Azure Hybrid Cloud Bus

An Overview at the New Azure Stack Portfolio

Last week at the Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference, the Azure team announced a lot of new updates. One of the significant focus topics at this year’s Ignite was the investment in the Azure Hybrid Cloud offerings. Starting with the buses driving attendees to the conference venue, over the Ignite keynotes, to the expo floor and breakouts, Hybrid Cloud was everywhere. Today, organizations rely on a hybrid technology approach to take advantage of utilizing cloud innovation in combination with their on-premises investments. Azure is Hybrid by design, and Microsoft is continuing the investment in our hybrid cloud technologies with the announcements of Azure Arc (link) and the new Azure Stack portfolio (link). I already was able to get an early look at Azure Arc for Servers, in this post, I am going to focus on the new Azure Stack portfolio with Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and Azure Stack HCI.

At and after Microsoft Ignite 2019, I got a lot of questions around the Azure Stack announcements. So in this blog, I want to give you a quick overview of that, and if you want to know more, check out the blog post from Talal Alqinawi, Senior Director Azure Marketing.

Azure Stack Portfolio

Azure Stack Portfolio

The Azure Stack family now consists of three members, Azure Stack Hub, formerly known as Azure Stack, Azure Stack HCI, and Azure Stack Edge (formerly known as Azure Databox Edge). This offers customers new capabilities, form factors, and solutions in the Azure Stack portfolio, to ensure that the customer has the right solutions for their edge infrastructure.

Azure Stack Hub

Azure Stack Hub (formerly known as Azure Stack) will continue to be the cloud-native offering for enterprise and public sector customers, especially those interested in operating a cloud environment that is disconnected from public internet or meeting regulatory and compliance requirements. It will continue to bring Azure services to locations where you need them. The Azure Stack Hub team also announced some new capabilities and features, which the team is working on:

  • Working on support for N-Series virtual machines (VMs) which included GPU support
  • Event Hubs Public Preview in 2020
  • Azure Stream Analytics Public Preview in 2020
  • General Availability (GA) of Kubernetes on Azure Stack with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) engine to automate the creation, update, and scaling of Kubernetes clusters.
  • Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) Private Preview
  • Azure Data Services with Azure Arc Private Preview

Azure Stack HCI

A couple of months ago, I already wrote a blog post about Azure Stack HCI, which enables customers to run a highly efficient hyper-converged virtualization infrastructure. From small 2-node deployments up to high-performance and high capacity clusters, the Azure Stack HCI catalog offers solutions for every scenario. Together with Windows Admin Center, you can also easily connect Azure hybrid solutions and services. With the new automated deployment of Azure Stack HCI clusters, it becomes even easier to deploy new installations. I had the chance to talk about this new feature with Cosmos Darwin on the Microsoft Ignite Live stage, and you can watch the recording here.

I also have an article on ITOpsTalk.com about how Azure Stack HCI fits into the Azure Hybrid Cloud offering.

Azure Stack Edge

Azure Stack Edge (formerly known as Azure Databox Edge) is an Azure managed appliance that brings the compute, storage, and intelligence of Azure to the edge.

Azure Stack Edge

Azure Stack Edge

This is a first-party appliance which customer can order and run as an Azure service with no upfront costs (billed monthly with your Azure bill). In addition to the name change, the Azure Stack Edge team also announced that it soon will be supporting new compute and AI features and capabilities like:

  • Virtual machines on Azure Stack Edge
  • Kubernetes clusters
  • NVIDIA GPU support
  • Support for high-availability

The Azure Stack Edge will also be available in a rugged version as well as in a battery-powered form-factor that can be carried in a backpack.

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series with battery

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series with battery

Next to talking to Cosmos Darwin about Azure Stack HCI, I was also able to have Stephanie Krieger and Chris Dickens on the Microsoft Ignite Live stage to talk about Azure Stack Edge. You can watch the recording here.

Hybrid Cloud in combination with Azure Arc

In conjunction with Azure Arc, which brings Azure services and management to any infrastructure. With Azure Arc, you can deploy Azure Data services on any Kubernetes cluster. Azure Arc and Azure Stack portfolio are complementary.

You can combine the benefits of Azure Arc with Azure Stack portfolio where Azure Arc can manage virtual machines, containers, and run Azure Data Services on Azure Stack portfolio of validated and integrated systems while leveraging the compute and cloud capabilities of Azure Stack.

If you want to know more about Azure Arc, check out my blog post, Azure Arc – Cloud-native Management for Hybrid Cloud, or you can watch my Microsoft Ignite 2019 session about Hybrid Cloud Management.

