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Microsoft Unveils Software-Defined Datacenter Partner Program

Microsoft this week took the wraps off a new software-defined datacenter certification program for storage and hyper-converged systems running Windows Server 2016.

The Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) program is targeted at customers interested in some of the Azure Stack appliances coming in September from Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Lenovo that will allow enterprises and service providers to run some of Microsoft's public cloud technologies in their own datacenters. The program lets partners deliver infrastructure capable of building hyper-scale datacenters based on Microsoft's software-defined datacenter guidelines and specifications.

Systems certified by Microsoft under WSSD undergo the company's Software-Defined Datacenter Additional Qualifications (SDDC AQ) testing process and "must firmly follow Microsoft's deployment and operation policies to be considered part of the WSSD program," as explained by QCT, one of the first six partners certified. The other partners include DataON, Fujitsu, HPE, Lenovo and Supermicro.

"Deployments use prescriptive, automated tooling that cuts deployment time from days or weeks to mere hours," according to the WSSD announcement on Microsoft's Hyper Cloud blog. "You'll be up and running by the time the WSSD partner leaves your site, with a single point of contact for support."

The partners are offering three types of systems:

  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Standard: "Highly virtualized" compute and storage combined in the single server-node cluster, which Microsoft says will make them easier to deploy, manage and scale.

  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Premium: Hardware that Microsoft describes as "software-defined datacenter in a box" that adds SDN and Security Assurance to HCI Standard, which the company claims simplifies the ability to scale compute, storage and networking as needed, similar to public cloud usage models.

  • Software-Defined Storage (SDS): Enterprise-grade shared storage that's built on server-node clusters, designed to replace traditional external storage devices with support for all-flash NVMe drives, which customers can scale based on demand.

The specific WSSD-certified offerings announced by Microsoft include:

  • DataON's S2D-3000 with the company's DataON MUST deployment and management tool, which provides SAN-type storage monitoring.

  • Fujitsu's Primeflex for Storage Spaces Direct.

  • Lenovo's Cloud Validated Design for Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct, optimized to provide cloud-based storage to Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft SQL database workloads.

  • QCT's QxStack WS2016, MSW2000 and MSW6000 hyper-converged appliances (its MSW8000 is still under review).

  • Supermicro SYS-1028U-S2D HCI appliance, which it describes as a "highly dense" all-NVMe system for cloud-scale software-defined datacenters.

While some obvious large providers of software-defined and -engineered hyper-converged systems weren't on the initial list -- notably, Cisco Systems and Dell EMC -- Microsoft said it expects to add more partners over time.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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