Wish List For Next Version of Windows Azure Pack

Microsoft Azure Pack 2013 can be considered a version 2 of Microsoft’s on premise cloud services. Its predecessor, Windows Azure Services for Windows Server, was offered for free with System Center 2012 SP1 and required Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V as a platform. WAS4WS can be considered as a typical V1 and offered a first look on how Windows Azure like services can also be offered as a hosted or private cloud. Windows Azure Pack 2013 has been available now for only 6 months, but we can’t imagine it not being available to us. The Windows Azure Pack has had a huge impact on the world of Microsoft cloud services and WAP is here to stay. It not only offers first class IaaS services like the VM Role but also PaaS services with Web Sites and Databases. WAP also offers the platform for new Automation capabilities called SMA or Service Management Automation, which will soon fully replace Orchestrator. Learning PowerShell Workflows has never been more important since the release of SMA.

Windows Azure Pack so far has proven to be a fairly solid product and this can be explained because the Service Management API and the portal software is identical to the public Windows Azure. If you compare the Windows Azure Pack portal to the Windows Azure portal, you can clearly see the advancements that public Windows Azure has made and some of the new functionality that it has acquired.

WAP currently offers Web Site Clouds, VM Clouds, Service Bus Clouds, SQL Servers, MySQL Servers, Automation, Plans and User Accounts.

Windows Azure offers many other services such as Mobile Services, Storage, HDInsight, Media Services, Visual Studio Online, Cache, Biztalk Services, Recovery Services, Traffic Manager, Management Services, Active Directory, Add-Ons and Settings.

For a list of recently added features visit Scott Guthrie’s blog.

In general we could say that both platforms share a common Service Management API and some of the services are identical such as Web Sites and Service Bus. Others rely specifically on features in Virtual Machine Manager and some are only possible because of possibilities/limitations in the operating system. Windows Azure is currenlty still built on Windows Server 2012 and does not support VHDX disks and Console Connect functionality which are both possible in Windows Azure Pack. On the other hand Windows Azure VMs allows adding new disks online, whereas Windows Azure Pack requires the VM to be turned off for adding or expanding a VHDX. This is not a limitation of Windows Server 2012 R2.

Unlike Windows Azure, Windows Azure Pack heavily relies on System Center 2012 R2 and specifically Virtual Machine Manager and Service Provider Foundation. If Usage is added, also Operations Manager is also a required component.

If you take a look at the cloud of Future Services to the mid-right of the above diagram, you can see that Windows Azure Pack is also extensible. New services can be added. The big question is if we have to wait for the next version of Windows and/or System Center before these new services show up, or if new functionality will light up via interim releases as is the case with Windows Azure.

At the end of last month we saw an Update 1 for both System Center 2012 R2 and for the Windows Azure Pack components. None of these updates offered new functionality and were primarily aimed at fixing bugs in the underlying products.

Recently Marc van Eijk and I had a chat about the things we would like to see in Windows Azure Pack (apart from absolute stability in the platform based on thoroughly tested drivers and firmware for network and storage). Here is the list and we invite you to grow this list. It is still not too late to hear your voice and include your requirements in the next update of Windows Azure Pack.

Here is a list combining our product improvement suggestions and those of our readers:

  • Backup/Restore/High Availability/Business Continuity
    • Create and restore checkpoints from the tenant portal
    • Create and restore backups from the tenant portal
    • Windows Azure Pack Enterprise to Windows Azure DR (and vice versa)
    • Integrate Hyper-V Replica in admin portal
    • Tenant can enable Hyper-V Replica
    • Choice of datacenter (location, stamp)
    • Simple dashboard for the health of your fabric – may be displayed from SCOM Added via comment
    • Propose affinity / anti-affinity setting Added via comment
  • Access to resources
    • Add storage to be usable from the tenant portal
    • Allow online add of VHD/VHDX to VM
    • Download/Upload VHD(X) Added via comment
    • Allow online attach of existing VHD/VHDX to VM (detach is possible)
    • Allow online add/removal of virtual network adapters
    • Allow online add/removal of ISO from Virtual Machine Manager Library
    • Sharing ISO’s instead of copying them (still does not work properly in VMM 2012 R2)
    • Sort list of available ISO files in library
    • Upload / Download all VMM library compatible files from the tenant portal Added via comment
    • Expose Tenant libraries in VMM in the portal with option to upload vhdx/iso Added via comment
  • VM Role
    • Make it easier to login from Console Connect login screen (now press CTRL-ALT-END) + Added via comment
    • VM Role Size Profile (VMM PowerShell Get-CloudVMRoleSizeProfile) should be able to set/use Dynamic Memory in Hyper-V Added via comment
    • Improve the tool for building VM Roles
  • Database
    • Ability to create new SQL Server instance in addition to new Database (not as IaaS service but as PaaS service)
    • Add a prefix or Unique Identifier in front of database to avoid creation failures of databases with name that already exists
  • Networking
    • Create Point-to-Site with VPN connection to Hyper-V Network Virtualization Gateway into Windows Azure Pack cloud
    • Multiple external IP addresses per tenant
    • Load balancer support of VMM in the interface Added via comment
    • Greater stability in NVGRE Gateway Added via comment
    • Network with Public IPs that the Tenants can see in their VM networks but cannot modify. There is way to add such network now but it is not seen in VM Networks Added via comment
    • Choose a subnet when modifying the network settings for a VM. Today, we can add several address spaces inside a virtual network on the portal, but when setting a particular VM, we can only choose the virtual network, not the subnet (which is present when viewing into the VMM console) Added via comment
    • Starting IP not conform when adding an address space. If we choose to start at .10, the starting IP is still .2. In VMM the setting appears well and is correct Added via comment
    • Ability to configure rules for port ACLs on VMs Added via comment
    • Auto-configuration of all relevant Remote Desktop settings from WAP tenant portal (either via Windows Gateway or otherwise), so tenants can easily connect to their VMs via RDP Added via comment
  • Security/Authentication
    • Use standard Windows authentication as a default or easy to switch option
    • Ability to use “RunAs Credentials” from VMM in VM Role/Gallery Items and other WAPack services Added via comment
    • Multitenant AD Added by Marc
    • Multitenant ADFS Added by Marc
  • Usage
    • Measure Usage for actual usage, not for maximum setting (cpu, memory, disk, network)
    • Metering on NVGRE Usage Added via comment
    • Include SCOM performance counters / reporting (like DCS can propose)
  • Memory
    • Support for Dynamic Memory in VM Role (if memory in VM template is set to Dynamic, changing to a hardware profile fails)
  • SMA
    • Ability to start SMA runbook with variable input
    • Build a graphical management console for SMA (like Orchestrator) Added via comment
  • Usability
    • Reseller functionality for hosters that want to allow their customer to be a subhoster
    • Controlling multiple VMs at once (Stop, Start, Delete)
    • Support for Service Manager like service offerings Added via comment
    • WAP using Service Manager as ticketing system Added via comment
    • Convert VM to Template Added via comment
    • Delegation model (not only co-administrators) but specific and diversified access to parts of the cloud components
    • Ability to develop resource providers that depend on other existing resource providers (whether built-in or custom made) so they can be visible/chooseable when dependent resource provider is selected Added via comment
    • Whitelabeling tenant portal per tenant. May be from existing selection of themes Added via comment
    • Export dashboards / reports from the portal Added via comment
    • Capacity on the admin portal to show / hide tabs on the tenant view (like desktop mode, web sites, VM roles, etc) Added via comment
    • Make multiple SPF registrations; “Linked-mode like VMware”: manage several WAP infrastructures on the same portal Added via comment
    • VMM Services templates discoverable and deployable from WAP Added via comment
    • Approval system with ACL for tenant either pre/post approval Added via comment
    • Builtin Showback/Chargeback (include custom service Xaas like creation of forms) Added via comment
    • Future report/forecast capacity planning Added via comment
    • The ability to create vm’s without OS (for disaster recovery purpose) Added via comment
    • Possibility to create a complete user- and role management of a company. Currently it is only possible to create stand-alone tenants without customer/company-bindings Added via comment

 

  • Requests which are already possible
    • Make Azure PowerShell API for tenants

I’m sure there are many more wishes on your list so don’t hesitate to add to this list by replying to this blog. It is my intention to gather a group of MVPs and start a conversation with the Windows Azure Pack product team.

So be my guest!

26 Comments

  1. arthur's Gravatar arthur
    March 14, 2014    

    Would be nice if there would by support for service manager like service offerings.

    load balancer support of vmm in the interface

    • March 15, 2014    

      Hi Arthur,
      Thanks for your comment and your improvements have been added to the list.
      Best regards, Hans

      • arthur's Gravatar arthur
        April 1, 2014    

        Seems like SCSM support will be added in the next release :D It’s on the teched 2014 agenda :

        DCIM-B332 Bringing ITSM Capabilities from Microsoft System Center Service Manager to Windows Azure Pack

        Tuesday, May 13 10:15 AM – 11:30 AM

        Speaker(s): Anders Ravnholt, Patrik Sundqvist

        Track: Datacenter and Infrastructure Management

        Session Type: Breakout

        Topic: System Center Service Manager, Windows Azure Pack

        Learn how integration between System Center 2012 R2 and Azure Pack delivers efficient IT Service Management. Leverage the native capabilities of System Center Service Manager to bring governance, support and the Service Catalog into Azure Pack. Allow service providers (Hosters or Enterprises) to easily create and monetize new services, Users to consume these by allowing them to request new services as well as raising requests and incidents for existing services from within Azure Pack.