I hope this gives you an overview of the new Azure Stack portfolio, which was announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Microsoft Ignite 2019 Thomas Maurer Speaking Hybrid Cloud

Microsoft Ignite 2019 Hybrid Cloud Management Session

Last week I had a fantastic time presenting and speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2019 in Orlando, FL. As mentioned before, I was presenting in the “Modernizing Server Infrastructure” learning path a session called “Integrating cloud technologies”. As you might realize, we had a little surprise in that session. Since we announced Azure Arc on Monday in the keynote, I was able to finally add the topic to the session description. You can now watch my Microsoft Ignite 2019 session about Hybrid Cloud server management online on-demand.

My Microsoft Ignite Session about Hybrid Cloud Server Management

In this session, I am talking about how our demo company Tailwind Traders uses Azure Hybrid Cloud services like Azure Update Management and Azure Arc to make their hybrid server environment, which is Azure, on-prem, edge and multi-cloud, even better.

Hybrid management technologies

Tailwind Traders has now migrated the majority of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019. Now, they are interested in the Azure hybrid technologies that are readily available to them. In this session, learn how Tailwind Traders began using Windows Admin Center and Azure Arc to manage its fleet of Windows Server computers and integrated hybrid technologies, such as Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery, and Azure Update Management, to improve deployment performance and manageability.

I am speaking about technologies like Azure Arc, Windows Admin Center, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Update Management, Azure File Sync, and many more.

Here are some links to the technologies I am talking about:

  • Azure Arc for Servers – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure Update Management – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure File Sync – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure Site Recovery – Microsoft Docs (link)
  • Azure Stack – Azure.com (link)

I hope you enjoyed watching my Microsoft Ignite 2019 session, please let me know what you think and if you want to see more of that content.



CloudSkills FM Azure Arc and Hybrid Cloud Management

CloudSkills.fm Podcast – Azure Arc and Hybrid Cloud Management

This week I am at Microsoft Ignite 2019 in Orlando, where we launched great new products and services like Azure Arc. I was honored to be part of a CloudSkills.fm Podcast episode with Microsoft Azure MVP Mike Pfeiffer. CloudSkills.fm is a weekly podcast with technical tips and career advice for people working in the cloud computing industry. This show is for developers, IT pros, or anyone making a career move into the cloud.

CloudSkills.fm is a weekly podcast with technical tips and career advice for people working in the cloud computing industry. This show is for developers, IT pros, or anyone making a career move into the cloud. Episodes will be short and to the point and will regularly feature experts who share their experiences.

This show is hosted by Mike Pfeiffer, a twenty-year tech industry veteran, entrepreneur, Pluralsight author, and Microsoft Azure MVP. If you enjoy the show and want more tips delivered to your mailbox every week, subscribe to Cloud Computing Weekly at askmike.io/subscribe.

In this episode, we were talking about the new Hybrid Cloud announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2019, like Azure Arc, Azure Stack, and the new Performance Monitor in Windows Admin Center. Check out our episode right here.

CloudSkills.fm

046: Azure Arc and Hybrid Cloud Management In this episode I chat with Thomas Maurer, Senior Cloud Advocate at Microsoft, about the new Azure Arc service and how to get started with hybrid cloud management. Azure Arc – Cloud-native Management for Hybrid Cloud New Performance Monitor for Windows Server Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell

It was a pleasure to meet Mike in person and be part of his fantastic podcast. So listen in and let me know what you think!



Azure Hybrid

Azure Arc – Cloud-native Management for Hybrid Cloud

Azure Hybrid is not just Azure Stack, it also includes a couple of other Azure Hybrid services like Azure Update Management, Azure File Sync and many more. Today, Microsoft will extend the hybrid cloud solutions in Azure and announced Azure Arc, which is designed to extend Azure Management to any infrastructure. In the new world where organizations run servers, containers, and applications across multi-cloud environments, on-premises locations, and the edge, managing these hybrid resources becomes challenging. Azure Arc enables cloud-native Azure management across any infrastructure and also allows you to run Azure data services to be deployed anywhere. It includes hybrid server management, Kubernetes and Azure data services.

Azure Arc Overview

Azure Arc Overview

As you can see Azure Arc consists of a set of different technologies and components like:

  • Organize and govern all your servers – Azure Arc extends Azure management to physical and virtual servers anywhere. Govern and manage servers from a single scalable management pane. You can learn more about Azure Arc for servers here.
  • Manage Kubernetes apps at scale – Deploy and configure Kubernetes applications consistently across all your environments with modern DevOps techniques.
  • Run data services anywhere – Deploy Azure data services in moments, anywhere you need them. Get simpler compliance, faster response times, and better security for your data. You can learn more here.
  • Adopt cloud technologies on-premises – Bringing cloud-native management to your hybrid environment.

