Tag: Hardware

Windows Server and Azure Arc Intel NUC Lab Kit

My Windows Server and Azure Arc Hybrid Cloud Lab Kit

Since I am working a lot with Azure Arc and Windows Server with Hybrid Cloud integration, I need a lab and demo environment for my presentations, workshops and to try new features. When Windows Server 2019 was released, I bought an Intel NUC for the first time. Now I bought another Intel NUC so I can build my Windows Server 2022 and Azure Arc lab environment. In this post I am going to share my Windows Server and Azure Arc Hybrid Cloud Lab Kit running on an Intel NUC.

The Hardware – Windows Server and Azure Arc Intel NUC Lab Kit

My lab kit is built by using an Intel NUC, NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing and is a line of small-form-factor barebone computer kits designed by Intel. The advantage of this little machine is the small formfactor, low power consumption and almost no fan noise. However, the disadvantage is that it is design to run client operating systems such as Windows 10 or Windows 11 and doesn’t officially come with drivers for Windows Server, which is painful when it comes to the network adapter drivers. There are some workarounds to make it work anyway.

I went for the Intel NUCPAHIi5 which is a NUC with a 11-gen Intel i5 processor (Intel NUCPAHIi5) which is more than enough for my lab environment. Another advantage of having this machine is that it allows me to add up to 64GB of RAM and a fast M.2 SSD, and it comes with a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0.

The Software and the Cloud – Windows Server and Azure Arc Lab Kit

On top of the Intel NUC, I am running Windows Server 2022 which allows me to run Hyper-V virtualization to create different virtual machines for Windows and Linux as well as Kubernetes clusters, which can all be managed through Azure Arc. I also use Windows Admin Center to manage my Windows Server machines locally. To install Windows Server 2022 on that machine, I recommend that you check out my blog post on how to create an USB thumb drive to install Windows Server 2022. You can download Windows Server 2022 Evaluation version from the Microsoft Evaluation Center.

Windows Server 2022 Intel NUC Lab Kit
Windows Server 2022 Intel NUC Lab Kit

By connecting lab environment to Azure using Azure Arc, I can now use it to manage servers, Kubernetes clusters and deploy Azure Arc enabled services on top of it.

Hybrid Cloud Management with Azure Arc enabled Servers and Kubernetes Lab Kit
Hybrid Cloud Management with Azure Arc enabled Servers and Kubernetes Lab Kit

Here are some of the Azure Arc features you can use on your hybrid cloud lab kit:

  • Azure Arc enabled Server
  • Azure Arc enabled SQL Server
  • Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes
  • Azure Arc enabled Data Services (such as Azure SQL and PostgreSQL)
  • Azure Arc enabled Application Services (such as Web Apps, Functions, Logic Apps, and more)
  • and more

To learn more about Azure Arc, check out the Azure Arc website and the Microsoft Docs.

The Setup

You can learn more about the setup and capabilities of my Windows Server and Azure Arc hybrid cloud lab kit built with an Intel NUC on my Twitter feed. Check out my tweets here.

Also, here a quick summary of additional useful links:


The Intel NUC is a great platform to build a Windows Server and Hyper-V home lab. Together with Azure Arc you can used it as a great hybrid cloud lab environment. And just for you information, this is just my personal lab, and not an official Microsoft lab kit.

If you don’t want to run your own hardware or want to make it easy to build some of the Azure Arc scenarios, check out the Azure Arc Jumpstart project. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below.

Install Azure Stack HCI

How to install and set up an Azure Stack HCI Host

A couple of months the Azure Stack HCI team announced a new version called Azure Stack HCI version 20H2, which is currently in public preview. As part of the Azure Stack portfolio, Azure Stack HCI is a hyper-converged cluster solution that runs virtualized Windows and Linux workloads in a hybrid on-premises environment. Some of the most popular use cases are datacenter modernization, Remote/Branch office scenarios, SQL Server based virtual applications, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and running Kubernetes clusters. Azure Stack HCI comes now with a specialist operating system (OS), which is based on core components from Windows Server, and it is designed and optimized on being the best virtualization host and hyper-converged platform. It is enhanced with Azure software that includes our latest hypervisor with built-in software-defined storage and networking that you install on servers you control on your premises. This provides additional functionality, features, and performance. This blog post is part of a series of blogs on how you can set up Azure Stack HCI clusters. In this first post, we will cover how to set up an Azure Stack HCI host.

