Azure Stack HCI Hands-On – Part 1 – Setting Up

After reading a lot about Azure Stack HCI, and comparing the two flavors (Windows Server HCI vs Azure Stack HCI), I think it is about time we get some dirt on our hands. That’s right, it is time to spin up our own Azure Stack HCI lab and see it in action!

I found this tutorial in the official Microsoft documentation, and I started rather enthusiastically. But unfortunately, as I progressed through the step-by-step procedure in the document, it wasn’t far where I found myself a little lost. Although it looks good while skimming over, as you start following the steps, it starts to get a little foggy. Hmm…not a great start!

However, luckily, one of the guys who originally worked on the lab simulation and wrote the scripts, Jaromir, is a friend so it wasn’t long that I was pointed to the more accurate version of the process, found here.

So we will be following that instead of the Microsoft documentation, and I’d recommend you do the same.

The instructions on the Github are very thorough, well-explained and easy to follow along so I won’t duplicate the steps here. It was a breeze to follow the steps and now I have a 4-node Azure Stack HCI hands-on lab. All I did was to follow this guide to hydrate the lab, and then this one here to deploy a cluster with WAC installed.

So now, at this point what we have in our hands is an Azure Stack HCI cluster, with 4 servers participating, each of which has Azure Stack HCI OS installed on them. We also have a storage pool combining all the storage of these 4 nodes, managed by S2D. We’ve got the bare skeleton ready, there’s still some work to be done like spinning up VMs, or AKS clusters etc. on top of these nodes for us to be able to run any actual workloads. But that’s a concern for some other time 😉

For now, let’s just take a look around, shall we?

You will notice that as you check the box in front of the cluster name, the options on the top will light up. You can connect to the cluster, change the account you’re using to manage the cluster, delete the cluster or add/edit tags for the cluster.

As I drill into the cluster we just created, I see the following.

You will notice a nice high-level dashboard of the cluster on the right and a few options on the menu to the left. These are divided by the 3-tier components of a SDDC – Compute, Storage and SDN.

You’ll also notice that there is an (optional) action to be taken from here – connecting this cluster to Azure. If and once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to actually see this cluster as an Azure resource in the Azure portal and be able to use some Azure services like Azure Monitor, for example.

Alright, while this blog in itself seems short, if you’ve been following along with me until now, you’re probably a few hours into this with me setting everything up. So let’s rest a while for now, and we will explore the lab further in the upcoming parts.

See you in the next one!