Category: Private Cloud

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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.



Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was, more or less, datacenter grade hardware, it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not really the thing for a home lab on your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap and not very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. Mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features, are also making it a great option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today, there is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 released, get it now!

Microsoft announced Windows Server 2019 a while ago and also showed of a lot of new features and improvements at Microsoft Ignite last week. Today Microsoft announced the release of Windows Server 2019. Windows Server brings improvements in four key areas, such as Hybrid, Security, Application Platform and Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI). Together with Windows Admin Center, Windows Server 2019 becomes a powerful platform to run your workloads on-premise or in the cloud.

Update: Windows Server 2019 availability

On October 2, 2018, we announced the availability of Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809. Later that week, we paused the rollout of these new releases to investigate isolated reports of users missing files after updating to the latest Windows 10 feature update. We take any case of data loss seriously, so we proactively removed all related media from our channels as we started investigation of the reports and have now fixed all known related issues.

 

In addition to extensive internal validation, we have taken time to closely monitor feedback and diagnostic data from our Windows Insiders and from millions of devices on the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. There is no further evidence of data loss. Based on this data, today we are beginning the re-release of Windows Server 2019, Windows Server, version 1809, and the related versions of Windows 10.

 

Customers with a valid license of Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809 can download the media from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). Azure customers will see the Windows Server 2019 image available in the Azure Marketplace over the coming week. We are also working to make the Windows Server 2019 evaluation available on the Microsoft Eval Center. We will provide an update to this blog and our social channels once it’s available.

 

November 13, 2018 marks the revised start of the servicing timeline for both the Long-Term Servicing Channel and the Semi-Annual Channel. For more information please visit the Support Lifecycle page.

Source: Microsoft

Windows Server 2019 Investments

You can also read more about Windows Server innovations on my blog:

I have some other blog post in the pipeline, covering new features in Windows Server 2019.

Download Windows Server 2019

You can download and get Windows Server 2019 form different Microsoft source:

MSDN and the Microsoft Partner Network will get Windows Server 2019 later in October.

At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft showed also some great Windows Server demos and I hope you check it out!



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.



Thomas Maurer Speaking at Experts Live

Speaking at Experts Live Europe 2018 in Prague

You must have heard about the awesome conference in the heart of Europe, called Experts Live Europe. Today, I am honored and proud to announce that I will be speaking at Experts Live Europe 2018 in Prague at October 24.-26. Since the first European edition back in 2013, I have presented several sessions at each event previously hosted in Bern, Basel and Berlin. I will speak about my favorite topic Azure Stack and will also present another session about Windows Server. The timing of Experts Live Europe is great this year (October), which allows me and other speakers to present the latest updates learned and shared at Microsoft Ignite (September).

I am also excited about the new location. After Bern and Basel in Switzerland, and two years in Berlin, Germany, Experts Live Europe comes to the beautiful city of Prague.

My Sessions at Experts Live Europe 2018

I am proud to present two sessions to cover topics like Azure, Azure Stack, Windows Server and Hyper-V.

Azure Stack - Your Cloud Your Datacenter

Microsoft released Azure Stack as an 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 2019 - The Next Generation of Software-Defined Datacenter

Join this session for the best of Windows Server 2019, about the new innovation and improvements of Windows Server. Learn how Microsoft enhances the SDDC feature like Hyper-V, Storage and Networking and get the most out of the new Azure Hybrid Integration and Container features. 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 in Windows Server 2019 and the Semi-Annual Channel including: ○ Windows Server Containers ○ Azure Integration ○ Hyper-V features ○ Storage ○ Networking ○ Security ○ Windows Server Containers And more!

Besides 2 days of break out sessions, you will also have one extra day with three great technical workshops about Cloud Security, Workplace and Automation.

About Experts Live Europe

Experts Live Europe is one of Europe’s largest community conferences with a focus on Microsoft cloud, datacenter and workplace management. Top experts from around the world present discussion panels, ask-the-experts sessions and breakout sessions and cover the latest products, technologies and solutions. It’s the time of the year to learn, network, share and make valuable connections.