Prerequisites and Azure Stack HCI system requirements

Before you deploy Azure Stack HCI hosts, make sure you follow the following prerequisites:

  • Determine whether your hardware meets the requirements for Azure Stack HCI clusters. You can find Azure Stack HCI hardware in the Azure Stack HCI Catalog. Keep in mind that the nodes must have the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). For testing purposes, you can also set up Hyper-V Generation 2 virtual machines.
  • Gather the required information for a successful deployment. Here is a quick checklist of information you will need to deploy an Azure Stack HCI cluster
    • Server names: Get familiar with your organization’s naming policies for computers, files, paths, and other resources. You’ll need to provide several servers, each with unique names.
    • Cluster name: Name for the Azure Stack HCI cluster
    • Domain name: Get familiar with your organization’s policies for domain naming and domain joining. You’ll be joining the servers to your domain, and you’ll need to specify the domain name.
    • Static IP addresses: Azure Stack HCI requires static IP addresses for storage and workload (VM) traffic and doesn’t support dynamic IP address assignment through DHCP for this high-speed network. You can use DHCP for the management network adapter unless you’re using two in a team, in which case, again, you need to use static IPs. Consult your network administrator about the IP address you should use for each server in the cluster.
    • RDMA networking: There are two types of RDMA protocols: iWarp and RoCE. Note which one your network adapters use and if RoCE, note that the version (v1 or v2). For RoCE, also note the model of your top-of-rack switch.
    • VLAN ID: Note the VLAN ID to be used for the network adapters on the servers, if any. You should be able to obtain this from your network administrator.
    • Site names: For stretched clusters, two sites are used for disaster recovery. You can set up sites using Active Directory Domain Services, or the Create cluster wizard can automatically set them up for you. Consult your domain administrator about setting up sites.
    • Cluster witness: You will need to set up an Azure Stack HCI cluster witness. There are two witness types you can use.
      • Cloud witness – Azure storage account name, access key, and endpoint URL, as described below.
      • File share witness – file share path “(//server/share)”
    • Microsoft Azure credentials and subscription: Azure Stack HCI is delivered as an Azure service and needs to register within 30 days of installation per the Azure Online Services Terms. Azure Stack HCI comes with native Azure Arc integration for monitoring, support, billing, and hybrid services.
      • Internet Access – The Azure Stack HCI nodes need connectivity to the cloud to register to Azure.
      • Azure Subscription – If you don’t already have an Azure account, create one. You can use an existing subscription of any type:
        • Free account with Azure credits for students or Visual Studio subscribers
        • Pay-as-you-go subscription with credit card
        • Subscription obtained through an Enterprise Agreement (EA)
        • Subscription obtained through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program
      • Azure Active Directory (AzureAD) permissions – You will need Azure AD credentials with permissions to complete the registration process. If you don’t already have them, ask your Azure AD administrator to grant permissions or delegate them to you. See Manage Azure registration for more information.
  • Install Windows Admin Center on a management PC or server
  • For Azure Kubernetes Service on Azure Stack HCI requirements, see AKS requirements on Azure Stack HCI.

You can find a full list of System requirements for Azure Stack HCI on Microsoft Docs.

Operating system deployment options

After you have prepared the hardware for deployment, you have multiple options to deploy the Azure Stack HCI OS on your physical nodes, depending on your environment and processes. You can deploy the Azure Stack HCI operating system in the same ways that you’re used to deploying other Microsoft operating systems:

  • Server manufacturer pre-installation – nodes come with the Azure Stack HCI operating system preinstalled.
  • Headless deployment using an answer file – Check out my blog about unattend.xml installations.
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) – You can use System Center Virtual Machine Manager Bare-metal deployment to install the Azure Stack HCI nodes.
  • Network deployment – You can use the Windows Deployment Service (WDS) to deploy the operating system over the network.
  • Manual deployment – Connecting either a keyboard and monitor directly to the server hardware in your datacenter or by connecting a KVM hardware device to the server hardware.

