. Now, smartphone screens are bigger, so they are able to handle some tasks as well,” she said. “On the mentality side, many young people feel their smartphone is their primary work device.”

This is not to say that the PC will be disappearing from the workspace anytime soon.

Yev Pusin, director of strategy at Backblaze Yev Pusin

“It’s not the case that the PC is going away,” Kitagawa said. “The PC is a very important business tool.”

Huang likewise expected a decline of PC sales in the next couple of years but said a shift in the market might accompany that trend.

“Consumers and commercial users alike are demanding better and better with each generation,” he said. “Consequently, we expect to ship fewer PCs [in] 2020 and beyond, but the market will continue to churn toward more premium ends.”

Pusin said he did see a continued appetite for PCs in the future but agreed that customers interested in buying computers might focus on the higher end of performance.

According to Hewitt, the PC will retain its central place in the business world, although the form factor may differ.

“Our research actually shows that 30% of the most important factors for improving employee experience are technology-related, and the PC is a big part of that,” he said.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Investments in data storage vendors topped $2B in 2019

Data storage vendors received $2.1 billion in private funding in 2019, according to SearchStorage.com analysis of data from websites that track venture funding. Not surprisingly, startups in cloud backup, data management and ultrafast scale-out flash continue to attract the greater interest from private investors.

Six private data storage vendors closed funding rounds over more than $100 million in 2019, all in the backup/cloud sector. It’s a stretch to call most of these startups — all but one of the companies have been selling products for years.

A few vendors with disruptive storage hardware also got decent chunks of money to build out arrays and storage systems, although these rounds were much smaller than the data protection vendors received.

According to a recent report by PwC/ CB Insights MoneyTree, 213 U.S.-based companies closed funding rounds of at least $100 million last year. The report pegged overall funding for U.S. companies at nearly $108 billion, down 9% year on year but well above the $79 billion total from 2017.

Despite talk of a slowing global economy, data growth is expected to accelerate for years to come. And as companies mine new intelligence from older data, data centers need more storage and better management than ever. The funding is flowing more to vendors that manage that data than to systems that store it.

“Investors don’t lead innovation; they follow innovation. They see a hot area that looks like it’s taking off, and that’s when they pour money into it,” said Marc Staimer, president of Dragon Slayer Consulting in Beaverton, Ore.

Here is a glance at the largest funding rounds by storage companies in 2019, starting with software vendors:

Kaseya Limited, $500 million: Investment firm TPG will help Kaseya further diversify the IT services it can offer to manage cloud providers. Kaseya has expanded into backup in recent years, adding web-monitoring software ID Agent last year. That deal followed earlier pickups of Cloud Spanning Apps and Unitrends.

Veeam Software, $500 million: Veeam pioneered backup of virtual machines and serves many Fortune 500 companies. Insight Partners invested half of a billion dollars in Veeam in January 2019, and followed up by buying Veeam outright in January 2020 for a $5 billion valuation. That may lead to an IPO. Veeam headquarters are shifting to the U.S. from Switzerland, and Insight plans to focus on landing more U.S. customers.

Rubrik, $261 million: The converged storage vendor has amassed $553 million since launching in 2014. The latest round of Bain Capital investment reportedly pushed Rubrik’s valuation north of $3 billion. Flush with investment, Rubrik said it’s not for sale — but is shopping to acquire hot technologies, including AI, data analytics and machine learning.

Clumio, $175 million: Sutter Hill Ventures provided $40 million in April, on top of an $11 million 2017 round. It then came back for another $135 million bite in November, joined by Altimeter Capital. Clumio is using the money to add cybersecurity to its backup as a service in Amazon Web Services.

Acronis, $147 million: Acronis was founded in 2003, so it’s halfway into its second decade. But the veteran data storage vendor has a new focus of backup blended with cybersecurity and privacy, similar to Clumio. The Goldman Sachs-led funding helped Acronis acquire 5nine to manage data across hybrid Microsoft clouds.

Druva, $130 million: Viking Global Investors led a six-participant round that brought Druva money to expand its AWS-native backup and disaster recovery beyond North America to international markets. Druva since has added low-cost tiering to Amazon Glacier, and CEO Jaspreet Singh has hinted Druva may pursue an IPO.

Notable 2019 storage funding rounds

Data storage startups in hardware

Innovations in storage hardware underscore the ascendance of flash in enterprise data centers. Although fewer in number, the following storage startups are advancing fabrics-connected devices for high-performance workloads.

Over time, these data storage startups may mature to be able to deliver hardware that blends low latency, high IOPS and manageable cost, emerging as competitors to leading array vendors. For now, these products will have limited market to companies that needs petabytes (PB) (or more) of storage, but the technologies bear watching due to their speed, density and performance potential.

Lightbits Labs, $50 million: The Israel-based startup created the SuperSSD array for NVMe flash. The Lightbits software stack converts generic in-the-box TCP/IP into a switched Ethernet fabric, presenting all storage as a single giant SSD. SuperSSD starts at 64 PB before data reduction. Dell EMC led Lightbits’ funding, with contributions from Cisco and Micron Technology.

Vast Data, $40 million: Vast’s Universal Storage platform is not for everyone. Minimum configuration starts at 1 PB. Storage class memory and low-cost NAND are combined for unified block, file and object storage. Norwest Venture Partners led the round, with participation from Dell Technologies Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Honorable mentions in hardware include Pavilion Data Systems and Liqid. Pavilion is one of the last remaining NVMe all-flash startups, picking up $25 million in a round led by Taiwania Capital and RPS Ventures to flesh out its Hyperparallel Flash Array.

