Azure Stack – What’s new and what’s changed

At Ignite 2015 Microsoft announced Microsoft Azure Stack. Microsoft brings with this version literally the Public Azure to your own Datacenter. Azure stack will contain the same bits as they run in Azure. So that’s looking really promising as I can’t even imagine how many services they offer in Azure. The big keyword here is consistency. When you as a tenant creating a new deployment they will allow you to take that deployment and run it in Azure, the Service Provider running Azure Stack and your own data center if you are running Azure Stack. And that’s a big change versus the last 2 editions of Azure Pack. But as Daniel Neumann  mentioned on his blog, it is not an updated version of Azure pack, but an entirely new product. In this blog post I am going to highlight the new features that makes all this consistency possible. You see in the image below that Azure Stack and Azure consist of the same building blocks, starting with the Cloud Infrastructure or as we also know it as the fabric. On top of that they provide the Azure portal and on top of that we deploy our services no matter if it is running Windows or Linux.

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Microsoft Azure Stack Announcement

From Azure Announcement blog

AzureStack

“Microsoft is the only cloud vendor that builds and runs its own hyper-scale datacenters and delivers that technology back to customers. We are infusing our experience into our hybrid cloud technology through battle-hardened cloud infrastructure and integration of Azure design points for greater consistency between Azure and customers’ datacenters. We are bringing the next wave of this innovation to our customers with Microsoft Azure Stack.

Built on the same core technology as Azure, Microsoft Azure Stack designed to bring Azure to your datacenter for the deployment of enterprise and modern applications at any scale. Azure Stack enables IT professionals to transition from traditional IT control methods to providing users and developers access the tools they need when they need them, while still maintaining central control.

  • Empowering users and developers with a consistent, self-service cloud experience: Azure Stack brings the ease of cloud application deployment to the on-premises datacenter, supporting the same experience as Azure with Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates (made available in preview last week at BUILD). ARM templates provide a gateway through the Azure portal for seamless service delivery across Azure and datacenters, reducing friction in the hybrid environment. Users can deploy workloads to Azure or on-premises based on business requirements, focusing on the application itself rather than the infrastructure. Azure Stack enables access to many of the same Azure IaaS and PaaS services on-premises, with the same intuitive self-service experience they would have with Azure. Azure Stack also empowers developers to innovate faster and on their terms by providing access to the broadest set of development tools and platforms.
  • Improving flexibility with cloud-inspired software defined infrastructure: Azure Stack extends Microsoft’s investments in the software-defined datacenter across compute, software-defined storage, software-defined networking, and software-defined security. These innovations provide a flexible and more secure datacenter architecture
  • Speeding time to value with simplified deployment: The deployment and configuration of private and hybrid clouds can be daunting and resource-intensive. Azure Stack will offer a simplified deployment and configuration experience.

Customers will be able to take advantage of the first Azure Stack features in preview this summer.  For more information, visit http://www.microsoft.com/azure-in-your-dc.”

Microsoft Azure Stack Video and ARM Templates

Here is a video of the Microsoft Azure Stack introduction at Ignite by Jeff Woolsey

http://1drv.ms/1FKY0BH

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What Jeff did not show because of time constraints: deploying an Azure Resource Manager Template

Here is just one example:

image

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Microsoft Ignite 2015 Notes

Here are some random notes from Ignite 2015

DAY 2

  • Server Technical Preview 2 on Technet
  • 130k IOPS in Azure VM is very impressive
  • Windows Server 2016 User Voice
  • Win10 will be “Azure AD Aware”-will have something called AzureAD join
  • Azure Operational Insights generally available & becomes a part of Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS)
  • If you don’t provide a computername in the unattend.xml for Nano, It will be named “minwinpc” No unique name being generated
  • Test the Storage QoS feature in Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2 using the guide at msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/…
  • Channel9 Session Downloader v1.81
  • Data Deduplication in Windows Server Technical Preview 2
  • Office 2016 Public Preview now available
  • Nano Server can be  installed as a Generation 2 VM from a VHDX by using convert-WindowsImage.ps1 with -VHDPartitionStyle to GPT https://t.co/bJ0gZ2h
  • Azure Networking: User defined routing, multiple NIC’s, and expanded appliance catalog in Azure networks
  • You can place all kinds of resources in an Azure Resource Group and use a single-click parameterized template to deploy it to Azure or in your own datacenter (with Azure Stack)
  • Enhanced ExpressRoute Connectivity between on-premises and Azure
  • image
  • Windows 10 is the last version of Windows. Everything else will be an update

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Theme Night focusing on Hybrid Identity & Business Continuity

It is a great time for big Microsoft events. We’ve just closed the door on Build 2015 in Los Angeles. Today the colossal new event Microsoft Ignite is about to open its doors and soon we’ll have the local Microsoft TechDays. We are seeing fantastic developments around Azure, Windows Server, Windows 10, Open Windows Platform, Continuum and Hololens. We may even get a glimpse of the new Azure Pack.

