Category: Microsoft Azure

Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays

Speaking at the Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays

I am happy to let you know that I will be speaking online at the Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI Day. The Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI is an online event, organized and presented by Microsoft MVPs as part of the MVPDays. MVPDays was founded by Cristal and Dave Kawula back in 2013. It started as a simple idea; “There’s got to be a good way for Microsoft MVPs to reach the IT community and share their vast knowledge and experience in a fun and engaging way”.

The Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays is a full-day online event on October 23. you can find out more here. In my session, I will be speaking about Azure hybrid management services and how you can connect your Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment with Microsoft Azure.

Hybrid Management Technologies using Azure Stack HCI

Windows Server, Azure Stack HCI and Windows Admin Center not only provide you with great hyper-converged solutions but also enable you to connect to Azure Hybrid Cloud services. In this session, Thomas Maurer will show you how you can connect Azure services like Azure Site Recovery, Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, Azure Monitor and many more to your on-prem Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment.

If you want to know more about it check you the following blog posts:

I hope you will join us at the Azure Stack and Azure Stack HCI MVPDays. Let me know if you have any questions.



VeeamON Virtual 2019

Experts Lounge at VeeamON Virtual 2019 Conference

I am happy to announce that I will be part of this year’s VeeamON Virtual Conference for Cloud Data Management. I will be part of the virtual expert’s lounge during the online event. As a Veeam Vanguard, this is a great opportunity and I am already looking forward to being part of this event. VeeamON Virtual will be on November 20, 2019, and you can find more information here.



Azure IaaS VM enable Update Management

How to Manage Updates for Azure IaaS VMs

As a lot of customers are moving their workloads to Azure and specifically moving virtual machines to Azure Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), the question is how do I manage my Azure virtual machines (VMs) efficiently. The great thing about Azure IaaS, it is not just another virtualization platform. Azure IaaS also offers a lot of other benefits versus classic virtualization. Azure IaaS and Azure Management provide a lot of functionality to it make it more efficient to run and manage virtual machines. One of them is Azure Update Management. In this blog post, I am going to show you how you can efficiently manage updates for your Azure IaaS VMs.

Overview and benefits Azure Update Management ☁

The Azure Update Management solution is part of Azure Automation. And with Azure Update Management you can manage operating system updates for your Windows and Linux computers in Azure, in on-premises environments, or in other cloud providers. That is right, it is not only for your Azure VMs, it also works with all your environment and provides you with a single pane of glass for your Update Management. It allows you to quickly assess the status of available updates on all virtual machines and servers, and manage the process of installing required updates for servers.

  • Azure Update Management works with Azure IaaS VMs, on-premise servers and even servers running at other cloud service providers.
  • Update Management supports Linux and Windows servers
  • It is directly integrated into the Azure portal and onboarding of Azure VMs is very simple.
  • It works with existing update sources like Microsoft Update, WSUS or on Linux with private and public update repositories.
  • Azure Update Management can be integrated into System Center Configuration Manager. You can learn more about Azure Update Management and System Center Configuration Manager integration on Microsoft Docs.
  • You can onboard new Azure VMs automatically to Update Management in multiple subscriptions in the same tenant.
Architecture

Architecture

How to onboard Azure IaaS VMs ✈

Onboarding Azure VMs to Azure Update Management is fairly simple and there are many different ways you can enable Update Management for an Azure VM.

One thing I want to highlight is, that you can set up automatic enablement for future virtual machines. With that Azure virtual machines, you create in the future, will automatically be added to the Update Mangement solution.

Onboarding

Onboarding

Since this blog post is all about managing updates for Azure VMs, I will keep it short, but if you want to add servers running on-premises or at other service providers, you can have a look how you can configure Azure Update management from Windows Admin Center. If you are running Azure Stack, you can also easily add your Azure Stack VMs to the Update Management solution.

Update Assesment 📃

Azure Update Management Compliant Assessment

Azure Update Management Compliant Assessment

After you have enabled and connected your virtual machines, Azure Log Analytics and Update Management start to collect data and analyze it and creates a continuous assessment of your Azure VM infrastructure and the additional servers you added. It will let you know which servers are compliant and which updates are missing. In the Azure documentation for Azure Update Management, you can find the schedules and time new updates will be added to the assessment.