Liqid is trying to break into composable infrastructure, a term coined by Hewlett Packard Enterprise to signify the ability for data centers to temporarily lease capacity and hardware by the rack. Panorama Point Partners provided $28 million to help the startup flesh out its Liqid CI software platform.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Box vs. Dropbox outages in 2019

In this infographic, we present a timeline of significant service disruptions in 2019 for Box vs. Dropbox.

Box vs. Dropbox outages in 2019

Cloud storage providers Box and Dropbox self-report service disruptions throughout each year. In 2019, Dropbox posted publicly about eight incidents; Box listed more than 50. But the numbers don’t necessarily provide an apples-to-apples comparison, because each company gets to choose which incidents to disclose.

This infographic includes significant incidents that prevented users from accessing Box or Dropbox in 2019, or at least from uploading and downloading documents. It excludes outages that appeared to last 10 minutes or fewer, as well as incidents labeled as having only “minor” or “medium” impact.

To view the full list of 2019 incidents for Box vs. Dropbox, visit status.box.com and status.dropbox.com

Go to Original Article
Author:

2019 storage mergers and acquisitions covered by clouds

Most of the enterprise storage-related mergers and acquisitions that happened or closed in 2019 had a cloud twist.

Take IBM’s $34 billion blockbuster acquisition of Red Hat. That was about “resetting the hybrid cloud landscape” with access to the “world’s largest open source community,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said in October 2018 of the proposed deal. The acquisition closed in July 2019.

Although storage was hardly the impetus for the acquisition, IBM now has Red Hat’s open source-based storage portfolio. That includes the Gluster file system, Ceph multiprotocol software-defined storage and OpenShift Container Storage and Hyperconverged Infrastructure products that are well suited to cloud use.

OpenText’s $1.45 billion purchase of cloud-based data protection, disaster recovery (DR) and endpoint security provider Carbonite in November heads the list of 2019 backup acquisitions. The Waterloo, Canada-based information management vendor completed the acquisition on Dec. 24. 

Earlier in the year, Carbonite factored into another one of the biggest 2019 storage-related mergers and acquisitions. The Boston-based provider bought cybersecurity firm Webroot for $618.5 million to address ransomware threats and bolster endpoint protection.

Cloud providers’ mergers and acquisitions

Public cloud providers AWS and Google each acquired multiple startups specializing in data storage or migration. Amazon purchased Israel-based startup CloudEndure, an AWS Advanced Technology Partner, to expand its capabilities in application workload and data migration, backup and DR. CloudEndure’s key technologies include continuous data replication to speed DR in the cloud.

AWS scooped up another Israeli startup, NVMe flash specialist E8 Storage, over the summer. E8’s arrays feature NVMe solid-state drives (SSDs) to target analytics and other data-intensive workloads requiring low latency. The startup’s technology includes an NVMe-over-TCP implementation integrated into the operating system. E8 also sold its software for use with various industry-standard servers.

Google also bought a pair of Israeli startups in 2019. In July, Google fortified its enterprise-class file storage with the acquisition of Elastifile. Google previously collaborated with the startup on a managed file storage service that Elastifile CEO Erwan Menard said would provide higher performance, greater scale-out capacity and more enterprise-grade features than Google’s Cloud Filestore. Google said engineers would integrate the Elastifile and Cloud Filestore technology.

Earlier in 2019, Google picked up Alooma for its enterprise data migration capabilities. The transaction happened less than a year after Google added Velostrata, another Israeli startup that specializes in cloud migration. Alooma’s tool focuses on shifting data from databases and enterprise applications to a single data warehouse, whereas Velostrata can move entire VM-based databases and applications to the cloud.  

HPE buys MapR, Cray

Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s August purchase of struggling Hadoop distributor MapR included a cloud angle. HPE said MapR’s enterprise-grade file system and cloud storage services would complement its BlueData container platform it acquired in November 2019. HPE said the combination will enable users to combine artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and analytics data pipelines across on-premises, hybrid and multi-cloud environments. 

HPE’s biggest 2019 transaction with a storage component was its $1.4 billion acquisition of supercomputing heavyweight Cray. HPE identified high-performance computing (HPC) as a key component of its strategic direction to target organizations that run AI, machine learning and big data analytics workloads.

Flash-related mergers and acquisitions

Flash played a key role in several 2019 storage-related mergers and acquisitions. Pure Storage bought Swedish file software startup Compuverde for $48 million in April to turn its flagship FlashArray into a unified storage system. Pure said the unified FlashArray would target workloads such as enterprise file sharing, databases over the NFS and SMB file protocols, and VMware over NFS.

Compuverde was Pure’s second acquisition since August 2018, when the flash pioneer bought data deduplication software startup StorReduce. Pure integrated the StorReduce technology into its GPU-based FlashBlade, which targets AI, machine learning, analytics and HPC workloads.

DataDirect Networks (DDN) continued its storage expansion with the September acquisition of Western Digital’s IntelliFlash business unit. The IntelliFlash purchase adds NVMe- and SAS-based flash hardware and accompanying software. Western Digital, a leading disk and solid-state drive (SSD) vendor, said it no longer plans to sell storage systems.

Although DDN’s roots are in storage for HPC environments, the vendor has been broadening its portfolio through acquisition. DDN bought Nexenta in May for its software-defined, hardware-agnostic file, block and object services. In September 2018, DDN completed its $60 million purchase of hybrid flash array vendor Tintri, less than three months after buying Intel’s Lustre File System business.