The SCUG NL & Hyper-V.nu user groups offer you to follow these developments closer to home. Just before Techdays 2015, we organize our second Theme Night called:

“Azure to the rescue: Hybrid Identity & Business Continuity”

image

In this second edition of Theme Night, Simon May and Sergio Pattinama will talk about Hybrid Identity, Windows 10 and Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery based on Azure Site Recovery (ASR). Simon will dive into the world of Hybrid Identity. How to you connect your on-premises Active Directory and Azure Active Directory and why this is an important part of Microsoft Online Cloud Services such as Azure, Office 365 and Microsoft Intune. Next Sergio Pattinama will show how to set up Azure Site Recovery to make DR scenarios easily accessible for customers with Hyper-V, VMware and even physical servers. Replication to your own second datacenter, a hosting provider datacenter or the Azure datacenter are possible targets for ASR. In the third and final presentation, Simon May will talk about enterprise mobility with Windows 10.

Date

May 27, 2015

Program

  • 16:30 – 17:00: Reception
  • 17:00 – 18:00: Diner/Buffet
  • 18:00 – 19:00: Hybrid Identity – Simon May
  • 19:00 – 19:15: Break
  • 19:15 – 20:15: Business Continuity – Sergio Pattinama
  • 20:15 – 20:30: Break
  • 20:30 – 21:30: Enterprise Mobility – Simon May

What are “Theme Nights” ?

During these events we keep you up-to-date with topics regarding Azure, Hyper-V & System Center!  Developments in IT-land go so fast that it is very hard to only touch the surface of these subjects. We choose a Theme Night to go deeper on the individual topics and hope to give you a deep understanding of a particular topic. We try to get (international) renowned speakers, often MVP in the field.

Free ticket to Techdays 2015

During this “Theme Night” we’ll raffle a free ticket to TechDays 2015! The Dutch event will be on May 28-29, a top-event with 150 sessions you really shouldn’t miss.

Of course we close with a food and drinks.

Please be quick to register as from experience we know we normally sell out quite rapidly!

Location
Inovativ

Startbaan 8
1185 XR Amstelveen
Routebeschrijving

Registration

We aim to maintain a low threshold with these events, so there is no fee. Still we try to keep the number of no-shows as low as possible. You can help by registering only if you’ll definitely turn up. If something else comes up, please cancel your registration so it becomes available to others again.
Without sponsors this event would not be possible. We thank inovativ for making this event possible!

On behalf of Inovativ, Hyper-V.nu en SCUG.NL we hope to see you in Amstelveen on May 27th

Azure IaaS Toolkit

I was at the Azure Global Bootcamp last month where we built a number of Azure VMs and networks. We also configured load balancing and several other settings. When I came home, I thought that it would be much easier if we could manage endpoints, load balancers and network security groups via a GUI. So the end result is available on the TechNet Gallery. Please look at it and if you have any feedback please let me know.

àAvailable on Technet Galleryß

When you start the tool, it discovers an already connected Azure subscription. If not, you can add one by using Add Azure Account.

You can then browse through your Cloud Services and VMs inside of the Cloud Services.

There is an overview of the VM you selected where you can quickly connect, stop, start or delete your VM. Be careful with the delete. The confirm doesn’t seem to work somehow, so it’s not included in the script. Only the last VM in the service will give a warning.

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Nested Hypervisor in Windows Server vNext

In his presentation at Build 2015 on Windows and Hyper-V Containers, Taylor Brown almost casually mentioned that in the next version of Windows Server, it will be possible to enable Hyper-V in a Hyper-V VM. The news was broken by fellow Hyper-V MVP Ronald Beekelaar who attended this great session in San Francisco.

Very quickly dozens of emails appeared in my mailbox from very enthusiastic fellow MVPs who have been begging for this feature for several years now. In fact I have also pleaded for nested hypervisor as we often have to build labs and prepare demos which include Windows Azure Pack. Some of its features can do without a Hyper-V server or cluster such as websites, databases, service management automation, but if VMM and infrastructure as a service is involved, we badly miss a Hyper-V host to deploy VM Roles. Of course we could add physical host to the lab, but with so many consultants in our CloudOS team, there just isn’t enough hardware.

Now that Microsoft has acknowledged that nested Hyper-V will be possible in a future build of vNext, it will be much easier for us to start learning the new Azure Pack and the many new features of Virtual Machines v2, equivalent to public Azure that is on the roadmap.

The real reason why Microsoft introduces running Hyper-V within Hyper-V is the anticipated new service to run Hyper-V Containers in Azure. Just like hypervisors abstract the operating system from the hardware, containers abstract the application from the operating system. There are two types of containers: Windows Server Containers and Hyper-V Containers. The former runs on the bare metal and the latter requires the Hyper-V hypervisor so that Containers can run in Hyper-V VMs. It stands to reason that Hyper-V Containers are much more suitable for Azure than giving customers access to the physical host, which would simply be impossible.

So expect to be running Hyper-V containers in an Azure VM (probably of the Nano Server type), running on the Azure fabric and once this is possible, you will also be able to run other guests inside an Azure VM. Because the same version of CloudOS will be available to public Azure, hosted Azure as well as private Azure, you can benefit from this new technology wherever it suits you best.

