Category: Virtualization

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Windows Server 2019 Azure Network Adapter

Windows Server Azure Network Adapter

In my series about Windows Server 2019, I have a new feature I want to introduce you to. Windows Server 2019 Azure Network Adapter is one of the Hybrid Cloud efforts Microsoft is making in Windows Server 2019. A lot of workloads are running cross cloud and require connections to virtual machines running in Azure. To achieve this there are several options like Site-to-Site VPN, Azure Express Route or Point-to-Site VPN. With Windows Admin Center and Windows Server 2019 Azure Network Adapter, you get a one-click experience to connect your Windows Server with your Azure Virtual Network using a Point-to-Site VPN connection.

Even this is might not for every enterprise scenario, there are a lot of scenarios where you might quickly want to connect a server to Azure. The Azure Network Adapter functionality gives you that feature with a one click button. And by the way it also works on Windows Server 2012 R2 and higher.



Azure Stack Backup with Azure Backup Server

Protect Azure Stack Tenant Workloads with Azure Backup Server

If you are running Azure Stack in your datacenter, you also want to backup workloads running on Azure Stack. This blog post covers how you can backup Azure Stack tenant workloads with Azure Backup Server. Azure Backup allows you to protect on-premise workloads running on different platforms as well as on Azure Stack and store long-term data in Azure.

Why protecting Azure Stack workloads with Azure Backup Server

Microsoft Azure Backup Server is included as a free download with Azure Backup that enables cloud backups and disk backups for workloads like SQL, SharePoint and Exchange regardless if these workloads are running on Hyper-V, VMware, Physical servers or Azure Stack. It also provides a central console to protect these workloads. If you compare this to the Azure Backup Agent, where you have to configure the agent on every single server. The Azure Backup Server also allows you to not only do file backup, but also backup of applications like SharePoint, SQL Server, Exchange and more. This gives you flexibility and centralized management to back up your infrastructure as a service (IaaS) workloads on Azure Stack.



Windows Server 2019 Upgrade

Windows Server 2019 In-place Upgrade

As another part of my series for Windows Server 2019, this blog post covers the in-place upgrade feature. In-place upgrade allows you to upgrade your existing LTSC versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows Server 2016 servers to Windows Server 2019. Windows Server 2019 In-place Upgrade allows businesses to quicker update to the latest version. Especially, if you have servers which you might needed to install some dependencies for the applications. I saw a lot of customers which not have documented their server installations and neither used infrastructure as code to deploy them. For these customers it can be hard to upgrade to newer versions of Windows Server. With the Windows Server 2019 In-Place Upgrade feature, this should get a lot easier. Especially since Windows Server 2019 bring a lot of improvements.

You can in place upgrade to Windows Server 2019 from

How to in place upgrade to Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2016 upgrade to Windows Server 2019

To in place upgrade to Windows Server 2019, just insert the Windows Server 2019 media into the existing server, by attaching an ISO file, copying the sources, inserting a USB drive or even a DVD drive and start the setup.exe.

Installing Windows Server 2019

The setup will discover the existing installation and will let you perform an in place upgrade. The installation will run for a couple of minutes, it will take quiet some time depending of the speed of your server hardware and of the installed roles and features. Microsoft MVP Didier Van Hoye, did write a great blog post about Windows Server 2019 In-Place Upgrade testing. In that blog post he has a quick look on upgrading to Windows Server 2019.

You can also find a overview about what is coming new in Windows Server 2019, in my blog: Windows Server 2019 – What’s coming next.



Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 – What is coming Next

A while ago Microsoft announced the next key versions Windows Server 2019 and System Center 2019. And a couple of weeks ago, at the Windows Server Summit, Microsoft was taking more about what is new in Windows Server 2019. Microsoft also talked a lot about the positioning of Windows Server and what we can expect in the future. With the news finally released to the public, I can start talking and blogging about the new features and investments. I decided to create a series of blogs, to show the world the great new features. This blog post here, should give you a high level overview about how Microsoft is investing in Windows Server 2019.

Windows Server – The Power behind the Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge

Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge

Windows Server is not only powering the Intelligent Edge where you have a great Software-Defined Datacenter plaform running Hyper-V or Stroage Spaces Direct, or as application platform. It is also powering the Microsoft Azure Intelligent Cloud. Windows Server is running the foundation of the platform of Azure and also many many services running in Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Azure Stack. If the innovation happening in the Microsoft Public Cloud, we as customers also benefit from that.

Windows Server – Hybrid Cloud in the DNA

Windows Server Hybrid Cloud

Windows Server is a great platform and it runs where ever you are. If you run on-premises in your Software-Defined Datacenter running in on physical hardware or in virtual machines or on Azure Stack, Windows Server is your platform. If you are running in the Public Cloud, Windows Server is not only the platform powering Azure. Windows Server is also a great platform for you to run application in Microsoft Azure or other cloud services providers.

Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server

Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server Reserved Instances

The Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server is also a great option to run Windows Server workloads in the cloud. It allows customer to leverage the licensing they already have. This can bring down cost by a huge factor, and this together with Azure Reserved VM Instances up to 82%.

Windows Server 2019 – Innovation and Investments

Windows Server 2019 Investments

If we have a look at the investments done in Windows Server 2019, we can see that we can categorize them in 4 categories.

  • Hybrid Datacenter Platform
  • Security
  • Application Innovation
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Unique hybrid datacenter platform

Windows Server 2019 brings new functionality and features to extend your datacenter to Azure to maximize existing investments and gain new hybrid capabilities. To achieve this Microsoft brings improvements to Windows Server 2019 like built-in Azure Active Directory integration, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, Storage Migration Services and many more.