In mid-2019, StorCentric tacked on sagging NVMe flash system startup Vexata and small and midsize business (SMB) backup software provider Retrospect a week apart. Formed in August 2018, StorCentric is also the parent company of Drobo and Nexsan. Drobo, Nexsan, Retrospect and Vexata operate as separate divisions under StorCentric. Drobo sells direct-attached NAS and iSCSI SAN systems for SMBs, while Nexsan focuses on block and unified storage and secure archiving.

In August, Toshiba Memory (now known as Kioxia) announced plans to acquire the flash-based SSD business of Taiwan-based Lite-On Technology for $165 million. Acting president and CEO Nobuo Hayasaka said the Lite-On technology would help the company “to meet the projected growth in demand for SSDs in PCs and data centers being driven by the increased use of cloud services.”

Also in August, Virtual Instruments completed its purchase of Metricly, which was formerly called Netuitive. In October, Virtual Instruments changed its name to Virtana and introduced a new SaaS-based CloudWisdom monitoring and cost analysis tool that uses the Metricly technology.

Backup mergers and acquisitions

Data protection vendors kept busy on the mergers and acquisitions front in 2019.

OpenText’s $1.45 billion deal for Carbonite in November was the largest data protection transaction and followed months of rumors about a possible sale. Carbonite’s subscription-based cloud backup protects servers, endpoints and SaaS applications for businesses and consumers.

In September, Commvault spent $225 million on software-defined storage startup Hedvig to converge primary and secondary storage and address the problem of data fragmentation. Hedvig’s scale-out Distributed Storage Platform runs on commodity servers and supports provisioning and management of block, file and object storage across private and public clouds. Commvault plans a phased rollout of the Hedvig software on its HyperScale data protection appliance, with full integration in mid-2021.

Veritas Technologies strengthened its storage analytics and monitoring capabilities through its March acquisition of Aptare. Aptare’s IT Analytics suite includes storage, backup, capacity, fabric, replication and virtualization management components, in addition to file analytics. Aptare IT Analytics will complement the popular Veritas NetBackup and Backup Exec data protection products and InfoScale storage management software.

Other data protection-related mergers and acquisitions in 2019 included: 

  • Cohesity’s May purchase of Imanis Data to enable customers to back up and recover Hadoop and NoSQL workloads and distributed databases, such as MongoDB, Cassandra, Cloudera and Couchbase DB.
  • Druva’s July acquisition of CloudLanes, a hybrid cloud data protection and migration startup, to let customers securely ingest data from on-premises systems, move it to the cloud and restore it locally.
  • Acronis’ December buy of Microsoft Hyper-V and Azure cloud management and security provider 5nine to complement its cyber protection capabilities. Acronis plans to integrate 5nine’s technology into its Cyber Platform and offer new services.
  • Mainframe software specialist Compuware’s December purchase of Innovation Data Processing’s enterprise data protection, business continuance and storage resource management assets. The transaction was Compuware’s sixth mainframe-related software or services acquisition in the last three years.

Go to Original Article
Author:

Cisco 2020: Challenges, prospects shape the new year

Cisco finished 2019 with a blitz of announcements that recast the company’s service provider business. Instead of providing just integrated hardware and software, Cisco became a supplier of components for open gear.

Cisco enters the new decade with rearchitected silicon tailored for white box routers favored by cloud providers and other organizations with hyperscale data centers. To add punch to its new Silicon One chipset, Cisco plans to offer high-speed integrated optics from Acacia Communications. Cisco expects to complete its $2.6 billion acquisition of Acacia in 2020.

Cisco is aiming its silicon-optics combo at Broadcom. The chipmaker has been the only significant silicon supplier for white box routers and switches built on specifications from the Open Compute Project. The specialty hardware has become the standard within the mega-scale data centers of cloud providers like AWS, Google and Microsoft; and internet companies like Facebook.

I think the Silicon One announcement was a watershed moment.
Chris AntlitzPrincipal analyst, Technology Business Research Inc.

“I think the Silicon One announcement was a watershed moment,” said Chris Antlitz, principal analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. (TBR).

Cisco designed Silicon One so white box manufacturers could program the hardware platform for any router type. Gear makers like Accton Technology Corporation, Edgecore Networks and Foxconn Technology Group will be able to use the chip in core, aggregation and access routers. Eventually, they could also use it in switches.

Cisco 2020: Silicon One in the 5G market

Cisco is attacking the cloud provider market by addressing its hunger for higher bandwidth and lower latency. At the same time, the vendor will offer its new technology to communication service providers. Their desire for speed and higher performance will grow over the next couple of years as they rearchitect their data centers to deliver 5G wireless services to businesses.

For the 5G market, Cisco could combine Silicon One with low-latency network interface cards from Exablaze, which Cisco plans to acquire by the end of April 2020. The combination could produce exceptionally fast switches and routers to compete with other telco suppliers, including Ericsson, Juniper Networks, Nokia and Huawei. Startups are also targeting the market with innovative routing architectures.

“Such a move could give Cisco an edge,” said Tom Nolle, president of networking consultancy CIMI Corp., in a recent blog. “If you combine a low-latency network card with the low-latency Silicon One chip, you might have a whole new class of network device.”

Cisco 2020: Trouble with the enterprise

Cisco will launch its repositioned service provider business, while contending with the broader problem of declining revenues. Cisco could have difficulty reversing that trend, while also addressing customer unhappiness with the high price of its next-generation networking architecture for enterprise data centers. 

“I do think 2020 is likely to be an especially challenging year for Cisco,” said John Burke, an analyst at Nemertes Research. “The cost of getting new goodies is far too high.”

