Category: System Center

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Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

What is next for Windows Server and System Center with a faster release cadence

A couple of weeks ago at the Microsoft Build Conference, Microsoft released some new information about what is coming in the next version of Windows Server like Linux support on Hyper-V Container and much more. Today Microsoft just announced some new details about the next Windows Server releases and how they will work. The biggest change of todays announcement that Windows Server and System Center will also move to the Semi-annual Channel, just like Windows Client and Office moved to the Semi-annual Channel release cycle. The other large announcement is that Microsoft focuses Nano Server on Container and will remove support Nano on Hosts and Virtual Machines. This means you can run Nano Server only as a Windows or Hyper-V Container.

Nano Server is only supported as a Container Image

Microsoft is removing support for the Nano Server operating system running on physical hardware or inside Virtual Machines. Nano Server will be only supported as a Container Image. Windows Server Core will be the preferred installation option for your infrastructure servers like Hyper-V or Storage Spaces Direct.

This next release will focus on making Nano Server the very best container image possible. From these changes, customers will now see the Nano Server images shrink in size by more than 50 percent, further decreasing startup times and improving container density. As part of this effort to focus on containers, we will be removing the functionality for infrastructure-related roles. Instead of using Nano Server for these scenarios, we recommend deploying the Server Core installation option, which includes all the roles and features you would need.

Windows Server Servicing Channel

As mentioned Microsoft will offer Windows Server updates in the Semi-annual Channel as well as in the Long Term Servicing Channel for Nano Server Container Images as well as Windows Server Core.

There will be two primary release channels available to Windows Server customers, the Long-term Servicing Channel, and the new Semi-annual Channel.

Long-term Servicing Channel

The Long-term Servicing Channel is the release model you’re already familiar with (currently called the “Long-term Servicing Branch”) where a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of mainstream support, 5 years of extended support, and optionally 6 more years with Premium Assurance. This channel is appropriate for systems that require a longer servicing option and functional stability. Deployments of Windows Server 2016 and earlier versions of Windows Server will not be affected by the new Semi-annual Channel releases. The Long-term Servicing Channel will continue to receive security and non-security updates, but it will not receive the new features and functionality.

Semi-annual Channel

The Semi-annual Channel releases will deliver new functionality for customers who are moving at a “cloud cadence,” such as those on rapid development cycles or hosters keeping up with the latest Hyper-V investments. Windows Server products in the Semi-annual Channel will have new releases available twice a year, in spring and fall. Each release in this channel will be supported for 18 months from the initial release.

Most of the features introduced in the Semi-annual Channel will be rolled up into the next Long-term Servicing Channel release of Windows Server. The editions, functionality, and supporting content might vary from release to release depending on customer feedback.

The Semi-annual Channel will be available to volume-licensed customers with Software Assurance, as well as via the Azure Marketplace or other cloud/hosting service providers and loyalty programs such as MSDN.

Windows Insider Program

At Microsoft Build, Microsoft also announced that Windows Server will be part of the Windows Insider Program, and you will see the first preview builds this summer.

System Center

in the first Semi-annual Channel release from System Center, the team will focus on System Center Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager. The key areas of investment will include support for Windows Server and Linux, enhanced performance, usability and reliability, and extensibility with Azure-based security and management services. Which will bring features like Nested Virtualization support, software load balancing, Storage QoS Self-Service and management support for heterogeneous environments with improved Linux monitoring using a FluentD agent as well as VMware backup. System Center Configuration Manager will continue to offer three releases a year to give you the latest updates for managing servers, PCs, and mobile devices.

Conclusion

This changes will improve the release cadence of datacenter and cloud innovation dramatically. Customers like service providers will have the chance to update their offerings much more often which allows them to add new features and functionality. But there is choice for customers who need a stable and not fast moving environment they can deploy builds from the Long-term servicing channel, which will have long term support. With that you should be able to choose the best solution for your environment and workload.



