At its most recent Ignite 2022 conference for IT professionals in October, Microsoft announced the public preview of Azure Jumpstart HCIBox, as well as Azure Jumpstart ArcBox for DataOps. In this article, I’ll explain what these new products are for, and also guide you to the resources to help you get started with them.
Before I dive into the details, I’ll give you a refresher on Azure Arc Jumpstart, a program that Microsoft launched in September 2020 to help IT pros get on board with Azure Arc.
What is Azure Arc Jumpstart?
Azure Arc Jumpstart originally started as a Microsoft internal collection of PowerShell scripts for deploying Azure Arc in test and demo environments. Due to high customer demand for these environments, it evolved into its own program and product within the Azure portfolio.
Microsoft has imagined several different usage scenarios for this program, here are some examples below:
My favorite scenarios now are the new Jumpstart ArcBox and Jumpstart HCIBox. Both sandbox environments are intended to be deployed as virtual machines on Azure and allow customers, partners and others to easily deploy and test both solutions. Many organizations may encounter challenges in their Azure Arc learning journey. Microsoft has therefore created scripts and best practices to help IT professionals deploy these complex environments.
First, you will need an Azure subscription to participate in the Azure Arc Jumpstart program. Microsoft’s products are intended for deployment on Azure, but the products we’ll detail in this article can be downloaded later to run on-premises.
Additionally, you must have Azure CLI version 2.40.0 or later. Also, you can only deploy the “boxes” in the following four regions.
- Eastern United States
- Eastern US 2
- US West 2
- North Europe
Be aware that there will be additional requirements depending on the type of Jumpstart scenario you want to try.
What is Azure Jumpstart ArcBox?
Microsoft says Azure Jumpstart ArcBox is: “designed to be an easy automation to deploy a sandbox for anything Azure Arc and Arc Connected Services. ArcBox is completely self-contained within a single Azure subscription and resource group without the need for subscription or additional resources.
Azure Jumpstart ArcBox lets you have a completely separate environment, and it’s perfect for test and development subscriptions. According to Microsoft, use cases include:
- Sandbox environment to get familiar with Azure Arc
- Accelerator for Proof-of-concepts or pilots
- Azure Arc Skills Development Training Tool
- Demo environment for customer presentations or events
- Rapid integration test platform
Four different configurations are available for IT professionals:
If you need more information about this product and want to ask questions directly to Microsoft Engineering, I recommend exploring Microsoft’s FastTrack for Azure Live sessions.
I would also like to highlight the ArcBox for DataOps scenario, it was announced at Ignite in November and it should accelerate the deployment of on-premises Azure managed SQL services.
What is Azure Jumpstart HCIBox?
Deploying Azure Stack HCI is complex and requires multiple planning and integration phases. Sometimes those extra efforts are just too much for a test and demo environment. That’s why Microsoft is launching its new Jumpstart HCIBox.
The new product deploys a two-node Azure Stack HCI cluster with Windows Server Active Directory Domain Services and a Windows Admin Center gateway server on a single virtual machine in Azure.
The environment is deployed on a Windows Server virtual machine as a nested environment. After deployment, it contains the following systems:
|HCIBox customer||Main host|
|Admin Center||Windows Admin Center Gateway Server|
|BGP-Tor Router||Remote Access Server|
With this, you get a complete Azure Stack HCI environment to work with. Keep in mind that this environment is not a production environment, it is there for testing and demonstration purposes. I would recommend shutting down the environment if not in use.
You can find the full deployment guide on the Azure Arc Jumpstart website. If you need additional assistance with your projects, Microsoft offers free architecture and best practices assistance through the FastTrack for Azure program.
How to get additional Azure technical support from Microsoft
Microsoft is putting a lot of resources into making its Azure environment easier to understand and deploy. Azure Arc Jumpstart, the new Jumpstart ArcBox and HCIBox are just small pieces of a bigger puzzle. If you are interested in both products, start with Jumpstart ArcBox and HCIBox. And once you see real-world use, you can leverage free programs like FastTrack for Azure and the Azure Arc Boost program to get additional Azure technical support from Microsoft.
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