Burke said he had spoken to several people in the last few months who had dropped Cisco gear from their networks to avoid the expense. At the same time, companies have reported using open source network automation tools in place of Cisco software to lower costs.

Cisco software deemed especially expensive include its Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) and DNA Center, Burke said. ACI and DNA Center are at the heart of Cisco’s modernized approach to the data center and campus network, respectively.

Both offer significant improvements over Cisco’s older network architectures. But they require businesses to purchase new Cisco hardware and retrain IT staff.

John Mulhall, an independent contractor with 20 years of networking experience, said any new generation of Cisco technology requires extra cost analyses to justify the price.

“As time goes on, a lot of IT shops are going to be a little bit reluctant to just go the standard Cisco route,” he said. “There’s too much competition out there.”

Cisco SD-WAN gets dinged

Besides getting criticized for high prices, Cisco also took a hit in 2019 for the checkered performance of its Viptela software-defined WAN, a centerpiece for connecting campus employees to SaaS and cloud-based applications. In November, Gartner reported that Viptela running on Cisco’s IOS-XE platform had “stability and scaling issues.”

Also, customers who had bought Cisco’s ISR routers during the last few years reported the hardware didn’t have enough throughput to support Viptela, Gartner said.

The problems convinced the analyst firm to drop Cisco from the “leaders” ranking of Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure.

Gartner and some industry analysts also knocked Cisco for selling two SD-WAN products — Viptela and Meraki — with separate sales teams and distinct management and hardware platforms.

The approach has made it difficult for customers and resellers to choose the product that best suits their needs, analysts said. Other vendors use a single SD-WAN to address all uses.

“Cisco’s SD-WAN is truly a mixed bag,” said Roy Chua, principal analyst at AvidThink. “In the end, the strategy will need to be clearer.”

Antlitz of TBR was more sanguine about Cisco’s SD-WAN prospects. “We see no reason to believe that Cisco will lose its status as a top-tier SD-WAN provider.”

Go to Original Article
Author:

How to Use Azure Arc for Hybrid Cloud Management and Security

Azure Arc is a new hybrid cloud management option announced by Microsoft in November of 2019. This article serves as a single point of reference for all things Azure Arc.

According to Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, “Azure Arc really marks the beginning of this new era of hybrid computing where there is a control plane built for multi-cloud, multi-edge” (Microsoft Ignite 2019 Keynote at 14:40). That is a strong statement from one of the industry leaders in cloud computing, especially since hybrid cloud computing has already been around for a decade. Essentially Azure Arc allows organizations to use Azure’s management technologies (“control plane”) to centrally administer public cloud resources along with on-premises servers, virtual machines, and containers. Since Microsoft Azure already manages distributed resources at scale, Microsoft is empowering its users to utilize these same features for all of their hardware, including edge servers. All of Azure’s AI, automation, compliance and security best practices are now available to manage all of their distributed cloud resources, and their underlying infrastructure, which is known as “connected machines.” Additionally, several of Azure’s AI and data services can now be deployed on-premises and centrally managed through Azure Arc, enhancing local and offline management and offering greater data sovereignty. Again, this article will provide an overview of the Azure Arc technology and its key capabilities (currently in Public Preview) and will be updated over time.

Video Preview of Azure Arc

Contents

Getting Started with Azure Arc

Azure Services with Azure Arc

Azure Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Azure Arc

Azure Automation with Azure Arc

Azure Cost Management & Billing with Azure Arc

Azure Data Services with Azure Arc

Cloud Availability with Azure Arc

Azure Availability & Resiliency with Azure Arc

Azure Backup & Restore with Azure Arc

Azure Site Recovery & Geo-Replication with Azure Arc

Cloud Management with Azure Arc

Management Tools with Azure Arc

Managing Legacy Hardware with Azure Arc

Offline Management with Azure Arc

Always Up-To-Date Tools with Azure Arc

Cloud Security & Compliance with Azure Arc

Azure Key Vault with Azure Arc

Azure Monitor with Azure Arc

Azure Policy with Azure Arc

Azure Security Center with Azure Arc

Azure Advanced Threat Protection with Azure Arc

Azure Update Management with Azure Arc

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) with Azure Arc

DevOps and Application Management with Azure Arc

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) & Kubernetes App Management with Azure Arc

Other DevOps Tools with Azure Arc

DevOps On-Premises with Azure Arc

Elastic Scalability & Rapid Deployment with Azure Arc

Hybrid Cloud Integration with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Hub with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Edge with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) with Azure Arc

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) with Azure Arc

Azure Lighthouse Integration with Azure Arc

Third-Party Integration with Azure Arc

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Integration with Azure Arc

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Integration with Azure Arc

IBM Kubernetes Service Integration with Azure Arc

Linux VM Integration with Azure Arc

VMware Cloud Solution Integration with Azure Arc

Getting Started with Azure Arc

The Azure Arc public preview was announced in November 2019 at the Microsoft Ignite conference to much fanfare. In its initial release, many fundamental Azure services are supported along with Azure Data Services. Over time, it is expected that a majority of Azure Services will be supported by Azure Arc.

To get started with Azure Arc, check out the following guides and documentation provided by Microsoft.

Additional information will be added once it is made available.

Azure Services with Azure Arc

One of the fundamental benefits of Azure Arc is the ability to bring Azure services to a customer’s own datacenter. In its initial release, Azure Arc includes services for AI, automation, availability, billing, data, DevOps, Kubernetes management, security, and compliance. Over time, additional Azure services will be available through Azure Arc.

