• Microsoft Azure
  • Virtual Machine Manager
StorSimple

Microsoft Announces Azure StorSimple Hybrid Storage Solutions For The Enterprise

Today Microsoft announced that starting August 1, the will deliver the new StorSimple 8000 series hybrid storage arrays. The StorSimple 8000 series are the most powerful StorSimple systems ever and have even tighter integration with Azure, including two new Azure-based capabilities to enable new use cases and centralize data management. These new solutions demonstrate how Microsoft is bringing the best of on-premises storage together with the cloud in order to deliver bottom line savings to customers by cutting storage costs from 40 to 60% and helping IT teams focus more on business strategies than infrastructure management.

The new StorSimple 8000 series arrays come in two flavors to meet a variety of capacity and performance needs:  the StorSimple 8100 and the StorSimple 8600, which you can read about here.

The new StorSimple 8000 series arrays come in two flavors to meet a variety of capacity and performance needs:  the StorSimple 8100 and the StorSimple 8600, which you can read about here.  These are enterprise hybrid storage arrays with a twist – instead of being limited to only SSDs and HDDs, these arrays use Azure Storage as a hybrid cloud tier for automatic capacity expansion and off-site data protection. That means IT teams don’t have to spend so much time and effort working on the next inevitable storage capacity upgrade or managing the complex details of data protection. Data stored on StorSimple 8000 series arrays is automatically protected off-site by cloud snapshots, which fill the enormous gap between problematic tape solutions and costly remote replication solutions.

To go with the new arrays, there is the Microsoft Azure StorSimple Virtual Appliance, which is an implementation of StorSimple technology running as an Azure virtual machine in the cloud. With a matching Azure StorSimple virtual machine, StorSimple 8000 series customers can run applications in Azure that access snapshot virtual volumes in the cloud. Customers will be able to run new applications that search and analyze historical datasets without disrupting production work in their datacenter. This new StorSimple Virtual Appliance not only works for data from Windows Server and Hyper-V, but on-premises Linux and VMware servers, as well, providing hybrid cloud capabilities for the most common server platforms today.

The Virtual Appliance also enables disaster recovery (DR) in the cloud. Virtualized applications that store their data on an Azure StorSimple array in a customer’s datacenter can be restarted in VMs in Azure with access to previously uploaded data. Updates to data made during recovery operations can be downloaded later to StorSimple arrays on-premises when normal operations resume.

DR is an area of concern for many customers and they seldom get a chance to test their abilities. Microsoft Azure StorSimple 8000 Series arrays and Virtual Appliances have a feature called Instant Recovery, which presents synthetic, full images of virtual volumes in Azure to applications and end users so they can start accessing data as soon as possible after a disaster. Instant recovery accelerates restores and DR testing by only downloading data that is needed and bypassing data that isn’t needed.

Another groundbreaking capability in this release is the Microsoft Azure StorSimple Manager, which consolidates management for all of a customer’s Azure StorSimple 8000 series arrays and Virtual Appliances. Administrators use the Manager to centrally control all aspects of StorSimple storage and data management from the cloud, so they can ensure consistent operations and data protection/retention policies across the enterprise. The new StorSimple Manager also gives administrators a dashboard with up-to-the-minute status and reports so they can quickly spot storage troubles and trends and allows the IT team to spend less time on storage infrastructure management and shift resources to business applications.

StorSimple customers have been seeing the financial and IT efficiency benefits of hybrid cloud storage for years.  Now, the Microsoft Azure StorSimple solution brings new innovations to enable even greater operational efficiency, and is a great example of technology developed with a hybrid cloud design point and critical customer needs in mind.

 

If you want to know more about StorSimple checkout my blog about StorSimple Cloud as a Tier and the Microsoft blog post from Takeshi Numoto about the new StorSimple 8000 series.

 



Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 930

My new Nokia Lumia 930 arrived

Okay it is a couple of months ago since I got a new phone or gadget. This time I got a Nokia Lumia 930 and I loved it from the first second. I the past months I was using my Lumia 1020 a because of the awesome camera which allowed me to take some great pictures. I was pretty happy with it, but until I got Windows Phone 8.1 I add some performance problems,maybe resetting it could fix could fix the issues, but I will try that later. Now I know I only got the Lumia 930 for a day and of course it is too early for a review but I want to write a little about my first impression. There are already a lot of good review out there in the web so I try to focus on the things I really liked about the device.

Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 930

The first thing I have to say is that I love the colors you can get that thing. I got a green one but if I would have to go back I would probably go for orange. However both colors look great and it is a hard decision. The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the Lumia 930 was the amazing build quality, Nokia phones always had a great build quality but this one makes other phones look cheap. It feels really good in your hands and feels like a real premium device. The second thing is  the amazing screen, since not a lot of review talk a lot about the screen, I didn’t expect a lot of difference to the Lumia 1020 or 1520, but the Lumia 930 screen makes me not want to use other phones anymore. It is a bright screen with great colors and a true black. The performance looks great again, similar to the Lumia 1520 and Windows Phone 8.1 on that device also got some new features which are not available on the Lumia 1020. Such as a setting which allows you to use the cellular data if the wireless connection has a limited connection, and much more.

Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 930

Well this are my first impression after the first day, feel free to leave comments and questions.

 



Windows Azure Pack Feedback

Feedback for Windows Azure Pack

Since the release of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 I worked on several different Windows Azure Pack deployments for Service Providers. Windows Azure Pack delivers Microsoft Azure technologies for you to run inside your datacenter. It offers rich, self-service, multi-tenant services and experiences that are consistent with Microsoft’s public cloud offering. Together with technologies like Hyper-V Network Virtualization and Microsoft Storage Spaces Windows Azure Pack becomes a powerful framework for Service Providers.

You can help shape the future of Windows Azure Pack. The Windows Azure Pack team has created a user voice site where you can post feature suggestions and vote on the suggestions of others.

You can find the Azure Pack user voice site here http://feedback.azure.com/forums/255259-azure-pack

 

 

 



InovatiX

Back from inovatiX Amsterdam 2014

A little over 24 hours the itnetx team arrived at the Zurich airport. At the end of last week some of you may have seen a lot of tweets around Microsoft System Center with the hashtag #inovatiX. Well the name inovatiX comes from the company names of inovativ and itnetx. Both companies do focus on Microsoft Cloud solutions based on System Center, Windows Server, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure. So what is behind that inovatiX event. InovatiX was the first run of the know-how sharing event between inovativ.nl, inovativ.be and itnetx.ch. In different focus groups around topics like Windows Azure Pack, Hyper-V, Config Manager, Windows InTune, Operations Manager, VMM or Microsoft Azure,  the cloud experts of those companies shared knowledge and experience with real world deployments.

InovatiX

For me personally I had some great talks about Windows Azure Pack, Hyper-V, VMM, Storage Spaces, Scale-Out File Servers, Network Virtualization and a lot more. And it was fun to finally meet the guys from inovativ in person.

InovatiX

This event was a perfect example how different companies can collaborate with each other to evolve and to make the quality even better, and help employees to Thanks here to the management of Inovativ and itnetx for organizing this.



Azure Site Recovery

Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Preview

Microsoft today announced the preview of Disaster Recovery to Azure called Microsoft Azure Site Recovery. This also replaces HRM (Hyper-V Recovery Manager). Microsoft Azure Site Recovery (ASR) allows you to orchestrate disaster recovery to a second site or directly to Azure.

Microsoft ASR

Both solutions use Microsoft on-prem technology like Windows Server Hyper-V Replica and System Center Virtual Machine Manager and you can start using them via the Microsoft Azure Management Portal.

In addition to enabling Microsoft Azure as a DR site in multiple geographies, this preview also includes an impressive list of features for enabling virtual machine replication to Azure:

  • At-Scale Configuration
    You can configure the protection and replication of VM settings in a private cloud and configure and connect on-prem networks with Azure Networks. Those VM’s are then only replicated to customer-owned and managed geo-redundant Azure Storage.
  • Variable Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
    This feature provides support for near-synchronous data replication with RPOs as low as 30 seconds. You can also retain consistent snapshots at desired frequency for a 24-hour window.
  • Data Encryption
    VM Virtual Hard Disks can be encrypted at rest using a secure, customer-managed encryption key that ensures best-in-class security and privacy for your application data when it is replicating to Azure. This encryption key is known only to the customer and it is needed for the failover of VM’s to Azure. Simply put: All of this service’s traffic within Azure is encrypted.
  • Self-Service Disaster Recovery
    With ASR you get full support for DR drills via test failover, planned failover with a zero-data loss, unplanned failover, and failback.
  • One-Click Orchestration
    ASR also provides easy-to-create, customizable Recovery Plans to ensure one-click failovers and failbacks that are always accurate, consistent, and help you achieve your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) goals.
  • Audit and Compliance Reporting with Reliable Recovery
    DR testing and drills can be performed without any impact to production workloads. This means you get risk-free, high-confidence testing that meets your compliance objectives. You can run these non-disruptive test failovers whenever you like, as often as you like. Also, with the ability to generate reports for every activity performed using the service, you can meet all your audit requirements.

