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Customers that want to run application workloads across their own servers and cloud providers continue to exemplify the second wave of cloud computing adoption, and Microsoft plans to enhance its hybrid cloud Azure Stack product with an option that reflects modern trends in data center design.

Azure Stack, designed as a bridge between self-managed data centers and Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, will now support hyperconverged infrastructure designs, the company plans to announce Tuesday. It will allow customers that want to run applications designed for virtualized data center infrastructure to tap into Azure for backup or infrastructure monitoring, according to a blog post scheduled to go live Tuesday morning.

“While customers love the fact that they can run cloud applications on-premises with Azure Stack, we understand that most customers also run important parts of their organization on traditional virtualized applications,” Arpan Shah, general manager of Microsoft Azure, wrote in a draft copy of that blog post.

And as those companies upgrade the underlying hardware that runs those applications in their data centers, they are increasingly looking to hyperconverged infrastructure — in which critical functions such as networking, storage, and computing are controlled by software running atop standard server hardware — when updating those data centers.

Azure Stack HCI (hyperconverged infrastructure) will allow Azure hybrid cloud customers to tiptoe their way into the cloud-native era. They’ll be able to keep their basic application designs intact without having to rearchitect for the cloud, while still enjoying easy access to cloud services for less-critical services that run around those applications.

After years of ramming a cloud-first approach down potential customers’ throats, cloud providers have swiftly embraced the notion that major multinational corporations have invested millions in their current tech infrastructure. Lots of chief information officers think like doctors (first, do no harm) when it comes to the mission-critical applications that run their businesses.

Microsoft’s answer to this trend was Azure Stack, which allows companies to tap into Azure services from hardware sold by Microsoft partners for data center deployment. Azure Stack is designed to help companies embrace the principles of cloud-native software development without having to give up their servers, taking advantage of newer concepts like containers and microservices to run applications consistently across Microsoft hardware and their own data centers.

But some companies still want to do things the old-fashioned way, and those companies tend to have a lot of money.

Cloud leader Amazon Web Services has gone after these customers through a wide-ranging partnership with VMware, which a sizable number of companies running their own data centers use to wring more performance out of their hardware. Likewise, Google has struck its own partnership with hyperconverged infrastructure provider Nutanix.

Customers interested in using this service will be able to buy hardware that supports it from 15 different hardware providers, including Dell, HPE, Lenovo, and Supermicro.

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