Azure Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Azure Arc

Azure Arc leverages Microsoft Azure’s artificial intelligence (AI) services, to power some of its advanced decision-making abilities learned from managing millions of devices at scale. Since Azure AI is continually monitoring billions of endpoints, it is able to perform tasks that can only be achieved at scale, such as identifying an emerging malware attack. Azure AI improves security, compliance, scalability and more for all cloud resources managed by Azure Arc. The services which run Azure AI are hosted in Microsoft Azure, and in disconnected environments, much of the AI processing can run on local servers using Azure Stack Edge.

For more information about Azure AI visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/ai-platform.

Azure Automation with Azure Arc

Azure Automation is a service provided by Azure that automates repetitive tasks which can be time-consuming or error-prone. This saves the organization significant time and money while helping them maintain operational consistency. Custom automation scripts can get triggered by a schedule or an event to automate servicing, track changes, collect inventory and much more. Since Azure Automation uses PowerShell, Python, and graphical runbooks, it can manage diverse software and hardware that supports PowerShell or has APIs. With Azure Arc, any on-premises connected machines and the applications they host can be integrated and automated with any Azure Automation workflow. These workflows can also be run locally on disconnected machines.

For more information about Azure Automation visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-in/services/automation.

Azure Cost Management & Billing with Azure Arc

Microsoft Azure and other cloud providers use a consumption-based billing model so that tenants only pay for the resources which they consume. Azure Cost Management and Billing provides granular information to understand how cloud storage, network, memory, CPUs and any Azure services are being used. Organizations can set thresholds and get alerts when any consumer or business unit approaches or exceeds their limits. With Azure Arc, organizations can use cloud billing to optimize and manage costs for their on-premises resources also. In addition to Microsoft Azure and Microsoft hybrid cloud workloads, all Amazon AWS spending can be integrated into the same dashboard.

For more information about Azure Cost Management and Billing visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/cost-management.

Azure Data Services with Azure Arc

Azure Data Services is the first major service provided by Azure Arc for on-premises servers. This was the top request of many organizations which want the management capabilities of Microsoft Azure, yet need to keep their data on-premises for data sovereignty. This makes Azure Data Services accessible to companies that must keep their customer’s data onsite, such as those working within regulated industries or those which do not have an Azure datacenter within their country.

In the initial release, both Azure SQL Database and Azure Database for PostgreSQL Hyperscale will be available for on-premises deployments. Now organizations can run and offer database as a service (DBaaS) as a platform as a service (PaaS) offering to their tenants. This makes it easier for users to deploy and manage cloud databases on their own infrastructure, without the overhead of setting up and maintaining the infrastructure on a physical server or virtual machine. The Azure Data Services on Azure Arc still require an underlying Kubernetes cluster, but many management frameworks are supported by Microsoft Azure and Azure Arc.

All of the other Azure Arc benefits are included with the data services, such as automation, backup, monitoring, scaling, security, patching and cost management. Additionally, Azure Data Services can run on both connected and disconnected machines. The latest features and updates to the data services are automatically pushed down from Microsoft Azure to Azure Arc members so that the infrastructure is always current and consistent.

For more information about Azure Data Services with Azure Arc visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/azure-arc/hybrid-data-services.

Cloud Availability with Azure Arc

One of the main advantages offered by Microsoft Azure is access to its unlimited hardware spread across multiple datacenters which provide business continuity. This gives Azure customers numerous ways to increase service availability, retain more backups, and gain disaster recovery capabilities. With the introduction of Azure Arc, these features provide even greater integration between on-premises servers and Microsoft Azure.

Azure Availability & Resiliency with Azure Arc

With Azure Arc, organizations can leverage Azure’s availability and resiliency features for their on-premises servers. Virtual Machine Scale Sets allow automatic application scaling by rapidly deploying dozens (or thousands) of VMs to quickly increase the processing capabilities of a cloud application. Integrated load-balancing will distribute network traffic, and redundancy is built into the infrastructure to eliminate single points of failure. VM Availability Sets give administrators the ability to select a group of related VMs and force them to distribute themselves across different physical servers. This is recommended for redundant servers or guest clusters where it is important to have each virtualized instanced spread out so that the loss of a single host will not take down an entire service. Azure Availability Zones extend this concept across multiple datacenters by letting organizations deploy datacenter-wide protection schemes that distribute applications and their data across multiple sites. Azure’s automated updating solutions are availability-aware so they will keep services online during a patching cycle, serially updating and rebooting a subset of hosts. Azure Arc helps hybrid cloud services take advantage of all of the Azure resiliency features.

For more information about Azure availability and resiliency visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/features/resiliency.

Azure Backup & Restore with Azure Arc

Many organizations limit their backup plans because of their storage constraints since it can be costly to store large amounts of data which may not need to be accessed again. Azure Backup helps organizations by allowing their data to be backed up and stored on Microsoft Azure. This usually reduces costs as users are only paying for the storage capacity they are using. Additionally storing backups offsite helps minimize data loss as offsite backups provide resiliency to site-wide outages and can protect customers from ransomware. Azure Backup also offers compression, encryption and retention policies to help organizations in regulated industries. Azure Arc manages the backups and recovery of on-premises servers with Microsoft Azure, with the backups being stored in the customer’s own datacenter or in Microsoft Azure.

For more information about Azure Backup visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/backup.

