Day 3, not a whole lot of announcements but still some cool topics!
My first session on day 3 of Ignite was Vijay Tewari, Group Product Manager of Azure Stack. An excellent overview was given on how to operate and manage an Azure Stack environment, showing how this works at a much smaller scale than public Azure. Clusters in Azure are not based on Failover Clustering but are close to 1000 nodes in size. So management and operations at the much smaller scale of Azure Stack requires some adaptation.
Cloud Operating Model
In Azure, Microsoft is the cloud provider, offering services to tenants and has a large number of engineers to operate that cloud. In Azure Stack this is exactly the opposite because the service provider/enterprise is the cloud provider, and is responsible for the infrastructure. The customers of Azure Stack are your tenants who consume the services that you are offering.
Key design decisions
Microsoft looked at System Center, as well as the tools that are currently used in Azure. Microsoft decided that the tools in Azure were preferred because that is how MS operates their cloud. It would have been difficult to mold System Center to manage Azure Stack. Nevertheless, Microsoft has taken learnings from both sides, Azure and System Center.
Hyper-converged or Converged?
Microsoft gained a lot of insight in industry trends and with Windows Server 2016 they built great technology which follows along those trends. Microsoft decided to choose hyper-converged with Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) over converged with SOFS for Azure Stack. Combining storage and hypervisor is now supported in Windows Server 2016. Read More »
As a Hyper-V MVP, I definitely had to visit Ben Armstrong’s presentation on the novelties of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016. I already had the pleasure of having dinner with Ben on Monday night, so I had every opportunity to discuss Hyper-V related things.
I quickly discovered that Ben had crammed in a truckload of interesting new features directly or indirectly related to Hyper-V. Because of the amount of topics, the pace was high and could not go deeper than level 200, which is about right for the majority of attendees I suppose.
Here is a list of topics that were discussed.
Shielded Virtual Machines
The end to end solution comprises three things:
- Virtual TPM in a Generation 2 VM to support BitLocker
- Shielding a VM, take and make it so that the host admin cannot access it
- Host Guardian Service, an external service to guarantee that a host is safe and not tampered with before a shielded VM is placed on that host.
Key Storage Drive is an alternative for Generation 1 VM.
Guest Virtual Secure Mode
Allows Credential Guard and Device Guard to work in a virtual machine. It is very easy to turn on and everyone interested in a secure platform should turn it on. Read More »
The second day of Ignite 2016 was a very interesting one and quite diverse. I had selected several sessions on Azure Stack but also Software Defined Networking and Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V.
I started with Explore Microsoft Azure Stack “State of the Union” – Foundation 1 by Natalia Mackevicius and ‘actors’ Rupi Sureshkumar and Shriram Natarajan.
Natalia started with a flashback to the history of IT, showing how each IT transition brought more speed, greater scalability and better economics. We are now seeing solutions we couldn’t even think of before.
According to IDC, 82% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy, up from 74% a year ago. Reasons for hybrid when workloads require:
- Sensitive data
- Legacy support
We think that cloud is a model, not a place and combining public, private and hosted cloud is an enabler for application development, services and new technologies.
Shri showed how easy it is to populate the Azure Pack marketplace with images from the Azure marketplace. Select an image such as SQL Server 2016 and just click download and wait for it to show up in the Azure Stack market place. You can then deploy that image with the exact same settings and methods as in Azure.
Monitoring with OMS
Of course you could install an OMS agent using an ARM template. Even better, make sure the OMS agent is already part of the template. Then use Operations Management Suite to monitor the VMs deployed in Azure Stack.
Microsoft Azure Stack brings the power of Azure to your datacenter and offers hybrid capabilities with consistency between different locations: public, private and hosted cloud. Azure services are deployable using the portal, PowerShell and via DevOp tools such as Visual Studio.
Azure Resource Manager
Azure Resource Manager is the management plane and API of both Azure and Azure Stack. As long as ARM in both of these clouds are kept identical, VMs, applications and services can be equally deployed to either of them.
You can start your development for Azure Stack in Azure and use the following two new tools:
- Available today: Azure Resource Manager Template Validator for Azure Stack
- Available later: Azure Resource Manager Policy for Azure Stack, providing guardrails to check your ARM template for resource dependencies that may not be in Azure Stack. This tool can conveniently be used offline
Azure Stack Roadmap
This shows the timeline for both the 1-node proof of concept version of Azure Stack, as well as the multi-node integrated systems version that are being based (for now) on HPE, Dell and Lenovo hardware.