In this blog post, we will have a closer look at hybrid server management. If you want to know more about Azure Arc, check out the announcement blog post by Jeremy Winter, Director of Program Management, Microsoft Azure.

Cloud-native Azure management for hybrid environments with Azure Arc

By extending Azure Resource Manager to support hybrid cloud environments, Azure Arc to make it easier to implement cloud security across environments with centralized role-based access control, security policies. Azure Management provides you now with a single control plane for Azure native and Azure Arc resources.

Azure Management Overview

Azure Management Overview

Hybrid Server Management

Today Azure Arc allows you to onboard physical and virtual servers in your hybrid environment (on-premises, edge, and multi-cloud). By joining serves to Azure Arc, you get the benefits you are used from native Azure resources, like tags, RBAC, and many more. In the preview, you can now use Azure Management services like Azure Log Analytics and Azure Policy to make sure your servers are compliant across your hybrid environment.

Hybrid Server Management

Hybrid Server Management

I had the chance to have a very early chat with Jian Yan from the Azure Management team, a couple of weeks ago, about hybrid server management. Check out the video here:

Join the Preview

Azure Arc for Server is currently in public preview, while you can sign up for the preview to manage Kubernetes and data services. To enable hybrid server management, you must register the required Resource Providers.

  • Microsoft.HybridCompute
  • Microsoft.GuestConfiguration

You can register the resource providers with the following Azure PowerShell commands:

Login-AzAccount
Set-AzContext -SubscriptionId [subscription you want to onboard]
Register-AzResourceProvider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.HybridCompute
Register-AzResourceProvider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.GuestConfiguration

or with Azure CLI:

az account set --subscription "{Your Subscription Name}"
az provider register --namespace 'Microsoft.HybridCompute'
az provider register --namespace 'Microsoft.GuestConfiguration'

You can also run them from Azure Cloud Shell. If you want to know more, check out the following Microsoft Docs article.

Onboarding Servers to Azure Arc

As mentioned we will have a closer look here at how you can onboard Linux and Windows Server to Azure Arc. To onboard a server which can run Linux or Windows, physical or virtual, and can run on-premises or at another service provider, you open Azure Arc in the Azure Portal. There you can select manage servers.

Azure Arc Portal

Azure Arc Portal

Here you will see your existing servers which you have on-boarded.

Azure Arc Server in Portal

Azure Arc Server in Portal

 

You can click on Add, to add another server. You will be able to add a single server or get instructions to onboard servers at scale.

Add server to Azure Arc

Add server to Azure Arc

Here you can go through a wizard that will help you to generate a script, which you can copy or download to run it on your server. You can select the subscription and resource group, as well as the region where you want to join your server.

You will also be able to configure a proxy server if your server is behind a proxy. Since this will use the Azure Resource Manager, you will also be able to use tags. After you are done with the wizard, you are able to download or copy the command to run that on your server.

Generate Script

Generate Script

After you have run that command on your on-premises server, your server will show up as an Azure resource in a couple of minutes.

Use Windows Admin Center to onboard a server to Azure Arc

Windows Admin Center and Azure Stack HCI

Windows Admin Center and Azure Stack HCI

If you are using Windows Admin Center on Windows Server or with Azure Stack HCI, you can also onboard servers directly from there. Go to the settings of the server and click on Azure Arc. Now you can sign in and select the specific subscription and resource group.

More

If you want to know more about the Azure Hybrid announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2019, check out the blog post of Julia White. If you want to know more about Azure Arc, check out the blog post from Jeremy Winter. If you have any questions about it feel free to leave a comment, or if you are at Microsoft Ignite, feel free to talk to me and the Azure team.

I will also host a Microsoft Ignite Live interview with Jian Yan, which you can watch live in Orlando or online.

Microsoft Ignite Live

Azure is built from the ground up to manage at-scale, cross-geography environments with multiple operational models and DevOps patterns. The vision is to keep Azure at the center of the enterprise as the control plane for governance, management, and modern development and bring the Azure management capabilities and services to any customer environment. In this session, we demo one of the extension services to enable you to bring servers from anywhere to Azure, and use Azure to get a compliance view for all your server assets.



