Category: Microsoft Azure Stack

Joining Microsoft

Joining Microsoft

Today is a great day! I’m excited and proud to announce that as of February 1st, 2019, I’m joining Microsoft. I will join the Microsoft Azure Engineering team as a Senior Cloud Advocate. After being a Microsoft MVP for 7 years and working very closely with Microsoft the last couple of years, this is a great new opportunity and an exciting time ahead.

Microsoft Cloud Advocate

Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocate

The Microsoft Cloud Advocate Mascot by Ashley McNamara

My role is part of the Microsoft Developer Relations group and more specific the Cloud Advocates. I’m joining the team of Rick Claus, which many of you know from Channel9, Microsoft conferences and his overall work at Microsoft. Our team is focused in the IT Ops and IT Pro community. This allows me to do what I love most, which is being an advocate for customers in the Azure product group, sharing knowledge and engaging with the community.

We are advocates for the IT community within Microsoft. Using the products, listen to customers and help the product teams to prioritize their work. We develop tools to help use the products, we write documentation and tutorials, and we build connections between the community and the engineering teams.

Our team’s charter is to help every technologist on the planet succeed, be they students or those working in enterprises or startups. We engage in outreach to developers and others in the software ecosystem, all designed to further technical education and proficiency with the Microsoft Cloud + AI platform.

A large part of our mission is to make Microsoft Azure the best platform to run your applications and services, as well as making migration to the Microsoft Azure ecosystem simple. Our team looks for common pain points and works with the product teams to address them. In other cases, we build the missing pieces like tools and documentation.

My focus is going to be on the Azure and Microsoft hybrid cloud strategy. Besides the Azure services, this will include products and services like Windows Server and Azure Stack. Which will help bringing that consistent cloud experience to life, so our customers can make the best out of the Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge.

If there’s anything you would like us to improve reach out to me or to our team. We listen to your needs and take your feedback into consideration in our future developments.

Why joining Microsoft

Thomas Maurer at Microsoft

Microsoft Ignite 2018. Picture by Kristopher Turner

When Rick Claus first approached me back in Summer 2018 and explained me that he starts a team which is focusing on IT Ops advocacy, I got super excited. I agreed that Microsoft had a large focus on developers, which is good, but didn’t really focus yet on the large group of IT Ops/Pro people. This team is built to change that and to give the IT Ops community a louder voice inside the Azure Engineering team. When I had the first talks with Rick and the team, I realized that this is the job I want to do!

After I have been working with Microsoft for a while now, I strongly believe in their vision, strategy and culture. Especially, I believe that in the Cloud era, Microsoft and the Azure team under Scott Guthrie are doing a fantastic job. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, but I think Microsoft is in a perfect position.

I also believe that Microsoft as a company, is taking the company’s social responsibilities seriously. Projects like the Xbox Adaptive Controller and making the cloud more green are great examples.

Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

 

The decision to leave my current job wasn’t easy. I was super happy in my job at itnetX. I was working with a lot of great people for years and we were working at some super cool projects. However, I realized that after 7 years, it might be time to step out of my comfort zone and accept a new challenge, meet new people and keep on learning. I’m joining a team of rock stars, and I’m excited to learn from the team and the community as well as bringing my experience into the team.

There are many reasons why I decided to join Microsoft. In short, I would summarize it like this; stepping out of my comfort zone to keep learning and joining a great and talented team, doing the work I love, in a company which is shaping the future.

Time to say goodbye!

As exciting as this is, it is also a sad moment for me. Seven years ago, I joined itnetX as a Cloud Architect. The last couple of years I worked as a Lead Architect with customers and the community, helping them transforming to the cloud. It was a great time and I had the chance to learn a lot. I will definitely miss working with my colleagues and friends. I want to thank itnetX for the great time and opportunities I had. Especially, I want to thank Markus Erlacher, Dieter Gasser, Philipp Witschi, Marcel Zehner and Chris Greuter. I also want to thank my colleagues for supporting me. Over these years, I had the chance to work on awesome projects, focus on exciting technologies and engage with Microsoft and the community.

Microsoft MVPs

Microsoft Hyper-V MVPs at the MVP Summit 2015 in Redmond. From left to right: Alessandro, Didier, Carsten, Thomas, Aidan, Charbel, Tudor, Brian

Joining Microsoft also means that I won’t be a Microsoft MVP anymore. This is another big part which I will miss. However, my new role will allow me to engage even more within the community. It also means that I keep on doing what I did for the last couple of years. I am sure I will work together with a lot of friends from the Microsoft MVP community and of course I will join the MVP Reconnect program. With that I also want to thank the MVP community and a lot of people within Microsoft.

What is next?