 

Experts Live VIP Party in the Cloud

The famous Speakers & Sponsors VIP Party of Experts Live Europe will take place on Wednesday, October 24th. This is a great opportunity to network with our speakers and sponsors in a fun and easy-going setting. Tickets for the VIP Party are limited due to location capacity, so if you don’t want to miss out, make sure you register fast!
The VIP Party will take place in Cloud9 Sky Bar & Lounge, at the rooftop of the Hilton hotel in Prague. The Sky Bar is famous for its stunning panorama views of the city, the signature cocktails, the rooftop terrace and the vibrant atmosphere.

It still takes a couple of months until October, but I am already very excited for another Experts Live Conference. I really hope to see you there, so make sure you get a ticket as soon as possible!



Microsoft MVP Award 2018

Microsoft MVP 2018-2019 Cloud and Datacenter Management

I am proud to announce that I was awarded today by Microsoft, with the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for 2018-2019 in two major categories Cloud and Datacenter Management and Microsoft Azure. This is my 7th Microsoft MVP award since 2012, and I couldn’t be more excited about this one.

Dear

Thomas Maurer,

We’re once again pleased to present you with the 2018-2019 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in recognition of your exceptional technical community leadership. We appreciate your outstanding contributions in the following technical communities during the past year:

 

·   Cloud and Datacenter Management

The Microsoft MVP award title is a huge honor and it stand for the contributions I have been doing in the IT community as an Microsoft expert for the past years. The Microsoft MVP award also comes with some benefits, like a NDA and access to the Microsoft Product Groups, as well as the yearly Microsoft MVP Global Summit on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond. But one of the biggest benefit overall is that it gives you the opportunity to speak at different conferences all over the world. This and having the chance to speak with people from all over the world, which share the same passion is priceless.

Who are MVPs?

Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs, are technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community. They are always on the “bleeding edge” and have an unstoppable urge to get their hands on new, exciting technologies. They have very deep knowledge of Microsoft products and services, while also being able to bring together diverse platforms, products and solutions, to solve real world problems. MVPs make up a global community of over 4,000 technical experts and community leaders across 90 countries and are driven by their passion, community spirit, and quest for knowledge. Above all and in addition to their amazing technical abilities, MVPs are always willing to help others – that’s what sets them apart.

 

Source https://mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/Overview

I need to thank many people which are helping me to achieve this and making the most out of it. I would like to thank my employer itnetX which is supporting me in the best possible way all these years, my current and former colleagues from which I can learn a lot, the Microsoft MVP community and of course Microsoft employees in Redmond and all over the world, to work with us and collect feedback. Last but definitely not least, I have to thank my girlfriend, which not only helps me out with many things, but also needs to be patient, with my extra work so many times. She is also one of my biggest and also most critical supporters. She helps me to understand things better, promote my activities better, fixing my blog post 😉 and makes all the traveling more joyful.

If you want to know more about the Microsoft MVP Program, check out the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional website.



Global Azure Bootcamp Switzerland 2018

Speaking about Azure Stack at the Global Azure Bootcamp Switzerland 2018

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking at this years Global Azure Bootcamp Switzerland 2018. Global Azure Bootcamp Switzerland is a full day conference about the Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing Platform. The event is taking place in Zurich on 21st April 2018. It is free and open for everybody to join.

Around the world, user groups and communities want to learn about Azure and Cloud Computing. On April 21, all communities will come together once again for a great Global Azure Bootcamp event. Each user group will organize their own one day deep dive class on Azure the way they see fit and how it works for their members. The result is that thousands of people get to learn about Azure and join together online under the social hashtag #GlobalAzure.

If you would like to read more about the worldwide movement, please visit: Global Azure Bootcamp

In my session I will speak about Microsoft Azure Stack

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).

It is going to be a great event, hopefully see you there! The event is already sold out, but if you want to learn more about Azure and Azure Stack in Switzerland, I recommend that you join ExpertsLive Switzerland. But register quickly, there are also only a few tickets left.