I can hardly wait for this new technology to become generally available!

If you want to see the session on Containers by Taylor Brown and Mathew John, take a look at the slides and recorded presentation: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2015/2-704

 

Windows Azure Pack – VM Checkpoints

The functionality we were all (and our customers) have been waiting for is reality with the release of WAP UR6: VM Checkpoints.

This is another great example of the WAP team interacting with the community and prioritizing based on the uservoice, VM Checkpoints was on number 4 with 225 votes.

With UR6 we have some new buttons in the bottom menu in the Virtual Machine view
WAP UR6 Menu
Allowing us to create checkpoints but also restoring checkpoints from Windows Azure Pack.

Creating Checkpoints

When we click the checkpoint button we get a dialog to create a new checkpoint:
CreateCheckpoint
Give it a name and a good description why you make the checkpoint.

Windows Azure Pack will now instruct Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) through Service Provider Foundation (SPF) to make a checkpoint of the selected Virtual Machine.
Create Checkpoint VMM

When the job is finished we can take a look in Hyper-V Manager to see the checkpoint is actually made. READ MORE »

Azure Site Recovery with Hyper-V Generation 2 VM Support

The Azure team at Microsoft cannot be denied to run at a very high pace, when it comes to introducing new Azure functionality. Not only do public Azure features show up like clockwork every six weeks, this is also true for feature updates related to Hyper-V and System Center in the private cloud which get updated at an incredible pace. Just a few weeks ago we had to tell customers that if they had boot drives larger than 127GB, more than 1 network adapter, fixed IP address or when they had already adopted Hyper-V Generation 2 VMs, Azure Site Recovery would be a no-go (yet). But customers of the Azure cloud never have to wait very long and they get a very large say in what features are most important for them. Just take a look at the User Voice for Azure Site Recovery:

This week I was lucky to get a time slot from the Azure team to actually test the new Hyper-V Generation 2 support in our closest Azure datacenter West Europe, here in Amsterdam. I had already set up ASR as a preparation for several customers who were planning for Disaster Recovery from their onsite datacenters to Azure. I had more or less been ignoring the product as I didn’t have any use cases or the resources to test. But with interested customers, things can change very quickly. So I quickly configured a small research environment with one Hyper-V host, a few Generation 1 and 2 VMs, SQL Server 2014 and Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 with Update Rollup 5.

I will not detail the complete setup and configuration as this has already been well documented. Be careful not to read blogs on ASR older than a couple of months as so much has changed. In this blog I will focus on the new support for Hyper-V  Generation 2 VMs. Generation 2 VMs arrived with Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and made installing VMs a little faster because none of the ancient devices had to be discovered. Also with the replacement of the VM BIOS by a UEFI, several new features became available:

  • Secure boot
  • DVD Drive hot add/removal
  • PXE boot from synthetic network adapter

So let’s go back to the configuration of ASR for Generation 2 VMs. There are now multiple scenarios for ASR and my configuration is based on “Between an on-premises VMM site and Azure“, but there are several others available, including VMM site to VMM Site (with or without SAN Replication), Hyper-V to Azure (without VMM) or VMware Site to VMware Site (with or without SAN Replication), and we can expect a direct VMware to Azure before long. Because I had configured ASR some time ago, I had to download an update for my registration key. Secondly I had to refresh both the VMM ASR Provider and the Hyper-V ASR Agent for the Hyper-V host. If I had a 7-year old child, I could have delegated this task.

The major steps for protecting VMs with ASR are:

  • Setup
  • Configure
  • Protect
  • Author Recovery Plan
  • Disaster Recovery Drill

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Azure Pack – Recover from a disaster

This post is not talking about recovering from a failed data center or Azure Site recovery procedures. No, it’s just “simple” recovery when everything went down for whatever kind of reason. I mean, we are humans and we make mistakes. Even in an environment as Azure they make mistakes. Remember the Storage outage last year? This was by a human making a mistake pushing an update. Sorry… shit happens.

But what if something happened and the power, storage, networking and suddenly the VM’s comes back up and you log in to Azure Pack and an error is on your screen? When we run projects at customers we build from the ground up and “assume” its running forever. In this post I want to discuss the proper way of bring an environment back up and running and what are the critical pointers you need to be aware of.

So let’s start the environment J

START DOMAIN CONTROLLERS
First we need to bring up all the domain controllers for each domain where fabric and azure pack components are running. If an ADFS instance is co-located on the domain controller and is using SQL, check after booting the SQL if the services are started correctly.

START HYPER-V SERVERS
If Hyper-V servers went down start them first.

The first 2 depend on how you have built your environment. You know about chicken and egg story? When you have one physical domain controller start this first. If you have only virtual domain controllers then first start Hyper-V Server. Just be careful when you have virtual domain controllers and your hyper-v server is joined to the domain that host the domain controller, that it can start the vm when booting the first hyper-v node. You would not be the first where I have seen that the cluster couldn’t start because domain was not up and domain couldn’t be brought up because storage and/or cluster couldn’t start. READ MORE »