Install and set up an Azure Stack HCI host manually

If you want to manually deploy the Azure Stack HCI operating system, you can use your preferred method to boot the installation from a DVD or USB drive. You can download the latest version of Azure Stack HCI from here.

Install Azure Stack HCI

Install Azure Stack HCI

You can follow through the Azure Stack HCI OS installation wizard. Select “Custom Install” to install a new version of Azure Stack HCI.

Custom Install the newer version of Azure Stack HCI

Custom Install the newer version of Azure Stack HCI

Select the disk the operating system should be installed on.

Select disk for the Operating System

Select disk for the Operating System

After that, the installation will run for a couple of minutes to install the Azure Stack HCI operating system.

Installing Azure Stack HCI host

Installing Azure Stack HCI host

After the installation is complete, you will need to set up the local administrator password.

Set Administrator Password

Set Administrator Password

After the installation is completed, you set the password for the local administrator and you logged in, you will be prompted by the welcome screen and the sconfig tool. The sconfig tool is part of Windows Server Core and was completely rewritten for Azure Stack HCI. Sconfig helps you to quickly configure your Azure Stack HCI nodes, such as name, domain join, network configuration, installing updates, and much more.

Welcome to Azure Stack HCI sconfig

Welcome to Azure Stack HCI sconfig

You can find more information on how to deploy Azure Stack HCI hosts on Microsoft Docs.

Conclusion and next steps

As you can see, there are multiple ways to set up and install your Azure Stack HCI hosts. You can even use the same tooling to deploy the operating system, as you have used to deploy Windows or Windows Server, In the next blog post we will have a look at how we build an Azure Stack HCI cluster, register it with Azure using Azure Arc, how we connect Azure hybrid cloud services, and how we build an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster on Azure Stack HCI. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Azure Stack Hardware Augmented Reality AR Experience

Azure Stack Hardware Augmented Reality AR Experience App

As you know, Microsoft Ignite 2020 has gone virtual this year. We have some great sessions, engagement options, the Cloud Skills Challenge, and much more for you. However, one part I would have missed this year would have been the expo hall, where I could look at all the new Azure Stack hardware. That is why the Azure Stack team created a mobile app that allows you to look at Azure Stack hardware and new form factors through augmented reality (AR) in the comfort of your environment.

This app allows you to look at some of our Azure Stack hardware portfolio, including Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack HCI, and the all-new Azure Stack Edge and Azure Stack Edge pro devices, running at the edge in your Hybrid Cloud environment.

Azure Stack Hub Lenovo Augmented Reality

Azure Stack Hub Lenovo Augmented Reality

If you want to learn more about the Azure Stack portfolio, check out my blog post and the following links.

  • Azure Stack Hub – Azure Stack Hub broadens Azure to let you run apps in an on-premises environment and deliver Azure services in your datacenter.
  • Azure Stack Edge – Azure Stack Edge brings the compute power, storage, and intelligence of Azure right to where you need it—whether that’s your corporate data center, your branch office, or your remote field asset.
  • Azure Stack HCI – Azure Stack HCI is a new hyper-converged infrastructure operating system delivered as an Azure service providing the latest and up to date security, performance, and feature updates.

Azure Stack Edge Pro

Azure Stack Edge Pro

You can download it for your iOS or Android device. I hope you enjoy the Azure Stack Hardware AR Experience! Let me know what you think! Also, check out the team’s Microsoft Ignite 2020 session about the IT Pro in the Cloud era!

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Mini Review

Surface Headphones 2 Mini Review

This week I just got my new Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, and since I got asked a lot about my first impressions, I want to share this mini-review. First, let me quickly tell you why I bought the Surface Headphones 2 since I also got the Surface Earbuds. I really like the first generation Surface Headphones, which I use in my home office or when I fly. However, they are pretty big, and when I go to the local office, I don’t feel like taking the large headphones with me, that is where the Surface Earbuds come in.

