Azure Nested Virtualization

How to setup Nested Virtualization in Microsoft Azure

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At the Microsoft Build Conference this year, Microsoft announced Nested Virtualization for Azure Virtual Machines, and last week Microsoft announced the availability of these Azure VMs, which support Nested Virtualization. Nested Virtualization basically allows you to run a Hypervisor in side a Virtual Machine running on a Hypervisor, which means you can run Hyper-V within a Hyper-V Virtual Machine or within a Azure Virtual Machine, kind a like Inception for Virtual Machines.

Azure Nested Virtualization

You can use Nested Virtualization since Windows Server 2016 or the same release of Windows 10, for more details on this, check out my blog post: Nested Virtualization in Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10

With the release of the Azure Dv3 and Ev3 VM sizes:

  • D2-64 v3 instances are the latest generation of General Purpose Instances. D2-64 v3 instances are based on the 2.3 GHz Intel XEON ® E5-2673 v4 (Broadwell) processor and can achieve 3.5GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. D2-64 v3 instances offer the combination of CPU, memory, and local disk for most production workloads.
  • E2-64 v3 instances are the latest generation of Memory Optimized Instances. E2-64 v3 instances are based on the 2.3 GHz Intel XEON ® E5-2673 v4 (Broadwell) processor and can achieve 3.5GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. E2-64 v3 instances are ideal for memory-intensive enterprise applications.

With the upgrade to new Intel Broadwell processors, Microsoft enabled Nested Virtualization, which will allows a couple of different scenarios, when you create a Virtual Machine running Windows Server 2016.

  • You can run Hyper-V Containers (Windows Containers with additional isolation) inside an Azure VM. With future releases we will also be able to run Linux Containers in Hyper-V Containers running on a Windows Server OS.
  • You can quickly spin up and shut down new demo and test environments, and you only pay when you use them (pas-per-use)

How to Setup Nested Virtualization in Azure

Deploy Azure VM

To setup Nested Virtualization inside an Azure Virtual Machine, you first need to create a new Virtual Machines using one of the new instance sizes like Ev3 or Dv3 and Windows Server 2016.I also recommend to install all the latest Windows Server patches to the system.

Optional: Optimize Azure VM Storage

This step is optional, but if you want to better performance and more storage for your Nested Virtual Machines to run on, this makes sense.

Azure VM Data Disks

In my case I attached 2 additional data disks to the Azure VM. Of course you can choose more or different sizes. Now you can see 2 new data disk inside your Azure Virtual Machine. Do not format them, because we gonna create a new storage spaces pool and a simple virtual disk, so we get the performance form both disks at the same time. In the past this was called disk striping.

Azure VM Storage Spaces

With that you can create a new Storage Spaces Storage Pool and a new Virtual Disk inside the VM using the storage layout “Simple” which basically configures it as striping.

Azure VM Storage Spaces PowerShell

I also formatted the disk and set the drive letter to V:, this will be the volume where I will place my nested virtual machines.

Install Hyper-V inside the Azure VM

Install Hyper-V on Windows Server using PowerShell

The next step would be to install the Hyper-V role in your Azure Virtual Machine. You can use PowerShell to do this since this is a regular Windows Server 2016.This command will install Hyper-V and restart the virtual machine.

Azure VM Hyper-V

After the installation you have Hyper-V installed and enabled inside your Azure Virtual Machine, now you need to configure the networking for the Hyper-V virtual machines. For this we will use NAT networking.

Configure Networking for the Nested Environment

Hyper-V NAT Network inside Azure VM

To allow the nested virtual machine to access the internet, we need to setup Hyper-V networking in the right why. For this we use the Hyper-V internal VM Switch and NAT networking. I described this here: Set up a Hyper-V Virtual Switch using a NAT Network

Create a new Hyper-V Virtual Switch

First create a internal Hyper-V VM Switch

Configure the NAT Gateway IP Address

The Internal Hyper-V VM Switch creates a virtual network adapter on the host (Azure Virtual Machine), this network adapter will be used for the NAT Gateway. Configure the NAT gateway IP Address using New-NetIPAddress cmdlet.

Configure the NAT rule

After that you have finally created your NAT network and you can now use that network to connect your virtual machines and use IP Address from 172.21.21.2-172.21.21.254.

Now you can use these IP Addresses to assign this to the nested virtual machines. You can also setup a DHCP server in one of the nested VMs to assign IP addresses automatically to new VMs.

Optional: Create NAT forwards inside Nested Virtual Machines

To forward specific ports from the Host to the guest VMs you can use the following commands.

This example creates a mapping between port 80 of the host to port 80 of a Virtual Machine with an IP address of 172.21.21.2.