Manage and deploy updates to Azure VMs 🔧

After you know which servers are compliant or not, you can schedule an update deployment, to update your servers.

Update Azure VMs using Update Deployment

Update Azure VMs using Update Deployment

An update deployment configuration is done very easily.

  1. Enter a name for the update deployment
  2. Select which operating system you want to target with the deployment (Linux or Windows)
  3. Choose the machines you want to update. You can select specific Azure virtual machines, non-Azure machines, groups, AD, WSUS, SCCM groups and filters.
  4. Select the Update Classifications you want to deploy
  5. Include or exclude updates
  6. Schedule the deployment. You can also create recurring update deployments for example for monthly patching.
  7. Configure pre- and post-scripts
  8. Configure the maintenance window size
  9. Configure the reboot update after the updates are installed

View update deployments ✔

Update Azure VMs Status

Update Azure VMs Status

During and after the duration of the update deployment, you can see an overview of the deployment, which updates on which machine were installed and if they were successful.

Pricing – What does it cost? 💵

Now I know what you are thinking now, this is great, but I am sure Microsoft is making me pay for this. No! there are no charges for the service, you only pay for log data stored in the Azure Log Analytics service. You can find more pricing information here.

Conclusion and Learn more 🎓

Update Management is a great solution to keep your environment up to date. If you want to know more, check out Microsoft Docs or follow this tutorial to onboard Azure VMs. There is also a very good blog series by Microsoft MVP Samuel Erskine. If you don’t have Azure today, create an Azure Free account.

Create free Azure Account ☁

Create your Azure free account today and get started with 12 months of free services!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.



Azure Mv2 Virtual Machines VMs

New Azure Mv2 Virtual Machines with 12TB Memory

Girish Bablani Corporate Vice President Microsoft Azure, just announced that the new huge Azure Mv2 virtual machines (VMs) with up to 12TB of memory and 415 vCPUs, which are optimized for SAP HANA. The new Mv2 size will become generally available and production certified in the coming weeks. You will get these new VM sizes in the US West 2, US East, US East 2, Europe North, Europe West, and Southeast Asia regions. And in addition, you also more M-series availability in other Azure regions up to 4TB in Brazil, France, Germany, South Africa, and Switzerland.

He also announces a couple of other improvements to SAP applications running in Microsoft Azure, like the private preview of Azure Monitor for SAP Solutions. These announcements make Microsoft Azure even a better place for SAP workloads.

A few months back, at SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW event, we announced the availability of Azure Mv2 Virtual Machines (VMs) with up to 6 TB of memory for SAP HANA. We also reiterated our commitment to making Microsoft Azure the best cloud for SAP HANA. I’m glad to share that Azure Mv2 VMs with 12 TB of memory will become generally available and production certified in the coming weeks, in US West 2, US East, US East 2, Europe North, Europe West and Southeast Asia regions. In addition, over the last few months, we have expanded regional availability for M-series VMs, offering up to 4 TB, in Brazil, France, Germany, South Africa and Switzerland. Today, SAP HANA certified VMs are available in 34 Azure regions, enabling customers to seamlessly address global growth, run SAP applications closer to their customers and meet local regulatory needs.

– Girish Bablani Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure

You can read the full announcement blog post here.

If you want to learn more about Azure Mv2 VMs, check out the following Microsoft Docs. And if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Tips on how to take Microsoft Azure Certification Exams

Tips on how to take Microsoft Azure Certification Exams

As I wrote a couple of blog posts on Microsoft Azure Certification exams, like why should you become Microsoft Azure Certified, how you pick the right Azure Certification path or how you prepare for an Azure exam, I now got the questions if I have some tips to share about how to take the Microsoft Certification exams. I know that everyone takes exams differently, but I want to share what helped me to pass the exams. So here is a short list with tips on how you can be more successful when you take your Microsoft Azure Certification Exams.

Make sure you are prepared 💪

As mentioned in my blog post how you prepare and pass a Microsoft Azure Certification exam, you need to go through the topics and prepare. There are a lot of great resources to prepare for this exam. Great free resources I use usually are Microsoft Docs and Microsoft Learn, make sure you check out my blog post to get prepared.