Surface Headphones 1 vs Surface Headphones 2

Surface Headphones 1 vs Surface Headphones 2

For me, the Surface Headphones are great because they are very comfortable, they connect to multiple devices at the same time. They also have great controls for noise cancellation as well as amplifying the sound around me, so I don’t have to scream during calls because I can’t hear myself talking.

Surface Headphones 2 Mini Review

Here are my impressions of the Surface Headphones 2:

  • The look and feel is mostly the same as the first generation. I like the dial controls to change volume and noise cancellation.
  • The Surface Headphones 2 also have buttons on the side, which allow you to pick up and end calls, skip to the next track, pause and resume music playback.
  • You get the same 13 levels of noise cancellation as on the first generation headphones, which is excellent. I also really like to amplify the sound around me, so I can hear myself speaking during calls, so I don’t scream into the microphone.
  • They are now available in a beautiful matt-black color.
  • They’ve been upgraded to Bluetooth 5.0 and now support Qualcomm’s aptX Bluetooth codec, which offers better audio quality.
  • I love that they connect easily to multiple devices at the same time. For example, I can have them connected to my Surface Laptop 3 to do Microsoft Teams calls and can easily just take a phone call on my Android phone.
  • That said, they are not Microsoft Teams certified. Don’t get wrong; for me, they work great with Microsoft Teams. However, some things just don’t work together. For example, the mute button on the Surface Headphones 2 does mute the microphone on the headphones, but that does not show in Microsoft Teams.
  • Bluetooth connection works great for me. I heard that others are having trouble with BT headphones like delay. I never experience this on the Surface Headphones 1 and Surface Headphones 2. But this can also heavily depend on your Bluetooth hardware on your computer, laptop, or phone.
  • The ear cups can now rotate 180 degrees.
  • They charge using a USB-C port and they come with an extra audio cable for devices you can’t connect using Bluetooth.
  • The On/Off button and the mute button stick out more, to make it easier to find them.
  • Battery life has also been extended from 15 hours to 20 hours (I was not able to test that yet, but for my workflow, the first generation was already good enough.
  • The voice of the assistant has changed and is much faster in some cases. I like that when you turn on your headphones, and the assistant tells you how much battery they have left, and to which devices you are connected to.

These were my quick first impressions of the Surface Headphones 2. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. If you want to know more, check out the Microsoft tech specs here.

Surface Headphones 2 Box

Surface Headphones 2 Box


Overall I like the Surface Headphones 2. They bring the great experience and features from the first generation Surface Headphones with a couple of improvements and a lower price. I hope you liked my Surface Headphones 2 mini-review. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, but I am not part of the Microsoft Surface team.

Ruggedized Azure Stack

Ruggedized Azure Stack at the extreme Edge

Azure Stack is part of Microsofts Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge offering, and extends Azure services not only into your datacenter, but also on into more challenging remote locations. Today, Dell EMC and Microsoft announced the Dell EMC Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack, a ruggedized and field-deployable product for Azure Stack.

Tactical Azure Stack is the first and only ruggedized Azure Stack product available for tactical edge deployments. Based on our proven all-flash Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, it brings an Azure consistent-cloud to operating environments with:

  • Limited or no network connectivity
  • Fully mobile, or high portability (“2-person lift”) requirements
  • Harsh conditions requiring military specifications solutions
  • High security requirements, with optional connectivity to Azure Government, Azure Secret, and Azure Top Secret

This new offering demonstrates how Dell EMC leveraged our server design expertise and our exclusive partnership with Tracewell Systems to develop a new platform that expands Azure Stack use cases. For customers, it provides a familiar environment and consistent experience for Azure-based services in the field. In addition, Tactical Azure Stack incorporates Dell EMC features including automated patch and update capabilities, PowerEdge hardware management, and integration with Isilon, CloudLink, and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Customers also benefit with one call to Dell EMC for service and support of the entire hardware stack.