Enhanced security capabilities

One of the key factors in today’s IT landscape is security. Microsoft started the journey by bringing enhanced security features to Windows Server 2016. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft improves these security features of their server operating system. Microsoft adds new capabilities like Shield Virtual Machines for Linux, Exploit Guard, Encrypted Virtual Networks and under a lot of others. My favorite, the integration of Windows Defender Advanced Thread Protection or Windows Defender ATP.

Faster innovation for applications

With the Semi-Annual Channel releases of Windows Server, Microsoft already released some great investments to enable developers and IT pros. These allow them to create cloud native apps or modernize their traditional apps using containers and micro-services. In Windows Server 2019, Microsoft goes one step further and releases the SAC Improvement s like Linux Containers on Windows Server and the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows Server to the LTSC release. Microsoft also invest heavily to improve the container experience on Windows Server, by optimizing the container images for Server Core and Nano Server, a new Windows Container Image and better integration into orchestrators like Kubernetes and Service Fabric.

Unprecedented Hyper-converged Infrastructure

Microsoft is also improving your software-defined datacenter experience to achieve greater efficiency and security. With Windows Admin Center, Microsoft introduced a new web-based management UI which will be a perfect solution to manage your Windows Server 2019 servers. However, Microsoft is also investing in more hardware support like Storage Class Memory support. But also, on adding scale, resilience and performance improvements to your Storage Spaces Direct deployments. This includes improvements like Cluster Sets, improved performance for Mirror-accelerated parity volumes and much more.

In the next couple of days and weeks I will release some blog posts. These will covering the new features and improvements in Windows Server 2019 with a little more technical depth. And I am sure we will even have more to share after Microsoft Ignite. So ,stay tuned and follow my blog 🙂



Download Azure Stack Update

How to install and manage Azure Stack Updates

At itnetX, we help customers to implement as well as to operate  Azure Stack. One part of operating Azure Stack is keeping it up-to-date. This means installing Microsoft Azure Stack Updates, hotfixes as well as OEM update packages like drivers and firmware. In this blog post I will cover all the information you need to keep your Azure Stack up-to-date.

Why should you update your Azure Stack

Azure Stack Update

This may sound like a simple question, but a lot of people ask for it. First of all, Microsoft and the hardware vendors are obviously delivering quality fixes and security updates to keep Azure Stack stable and secure. But Microsoft also adds new functionality with their updates packages to keep up with the rapid cloud development on Azure. This is important if you want that your Azure Stack stays consistent with Azure in terms of functionality.

Another important reason to stay current is to stay supported. You are allowed to be behind two major versions of Azure Stack, which means 2-3 months. You basically should update monthly, to make sure that you are secure and stable, however there are reasons why you might have to defer an update. For example, this can happen for some companies, when they are in a freeze period where they are not allowed to do changes in their systems. If you are more than 3 major versions behind, your Azure Stack is considered out of support and will not be supported from Microsoft, until you have the at least required version installed.

You can read more about the Azure Stack servicing policy on the Azure Stack documentation site.

Updates for the Azure Stack Integrated System

Azure Stack Operations

As mentioned before, there are basically three types of updates to Azure Stack. The monthly Azure Stack Update Packages from Microsoft, Hotfixes and OEM updates.

  • Microsoft software updates – Microsoft is responsible for the end-to-end servicing lifecycle for the Microsoft software update packages. These packages can include the latest Windows Server security updates, non-security updates, and Azure Stack feature updates. These update packages are non-cumulative updates and need to be installed one after the other. These updates are fully automated and will update the complete Azure Stack infrastructure.
  • OEM hardware vendor-provided updates – Azure Stack hardware partners are responsible for the end-to-end servicing lifecycle (including guidance) for the hardware-related firmware and driver update packages. In addition, Azure Stack hardware partners own and maintain guidance for all software and hardware on the hardware lifecycle host.
  • Microsoft hotfixes – Microsoft provides hotfixes for Azure Stack that address a specific issue that is often preventative or time-sensitive. Each hotfix is released with a corresponding Microsoft Knowledge Base article that details the issue, cause, and resolution. Hotfixes are downloaded and installed just like the regular full update packages for Azure Stack. Other the the major updates, Azure Stack hotfixes are cumulative per iteration.
 ReleaseCumulativeWhere to find
Microsoft Software UpdatesMonthly (4th Tuesday of very month)NoRelease Notes
OEM Hardware Vendor UpdatesDepending on OEMDependsOEM Website
Microsoft HotfixesWhen neededYesKnowledge Base article

By the way, you can only update Azure Stack multi-node systems, the Azure Stack Development Kit needs to be redeployed.



Custom Hyper-V Quick Create VM Gallery

How to create a Custom Hyper-V Quick Create VM Gallery

You might have seen that Hyper-V in Windows 10 got a new Quick Create Feature, this will open up a virtual machine gallery, which allows you to download different virtual machine images. For example the default image is a Windows 10 dev environment, which allows developers to quickly spin up a development environment with Visual Studio inside a Hyper-V virtual machine. If you want to create your own items in the Hyper-V VM Gallery.

To do that you simple have to do three things:

  • Create a virtual machine image (a .iso or compatible .vhdx file)
  • Create a gallery source (.json file) and create a gallery item (configuration inside the .json file)
  • Add the gallery source to the VM Gallery UI


Hyper-V Version 9.0

Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10 with new Hyper-V VM Version and UEFI

If you are running the latest Windows Insider builds, for example in Windows 10 Build 17728 and you are running Hyper-V you will see two new improvements. These improvements are also in the latest Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview builds and will be available for production when Windows Server 2019 will be released.

Microsoft Hyper-V UEFI 2019

First Hyper-V UEFI now looks prettier and has more less the same still as other Microsoft devices like the Surface Book or the Surface Pro.

Hyper-V 2019 UEFI