ASR does not only help you in terms of Disaster Recovery, it also allows you to quickly and easily migrate your Virtual Machines to Azure or create a new dev environment.

Check out the ASR session at TechEd 2014 and Brad Andersons blog about the release of the Azure Site Recovery Preview.

Once you’re ready to see what ASR can do for you, you can check out pricing information, sign up for a free trial, or learn more about the product specs.

 

 



SMA Author RunBooks in Windows Azure Pack

Service Management Automation – The Next Step in Cloud and Datacenter Automation

With System Center Orchestrator Microsoft already had an datacenter automation engine in his portfolio. Microsoft acquired Opalis added it to the System Center Suite, after a while Microsoft renamed Opalis to System Center Orchestrator. As we have a look at modern datacenters and our cloud environment automation is a key part of it. With the latest release of System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft release a new automation engine based on PowerShell Workflows called Service Management Automation (SMA).

Windows Azure Pack Automation with SMA

SMA is integrated as one of the key Resource Provider in Windows Azure Pack, and allows you to manage your PowerShell Workflows in so called Runbooks. Service Management Automation enhances PowerShell Workflows in several different ways.

  • Centralized management
  • Centralized store for variables, credentials, certificates, connections, modules, workflows, checkpoints and schedules.
  • High availability workflow execution
  • Versioning
  • Odata web service (HTTP API)
  • Historical view of workflow jobs and their output

Architecture

SMA is build form several different components.

  • Web Service – HTTP/HTTPS API which distributes runbook jobs to runbook workers and builds the connection to Widnwos Azure Pack
  • Runbook worker – Executes Runbooks
  • PowerShell module – Enables SMA to be managed by Windows PowerShell
  • Windows Azure Pack - UI for administrators to create and manage runbooks
  • SQL database – Store for Runbooks and settings

SMA Architecture

  • The Automation web service communicates with Windows Azure Pack and authenticates users.
  • The SQL Server databases store and retrieve runbooks, runbook assets, activities, integration modules, and runbook job information.
  • Runbook workers run the runbooks, and they can be used for load balancing.
  • The management portal in Windows Azure Pack is where you author, debug, and start and stop runbooks.

Source: TechNet

One of the greats enhancements Service Management Automation together with Windows Azure Pack brings is the possibility to link runbooks to SPF and VMM activates used in the Virtual Machine Cloud. What does this mean? For example you link a runbook to a Create Virtual Machine activity, so every time a VM gets created the runbooks starts and also gets as input object the VM which was created. This is just one example what you can do with SMA and Windows Azure Pack VM Cloud, there are a lot of other possibilities as well.

If you compare System Center Orchestrator to Service Management Automation, SMA looks a little bit more complex if you have used a lot of Integrations Packs in SCORCH but if you have done a lot of work in PowerShell you will really like SMA and see the advantages of it.

Service Management Automation does not offer an user interface by itself, instead it is using the Windows Azure Pack portal, where admins can author, run, schedule and link runbooks.

SMA Author RunBooks in Windows Azure Pack



Cisco Champions

Cisco Champion 2014

I feel honored to be awarded by Cisco with the Cisco Champion title. Cisco does a lot of great products and I focused on the datacenter solutions which Cisco offers with their Cisco UCS platform and the Microsoft solutions, such as the System Center Integration and the Cisco UCS PowerShell Module.

 

Passionate Experts, Global Champions for Change

What makes a Cisco Champion? Passion, plus a desire to share their perspectives with the community. There are Cisco Champions all over the world. They represent a variety of segments across the IT industry. And they offer their time to help others learn about Cisco and connect with Cisco in unique ways.

In addition to sharing their insights and expertise, Cisco Champions make a difference by:

  • Supporting their peers in social communities, forums, and networks
  • Sharing their relevant experiences and thoughts on Cisco blogs
  • Providing valuable feedback directly to Cisco
  • And more

Cisco Champions have a unique opportunity to contribute to and enhance the way people use the latest technologies. They also receive:

  • Recognition for their contributions
  • Invitations to exclusive events
  • Opportunities to directly communicate with Cisco employees