The product’s core components are identical to our currently shipping all-flash Data Center Azure stack offering. For cloud operators, developers and tenants, there are no differences between the Tactical Azure Stack and Data Center Azure Stack. Our industry exclusive firmware update automation and Dell EMC services and support are all consistent whether you’re running in a comfortable data center or in a harsh, mobile, or forward deployed environment.


The management case includes the hardware lifecycle host, 25GbE Top of Rack switches, as well as the baseboard management switch. Additional “core” transit cases, each holding two T-R640 scale unit servers can be added up to the full node limits of Microsoft Azure Stack. At just 41.5” high, and 25.6” operating depth, the Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack unlocks a wide variety of use cases for government, military, energy and mining applications. It can also be ideal in forward deployments and mobile environments in marine, aerospace and other conditions that require MIL-STD 810G compliance.

The availability of these ruggedized Azure Stack systems, enable a lot of new scenarios, and I am looking forward to see what is next.

Surface Headphones

Surface Headphones – First Impressions

Today my early Christmas gift to myself, just arrived, the Microsoft Surface Headphones. Yes, Microsoft at their Surface Event in October, announced a new product called the Surface Headphones. The Surface Headphones are wireless noise cancelling headphones. This is especially handy when travelling or in a open space office. The will compete with products like the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM3. If you are travelling a lot, especially if you fly a lot, you will never ever want to travel without noise cancelling headphones. By myself I was using the first generation Bose Quiet Comfort 35, which were my steady travel companion. I was really happy with it, even the sound quality could have been slightly better. However, with Microsoft releasing the Surface Headphones, it was time for an upgrade.

Microsoft Surface Headphones

Of course, I didn’t really have time to test them yet, but I wanted quickly share my first impression and a little review about the Surface Headphones.

  • First of all, I really like the design and build quality, the have this premium feel and design, like the other Microsoft Surface products.
  • Boy the feel comfortable. Even do they are heavier than my Bose QC 35, the feel lighter and very good when wearing them. Especially when being on a flight for over 10 hours, this is a must.
  • Setup is so easy, Cortana on the Surface Headphones let you quickly go through the whole setup process and everything just worked like you expect it to be. No pairing errors or things like this.
  • They work great with Windows 10, iOS or Android.
  • With Cortana you can also use voice commands to check your calendar or play your Spotify playlist.
  • Connecting multiple devices like the Surface Book 2 and my phone at the same time, is really useful. Especially when a Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams call comes in, you can easily switch to your PC.
  • In my opinion the sound quality of the Surface Headphones is better than on my Bose QC 35, and it is a joy to listen to music. Again, I am not a sound enthusiast, but for me the quality is really good.
  • One of the unique features are the wheels or dial on the side. The wheel on the right allows you just adjust the volume and the wheel on the left allows you to adjust the level of noise cancellation. I like the wheels much better than, the buttons on my Bose headphones, they are way easier reachable.
  • The Surface Headphones also have buttons on the side, which allow you to pick up and end calls, skip to the next track, pause and resume music playback.
  • You cannot only regulate the level of noise cancellation, you can even amplify the background around you, which is handy when someone starts talking to you.

Overall the first impressions of the Surface Headphones has been great, and I can’t wait to test them on my first trips. They are a great edition to the other Surface Peripherals.

If you are living not in the US or UK you can order them from www.bigapplebuddy.com. If you are using the coupon code “THOMASMAURER” you will get $10 off their 1st Big Apple Buddy purchase. This not only works for the Surface Headphones but for other items as well.

Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

Surface Go – My first Impressions and why I bought it!

I just received my Microsoft Surface Go. Yes, in Switzerland it was released just now, a couple of weeks after the US. The first review videos out there, did convince me that this is the right device I was looking for, but more to that later. In this short blog I want to give you a look at my first impressions of the Surface Go.

Why I bought the Surface Go

Microsoft Surface Go

First, let me tell you why I bought the Surface Go. I am a long time Microsoft Surface user, since the first Surface Pro. I went to several iteration of the Surface family and currently I am using a 15-inch Surface Book 2 and a Surface Pro. Surface Book 2, I like because of the power and screen size, and it is perfect for me to do some serious work. The Surface Pro is more less my light travel work devices to day.