New Windows Server Performance Monitor

New Performance Monitor for Windows Server

In this blog post, I am going to show you the new Windows Performance Monitor feature in Windows Admin Center. This feature was announced publicly at Microsoft Ignite 2019. But before we are going to have a look at the new Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor extension, it is time for some history. If you have worked with Windows or Windows Server in the past, you almost certainly have used a tool called perfmon.exe, or Windows Performance Monitor.

You can use Windows Performance Monitor to examine how programs affect your computer’s performance, both in real-time and by collecting log data for later analysis. It uses performance counters, event trace data, and configuration information, which can be combined into Data Collector Sets. Perfmon exists already for a long time. It is super powerful for troubleshooting Windows. However, it is definitely if you look at the classic MMC user-interface and the user-experience in general, probably not your favorite tool to use. That is why we needed something better.

Perfmon

Perfmon.exe

Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that provides tools for analyzing system performance. From a single console, you can monitor application and hardware performance in real time, customize what data you want to collect in logs, define thresholds for alerts and automatic actions, generate reports, and view past performance data in a variety of ways.

You can find more about the classic perfmon.exe here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Windows Server Program Manager Cosmos Darwin, who works at great features in Windows Server like Storage Spaces Direct. He asked me if I remember my feedback item in user voice, which I created a couple of years ago.

Windows Server Windows Admin Center User Voice Feedback

Windows Server Windows Admin Center User Voice Feedback

Back then, I wasn’t working for Microsoft, but I was working in a couple of different projects where we were using Windows Server and needed to build a real-time performance monitoring system. Which allowed us to monitor remote servers and clusters.

And here it is, the shiny new Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor extension. This new UI is integrated into the web-based Windows Admin Center management tool.

Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Using the Performance Monitor extension in Windows Admin Center uses the same performance data as perfmon, like performance counters, which means that it will just work with your existing configuration. However, it adds a couple of benefits. No worries, the classic perfmon.exe is still there for you to use it.

  • Easy Remoting ✔ – You can easily use it on your remote machine. Windows Admin Center uses PowerShell remoting in the background to connect to the remote computer.
  • Share Workspaces ✔ – You can create workspaces that you can save and use for multiple systems within the same Windows Admin Center instance. But you can also export them and import them on other Windows Admin Center gateway installations.
    Upload and Download Workspaces

    Upload and Download Workspaces

  • Search and highlighting ✔ – You can easily search for objects and counters. Performance Monitor also highlights the useful objects for your system. So you don’t have to guess which counter to use.
    Performance Monitor Search Counter

    Performance Monitor Search Counter

  • Different Graph Types ✔ – You can use different types of graphs, which make it easier to find and compare the right information depending on your scenario.
    Min-Max View

    Min-Max View

    Windows Server Performance Monitor Heatmap

    Windows Server Performance Monitor Heatmap

     

I hope this gives you a quick overview of the new Performance Monitor extension in Windows Admin Center. You can get Windows Admin Center from here. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. There is also a short survey, about different tools like perfmon, this will directly influence the work on Windows Admin Center. You can check out the official announcement blog here.

By the way, Windows Admin Center also offers a great set of Azure Hybrid services integration. Check out my blog post and videos about the Azure Hybrid services in Windows Admin Center.



Azure Stack Migration Series YouTube Playlist

Learn about Azure Stack Migration in this Video Series

Together with Tiberiu Radu from the Azure Stack Product Group, I worked on a series of videos to show how you can migrate workloads to Microsoft Azure Stack. This includes basic workloads like Active Directory Domain Controllers, File Servers, and SQL Servers. We are not only adding videos about Azure Stack Migration, but we also added a couple of tips on how you can take advantage of some of the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) features on Azure Stack, like Azure Resource Manager templates and extensions.

The journey to the cloud provides many options, features, functionalities, as well as opportunities to improve existing governance, operations, implement new ones, and even redesign the applications to take advantage of the cloud architectures.
This video series was created in the context of the End of Support (EOS) motion for Windows Server 2008/2008R2 and SQL Server 2008/2008R2, with the target to highlight some of the migration options. The EOS program could be a good opportunity to start this process and it’s not only about the lift-and-shift or move your servers and forget about them, instead it could be the start of a modernization journey. As part of the EOS motion, Azure VMs running Windows 2008/R2 and SQL 2008/R2 on Azure and Azure Stack, offer 3 years of free Extended Support Updates. That means you can enable the same operational processes, use ARM templates, and use the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform on both Azure and Azure Stack, to start this journey.
– Tiberiu Radu

Azure Stack Migration Introduction

Check out my Azure Stack Migration introduction video, which will give you a quick overview of migrating workloads to Azure Stack.

Video Series

You can find the full playlist with the complete Azure Stack Migration video series on YouTube.