Azure Site Recovery & Geo-Replication with Azure Arc

One of the more popular hybrid cloud features enabled with Microsoft Azure is the ability to replicate data from an on-premises location to Microsoft Azure using Azure Site Recovery (ASR). This allows users to have a disaster recovery site without needing to have a second datacenter. ASR is easy to deploy, configure, operate and even tests disaster recovery plans. Using Azure Arc it is possible to set up geo-replication to move data and services from a managed datacenter running Windows Server Hyper-V, VMware vCenter or Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud. Destination datacenters can include other datacenters managed by Azure Arc, Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.

For more information about Azure Site Recovery visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/site-recovery.

Cloud Management with Azure Arc

Azure Arc introduces some on-premises management benefits which were previously available only in Microsoft Azure. These help organizations administer legacy hardware and disconnected machines with Azure-consistent features using multiple management tools.

Management Tools with Azure Arc

One of the fundamental design concepts of Microsoft Azure is to have centralized management layers (“planes”) that support diverse hardware, data, and administrative tools. The fabric plane controls the hardware through a standard set of interfaces and APIs. The data plane allows unified management of structured and unstructured data. And the control plane offers centralized management through various interfaces, including the GUI-based Azure Portal, Azure PowerShell, and other APIs. Each of these layers interfaces with each other through a standard set of controls, so that the operational steps will be identical whether a user deploys a VM via the Azure Portal or via Azure PowerShell. Azure Arc can manage cloud resources with the following Azure Developer Tools:

At the time of this writing, the documentation for Azure Arc is not yet available, but some examples can be found in the quick start guides which are linked in the Getting Started with Azure Arc section.

Managing Legacy Hardware with Azure Arc

Azure Arc is hardware-agnostic, allowing Azure to manage a customer’s diverse or legacy hardware just like an Azure datacenter server. The hardware must meet certain requirements so that a virtualized Kubernetes cluster can be deployed on it, as Azure services run on this virtualized infrastructure. In the Public Preview, servers must be running Windows Server 2012 R2 (or newer) or Ubuntu 16.04 or 18.04. Over time, additional servers will be supported, with rumors of 32-bit (x86), Oracle and Linux hosts being supported as infrastructure servers.

Offline Management with Azure Arc

Azure Arc will even be able to manage servers that are not regularly connected to the Internet, as is common with the military, emergency services, and sea vessels. Azure Arc has a concept of “connected” and “disconnected” machines. Connected servers have an Azure Resource ID and are part of an Azure Resource group. If a server does not sync with Microsoft Azure every 5 minutes, it is considered disconnected yet it can continue to run its local resources. Microsoft Arc allows these organizations to use the latest Azure services when they are connected, yet still use many of these features if the servers do not maintain an active connection, including Azure Data Services. Even some services which run Azure AI and are hosted in Microsoft Azure can work disconnected environments while running on Azure Stack Edge.

Always Up-To-Date Tools with Azure Arc

One of the advantages of using Microsoft Azure is that all the services are kept current by Microsoft. The latest features, best practices, and AI learning are automatically available to all users in real-time as soon as they are released. When an admin logs into the Azure Portal through a web browser, they are immediately exposed to the latest technology to manage their distributed infrastructure. By ensuring that all users have the same management interface and APIs, Microsoft can guarantee consistency of behavior for all users across all hardware, including on-premises infrastructure when using Azure Arc. However, if the hardware is in a disconnected environment (such as on a sea vessel), there could be some configuration drift as older versions of Azure data services and Azure management tools may still be used until they are reconnected and synced.

Cloud Security & Compliance with Azure Arc

Public cloud services like Microsoft Azure are able to offer industry-leading security and compliance due to their scale and expertise. Microsoft employs more than 3,500 of the world’s leading security engineers who have been collaborating for decades to build the industry’s safest infrastructure. Through its billions of endpoints, Microsoft Azure leverages Azure AI to identify anomalies and detect threats before they become widespread. Azure Arc extends all of the security features offered in Microsoft Azure to on-premises infrastructure, including key vaults, monitoring, policies, security, threat protection, and update management.

Azure Key Vault with Azure Arc

When working in a distributed computing environment, managing credentials, passwords, and user access can become complicated. Azure Key Vault is a service that helps enhance data protection and compliance by securely protecting all keys and monitoring access. Azure Key Vault is supported by Azure Arc, allowing credentials for on-premises services and hybrid clouds to be centrally managed through Azure.

For more information about Azure Key Vault visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/key-vault.

Azure Monitor with Azure Arc

Azure Monitor is a service that collects and analyzes telemetry data from Azure infrastructure, networks, and applications. The logs from managed services are sent to Azure Monitor where they are aggregated and analyzed. If a problem is identified, such as an offline server, it can trigger alerts or use Azure Automation to launch recovery workflows. Azure Arc can now monitor on-premises servers, networks, virtualization infrastructure, and applications, just like they were running in Azure. It even leverages Azure AI and Azure Automation to make recommendations and fixes to hybrid cloud infrastructure.

For more information about Azure Monitor visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/monitor.

Azure Policy with Azure Arc

Most enterprises have certain compliance requirements for the IT infrastructure, especially those organizations within regulated industries. Azure Policy uses Microsoft Azure to audit an environment and aggregate all the compliance data into a single location. Administrators can get alerted about misconfigurations or configuration drifts and even trigger automated remediation using Azure Automation. Azure Policy can be used with Azure Arc to apply policies on all connect machines, providing the benefits of cloud compliance to on-premises infrastructure.

For more information about Azure Policy visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/azure-policy.