As you know I spend a lot of time travelling at conferences or to customer for meetings. Every weight and space I can safe during traveling is basically a great thing. A lightweight device for doing some simple work like mail, browsing the web or working with office would be enough for most of the tasks. Another tasks I need my device a lot for is taking notes. Since I started to use OneNote, I never took notes on paper again. Most of my note taking I do with the Surface Pen. Especially during meetings, it is much nicer to take notes on an almost flat surface, instead of hiding behind a laptop. The Surface Pro and the Surface Go are prefect for this, since with the kickstand. They let you switch easily from taking notes with a pen, to using the keyboard.

Benefits I expect from the Surface Go

I think the Surface Go would have all these requirements and benefits:

  • Lightweight and small
  • Surface Pen support
  • Full Windows 10
  • Touchscreen and Keyboard with trackpad support
  • Great built quality like other Microsoft Surface Devices
  • Enough power to still do some simple work
  • LTE to be always connect

I know the Surface Go LTE version, comes later this year. I think this would be perfect, but with conference and travel season coming up, I didn’t want to wait. Let’s see if I upgrade later to the Surface Go LTE version. These always connected devices running Windows 10, cannot come soon enough.

My first impressions of the Surface Go

Surface Go Kickstand

Let’s talk about my first impressions of the Microsoft Surface Go. The most important part is obviously the formfactor. The Surface Go is crazy small and light. It really feels great in the hand and it seems to be the right size for a small and light travel device. It is almost cute if you put it to the 15inch Surface Book 2. The build quality is great as expected from Microsoft Surface hardware. The performance feels great for the tasks I am looking for. Microsoft Edge and Outlook and the other office apps feel fast and responsive.

The Surface Go also comes with a Surface Connect Charger, which is a great magnetic charging port. With that it can also easily connect with the Surface Dock and power my external monitor. However, the Surface Go also has a USB Type-C Port, and you can also charge the devices using a UBS charger.

I also got the Signature Type Cover, which is a smaller version of the Type Cover which comes with the Surface Pro. It is small but typing feels great. It takes only a quick moment to get used to it. Great is the huge glass trackpad which on the Type Cover.

Windows 10 Tablet Surface Go

I think this is the first Windows tablet I really can use as a tablet. With the size and weight, it is ideal to also use it as a tablet. For example the Surface Pro is only a little bit larger, but it makes a huge difference when you want to use it as a “portable tablet”. I found myself using Windows 10 in tablet mode a lot, and using the Surface Go in landscape and portrait mode.

Audio quality seems to be very good for a device in that price category. And the front facing stereo speakers make the difference to other tablets.

What I also really like is the great quality cameras which Microsoft has build in. If you record videos or if you do Skype for Business Calls and video meetings, the quality is way better than other tablets or even notebooks.

These were my first impressions of the Surface Go. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about it

Download Azure Stack Update

How to install and manage Azure Stack Updates

At itnetX, we help customers to implement as well as to operate  Azure Stack. One part of operating Azure Stack is keeping it up-to-date. This means installing Microsoft Azure Stack Updates, hotfixes as well as OEM update packages like drivers and firmware. In this blog post, I will cover all the information you need to keep your Azure Stack up-to-date.

Why should you update your Azure Stack

Azure Stack Update

This may sound like a simple question, but a lot of people ask for it. First of all, Microsoft and the hardware vendors are delivering quality fixes and security updates to keep Azure Stack stable and secure. But Microsoft also adds new functionality with their updates packages to keep up with the rapid cloud development on Azure. This is important if you want that your Azure Stack stays consistent with Azure in terms of functionality.

Another essential reason to stay current is to remain supported. You are allowed to be behind two major versions of Azure Stack, which means 2-3 months. You basically should update monthly, to make sure that you are secure and stable. However, there are reasons why you might have to defer an update. For example, this can happen for some companies, when they are in a freeze period where they are not allowed to do changes in their systems. If you are more than three major versions behind, your Azure Stack is considered out of support and will not be supported from Microsoft, until you have the at least required version installed.