In this daily blog series we try to keep you posted on the latest and all interesting announcements of Microsoft Ignite.Our very own, Hans Vredevoort, is on-site in Atlanta at Microsoft Ignite and is visiting deep dive sessions on Compute, Network, Storage and Azure Stack so expect some in-depth content.
Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 GA
Scott Guthrie announced as from 9/26 that Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 is Generally Available. Big thing: Microsoft is adding the commercial version of the Docker Engine into Windows Server 2016.
When creating the S2D cluster and using the Enable-ClusterS2D cmdlet you can disable caching in the cluster by specifying the “-CacheMode Disabled”
Enable-ClusterS2D -CacheMode Disabled
After creating the cluster with caching enabled you can disable the cache by using the following powershell command:
(Get-Cluster).S2DCacheDesiredState = 0
When Windows Server 2016 will become generally available later this year, it will be possible to take advantage of hosts with more RAM and more logical processors. Also VMs will support much more RAM and virtual processors than ever before.
With Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft didn’t think it was necessary to increase the support numbers for memory and processors. This was based on the absence of customer demand. Of course comparison charts with competing hypervisors will show the difference, but now we can tick off much higher scalability for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016.
Of course we have to ask ourselves, how much would one host cost that supports 24TB RAM and 512 logical processors.
With the release of Update Rollup 11 of System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 R2, Microsoft now officially supports VMware VM Backup.
This release has been in the pipeline for quite some time so it is great to see this feature is finally available to us. VMware VM Backup offers the following functionality:
- Agentless backup
- Backup at vCenter or ESXi level
- Backup VMware VM folders
- Ability to do Item Level Recovery (ILR)
- Protect large data center using DPM Scale Out
- Backup to Disk/Cloud
[Update: Here is the SPF UR11, that has the fix:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3184834 which updates SPF to 7.2.2386.0 and has been verified to keep Usage operational]
We received a signal from one of our service provider customers in the Netherlands, that they were unable to get Azure Pack to see any usage records.
If you have ever configured Usage, you probably recall that the Azure Pack Usage Collector service runs every 3 minutes for every resource provider to collect usage data from the OperationsManagerDW database. However, the WAP Usage Collector actually depends on Service Provider Foundation (SPF) to connect to the database and run an SQL query against the OperationsManagerDW database.
The WAP usage framework is quite a complex chain of interacting components with several different actors: VMM, SCOM, SPF, WAP and usage consumers such as Cloud Cruiser. It takes a very good understanding of the interaction of these components to troubleshoot WAP Usage and several great blogs have been published to troubleshoot Usage. If you take a look at the Usage section of my Azure Pack Wiki, you’ll quickly find them.
In this case, two WAP specialists at the service provider, had already gone through all the troubleshooting steps and were quite confident their configuration was correct. So that’s where I joined the party, and to tripple check, I again went through an analysis of the Usage configuration. For analysis of a WAP Usage problem, I always use the slide below, which I prepared for a talk to the Houston System Center User Group, several years ago. It helps you understand the order in which you can analyze a WAP Usage problem.
So I started checking if VMM agents were able to collect performance data (1), if the integration between VMM and SCOM was operational (2), if performance data was moved from the SCOM Operational Database to the SCOM DataWarehouse database (3), if SPF could connect to SCOM (4), if there was any usage data in the SPF usage table (5), if there was usage data for all existing resource providers (6), if the WAP Usage Collector was querying SPF for usage data every 3 minutes (7), if usage data was transferred from temporary SPF usage table to WAP Usage Database (8), if for instance Cloud Cruiser was able to connect to the Usage Service API and receive json file from WAP (9) and that data properly ended up in the Cloud Cruiser database (10).
All-in-all quite a complex chain, but if you understand this chain, it is obvious where to start.
I quickly concluded that VMM to SCOM was configured correctly and produced the correct results. The problem had to be in SPF and after I checked that the SPF was correctly configured to know how to connect to SCOM, I had to conclude I was dealing with a bug in SPF UR10.
There are two scenario’s that you can run into this issue:
- You install a fresh copy of SPF and directly upgrade to UR10 and then configure Usage
- You have already installed SPF with UR9, upgrade to UR10 and then configure Usage
I assume that if you already had a working Usage configuration and then upgrade to UR10, you should have no problems.
In this case there was a third possible culprit: SCOM 2016. As part of the WSSC 2016 TAP, the service provider had received approval from Microsoft to upgrade SCOM 2012 R2 to SCOM 2016 TP5. Because WAP Usage had not been configured up to then, this should not cause any problems … but it did. It was easy to blame an unsupported combination of WAP 2013 and SCOM 2016 for breaking Usage … but it didn’t. Read More »