Category: Microsoft Azure Stack

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Thomas Maurer Speaking

Speaking at HPE Discover 2017 Madrid

Today I am happy to announce that I have the honor to speak at HPE Discover in Madrid next week. In a presentation together with HP Enterprise I will talk about how HPE and Microsoft improve the Hybrid Cloud experience using Microsoft Azure Stack.

HPE Discover 2017 Madrid Azure Stack

Building your Azure hybrid cloud business is easier when you work with Hewlett Packard Enterprise

With the release of Azure Stack, now is the time to develop your hybrid cloud business. Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Microsoft have partnered to make it easy for you to accelerate your business by offering Azure-consistent services with HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack. Come hear about HPE’s solution for Azure Stack and how HPE can help you develop and grow your Azure business. This session is designed for HPE partners.

I hope to see you next week in Madrid, if you have the chance, step by the HIAG Data booth and ask for me.



Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

Windows Server – Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

I was already blogging about the new Windows Server servicing options including the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) and the new Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) options. It seems that there is a lot of confusion about what the purpose and the advantages of the Semi-Annual Channel releases. With that blog post I will try to explain what both servicing options are and when which servicing option should be used. Especially since SAC releases, like Windows Server 1709, will only be available as Windows Server Core. Spoiler alert: Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel releases are not for everyone and everything.

Windows Server Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

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.

Example for Long-Term Servicing Channel releases

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

Long-Term Servicing Channel installation options

  • Windows Server Core
  • Windows Server with Desktop Experience
  • Windows Server Core as a container Image

Use cases for Long-Term Servicing Channel releases

As use cases for the Long-Term Servicing Channel releases you can basically count everything in which need predictable long term support, do not support Windows Server Core and where you don’t use the new features included in the Semi-Annual Servicing Channel releases and you prefer less updating.

  • General Purpose File Server – Traditional information worker file server which need long term support
  • Legacy Software – Legacy software which do not support server core
  • Static Software – Software which does not leverage any of the new features of Semi-Annual Channel releases, which need predictable long term support
  • Legacy Hardware – End of life hardware
  • SQL Server – Traditional databases with long lifecycles which need predictable long term support
  • Active Directory and other infrastructure roles – which benefit from long term support

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC)

Windows Server 1709

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 service providers keeping up with the latest Hyper-V and Storage 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.

Example for Semi-annual Channel releases

  • Windows Server 2016 Nano Server
  • Windows Server 1709
  • Windows Server 1803

Semi-annual Channel installation options

  • Windows Server Core
  • Windows Server Core Container Image
  • Windows Server Nano Server Container Image

Use cases for Semi-annual Channel releases

Use cases for the Semi-annual Channel releases right now are application and services which leverage new feature very quickly and go with cloud cadence.

  • Lift and Shift applications into Containers
  • New cloud-based applications
  • Applications which can be quickly and easily redeployed
  • Linux containers on Windows Server
  • Hyper-V and Cluster nodes for Hyper-converged scenarios
  • Hyper-V hosts which are benefiting from continuous innovation

Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) Overview

To make it a little easier, here is a quick overview of the two servicing channels:

 Long-Term Servicing ChannelSemi-Annual Channel
Recommend ScenariosGeneral purpose File Servers, SQL Servers, Active Directory and other infrastructure rolesContainerized applications and container hosts, Hyper-converged hosts benefiting form faster innovation
New ReleasesEvery 2-3 yearsEvery 6 months
Support5 years of Mainstream support +5 years of Extended support18 months
EditionsAll available Windows Server editionsStandard and Datacenter
Installation OptionsServer Core and Server with Desktop ExperienceServer Core only
LicensingAll customer through all channelsSoftware Assurance and Cloud customers only

