Category: Microsoft Azure Stack

Ruggedized Azure Stack

Ruggedized Azure Stack at the extreme Edge

Azure Stack is part of Microsofts Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge offering, and extends Azure services not only into your datacenter, but also on into more challenging remote locations. Today, Dell EMC and Microsoft announced the Dell EMC Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack, a ruggedized and field-deployable product for Azure Stack.

Tactical Azure Stack is the first and only ruggedized Azure Stack product available for tactical edge deployments. Based on our proven all-flash Dell EMC Cloud for Microsoft Azure Stack, it brings an Azure consistent-cloud to operating environments with:

  • Limited or no network connectivity
  • Fully mobile, or high portability (“2-person lift”) requirements
  • Harsh conditions requiring military specifications solutions
  • High security requirements, with optional connectivity to Azure Government, Azure Secret, and Azure Top Secret

This new offering demonstrates how Dell EMC leveraged our server design expertise and our exclusive partnership with Tracewell Systems to develop a new platform that expands Azure Stack use cases. For customers, it provides a familiar environment and consistent experience for Azure-based services in the field. In addition, Tactical Azure Stack incorporates Dell EMC features including automated patch and update capabilities, PowerEdge hardware management, and integration with Isilon, CloudLink, and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Customers also benefit with one call to Dell EMC for service and support of the entire hardware stack.

 

The product’s core components are identical to our currently shipping all-flash Data Center Azure stack offering. For cloud operators, developers and tenants, there are no differences between the Tactical Azure Stack and Data Center Azure Stack. Our industry exclusive firmware update automation and Dell EMC services and support are all consistent whether you’re running in a comfortable data center or in a harsh, mobile, or forward deployed environment.

 

The management case includes the hardware lifecycle host, 25GbE Top of Rack switches, as well as the baseboard management switch. Additional “core” transit cases, each holding two T-R640 scale unit servers can be added up to the full node limits of Microsoft Azure Stack. At just 41.5” high, and 25.6” operating depth, the Tactical Microsoft Azure Stack unlocks a wide variety of use cases for government, military, energy and mining applications. It can also be ideal in forward deployments and mobile environments in marine, aerospace and other conditions that require MIL-STD 810G compliance.

The availability of these ruggedized Azure Stack systems, enable a lot of new scenarios, and I am looking forward to see what is next.



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.



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!