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What are the Azure Stack HCI hardware and support costs?

Organizations can cap their hyper-converged infrastructure costs when they deploy the Azure Stack HCI platform, but once they plug into the cloud, it's a different story.

Microsoft presents the Azure Stack hyper-converged infrastructure system as the optimal choice for on-premises virtualized workloads with costs that remain relatively fixed -- unless you tap into the Azure cloud for certain services. The purchase and support costs of Azure Stack HCI are built into the price of the hardware and software, so there are no additional expenses to make Azure Stack HCI available to the enterprise. Despite the Azure name, use of Microsoft's cloud isn't a platform requirement, so additional costs would be incurred if the organization decides to plug into those services.

Azure Stack HCI relies on four fundamental components: Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct and software-defined networking (SDN) -- specifically, the ones available in Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition -- and the free management tool Windows Admin Center. The cost of Azure Stack HCI is a combination of the server operating system and the HCI hardware.

Almost two dozen global vendors sell the Microsoft-validated HCI hardware. The cost of a typical Azure Stack HCI node is about $10,000, but the price will vary based on the level of hardware customization. When selecting an Azure Stack HCI product, organizations will have to determine their hardware needs to choose the right type of processor, memory, storage and networking. HCI hardware purchases will typically include annual hardware maintenance and support costs, which is often a percentage of the hardware's purchase price.

Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition can be purchased and preinstalled along with the hardware or purchased from another channel vendor and installed separately. Microsoft lists the Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition at $6,155 for a 16-core license. In most cases, channel vendors will offer deals and incentives for hardware and software bundles, including extended OS licensing and maintenance.

When an organization opts to connect Azure cloud services, such as Azure Backup, the costs fall into a consumption model used for cloud services. Organizations pay for those additional Azure services with an Azure subscription that generally take the form of a monthly bill for the enterprise.

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