Azure Security Center with Azure Arc

The Azure Security Center centralizes all security policies and protects the entire managed environment. When Security Center is enabled, the Azure monitoring agents will report data back from the servers, networks, virtual machines, databases, and applications. The Azure Security Center analytics engines will ingest the data and use AI to provide guidance. It will recommend a broad set of improvements to enhance security, such as closing unnecessary ports or encrypting disks. Perhaps most importantly it will scan all the managed servers and identify updates that are missing, and it can use Azure Automation and Azure Update Management to patch those vulnerabilities. Azure Arc extends these security features to connected machines and services to protect all registered resources.

For more information about Azure Security Center visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/security-center

Azure Advanced Threat Protection with Azure Arc

Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) helps the industry’s leading cloud security solution by looking for anomalies and potential attacks with Azure AI. Azure ATP will look for suspicious computer or user activities and report any alerts in real-time. Azure Arc lets organizations extend this cloud protect to their hybrid and on-premises infrastructure offering leading threat protection across all of their cloud resources.

For more information about Azure Advanced Threat Protection visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/features/azure-advanced-threat-protection.

Azure Update Management with Azure Arc

Microsoft Azure automates the process of applying patches, updates and security hotfixes to the cloud resources it manages. With Update Management, a series of updates can be scheduled and deployed on non-compliant servers using Azure Automation. Update management is aware of clusters and availability sets, ensuring that a distributed workload remains online while its infrastructure is patched by live migrating running VMs or containers between hosts. Azure will centrally manage updates, assessment reports, deployment results, and can create alerts for failures or other conditions. Organizations can use Azure Arc to automatically analyze and patch their on-premises and connected servers, virtual machines, and applications.

For more information about Azure Update Management visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/automation/automation-update-management.

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) with Azure Arc

Controlling access to different resources is a critical function for any organization to enforce security and compliance. Microsoft Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) allows its customers to define granular access control for every user or user role based on different types of permissions (read, modify, delete, copy, sharing, etc.). There are also over 70 user roles provided by Azure, such as a Global Administrator, Virtual Machine Contributor or Billing Administrator. Azure Arc lets businesses extend role-based access control (RBAC) managed by Azure to on-premises environments. This means that any groups, policies, settings, security principals and managed identities that were deployed by Azure AD can now access all managed cloud resources. Azure AD also provides auditing so it is easy to track any changes made by users or security principals across the hybrid cloud.

For more information about Role-Based Access Control visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/role-based-access-control/overview.

DevOps and Application Management with Azure Arc

Over the past few years, containers have become more commonplace as they provide certain advantages over VMs, allowing the virtualized applications and services to be abstracted from their underlying virtualized infrastructure. This means that containerized applications can be uniformly deployed anywhere with any tools so that users do not have to worry about the hardware configuration. This technology has become popular amongst application developers, enabling them to manage their entire application development lifecycle without having a dependency on the IT department to set up the physical or virtual infrastructure. This development methodology is often called DevOps. One of the key design requirements with Azure Arc was to make it hardware agnostic, so with Azure Arc, developers can manage their containerized applications the same way whether they are running in Azure, on-premises or in a hybrid configuration.

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) & Kubernetes App Management with Azure Arc

Kubernetes is a management tool that allows developers to deploy, manage and update their containers. Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is Microsoft’s Kubernetes service and this can be integrated with Azure Arc. This means that AKS can be used to manage on-premises servers running containers. In additional to Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure Arc can be integrated with other Kubernetes management platforms, including Amazon EKS, Google Kubernetes Engine, and IBM Kubernetes Service.

For more information about Azure Container Services visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/product-categories/containers and for Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/kubernetes-service.

Other DevOps Tools with Azure Arc

For container management on Azure Arc developers can use any of the common Kubernetes management platforms, including Azure Kubernetes Service, Amazon EKS, Google Kubernetes Engine, and IBM Kubernetes Service. All standard deployment and management operations are supported on Azure Arc hardware enabling cross-cloud management.

More information about the non-Azure management tools is provided on the section on Third-Party Management Tools.

DevOps On-Premises with Azure Arc

Many developers prefer to work on their own hardware and some are required to develop applications in a private environment to keep their data secure. Azure Arc allows developers to build and deploy their applications anywhere utilizing Azure’s cloud-based AI, security and other cloud features while retaining their data, IP or other valuable assets within their own private cloud. Additionally, Azure Active Directory can use role-based access control (RBAC) and Azure Policies to manage developer access to sensitive company resources.

Elastic Scalability & Rapid Deployment with Azure Arc

Containerized applications are designed to start quickly when running on a highly-available Kubernetes cluster. The app will bypass the underlying operating system, allowing it to be rapidly deployed and scaled. These applications can quickly grow to an unlimited capacity when deployed on Microsoft Azure. When using Azure Arc, the applications can be managed across public and private clouds. Applications will usually contain several containers types that can be deployed in different locations based on their requirements. A common deployment configuration for a two-tiered application is to deploy the web frontend on Microsoft Azure for scalability and the database in a secure private cloud backend.

Hybrid Cloud Integration with Azure Arc

Microsoft’s hybrid cloud initiatives over the past few years have included certifying on-premises software and hardware configurations known as Azure Stack. Azure Stack allows organizations to run Azure-like services on their own hardware in their datacenter. It allows organizations that may be restricted from using public cloud services to utilize the best parts of Azure within their own datacenter. Azure Stack is most commonly deployed by organizations that have requirements to keep their customer’s datacenter inhouse (or within their territory) for data sovereignty, making it popular for customers who could not adopt the Microsoft Azure public cloud. Azure Arc easily integrates with Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and all the Azure Stack HCI configurations, allowing these services to be managed from Azure.

For more information about Azure Stack visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack.