Conclusion

As you can see, Windows Server Semi-annual channel are not designed for everyone. And if you don’t feel comfortable with Windows Server Core (btw you should check out Microsoft Project Honolulu), the fast release cadence or the short support life cycle you should go with the Windows Server Long-Term Servicing Channel. You will not lose anything you had today, you still will get new versions every 2-3 years with all the options you had today. If you need the fast innovation and you get something out of the new features the Semi-annual channel will provide you with 2 releases a year. But make sure, that your deployment, configuration and management is automated, otherwise you will suffer from the fast release cadence. I have three other very important points I want to make sure you know about:

  • Not all your servers have to go with LTSC only or SAC only – as long as you have the right licensing in place you can choose for each server, which ever fits your needs best.
  • You don’t have to switch now – you can also decided to go with LTSC today and switch to a SAC release as soon as you benefit from it. You can also switch back to LTSC from SAC if you don’t like it. (With Switch I mean redeploy)
  • Upgrades are not in-place – It doesn’t matter which servicing channel you are using, servers need to be redeployed. (Not like in Windows 10 where you can leverage in-place upgrades)

I hope this helps to understand the point about Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) vs Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). The Semi-Annual Channel releases are a new offer from Microsoft for customers to get their hands on new features much quicker, this offers a huge benefit if you can make use of it. But Microsoft is not forcing you to use SAC, LTSC for some scenarios and customers is still the better option. So both solutions are having huge value in different scenarios.



Docker Windows Server Container Images

Docker Container Images for Windows Server 1709 and new tagging

Last week Microsoft announced new Windows Server 1709 and the new Windows Server 1709 container images. The new container images in Windows Server version 1709 are highly optimized, especially in size. So for example the new Nano Server Container Image in 1709 is 5x smaller than the Nano Server Container Image in Windows Server 2016.

Microsoft also made some changes to tagging which is interesting.

If you want to use the latest images of the container images based on the Windows Server 2016 (which is in the Long-Term Servicing Channel, LTSC) you just run:

This will give you the latest images of the Windows Server and Nano server container images. If you want to run a specific patch level of the Windows Server 2016 (LTSC)m images, you can run the following:

Docker Windows Server Container Images Size

If you want to use the new Windows Server 1709 container images from the Semi-Annual Channel you can run the following

and again you cans also add a specific base OS container image by using a KB number:

If you already tried out the new container images during the development using the insider images, they still existing:

However, I am not sure what the plan for the insider images is going forward.



How to run Docker Linux Container on Windows Server 1709

As mentioned Microsoft released the final version of Windows Server 1709 in the last week. Windows Server 1709 brings a couple of new improvements, especially in the container space. Microsoft and Docker are working on bringing Linux Container support to Windows Server, so you can now run Windows and Linux Container at the same time on a Windows Server Container Host running Windows Server 1709 or Windows 10 with the Fall Creators Update (1709).

In this post I want to show you how you setup up a Container Host to run Windows and Linux Containers at the same time using Docker.

Create Container Host Virtual Machine

Enable Nested Virtualization

If you run Docker on a physical server you can skip this step. If you want to run Docker Containers using Linux inside a Virtual Machine running on Hyper-V you should enable Nested Virtualization for the Container Host Virtual Machine. You can do this by running the following command:

if you want to do this on a Hyper-V Server in Azure, check out this post: How to setup Nested Virtualization in Microsoft Azure

Install Docker Enterprise Edition Preview on Windows Server 1709

First you have to install Docker Enterprise Edition Preview on your Windows Server 1709 container host. You can install the Docker EE preview using PowerShell package management, using the following commands:

As mentioned this is a preview version of Docker EE which enables a bunch of new features, to run Docker in production environments please use Docker EE 17.06.

Enable Docker Linux Containers on Windows

The preview Docker EE package includes a full LinuxKit system (13MB) for use when running Docker Linux containers. To enable this use the following command:

to disable it again use the following:

Run Linux Docker Container on Windows Server

Docker Ubuntu Container on Windows Server

Now you are able to run Linux Containers on Windows Server 1709.

for fun you can also run Nyancat!