        • April 1, 2014    

          Hi Arthur, this is already available today :) One of the presenters of the session is Patrik Sundqvist. He is one of the owners of GridPro that has created an custom Resource Provider for Windows Azure Pack. You can download the add-in through the web platform installer.
          Regards, Marc

  2. March 15, 2014    

    - Download/Upload VHD
    - Convert VM to Template
    - Load Balancing
    - metering on nvgre usage (and why not a working NVGRE Bateway that does crash or stop working once in a while)
    -

    • March 15, 2014    

      Hi Emmanuel,
      Thanks for your comment and your improvements have been added to the list.
      Best regards, Hans

  3. Menno's Gravatar Menno
    March 15, 2014    

    Abilitiy to use “RunAs Credentials” from VMM in VM Role/Gallery Items and other WAPack services

  4. Menno's Gravatar Menno
    March 15, 2014    

    VM Role Size Profile (VMM PowerShell Get-CloudVMRoleSizeProfile) should be able to set/use Dynamic Memory in Hyper-V

    • March 16, 2014    

      Hi Menno, thanks for your contributions
      Best regards, Hans

  5. March 16, 2014    

    Adding to the list:
    Ability to develop resource providers that depend on other existing resource providers (whether built-in or custom made) so they can be visible/chooseable when dependent resource provider is selected.
    Whitelabeling tenant portal per tenant. May be from existing selection of themes.
    WAP using Service Manager as ticketing system
    Expose Tenant libraries in vmm in the portal with option to upload vhdx/iso.
    Simple dashboard for the health of your fabric – may be displayed from SCOM
    monitoring of tenant VMs with SCOM agent trough Hyper-V guest data services – this is more of future SCOM feature.

  6. March 17, 2014    

    Add to list:
    Option for Public Network – Network with Public IPs that the Tenants can see in their VM networks but cannot modify. There is way to add such network now but it is not seen in VM Networks.

  7. Florent Point's Gravatar Florent Point
    March 17, 2014    

    Hi Hans, very nice post, we had the same discussion with my customer (service provider last week), here is what we discussed on WAP wishes:

    Possibility to choose a subnet when modifying the network settings for a VM: today, we can add several address spaces inside a virtual network on the portal, but when setting a particular VM, we can only choose the virtual network, not the subnet (which is present when viewing into the VMM console)

    Upload / Download vhdx, iso files, all VMM library compatible files from the tenant portal

    Include SCOM performance counters / reporting (like DCS can propose)

    Export dashboards / reports from the portal

    Capacity on the admin portal to show / hide tabs on the tenant view (like desktop mode, web sites, VM roles, etc)

    A more clearer way to connect inside the VM console (ctrl+alt+end while the login screen indicates ctrl+alt+del)

    Adding ISO files to a VM without shutting it down first

    Same when attaching a VM to a different network / subnet

    Starting IP not conform when adding an address space. If we choose to start at .10, the starting IP is still .2. In VMM the setting appears well and is correct.

    Propose affinity / anti-affinity setting

    “Linked-mode like VMware”: manage several WAP infrastructures on the same portal

    Dynamic memory support

    VMM Services templates discoverable and deployable from WAP

    • March 17, 2014    

      Hi Florent,

      I have reorganized the list and added those of your points that were missing.
      Thanks for helping us grow this list!
      Best regards, Hans

  8. March 17, 2014    

    Add ability to configure rules for port ACLs on virtual machines.

  9. March 17, 2014    

    Its good that WAP have approval system /ACL for tenant either when pre or post approval.
    Integration/built in showback/chargeback in WAP. Include the custom service XaaS like creation of forms.
    Future report/forecast capacity planning

  10. Kasper's Gravatar Kasper
    March 18, 2014    

    Great initiative! The ability to create vm’s without OS. (For disaster recovery purpose) I have not found a solution for this atm. Thx!

    • March 20, 2014    

      Yes that can sometimes be useful. Added to the list
      -H

  11. Florian's Gravatar Florian
    April 3, 2014    

    Hi Hans,
    great artical!

    If this point is not yet included in the list:
    Possibility to create a complete user- and role management of a company. Currently it is only possible to create stand-alone tenants without customer/company-bindings.

  12. Hayden Fitzgerald's Gravatar Hayden Fitzgerald
    April 27, 2014    

    Hi Hans,
    Can i add storage performance Maximum and Minimum IOPS feature from 2012 R2 made available/manageable from VMM/SPF and at as an aggregate that can be applied at a subscription level like RAM, Cores and virtual network throughput.

    Cheers,
    Hayden

    • April 27, 2014    

      Hi Hayden,
      No, unfortunately not but would be a nice one on our WAP wishlist. Did you see that blog a few weeks ago?
      Thanks,
      Hans

  13. Tim's Gravatar Tim
    July 1, 2014    

    Would be a great feature to allow VM Roles and Gallery Items for Windows 7/8/8.1.

    • August 9, 2014    

      Hi Tim, with some minor changes in the VM Role Authoring tool (moving the local administrator parameter to a second tab in the view definition) allows you to deploy Windows 7/8/8.1

      Regards,
      Marc

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