There are also Microsoft Official Practice Tests available which are a great way to build your confidence and validate your skills, allowing you to identify gaps that you might need to resolve before you take your Microsoft Certification exam. Another resource you might find helpful is the Exam Replay offer, giving you the opportunity to retake the same exam if you failed the first time.

Empower your brain ⚡

Now it is essential to make your mind work best during the exam. Make sure you had enough sleep, and you have the right amount of sugar and caffeine in you. Depending on the exam, you will be spending quite some time on the exam, and you will read a lot, so make sure you have enough energy to get the answers out of your brain. Questions often come with a lot of different information. Parts of that information is relevant for the answer, and other parts are not. You will need to focus on sorting relevant and irrelevant information.

Plan enough time and avoid stress ⌚

If you are going to take the exam at a test center, make sure you show up early. It is not great if you have to rush into the exam room because you came late. The same applies when you are taking the exam from home. I like to be ready for the exam more-less half an hour before the exam starts. This gives me a little bit of time to get in exam mode and make my brain switch from the thing I was doing before, to the exam topic.

Get into the topic 📄

For some people switching context between different things isn’t a big deal. For me, it works best if I have some ‘stress-free’ time after the last thing I did, before getting into the exam mode. I usually do an extra round on Microsoft Docs to get my brain thinking about the right context.

Get comfortable 🛋

Make sure you are relaxed and ready for the exam at least half an hour before your exam is scheduled to start. Also, make sure you used the restroom, you had your coffee and water because you are not allowed to take a break during the exam, and you can’t have these things close to you during the exam. And again, be relaxed, if you don’t pass the exam it isn’t the end of the world, you can still retake the exam another time. That said, also make sure you take advantage of special offers, like exam replays.

Read the questions carefully 👓

Make sure you read the questions carefully, to understand what is really asked. It also helps you to navigate through the exam, usually, you can go back to specific questions later. However, in some cases, the exam will let you know that you cannot access the question later after you have clicked next.

Answer all questions and use the mark question feature ✔

Now, when you start with the exam, you will maybe find some topics you are not familiar with, and you might not be sure about the answer. In these cases, you can mark this question and come back to it later, so you don’t lose too much time on it. If you don’t know the answer, make sure you at least select an answer, it is always better to have a small chance in guessing the right answer, then not answering the question at all. If you want to know more about the different types of questions in a Microsoft exam, check out my blog, which has a couple of additional tips on how to prepare and pass the exam.

Write down what you have learned 📝

For me it doesn’t matter if I have passed the exam or not, I always write down things I didn’t know the answer to. This allows me to look them up later and learn more. Make sure you don’t share this information since that would violate the testing policies.

Do you have tips to take a Microsoft Azure Exam? 🤔

I hope this blog post gives you some useful tips on how to take a Microsoft Azure Certification exam. Do you have any suggestions and tips? Let me know in the comments!

By the way, make sure you take the 2020 IT Skills and Salary Survey from Global Knowledge and be one of the first to get the results of the report early next year.

Getting started! 🧪

Are you also interested in becoming Microsoft Azure Certified? Check out my blog posts about why you should become Microsoft Azure Certified and how to pick the right Azure exam certification path. And have a look at my Azure exam experience with the different Azure exams.



Ping Azure VM Public IP address

How to enable Ping (ICMP echo) on an Azure VM

This is just a very quick blog post because I got the question from a couple of people. In this blog post want to show you how you can enable ping (ICMP) on a public IP address of an Azure virtual machine (VM). First, just let me say that assigning a public IP address to a virtual machine can be a security risk. So if you do that, make sure you know what you are doing. If you need admin access to virtual machines only for a specific time, there are services like Azure Just-in-Time VM Access (JIT) and Azure Bastion you should have a look at. Now back to the topic, Azure by default denies and blocks all public inbound traffic to an Azure virtual machine, and also includes ICMP traffic. This is a good thing since it improves security by reducing the attack surface.

Azure Network Security Group Port Rules Deny All Inbound Traffic to Azure VM

Azure Network Security Group Port Rules Deny All Inbound Traffic to Azure VM

This also applies to pings or ICMP echo requests sent to Azure VMs.

