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The Windows Server Software-Defined program is Microsoft's initiative to validate vendor hardware for software-defined data center deployments.
The Microsoft WSSD program provides vendors with support for product design, validation testing, deployment streamlining and operations tasks, such as systems management. The vendor hardware involved in WSSD validation typically includes servers; network devices, such as network interface cards; storage adapters, such as SAS host bus adapters; and storage devices, including traditional magnetic, solid-state and non-volatile memory devices.
Editor's note: On March 26, 2019, Microsoft rebranded the WSSD program to Azure Stack HCI. According to a Microsoft official, the WSSD program will remain the same for Windows Server 2016 deployments, while Azure Stack HCI systems will be designated for Windows Server 2019.
Validation process provides reliability
The principal goal of the Microsoft WSSD program is to overcome integration problems that might otherwise delay or complicate enterprise adoption of software-defined data center (SDDC) technologies.
Microsoft's WSSD offerings work with the software-defined features in Windows Server. This helps customers avoid potential problems that could compromise the production environment.
Vendor HCI offerings undergo a complex testing process that includes building out and stress-testing a range of deployments. In addition, the vendor might need to re-qualify for WSSD certification if it reconfigures or updates its products.
Microsoft WSSD program comes in three flavors
The Microsoft WSSD program has three offerings.
The hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) Standard product combines compute and storage resources within the same server cluster. The HCI Standard deployment simplifies compute and storage in the same highly scalable package. It is suited to small and midsize environments that use Hyper-V.
The Converged Software-Defined Storage (SDS) offering focuses on using servers for simplified, low-cost, enterprise-grade storage that is not a common storage area network or network-attached storage. As with HCI Standard, Converged SDS is basically a cluster of servers designed to scale out. Converged SDS is suitable for organizations of any size.
Finally, the HCI Premium offering builds on the Standard edition by adding software-defined networking capabilities. HCI Premium is meant for large organizations that want SDDC infrastructures that can scale easily. The vendor products validated at the HCI Premium level are mainly intended for large enterprises and service providers.
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