This example creates a mapping between port 82 of the Virtual Machine host to port 80 of a Virtual Machine with an IP address of 172.21.21.3.

Optional: Configure default Virtual Machine path

Since I have created an extra volume for my nested virtual machines, I configure this as the default path for Virtual Machines and Virtual Hard Disks.

Create Nested Virtual Machines inside the Azure VM

Azure Nested Virtualization

Now you can basically start to create Virtual Machines inside the Azure VM. You can for example use an existing VHD/VHDX or create a new VM using an ISO file as you would do on a hardware Hyper-V host.

Some crazy stuff to do

There is a lot more you could do, not all of it makes sense for everyone, but it could help in some cases.

  • Running Azure Stack Development Kit – Yes Microsoft released the Azure Stack Development Kit, you could use a large enough Azure virtual machine and run it in there.
  • Configure Hyper-V Replica and replicate Hyper-V VMs to your Azure VM running Hyper-V.
  • Nested a Nested Virtual Machine in a Azure VM – You could enable nesting on a VM running inside the Azure VM so you could do a VM inside a VM inside a VM. Just follow my blog post to created a nested Virtual Machine: Nested Virtualization in Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10

In my opinion Nested Virtualization is mostly help full if you run Hyper-V Containers, but it also works great, if you want to run some Virtual Machines inside a Azure VM, for example to run a lab or test something.

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Surface Pro

First impressions on the Surface Pro 2017

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I am one of the lucky persons owning an brand new Microsoft Surface Pro as a new device for work. This is the my devices I used for the last couple of days and weeks as my daily driver and this allows me to write a quick review about my first impressions about the Surface Pro.

After using the Surface Pro, the Surface Pro 2, the Surface Pro 3, the Surface Book became my daily driver. And I had to say that it is a great notebook. But after using the Surface Pro for awhile, I really got used to the form factor. The 2-in-1 form factor and the small and light design, made the Surface Pro a really great travel companion and this was the reason I decided to go with a Surface Pro again.

Surface Pro 2017

My first impression when I took the Surface Pro out of the box was: “wow, this feels premium”. Even the Surface Pro and the Surface Book always felt really great, Microsoft improved it even more. The amazing premium sound of the kickstand,  the new rounded edges and the display of the Surface Pro making it even more premium and as mentioned the build quality is amazing.

The second thing I realized while using it, is the resume form standby is incredible fast. You basically press the on button and you can start working. And this while battery life is still great, I get around a whole working day out of it with a single charge.

Surface Pro 2017 Desk

Unfortunately I couldn’t really test the new Surface Pro Signature Type Cover, because it was not available at launch. But I will included it in my final review of the Surface Pro 2017, after I have used it for a couple of weeks.

 

 

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Linux on Windows 10

Crazy times – You can now run Linux on Windows 10 from the Windows Store

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In the past weeks some really crazy things are happening. Think you’re way back in the time of 2003, could you have ever imagined that Microsoft offers you to run Linux on Windows? Well this is exactly what is happening in the past months.

With one of the Windows 10 releases Microsoft added the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which basically allowed you to run a Ubuntu version on your Windows 10 devices. In the past few days and weeks Microsoft now announced that you can now download and install SUSE Enterprise Server, openSUSE Leap and Ubuntu (my guess there will be more to come) from the Windows Store. All you need today is the latest Windows Insider Build 16237 (it also works with a couple of older insider builds), and you will be able to install these versions. For the mainstream, this will be available in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update arriving in the Fall of 2017. The Windows Subsystem for Linux will also be part in the next Windows Server RS3 release.

Ubuntu Windows 10 Store

If you want to know more about how it works check out Scott Hanselman blog about Ubuntu now in the Windows Store: Updates to Linux on Windows 10 and Important Tips

One great thing, Scott describes in his blog, if you want to configure the different Windows Subsystems for Linux and for example configure the default one, you can use the command line with the wslconfig utility.

WSLConfig on Windows 10

 

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Microsoft MVP 2017-2018

Microsoft MVP 2017-2018 Cloud and Datacenter Management

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I am proud to announce that I got the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in the category Cloud and Datacenter Management for another year

This is the 6th year in a row since 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 since my first Microsoft MVP Award. The Microsoft MVP Award is not only a huge honor for the community work I did in the past year, with it’s great opportunities, it also adds a lot of benefits to my work. Especially being able to join the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond, where we have the chance to meet the Microsoft Product Groups and talk about products and solutions. It also gives me the chance to travel, speak at different conferences and visit different places and meet people all over the world.