Ping Azure VM failed

Ping Azure VM failed

However, if you need to access your application from a public IP address, you will need to allow the specific ports and protocols. The same applies to the ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) protocol. The ICMP protocol is typically used for diagnostic and is often used to troubleshoot networking issues. One of the diagnostic tools using ICMP is ping, which we all know and love.

What do I need to do to be able to ping my Azure virtual machines (VMs)

Overall we need to do two main steps:

Configure Network Security Group (NSG) to allow ICMP traffic

So here is how you enable or allow ping (ICMP) to an Azure VM. Click on add a new inbound port rule for the Azure network security group (NSG).

Enable Ping ICMP in a NSG on an Azure VM

Enable Ping ICMP in an NSG on an Azure VM

Change the protocol to ICMP. As you can see, you can also limit the sources which can make use of that rule, as well as change the name and description. You can also use the following Azure PowerShell commands to add the inbound security rule to your NSG.

Get-AzNetworkSecurityGroup -Name "AzureVM-WIN01-nsg" | Add-AzNetworkSecurityRuleConfig -Name ICMP-Ping -Description "Allow Ping" -Access Allow -Protocol ICMP -Direction Inbound -Priority 100 -SourceAddressPrefix * -SourcePortRange * -DestinationAddressPrefix * -DestinationPortRange * | Set-AzNetworkSecurityGroup
Configure Network Security Group PowerShell

Configure Network Security Group PowerShell

Set up the operating system to answer to Ping/ICMP echo request

If you haven’t already configured the operating system that way, you will need to allow ICMP traffic, so the operating system response to a ping. On Windows Server, this is disabled by default, and you need to configure the Windows Firewall. You can run the following command to allow ICMP traffic in the Windows Server operating system. In the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security, you can enable the Echo Request – ICMPv4-In or Echo Request ICMPv6-In rules, depending on if you need IPv4 or IPv6.

Windows Firewall Enable Ping

Windows Firewall Enable Ping

You can also run the following command to do that:

# For IPv4
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="ICMP Allow incoming V4 echo request" protocol="icmpv4:8,any" dir=in action=allow
 
#For IPv6
netsh advfirewall firewall add rule name="ICMP Allow incoming V6 echo request" protocol="icmpv6:8,any" dir=in action=allow

After doing both steps, you should be able to ping your Azure Virtual Machine (VM) using a public IP address.

Ping Azure VM Public IP address

Ping Azure VM Public IP address

I hope this helps you be able to ping your Azure VMs. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

How to Save Money on Azure using Azure Reservations

I wanted to quickly share something which existing for quite some time but talking with customers still a lot of people don’t know about it yet. And since yesterday the Azure team also shared some news on it, so it is the perfect time to have a look at Azure Reservations (Azure Reserved VM Instances or Reserved capacity). Usually, you pay Azure services in a Pay-As-You-Go model, which gives you the pricing flexibility and agility you expect from the cloud. But, a lot of customers have services like virtual machines or databases which need to run continuously for the next years. With purchasing reservations for these Azure services, you give the Azure team visibility into your one-year or three-year resource needs in advance, and this allows the Azure team to be more efficient with capacity planning. In return, reservations will give you back these savings to you as discounts of up to 72 percent.

The significant change which was announced yesterday is that there are now monthly payment options available for Azure reservations. Which means you can now pay reservations upfront or on a monthly basis. You can find more information about Azure Reservations on Microsoft Docs.

Azure Reservations Chart

Azure Reservations Chart

No worries, you can mix Azure reservations for your predictable capacity needs, with the Pay-As-You-Go model for your unpredictable capacity needs. While purchasing reservations is only a few simple steps in the Azure portal, we also understand that your workload and application needs may change, and exchanging reservations is easy. You can even cancel your reservation at any time and get the remaining months returned for a termination fee.

Azure Reservations are currently available as Azure reserved instances (RIs), for Windows and Linux virtual machines. As well as Azure reserved capacity for Azure data services, like Azure SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. But there are also a lot of other services available.

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Combining the Azure Reserved VM Instances and the Azure Hybrid Benefit, you even can save up to 80 percent. To learn more about Azure RIs or reserved capacity, check out the following pages:

To find out more about reservations, check out the Azure reservations page. You should also have a look at the lastest new options like the Azure Dedicated Host and VMware solutions on Azure. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.