Microsoft

As you may be aware, Microsoft announced the general availability of the Azure-connected Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Azure Stack HCI. Previously Azure Stack HCI was built off Windows Server which is a great general-purpose operating system that allows you to run your virtualized workloads. The new and improved Azure Stack HCI OS however is a purpose-built, cloud-connected infrastructure, intended to run your Azure Stack HCI workloads in the modern data center (for more information, start here, then go here, then see what’s coming next over here).

 

Azure Stack HCI is a subscription service that, like Office 365 or Windows 10, continually get free updates. The next update available to Azure Stack HCI subscribers will be 21H2 which is in preview right now! With this update comes a new feature called Network ATC, which simplifies the deployment and management of networking on your HCI hosts.

 

If you’ve deployed Azure Stack HCI previously, you know that network deployment can pose a significant challenge. You might be asking yourself:

  • How do I configure or optimize my adapter?
  • Did I configure the virtual switch, VMMQ, RDMA, etc. correctly?
  • Are all nodes in the cluster the same?
  • Are we following the best practice deployment models?
  • (And if something goes wrong) What changed!?

So, what does Network ATC actually set out to solve? Network ATC can help:

  • Reduce host networking deployment time, complexity, and errors
  • Deploy the latest Microsoft validated and supported best practices
  • Ensure configuration consistency across the cluster
  • Eliminate configuration drift

Network ATC does this through some new concepts, namely “intent-based” deployment. If you tell Network ATC how you want to use an adapter, it will translate, deploy, and manage the needed configuration across all nodes in the cluster. For more details, please see our Network ATC preview documentation.

 

Let’s take a quick look at Network ATC in action. In this video, we deploy the host networking configuration across an 8-node cluster, each with two physical adapters (16 total) – with a single command. By the end, these two physical adapters are ready to run Storage Spaces Direct (storage intent) and provide the compute infrastructure (compute intent) needed run your virtual machines all in under 5 minutes.

 

One of the greatest benefits of Network ATC is that it remediates configuration drift. Have you ever wondered “who changed that?” or said, “we must have missed this node.” You’ll never worry about this again with Network ATC at the helm. Expanding the cluster to add new nodes? Just install the service on the new node, join the cluster and rest assured that in a few minutes, the expected configuration will be deployed.

 

As you can see, Network ATC greatly reduces the deployment time, complexity, and errors with host networking for Azure Stack HCI as it manages the lifecycle of the cluster. Whether you’re building out a new cluster, expanding the cluster, or just want the peace-of-mind that the network configuration is in steady-state, Network ATC can make this a breeze.

 

Please take a look at our preview documentation, give Network ATC a try, and as always, let us know what you think! Next, enjoy your newfound free time now that Network ATC is managing the host networking!

 

Thanks for reading

Dan “Network ATC helps me sleep at night” Cuomo

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