We are a global team, with a few team members located in Redmond (USA), and many of us working remotely worldwide. For now, I’m staying in Switzerland. My first day at Microsoft is on February 1st, where I will start in the Microsoft office in Wallisellen (Switzerland). The day after, I’m already flying to Seattle to visit the Microsoft HQ in Redmond. I am looking forward to connecting with my team and the product groups.

After that, I’m looking forward to being part of the Microsoft Ignite The Tour. Ignite The Tour has several stops in Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States.

I will start building content for the Azure team. I will also join the Microsoft ITOps Talk blog, where my team covers interesting topics for IT Ops, focusing on Microsoft Azure. That said, I will also continue writing on my own blog on ThomasMaurer.ch.

I am very excited to start in a couple of days, and I am sure there will be a lot more to say and write in the future. Stay tuned and Azure on.

Thomas



Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

Extended Security Updates for SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack

SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will both be out of extended support within the  next 12 months (detailed dates below). This means if you have these versions, you’ll need to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server or Windows Server or buy Extended Support soon to maintain support and receive security updates and fixes. Buying Extended Support is not cheap. Customers with active Software Assurance or subscription licenses can purchase Extended Security Updates annually for 75 percent of the full license cost of the latest version of SQL Server or Windows Server. A lot of customer should start migrating to newer versions of these products to avoid these extra costs.

Extended Support dates

  • Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on July 9, 2019.
  • Extended Support for Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on January 14, 2020.

However, in mid-2018 Microsoft announced a new option for SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 End of Support. Customers running 2008 or 2008 R2 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server in Azure virtual machines will get Extended Security Updates for free. This will give customers some extra time to migrate to newer versions of SQL Server and Windows Server. Or even better, to Azure PaaS and serverless computing like Azure Functions.

The great thing about this, is that you can also combine this with your Azure Hybrid benefits, to use your SQL Server and Windows Server on Azure with your on-premise licenses.

Extended Security Updates on Azure Stack

If you are thinking to migrate to the cloud, this new option will bring down costs for you. However, not everyone is fully ready to move all their servers to the public cloud. You might still need or want to run some servers on-premise in your datacenter. This will leave you with buying Extended Support or what a lot of people don’t know, you can also run your SQL Server and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure Stack and get Extended Security Updates for free, since it is basically Azure!

This is great, especially since Azure Stack also comes with great IaaS capabilities. And if you are thinking about using Azure in the mid-term, Azure Stack provides you with Azure capabilities, but still allows you to stay in your own datacenter.



Technado Podcast

Interview about Azure and Microsoft on Technado ITPro.TV

I was a proud interview guest at the Technado Podcast by ITPro.TV this week! Together with Cherokee and Don, we were talking about Microsoft Azure, Azure Stack and the Cloud as well as Microsoft in general and my favorite foods.

The Technado, Episode 77: Microsoft MVP Thomas Maurer

 

If you’re plugged into the Microsoft community, you’ve heard of Thomas Maurer. In this episode, Thomas will give Don and Cherokee his take on all things Azure. This week also sees a return of the latest tech news from the week.

ITProTV is the industry leader for online, on-demand IT training for tech professionals, students, and organizations worldwide. Home of binge-worthy learning, ITProTV empowers the world through engaging training.

By blending entertainment and cutting-edge technology with IT education, ITProTV creates high-quality training shows taught by experienced educators and industry professionals. Toss the boring PowerPoint classroom training aside, ITProTV is streaming the latest training for the most current tech trends and certification exams daily. Start FREE today: https://www.itpro.tv/plans/

Enjoy watching!



Azure Stack VM Update Management

Using Azure Update Management on Azure Stack

At Microsoft Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced the integration of Azure Update and Configuration Management on Azure Stack. This is a perfect example how Azure services from the public cloud can be extended into your datacenter using Azure Stack. Azure Update and Configuration Management brings Azure Update Management, Change Tracking and Inventory to your Azure Stack VMs. In the case of Azure Stack, the backend services and orchestrator like Azure Automation and Log Analytics, will remain to run in Azure, but it lets you connect your VMs running on Azure Stack.

Azure Update and Configuration Managemen Schemat

Today, the Azure Update and Configuration Management extension, gives you the following features:

  • Update Management – With the Update Management solution, you can quickly assess the status of available updates on all agent computers and manage the process of installing required updates for these Windows VMs.
  • Change Tracking – Changes to installed software, Windows services, Windows registry, and files on the monitored servers are sent to the Log Analytics service in the cloud for processing. Logic is applied to the received data and the cloud service records the data. By using the information on the Change Tracking dashboard, you can easily see the changes that were made in your server infrastructure.
  • Inventory – The Inventory tracking for an Azure Stack Windows virtual machine provides a browser-based user interface for setting up and configuring inventory collection.

