Category: Virtualization

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Azure Stack Development Kit PowerShell Install

Developing Azure Stack compatible services in Microsoft Azure using Azure Policies

As mentioned Azure Stack brings a true hybrid Cloud experience by bringing an consistent platform from the public cloud to the private cloud. There is a little bit of a catch, Microsoft Azure Stack of course only offers some of the Azure Public Cloud services, since for some of them you need to have a specific scale or specialized hardware, and they often they are behind in feature and functionality, since Azure gets updated daily and Azure Stack gets a slower updated cycle.

But what if you want to develop services on Azure, which should be compatible with Azure Stack, how can you make sure that these services also work on Azure Stack? The anwser to that is the Azure Stack Policy Module. The Azure Stack Policy module allows you to configure an Azure subscription with the same versioning and service availability as Azure Stack using Azure Policy.  The module uses the New-AzureRMPolicyAssignment PowerShell cmdlet to create an Azure policy, which limits the resource types and services available in a subscription. You can then use your Azure subscription to develop apps targeted for Azure Stack.

You can find the Azure Stack Policy Module in Azure Stack tools on GitHub.

Install the Azure Stack Policy Module

  1. Install the required version of the AzureRM PowerShell module, as described in Step1 of Install PowerShell for Azure Stack.
  2. Download the Azure Stack tools from GitHub
  3. Configure PowerShell for use with Azure Stack
  4. Import the AzureStack.Policy.psm1 module:

Apply policy to subscription

The following command can be used to apply a default Azure Stack policy against your Azure subscription.

Apply policy to a resource group

You may want to apply policies in a more granular method. As an example, you may have other resources running in the same subscription. You can scope the policy application to a specific resource group, which lets you test your apps for Azure Stack using Azure resources.

You can find more information about this on the official documentation page: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-stack/user/azure-stack-policy-module



Microsoft Exam 70-745

Passed Microsoft Exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter

This summer I took the Microsoft beta exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter, which focuses on implementing Software-Defined Datacenter solutions, based on Hyper-V, Windows Server, Software Defined Networking and Storage, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, System Center Operations Manager and everything around it.

  • Plan and Implement System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) Core Infrastructure
  • Implement Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
  • Implement Software-Defined Storage
  • Implement Datacenter Compute Solutions with Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  • Secure your Software-Defined Datacenter
  • Monitor and Maintain the Software-Defined Datacenter

Passing Exam 745: Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter validates the skills and knowledge to implement a software-defined datacenter (SDDC) with Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft System Center 2016 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). Candidates have experience implementing and managing highly available SCVMM infrastructures as well as implementing software-defined storage, compute, and networking components.

This week I finally got the message that I passed the Beta exam. If you want to take that exam you should really be familiar with the products and solutions mentioned above, otherwise you will have a hard time passing the exam.

If you want to know more about the exam, check out this link: Microsoft Learning Exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter

Also big congrats to all the others who passed the exam like Charbel Nemnom.



ExpertsLive US 2018

Speaking at Experts Live US 2018 in Houston

I am happy and proud that I will speak at next years Experts Live US 2018 in Houston. This will be the first Experts Live Conference in the United States taking place from February 8 – 9 2018. I am happy to present at this event, and be part of the Experts Live journey over the globe, where I have been able to speak at Experts Live in Europe, Asia and Australia.

At Experts Live I will be presenting the following sessions:

Azure Stack: Your Cloud, Your Datacenter

Microsoft released Azure Stack as a Azure appliance for your datacenter. Learn what Azure Stack is, what challenges it solves, how you deploy, manage and operate a Azure Stack in your datacenter. Learn about the features and services you will get by offering Azure Stack to your customers and how you can build a true Hybrid Cloud experience. In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations and experience during the Azure Stack Early Adaption Program and Azure Stack Technology Adoption Program (TAP).

Windows Server – What is next for Windows Server

A little less than one year ago Microsoft released Windows Server 2016. In Fall 2017 Microsoft has updated Windows Server to the next Semi-Annual Channel release with new features and improvements and Microsoft will now release new SAC and LTSC releases. Join this session for the best of Windows Server, learn how the new Servicing Model of Windows Server works and what does it mean to use SAC or LTSC releases, and what new improvement and features Microsoft offers in the latest releases such as 1709 and 1803. You’ll get an overview about the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server 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: · Windows Server Containers · Hyper-V features · Nano Server · Storage · Networking · Security · Windows Server Containers And more!

10 hidden Hyper-V features you should know about!

In this session Thomas Maurer will talk about 10 hidden Hyper-V features everyone should know about. This covers different features for Hyper-V on Windows Server as well as on Windows 10.

I will also be part of the AMA (Ask me Anything) Discusison Panel: Hybrid Cloud , together with my friends John Joyner (Microsoft MVP) and Janaka Rangama (Microsoft MVP).

AMA Discusison Panel: Hybrid Cloud

Bring your questions on Azure Stack, Windows 2016, Hyper-V and Disaster Recovery in this “ask me anything (AMA) panel discussion.

Hope fully I see you in Houston at Experts Live US 2018!



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.



Microsoft Azure Backup Agent

Download the Azure Backup Agent

Microsoft works heavily on their Microsoft Azure Recovery Services and releases new features for its Azure Backup software. Some of these new features need a new version of the Azure Backup Agent, or MARS Agent, to work.

Now if you install a new recovery vault in Azure to get started with Azure Backup you will find a link to download the Azure Backup Agent or sometimes you will see warnings in the Azure Backup MMC console with a link to a newer version of the Azure Backup Agent. But if you just want to download the latest MARS Agent, sometimes it is pretty hard to find, so let me help you with this link:

Download Azure Backup Agent

You can also use that file to updated an existing Azure Backup Agent.

By the way, Microsoft Azure Backup now supports Windows System State Backups to Azure.



Windows Server 1709 Server Core Sconfig

How to install Windows Server 1709

Microsoft just released the new Windows Server version 1709 in the Semi-Annual Channel. This blog post is for beginners which want to do their first step setting up Windows Server Core.

First you boot your server or virtual machine form the Windows Server 1709 ISO file. and select which Operating System you want to install. You can choose between Windows Server Standard or Windows Server Datacenter. As you might see, there is only Server Core available. The Server with Desktop Experience or Full Server is only available in the LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel) in Windows Server 2016.

Windows Server 1709 Operating System

After accepting the license terms, you can choose the installation type. Even there is an upgrade option, you should choose Custom which will be a new install. Since an in-place upgrade from older Windows Server versions is not supported.

Windows Server 1709 Installation Type

Choose which drive you want to install and the partitioning you want to use

Windows Server 1709 Choose Disk

After that Windows Server will install itself, and reboot for a couple of times.

Windows Server 1709 Installation

After the installation is finished you have to set the default Administrator password.

Windows Server 1709 Admin Password

When you login for the first time, it runs the Windows command prompt with the common Windows commands, or you can run PowerShell, or if you need the magic key to the server core configuration you can run “sconfig” which allows you quickly to do configuration changes, install updates and more.

Windows Server 1709 Server Core Sconfig