You can read more about the Azure Stack servicing policy on the Azure Stack documentation site.

Updates for the Azure Stack Integrated System

Azure Stack Operations

As mentioned before, there are three types of updates to Azure Stack. The monthly Azure Stack Update Packages from Microsoft, Hotfixes, and OEM updates.

  • Microsoft software updates – Microsoft is responsible for the end-to-end servicing lifecycle for the Microsoft software update packages. These packages can include the latest Windows Server security updates, non-security updates, and Azure Stack feature updates. These update packages are non-cumulative updates and need to be installed one after the other. These updates are fully automated and will update the complete Azure Stack infrastructure.
  • OEM hardware vendor-provided updates – Azure Stack hardware partners are responsible for the end-to-end servicing lifecycle (including guidance) for the hardware-related firmware and driver update packages. In addition, Azure Stack hardware partners own and maintain guidance for all software and hardware on the hardware lifecycle host.
  • Microsoft hotfixes – Microsoft provides hotfixes for Azure Stack that address a specific issue that is often preventative or time-sensitive. Each hotfix is released with a corresponding Microsoft Knowledge Base article that details the issue, cause, and resolution. Hotfixes are downloaded and installed just like the regular full update packages for Azure Stack. Other then the major updates, Azure Stack hotfixes are cumulative per iteration.

 ReleaseCumulativeWhere to find
Microsoft Software UpdatesMonthly (4th Tuesday of very month)NoRelease Notes
OEM Hardware Vendor UpdatesDepending on OEMDependsOEM Website
Microsoft HotfixesWhen neededYesKnowledge Base article

By the way, you can only update Azure Stack multi-node systems, and the Azure Stack Development Kit needs to be redeployed.

Azure Stack

Video: HIAG Data and itnetX enable hybrid IT with HPE and Microsoft Azure Stack

When I had the chance to speak about our Azure Stack project together with HIAG Data at HPE Discover 2017 in Madrid last year, I also had the chance to record a short video. In that video I am speaking about how HIAG Data and itnetX enable Hybrid Cloud with HPE and Microsoft Azure Stack.

Enjoy the quick customer case marketing video ;)

HIAG Data partnered with itnetX which helps its customers with cloud transformations by utilizing HPE & Microsoft Azure Stack . You can find out more about how your business can implement a hybrid IT strategy based on HPE at https://hpe.com/cloud/azurestack


Azure Stack Capacity Calculator

Azure Stack Capacity Calculator Tool

One of the most common questions I get when a customer decided to buy Azure Stack is, how you can calculate the sizing of your Azure Stack. He also wants to know how larger the server should be for his workloads and which Azure Stack Hardware SKU he should go for. Microsoft just released the Azure Stack Capacity Calculator (Version 1801.01). This tool will assists customers in the pre-purchase capacity planning of the Azure Stack hardware configuration. This helps you decided on how large your Azure Stack solution should be configured. This sizes server configuration and amount of servers you need to run your workloads on a Azure Stack integrated system. This also helps you in your Azure Stack Pricing Calculation.

The Azure Stack capacity planner is intended to assist in pre-purchase planning to determine appropriate capacity and configuration of Azure Stack hardware solutions.

The Azure Stack capacity planner helps you make informed decisions with respect to planning capacity in two ways: either the by selecting a hardware offering and attempting to fit a combination of resources or by defining the workload that Azure Stack is intended to run to view the available hardware SKUs that can support it. Finally, the spreadsheet is intended as a guide to help in making decisions related to Azure Stack planning and configuration.

The spreadsheet is not intended to serve as a substitute for your own investigation and analysis.  Microsoft makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided within the spreadsheet.

Azure Stack Capacity Planner

Azure Stack Resource Calculator

You can download the Azure Stack Capacity Planner from the TechNet Gallery. It is a simple to use Microsoft Excel file, where you enter your workload data. I will out put some information about the configuration you need and even allows you to compare different hardware SKUs. It will also indicate which one will be the best solution for you.

Download Azure Stack Capacity Calculator: TechNet Gallery Azure Stack Capacity Planner (Version 1801.01)