Azure Stack Hub with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Hub (formerly Microsoft Azure Stack) offers organizations a way to run Azure services from their own datacenter, from a service provider’s site, or from within an isolated environment. This cloud platform allows users to deploy Windows VMs, Linux VMs and Kubernetes containers on hardware which they operate. This offering is popular with developers who want to run services locally, organizations which need to retain their customer’s data onsite, and groups which are regularly disconnected from the Internet, as is common with sea vessels or emergency response personnel. Azure Arc allows Azure Stack Hub nodes to run supported Azure services (like Azure Data Services) while being centrally managed and optimized via Azure. These applications can be distributed across public, private or hybrid clouds.

For more information about Azure Stack Hub visit https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure-stack/user/?view=azs-1908.

Azure Stack Edge with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Edge (previously Azure Data Box Edge) is a virtual appliance which can run on any hardware in a datacenter, branch office, remote site or disconnected environment. It is designed to run edge computing workloads on Hyper-V VMs, VMware VMs, containers and Azure services. These edge servers will be optimized run IoT, AI and business workloads so that processing can happen onsite, rather than being sent across a network to a cloud datacenter for processing. When the Azure Stack Edge appliance is (re)connected to the network it transfers any data at high-speed, and data use can be optimized to run during off-hours. It supports machine learning capabilities through GPGA or GPU. Azure Arc can centrally manage Azure Stack Edge, its virtual appliances and physical hardware.

For more information about Azure Stack Edge visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/databox/edge.

Azure Stack Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) with Azure Arc

Azure Stack Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) is a program which provides preconfigured hyperconverged hardware from validated OEM partners which are optimized to run Azure Stack. For businesses which want to run Azure-like services on-premises they can purchase or rent hardware which has been standardized to Microsoft’s requirements. VMs, containers, Azure services, AI, IOT and more can run consistency on the Microsoft Azure public cloud or Azure Stack HCI hardware in a datacenter. Cloud services can be distributed across multiple datacenters or clouds and centrally managed using Azure Arc.

For more information about Azure Stack HCI visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/hci.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) with Azure Arc

Azure Lighthouse Integration with Azure Arc

Azure Lighthouse is a technology designed for managed service providers (MSPs), ISVs or distributed organizations which need to centrally manage their tenants’ resources. Azure Lighthouse allows service providers and tenants to create a two-way trust to allow unified management of cloud resources. Tenants will grant specific permissions for approved user roles on particular cloud resources, so that they can offload the management to their service provider. Now service providers can add their tenants’ private cloud environments under Azure Arc management, so that they can take advantage of the new capabilities which Azure Arc provides.

For more information about Azure Lighthouse visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/azure-lighthouse or on the Altaro MSP Dojo.

Third-Party Integration with Azure Arc

Within the Azure management layer (control plane) exists Azure Resource Manager (ARM). ARM provides a way to easily create, manage, monitor and delete any Azure resource. Every native and third-party Azure resource uses ARM to ensure that it can be centrally managed through Azure management tools. Azure Arc now allows non-Azure resources to be managed by Azure. This can include third-party clouds (Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform), Windows and Linux VMs, VMs on non-Microsoft hypervisors (VMware vSphere, Google Compute Engine, Amazon EC2), Kubernetes containers and clusters (including IMB Kubernetes Service, Google Kubernetes Engine and Amazon EKS). At the time of this writing limited information is available about third-party integration, but it will be added over time.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Integration with Azure Arc

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is Amazon’s public cloud platform. Some services from AWS can be managed by Azure Arc. This includes operating virtual machines running on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and containers running on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). Azure Arc also lets an AWS site be used as a geo-replicated disaster recovery location. AWS billing can also be integrated with Azure Cost Management & Billing so that expenses from both cloud providers can be viewed in a single location.

Additional information will be added once it is made available.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Integration with Azure Arc

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is Google’s public cloud platform. Some services from GCP can be managed by Azure Arc. This includes operating virtual machines running on Google Compute Engine (GCE) and containers running on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE).

Additional information will be added once it is made available.

IBM Kubernetes Service Integration with Azure Arc

IBM Cloud is IBM’s public cloud platform. Some services from IBM Cloud can be managed by Azure Arc. This includes operating containers running on IBM Kubernetes Service (Kube).

Additional information will be added once it is made available.

Linux VM Integration with Azure Arc

In 2014 Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella declared, “Microsoft loves Linux”. Since then the company has embraced Linux integration, making Linux a first-class citizen in its ecosystem. Microsoft even contributes code to the Linux kernel so that it operates efficiently when running as a VM or container on Microsoft’s operating systems. Virtually all management features for Windows VMs are available to supported Linux distributions, and this extends to Azure Arc. Azure Arc admins can use Azure to centrally create, manage and optimize Linux VMs running on-premises, just like any standard Windows VM.

VMware Cloud Solution Integration with Azure Arc

VMware offers a popular virtualization platform and management studio (vSphere) which runs on VMware’s hypervisor. Microsoft has acknowledged that many customers are running legacy on-premises hardware are using VMware, so they provide numerous integration points to Azure and Azure Arc. Organizations can even virtualize and deploy their entire VMware infrastructure on Azure, rather than in their own datacenter. Microsoft makes it easy to deploy, manage, monitor and migrate VMware system and with Azure Arc businesses can now centrally operate their on-premises VMware infrastructure too. While the full management functionality of VMware vSphere is not available through Azure Arc, most standard operations are supported.

For more information about VMware Management with Azure visit https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-vmware.


Go to Original Article
Author: Symon Perriman