Azure Stack Migration Series YouTube Playlist

Azure Stack Migration Series YouTube Playlist

If you want to read more, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com. There we have some detailed blogs on these videos. I also recommend that you check out the IaaS blog series from the Azure Stack team, which includes different features around running virtual machines on Azure Stack.

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Microsoft Ignite 2019 Bag

What’s in my bag for Microsoft Ignite 2019

For the last couple of Microsoft Ignite conferences (2015, 2017, 2018), I wrote a blog about what I will carry in my bag. I decided to do that again, and give you a quick look and share with you what’s in my bag for Microsoft ignite 2019 in Orlando. If you are a first-time attendee, you might enjoy a few tips on how I pack and what I take with me during the conference days. If you already a Microsoft Ignite veteran, you might still find some interesting tips you can use yourself. I am also interested to hear about your tips and what you are packing for Microsoft Ignite 2019.

I am super excited to meet with people from all around the world and help the team presenting and speaking in a couple of sessions and hosting some Channel9 live interviews. So if you are there, make sure you come over and say hi.

Let’s have a quick look at some of the things we keep in mind. First, attendees will get some SWAG like the Ignite backpack and a water bottle. So keep in mind that you might need to leave some space in your luggage on the day way back, and you might not need to bring your own backpack to the event since you will get one. Rick Claus and Joey Snow did a full video review on this year’s Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference backpack here.

The next thing you need to be aware of is that the Microsoft conference is enormous, and your sessions and meetings may be spread over the whole venue. You will walk a lot. It is crucial that you have good and comfortable shoes and save weight as much as possible when packing your bag.

What did I pack for Microsoft Ignite

I try to pack light, and this is what I bring to Microsoft Ignite 2019.

Microsoft Ignite 2019 Bag

Microsoft Ignite 2019 Bag

  • Same as last year, the primary devices this year will be the Microsoft Surface Go. Next to it being a notebook, tablet, and desktop replacement, it is very lightweight and small, which will not add a lot of weight. However, it still comes with a full Windows 10. This makes it a great device to carry it around the conference. And with OneNote, it should be great to take notes. I will have a look at the Surface Pro X, which will be available on November 5th, and it looks like a more powerful device then the Surface Go but still is thin and light. There will be a Microsoft pop-up store at Microsoft Ignite, and I hope that they have a couple of Surface Pro X devices available.
  • The Surface Pen, especially for conferences, workshops, and training, I like to take handwritten notes or draw things to discuss ideas and solutions with people.
  • Since I will do some serious work during Ignite, I will bring my Surface Book 2. The main reason for this is the screen size and performance. When I am working a couple of hours, a little bit more screen, real estate helps a lot.
  • The Surface Headphones and their noise-canceling feature is some real lifesaver. I like them especially when I travel and have long flights. But I also like that they now support Bluetooth so that I can connect wirelessly. I also use them regularly for conf calls.
  • I am also carrying the Samsung Galaxy Gear S3, which helps me tracks the steps I walk during Microsoft Ignite and the limited sleep I get during this event. Trust me, you will definitely walk a lot during that conference.
  • For presentations, I got a Microsoft USB-C to HDMI and VGA adapter. Since the Surface Book 2 and the Surface Go, both use USB-C for an external dongle, this makes it simple to carry just one type.
  • I just use one power adapter of the Microsoft Surface Book 2, which can power the Surface Go and the Surface Book 2. It also has an integrated USB port for charging the phone, speaker, and other stuff.
  • I will bring one of my Microsoft hoodies, which I quickly can put on and take off during the conference. As usual, you will experience some temperature differences between outside and inside. To quickly adjust to the right temperature, will not only make you happy but will also reduce the chance of you getting sick.
  • Next to that, I will bring some cables, sunglasses and a bunch of other stuff you need during a conference.

Now you have seen what I will be carrying, let me know what you pack in the comments.

Preparing is key; make sure you have a look at the session catalog and plan your session. You can always switch and go to another session, but making sure you know about the sessions you want to see, helps. Speaking about sessions, make sure you have a look at my session about Hybrid Management Technologies.

Nex to sessions there are other fun things to do:

  • Azure Developer and Architecture Center (DAC) where you can talk and meet with experts to discuss and listen to lightning talks
  • Channel 9 live shows and interviews
  • Microsoft Store
  • Expo Floor with a lot of partners and sponsors
  •  You can also take Microsoft Certification exams directly there, some of them even for free.
  • and much more

This was a quick look at what’s in my bag for Microsoft Ignite 2019. Let me know what your tips for Microsoft Ignite 2019 are in the comments.