Azure to Azure Site Recovery

Disaster recovery for Azure IaaS virtual machines using ASR

Microsoft today announced the public preview of disaster recovery for Azure IaaS virtual machines. This is basically Azure Site Recovery (ASR) for the Azure-to-Azure scenario. With that you can replicate Azure virtual machines from one Azure Region to another Azure Region, without deploying any other infrastructure components such as software appliances. Cross-region DR feature is now available in all Azure public regions where ASR is available.

The Azure Documentation describes it the following way:

In addition to the inbuilt Azure infrastructure capabilities and features that contribute to a robust and resilient availability strategy for workloads running on Azure VMs, there are a number of reasons why you need to plan for disaster recovery between Azure regions yourself:

  • Your compliance guidelines for specific apps and workloads require a Business continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) strategy.
  • You want the ability to protect and recover Azure VMs based on your business decisions, and not only based on inbuilt Azure functionality.
  • You need to be able to test failover and recovery in accordance with your business and compliance needs, with no impact on production.
  • You need to be able to failover to the recovery region in the event of a disaster and fail back to the original source region seamlessly.

Azure to Azure VM replication using Site Recovery helps you to do all the above.

Azure to Azure Site Recovery Setup

To set this up you have to create an Azure Recovery Vault. This Recovery vault cannot be in the same region as the source virtual machines, because if the region is down, you will not have access to the vault.

Azure ASR Configuration Settings

Form that you can choose to create a new Replication and select the virtual machines you want to replicate. You can select the virtual machines you want to replicate. At the end you choose the target location and create the needed target resources and start the replication.

This will now allow you to failover you virtual machines to another Azure region.

Azure ASR Failover

Source Microsoft

There are some limitations right now, like no support for managed disks or limited operating system support. Check out the Azure Site Recovery support matrix for replicating from Azure to Azure for more support information.

Azure Site Recovery now allows you to replicate Virtual Machines from:

Azure Site Recovery Overview

  • On-premise Hyper-V Servers
  • On-Premise Hyper-V using System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • On-Premise Physical Servers
  • Virtual Machines from AWS
  • Virtual Machines from another Azure Region

 



Savision SCOM and OMS Webinar

ONLINE SESSION: Monitoring and Analytics with Microsoft SCOM & OMS

I am happy to announce that I will present in another webinar. Together with Savision, Dieter Wijckmans and I will present how to do Monitoring and Analytics with Microsoft SCOM and OMS.

So if you are wondering, like many others, if you can and should use SCOM and OMS together? If you are, you are not alone. Join Savision’s upcoming live online session “Combining Monitoring & Analytics with SCOM and OMS” and let the experts answer your questions. Hosted by Savision’s Support Manager – Chris Malay, the session will feature renowned Microsoft MVPs Thomas Maurer & Dieter Wijckmans who will focus on:

  • OMS: What is new in OMS? | OMS Service Map | OMS Log Analytics
  • SCOM & OMS: Is OMS a replacement for SCOM? | Why doesn’t OMS do monitoring? | Why do you still need SCOM?
  • Advanced Dashboards for SCOM + OMS: Getting better insights from your data
  • Demos and real-use cases from the field

Free Webinar

Monitoring and Analytics with SCOM & OMS

The session will take place on:
Thursday, June 22nd at 4PM CEST | 10AM EDT | 9 AM CDT

 



MMS 2015

Speaking at the Midwest Management Summit 2017

I am proud to travel to the US tomorrow to speak at the MMS MOA 2017. The Midwest Management Summit is held in the Mall of America in Minneapolis and I have been there speaking for the past 3 years now from the first one at MMS 2014, second one at MMS 2015 and the last one just last year at MMS 2016. I am proud to be select as a speaker again this year.

The Midwest Management Summit is a 4-day conference purposely capped to just 750 attendees so that nobody gets lost in the crowd. Speakers have time to meet and talk to you. No rushing people out of a session to get the next speaker going. Time to absorb what you see and talk it over with speakers and other attendees. A true learning experience. Real networking. Real-life issues discussed.