Of course there are a lot of people I have to thank, but I want to keep the list as short as possible. I would like to thank my employer itnetX which is supporting me in the best possible way year over year, my current and former colleagues, the Microsoft MVP community and of course Microsoft employees in Redmond and all over the world. I also have to thank my understandable girlfriend for her help, because it sometimes it needs a lot of time and energy.

Get more information about the Microsoft MVP award: Microsoft MVP Award Website

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AzureStack Admin Portal

Microsoft Azure Stack packaging and pricing – July 2017

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Today Microsoft released the packaging and pricing information for Azure Stack in July 2017. You can download the Azure Stack packaging and pricing and the Azure Stack Customer licensing guide pdf here. If you want to know more about Azure Stack, check out my blog post: Microsoft Azure Stack – Azure Extension in your Datacenter

The Azure Stack pricing models

Azure Stack will be offered in two different models, Pay-as-you-use model and Capacity model. The pay-as-you-use model is licensed by Microsoft via the Enterprise Agreement (EA) or Cloud Service Provider (CSP) programs. The capacity model is available via EA only. It is purchased as an Azure Plan SKU via normal volume licensing channels. For typical use cases, Microsoft expects the pay-as-you-use model to be the “most economical” option.

Azure Stack Pay-as-you-use model

For the pay-as-you-use model you will you can take advantage of the cloud economics and only pay for resources which are actually consumed, plus additional costs for the Azure Stack hardware and the operations.

Service prices:

  • Base virtual machine $0.008/vCPU/hour ($6/vCPU/month)
  • Windows Server virtual machine $0.046/vCPU/hour ($34/vCPU/month)
  • Azure Blob Storage $0.006/GB/month (no transaction fee)
  • Azure Table and Queue Storage $0.018/GB/month (no transaction fee)
  • Azure App Service (Web Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps, Functions) $0.056/vCPU/hour ($42/vCPU/month)

Azure Stack Capacity model

For the capacity model, two packages are available which makes you license the physical cores of your Azure Stack system via an annual subscription. The packages are only available via Enterprise Agreement (EA).

  • App Service package ($400/core/year)
    Includes App Service, base virtual machines and Azure Storage
  • IaaS package ($144/core/year)
    Includes base virtual machines and Azure Storage

You will also need additional licenses if you deploy Windows Server and SQL Server virtual machines, like you would do if you are using your traditional Hyper-V servers.

What else will you need

  • Integrated System (hardware) – you will need to purchase the Azure Stack hardware from one of the OEM vendors. You can find more information about integrated system offerings here: HPE, Dell EMC, Lenovo
  • Support – you will need to purchase support from Microsoft for software support and a support package for the hardware from the hardware provider. If you already have Premier, Azure, or Partner support with Microsoft, your Azure Stack software support is included.
  • Service Providers – Service Provider can also license Azure Stack to others using the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) channel.
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Hyper-V VM battery

Hyper-V gets Virtual Battery support

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Last week Microsoft announced Windows 10 Insider Preview build 16215 which added a lot of new features to Windows 10. With Windows 8 Microsoft brought Hyper-V to the Windows Client Operating System, and with the Windows 10 Insider Program we can also see some Hyper-V preview features coming to live. Previously we could see feature like Nested Virtualization and more in the Windows client builds before we seen them in the server releases. With Windows 10 Insider Preview build 16215, Hyper-V gets virtual battery support, which means you can now see your machine’s battery state in your VMs. This is especially handy if you run Virtual Machines on your notebook. My guess would be, that this could also be used on server for battery support and automatic shutdown.

To enable the feature inside the Virtual Machine you have to create a Prerelease Virtual Machine using PowerShell.

Hyper-V Prerelease Virtual Machine

You can use the following PowerShell command to create a Prerelease Virtual Machine. Please remind yourself that prerelease virtual machines are not supported in production and may fail across updates.

You can now see that the Virtual Machine now has version number 254.0, which adds some hidden new features like virtual battery support.

Prerelease Virtual Machine Hyper-V Manager

My guess is that this could be available automatically per default in all virtual machines in the final version of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

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Azure Stack Administration and Operation

Interview: Microsoft Azure Stack – An Introduction

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Back at Experts Live Australia 2017 I had the chance to talk to Veeam’s Senior Technical Evangelist Clint Wyckoff about the upcoming Microsoft Azure Stack Solution.

Veeam’s Senior Technical Evangelist Clint Wyckoff and Thomas Maurer, Cloud Architect at itnetX and Microsoft Cloud & Datacenter MVP discuss the upcoming Microsoft Azure Stack Solution.

If you want to know more about Azure Stack: Check out my blog post: Microsoft Azure Stack – Azure Extension in your Datacenter

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