If you want to use Azure Update Management and more on VMs on-premise (without Azure Stack) or running at another Cloud Provider, you can do this as well. Have a look at Windows Admin Center, which allows you to directly integrate with Azure Update Management. However, there will be a difference in pricing.



Azure Stack Tenant Portal

Considerations for deploying apps and services on Azure Stack

I work with a couple of customers on different Azure Stack projects. One of the main topics that always comes up, is what are the differences between Azure and Azure Stack when deploying applications and services. Obviously there are the high level differences, which I have written about it here: Microsoft Azure Stack – Azure Extension in your Datacenter. However, there are also small differences in features and services between Azure and Azure Stack. These differences can block customers form deploying and automating workloads. I tried to summarize the most common differences and considerations you should know, in a single blog post.

High-level differences between Azure and Azure Stack

Some of the high-level differences between the to platforms are:

  • An Azure Stack does not have the same SLA and physical security in place, since the Azure Stack does not run in a Microsoft operated location.
  • Azure Stack provides only a subset of the Azure services and features.
  • Azure Stack is not operated by Microsoft. Azure Stack backend is operated by the operators in your company or by a service provider.
  • The Azure Stack operator, which can be your company or a service provider, chooses which services, features and marketplace items he wants to make available on Azure Stack.
  • Azure Stack comes with its own portal. It has the same look and feel, but it will be another URL and endpoints for the portal as well as for the APIs.
  • Azure Stack will have different PowerShell and API versions available. If you are building a hybrid cloud app, which should work on Azure and Azure Stack, make sure you are using the versions supported by Azure Stack.

Considerations and differences between Azure and Azure Stack

Obviously, there is much more to this. I put a list of links together, where you can find the differences between Azure and Azure Stack and more considerations you should think of when deploying on Azure Stack.

Setup an Azure Stack operator and developer environment

Install Azure Stack PowerShell

To connect to Azure Stack using PowerShell, Visual Studio, the Azure CLI or other Azure Stack tooling, you have to setup a few things. I recommend that you read my blog post about how to setup an Azure Stack operator and developer environment. This is not only helpful for operators, but also for people who want to deploy and develop solutions on Azure Stack.

Check API versions available on Azure Stack

Azure Stack API Verions PowerShell

If you are an Azure Stack tenant and you want to check which API versions are available on your Azure Stack, you can run the following PowerShell command against Azure Stack. This does not need any administrator rights, you will just need a tenant account on Azure Stack to access it. If your Azure Stack is running at a service provider, it is very likely that you won’t have access to the Administrator portal to check the version.

Check Azure Stack version release notes

Azure Stack Version Release Notes

Another good thing to check if you are running in any issues deploying applications or services, is to check the Azure Stack version release notes. They document very well the new features added, fixed as well as known issues with that release.

You can find the links to the latest Azure Stack release notes here. I also recommend that you read my article about Updating Azure Stack.

I hope this gives you a quick overview and help you to successfully deploy applications and services on Azure Stack. You can find most of this information on the documentation site, but I decided to consolidate this information in one post.



Geeksprech Podcast Windows Server 2019 with Thomas Maurer

GeekSprech Podcast – Windows Server 2019 (German)

Microsoft just released Windows Server 2019 to the public and with that I was invited to be a guest in the GeekSprech Podcast from Microsoft MVPs Eric Berg and Alexander Benoit. We talked about the Windows Server 2019 release and what great new features in this release. We also got off topic and had some chats about security, Azure Stack and more.

If you want to listen to it (it is in German), you can do this on the GeekSprech website or here:

It was an honor and a lot of fun talking with Eric and Alexander!



Thomas Maurer Speaking at Geekmania

Speaking at Geekmania 2018

This week one of my last speaking engagements for 2018 is coming up, which will be Geekmania 2018. I am happy to be again one of the speakers at the Swiss Geekmania conference. Geekmania is focused on IT Pro topics around Microsoft technology. This Friday (9.11.2018) 18 speakers will speak in 3 parallels tracks in 24 sessions, covering the latest and greatest about Windows, Windows Server, System Center and Azure.

My session will focus on Microsoft Azure Stack:

Azure Stack – Your Cloud Your Datacenter (German)

Microsoft Azure Stack ist nun verfügbar als Azure Appliance in ihrem Datacenter. Lernen sie was Azure Stack ist und wie Azure Stack als Erweiterung zu Microsoft Azure nutzen können, um services in einer Hybrid Cloud bereitzustellen.

Next to me there will be a lot of great community speakers present. Geekmania is always a lot of fun, so hopefully see you there!