This year I will be speaking in 3 different sessions mostly about Windows Server 2016, Nano Server, Hyper-V, Azure and Containers. And I am also proud to speak together with Samuel Erskine (Microsoft MVP) and John Joyner (Microsoft MVP). We have some exiting new stuff to share with the attendees, hopefully see you in the Mall of America!

The best of Windows Server 2016

Join this session for The Best of Windows Server 2016 – The New Foundation of your Datacenter. You’ll get an overview of the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server 2016 and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job. In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations including: Hyper-V 2016 features, Nano Server, Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Replica, Windows Server Containers, and more!

Getting Started with Windows Containers, Docker and Azure

In Windows Server 2016 Microsoft released their first version of Windows and Hyper-V Containers. In this session you will get an overview of how containers work and how you can use them for your deployments , as well as how you can get started with Containers and Docker on Windows 10, Windows Server or on Microsoft Azure.

Nano Server - The Future of Windows Server

Nano Server is the future of Windows Server. With Nano Server Microsoft created the foundation for Windows Server for the future. In this session you will get an overview about Nano Server and see some great live demos of how you can deploy, manage and operate Nano Server as well as creating applications for it. Get a better understanding of Nano Server and see how you deploy, manage and operate it.



Azure Stack

SCOM Management Pack for Azure Stack

Today, Thomas Roettinger Senior Program Manager in the Azure Stack Team announced the Technical Preview of the Microsoft Azure Stack Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager. System Center is a datacenter management tool used by many enterprises out there, Operations Manager allows you to monitor your complete datacenter environment based on Management Packs which includes the logic and intelligence to monitor different solutions and products. With the release of the Azure Stack Management Pack, Microsoft enables you to monitor Azure Stack using System Center Operations Manager 2012 R2 or System Center Operations Manager 2016.

The Azure Stack Management Pack allows you to send notifications when alerts in Azure Stack pop up. It also allows you to schedule maintenance windows during an Azure Stack update. The MP leverages Azure Stack Health Resource Rest API which is the official API for all Azure Stack help related information and is used by the Azure Stack Portal itself, the PowerShell module and also the Nagios monitoring plugin for Azure Stack. If you are not using SCOM or  Nagios you can of course also work against the Azure Stack Health Resource Rest API to get health data out of your Azure Stack appliance.

Feel free to test the new SCOM Management Pack for Azure Stack (download) and provide feedback to Microsoft.

 

 



Performance Tuing Guidelines for Windows Server 2016

Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Performance Tuning Guide

Yesterday Microsoft released the official Windows Server 2016 Performance Tuning Guide. The guide provides a collection of technical articles with guidance for IT professionals responsible for deploying, operating and tuning Windows Server 2016 across the most common server workloads. The guide is especially helpful if you deploy roles like, Active Directory, Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, Remote Desktop Servers, Web Servers, Windows Server Containers and Networking features.

It is important that your tuning changes consider the hardware, the workload, the power budgets, and the performance goals of your server. This guide describes each setting and its potential effect to help you make an informed decision about its relevance to your system, workload, performance, and energy usage goals.

You can find the documentation on the new docs.microsoft.com platform, where now all the Windows Server 2016 documentation is available. Here you can find the: Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2016

If you are looking for hardware recommendations check out my blog post: My Hardware Recommendations for Windows Server 2016 and you can also check my blog post about Getting started with Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016



Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany 2017

Speaking at Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany 2017

Last year I had the opportunity to speak at the first Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany (CDC Germany) where I was talking about Windows Containers in Windows Server 2016. I am proud to also speak at this year’s CDC 2017 in Munich Germany on May 4th and May5th. In my session I will speak about the Microsoft Operations Management Suite and how you can manage your different datacenters and clouds from a single console.

CDC Germany 2017

If you are based in Munich or Germany and you are working in the Cloud and Datacenter space, I really recommend that you join this event.

Thomas Maurer OMS

Microsoft Operations Management Suite – Next step in Cloud and Datacenter Management - It’s great, you gonna love it!

Get an overview about the Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS). Get a kick start how you can manage your heterogeneous datacenter and cloud infrastructure from one place using OMS.

Hopefully see you in Munich!