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Migrating VMware workloads to Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI

What is it?

Azure Stack HCI is a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution that lets you run virtualized workloads on-premises. It combines compute, storage, and software-defined networking into a single, easy-to-manage system.


  • Consolidate: Simplify your infrastructure by merging servers and storage.

  • Flexibility: Run Windows and Linux VMs, containers, and even desktops (Azure Virtual Desktop).

  • Hybrid: Connect to Azure for cloud services, management, and disaster recovery.

  • Choice: Deploy on pre-configured systems from a partner or install it yourself on validated hardware.

  • Management: Use familiar tools like the Azure portal, Windows Admin Center, and PowerShell.

How it works:

  • An Azure Stack HCI cluster includes 1-16 servers with shared resources.

  • It leverages proven technologies like Hyper-V for compute, Storage Spaces Direct for software-defined storage, and core Azure services for management.

  • You can deploy virtual machines, containers (AKS), and even Azure Virtual Desktops.

Getting Started:

  • Try it out for free with a 60-day trial from the Azure portal.

  • Choose pre-configured systems from a Microsoft partner or install it yourself on validated hardware.

  • Use the Azure Stack HCI sizing tool to plan your hardware needs.

Management Options:

  • Manage individual systems or your entire Azure Stack HCI deployment from the Azure portal.

  • Leverage existing tools like Windows Admin Center and PowerShell.

Pre-Migration Planning

  1. Assessment and Inventory:

  • Evaluate your current VMware environment using Microsoft's Azure Migrate tool.

  • Identify VMs for migration and ensure compatibility with Azure Stack.

  • Gain insights on performance and VM sizing within Azure Stack.

  1. Network Planning:

  • Configure your on-premises network for communication with Azure Stack. This may involve VPN connections or a dedicated ExpressRoute connection.

  1. Security and Compliance:

  • Verify that Azure Stack's security features meet your organization's compliance requirements.

  • Plan any necessary adjustments to your security posture.

  1. Cost Estimation:

  • Estimate costs associated with running workloads in Azure Stack using the Azure Pricing Calculator. Factor in compute, storage, and any additional services.

Migration Process

  1. Prepare Azure Stack Environment:

  • Set up an Azure Stack subscription and designate a resource group to house migrated VMs.

  • Provision storage accounts and virtual networks within Azure Stack to accommodate your VMs.

  1. Prepare VMware VMs for Migration:

  • Streamline VM disk size by removing unnecessary files.

  • Ensure VMs utilize hardware versions supported by Azure Stack.

  • Uninstall VMware tools and disable any VMware-specific services.

  1. Convert VMware VMs:

  • Leverage Azure Migrate or a third-party solution to convert VMware VM disks (VMDK) to the Azure-compatible VHD format.

  1. Upload VHDs to Azure Stack:

  • Utilize Azure Storage Explorer or Azure PowerShell/CLI to upload converted VHD files to a storage account in Azure Stack.

  1. Create Azure Stack VMs:

  • Deploy new VMs in Azure Stack using the uploaded VHDs. Configure VMs based on the performance and sizing assessments conducted earlier.

  1. Post-Migration Configuration:

  • Establish network connectivity between migrated VMs, on-premises environments, and other Azure Stack services.

  • Install Azure Stack-specific tools and agents as required.

  • Perform comprehensive testing to ensure application and service functionality.


  1. Optimization and Monitoring:

  • Employ Azure Stack's monitoring tools to track performance and health of migrated workloads.

  • Optimize resource utilization based on actual usage patterns to manage costs and enhance efficiency.

  1. Update Disaster Recovery and Backup Plans:

  • Integrate your new Azure Stack environment into your disaster recovery and backup plans.

  1. Documentation and Training:

  • Update IT documentation to reflect the new environment.

  • Provide training to your team on managing and operating Azure Stack.

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