Docker Nyan Cat on Windows Server

Things are still in preview, so don’t expect to work 100% 🙂



Windows Server 1709

Microsoft released Windows Server 1709

Microsoft just released the new Windows Server version 1709 which is the first release in the Semi-Annual Channel. The Semi-Annual Channel release cadence to deliver innovation at a faster pace, but you will also need to keep updating your systems to newer versions of Windows Server. As of today, you can download Windows Server 1709 from the Volume license portal or deploy it in Microsoft Azure, since it is available in the Azure Marketplace.

Windows Server 1709 Features and Improvements

Windows Server 1709 will drive innovation in the container space and in the Windows Subsystem for Linux, as well as some Cloud Host improvements in Hyper-V with new support for Storage Class Memory and more. Windows Server 1709 will be only available as Windows Server Core (Standard and Datacenter).

If you want to know more about the new features and improvements in Windows Server 1709, check out my blog post and check also out the Microsoft What’s new in Windows Server 1709 page.

Windows Server news from Microsoft Build 2017 – It is all about Container!

New Windows Server Management Experience

If you want to know more about the new Management Experience called Project Honolulu, check out my blog post:

Microsoft Project Honolulu – The new Windows Server Management Experience

Windows Server Servicing

For more information about the Semi-Annual Channel and Windows Server Servicing check out my blog posts:

Windows Server release information – Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel and LTSC

 

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

Windows Server, version 1709 is only the first step in this new world of faster release cadences. The most important aspect of having new releases twice a year is customer feedback will shape the product. You can try the preview builds of Windows Server in the Semi-Annual Channel and provide feedback by joining the Windows Insiders program. You can also join the conversation in the Microsoft Tech Community where we have tons of professionals and experts sharing their learnings and answering questions.



Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017

My impressions from Microsoft Ignite 2017

Okay, I know, Microsoft Ignite 2017 was already a couple of weeks ago. But still, I finally had time to write about my impressions from Microsoft Ignite, after the conference plus my visit in Seattle for the Intelligent Cloud Architect Bootcamp and spending my days in meetings and back at work in Switzerland. Since there is a lot of stuff and important changes coming, I think it is still valid to write about my impressions.

First, I have to say Orlando is great, I really loved spending my time there. This was my second Microsoft Ignite after the first one in Chicago. I have to say, it was very well organized and organizing such a huge conference is definitely not easy.

The Speaking part…

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017 Theater

I had the great opportunity to speak in several Microsoft Ignite sessions and this was huge fun. It is always fun for me to stand in front of a couple of people and show them some stuff I am working on. I not only had the chance to do my Theather session about “Lessons learned from deploying Windows Server 2016”, I also spoke in two breakout sessions about our customer cases focusing on System Center and Storage Spaces Direct.

The Networking part…

One of the most important parts of such a conference is networking with others. The point is that all the videos are going to be online available for later review, but you get time to meet with people from Microsoft, customers and partners, and talk, share and learn from them. The connections you make at such a conference will be helpful in the future, trust me…

The Learning part…

One of the main reasons for me to attend, was to learn. Not only learn about the latest and greatest technology, but also about where the industry is heading. I believe that our industry is heading to one of the biggest changes in history since the transition from Mainframes to client server topology. I think this is not new to most of us, but what is interesting and something I underestimated is, how fast that transition will be going forward. Cloud Computing, AI, Big Data, IoT and modern applications are going to be big topics in the future and technologies like containers and methods like DevOps are going to accelerate this change. My lesson learned from these events is that we all in the industry have to learn much faster and be ready to adapt to change much quicker.

With that, I hope to see you soon at other conferences and events or again at Microsoft Ignite on September 24 – 28 in Orlando, Florida.



Azure Stack

Speaking at the CLOUD 2017 Infrastruktur & Security Congress Switzerland about Azure Stack

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking aht the CLOUD 2017 Infrastruktur & Security Congress Switzerland on October 26 in Zürich. In the session “The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland” I will talk about a project I have worked on in the past year, very closly with our partners Microsoft, HPE and HIAG Data, to bring Microsoft Azure services to Switzerland using Microsoft Azure Stack.

The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland

The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland