Category: System Center

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.



Thomas Maurer Speaking at Experts Live Europe

Speaking at Experts Live Europe 2019 in Prague

Today, I am proud to announce that I will be speaking at Experts Live Europe 2019 in Prague on November 20 – 22, 2019. This is a great honor, and it will be my 7th Experts Live Europe event I am speaking at, all the way back to the first event, when it still was called System Center Universe Europe. I have presented several sessions at each event previously hosted in Bern, Basel, Berlin, and Prague. This will be the second time Experts Live Europe will be hosted in the beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic. I am looking forward to speaking at this Microsoft community event again. The conference has a strong focus on Microsoft Cloud, Datacenter, Security, and Modern Workplace topics and brings together the community from all over the world.

This year the conference will be three days again, with a pre-conference day including a couple of different pre-conference deep dives, as well as two main conference days with over 70 breakout sessions in 6 parallel tracks. This year the conference will have not only over 40 top expert speakers but also a vast Microsoft presence. You will not just find Microsoft Cloud Advocates and Program Managers, but people from all across the organization. Guess what, this is a perfect time to connect and network with us, but also with other members of the Microsoft community.

Another big highlight for me this year is the track specifically focusing on Windows Server and System Center, presented by Cloud Advocates, Program Managers, and Microsoft MVPs.

My sessions at Experts Live Europe 2019

I am happy that I will be speaking at Experts Live Europe 2019 in a couple of different sessions, and speaking about different technologies and topics like Azure Arc, Hyper-V, Windows Server 2019, Azure Stack and Certification.

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 and Windows Admin Center. Learn how Microsoft enhances the SDDC feature like Hyper-V, Storage, and Networking and get the most out of the new Azure Hybrid Cloud Integration and Container features. You’ll get an overview of 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 Admin Center And more!

How to become Azure Certified!

With Cloud Computing becoming more and more important, proofing your skills and becoming certified will not only boost your career but will also make you more successful in your job! In this session, you will learn why you should become Microsoft Azure Certified, what different Azure exam certification paths there are available, how you prepare, take, and pass an exam. This session will focus on the overall available Microsoft Azure Certifications.

Azure Stack Experts Panel

Join this global list of Azure Stack Experts for an open question and answer session as we discuss real world scenarios.

Altaro: Supercharging with Hyper-V

There are some cool features in Hyper-V you should definitely know about! In this session, Thomas Maurer will talk about “hidden” Hyper-V features everyone should know about. This covers different features for Hyper-V on Windows Server as well as on Windows 10, like Containers, Windows Sandbox, WSL 2, VM Gallery and much more. Be prepared for a lot of demos!

Bring Azure services and management to any infrastructure with Azure Arc

For customers who want to simplify complex and distributed environments across on-premises, edge and multi-cloud, Azure Arc enables deployment of Azure services anywhere and extends Azure management to any infrastructure. In this session, Thomas Maurer will demonstrate the new Azure Arc capabilities for your Hybrid environment.

If you want to know more about the event and register, check out the Experts Live Europe website. I hope to see you in Prague!



System Center 2019 Download

System Center 2019 now generally available!

A couple of weeks a go the System Center team announced that System Center 2019 will be available in March 2019. Today is the good day, the general availability of System Center 2019 is announced. You can now download the LTSC release in the MSDN and the VLSC portal, and if you want to have a summary about what is new in System Center 2019, you can read my blog: System Center 2019 – What’s new

This will bring several enhancements around datacenter management, Windows Server 2019 support and Microsoft Azure integration. If you want to know more about what is new in Windows Server 2019 or Windows Admin Center, check out my blog posts.

As customers grow their deployments in the public cloud and on-premises data centers, management tools are evolving to meet customer needs. System Center suite continues to play an important role in managing the on-premises data center and the evolving IT needs with the adoption of the public cloud.

Today, I am excited to announce that Microsoft System Center 2019 will be generally available in March 2019. System Center 2019 enables deployment and management of Windows Server 2019 at a larger scale to meet your data center needs.

Download System Center 2019

You can download System Center 2019 from different Microsoft portals, depending on your needs:

I wish you all happy downloading and updating. If you have any question around System Center, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email.

As always, we would love to hear what capabilities and enhancements you’d like to see in our future releases. Please share your suggestions, and vote on submitted ideas, through our UserVoice channels.

Also check out the full System Center documentation at Microsoft Docs.



System Center Journey

System Center 2019 – What’s new

Microsoft just launched Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center, which also raised the interest in System Center 2019. At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft was talking about what is new in System Center 2019, the future of System Center, and how it fits in with Windows Admin Center and other management tools.

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Story

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Overview

With Microsoft now offering a range of products to manage your Cloud and Datacenter environments, the question comes up “which is the best solution?”. It is not only depending on the size of your company, it also depends on which services you are using and what your job role is. Coming from the Azure site, you have Azure Security and Management, which allows you not only to manage your Azure resources but also integrates and extends with your on-premises environment. System Center is aimed to manage datacenter environments at scale, and Windows Admin Center helps you to dig deeper to manage individual servers or single cluster management. Both Windows Admin Center and System Center 2019, can be used side by side and both are integrated into Microsoft Azure.

System Center Windows Admin Center better together

System Center vs Windows Admin Center

I often get the question, does Windows Admin Center replace System Center? The answer to this is no, System Center is aimed to do management at a datacenter scale, while Windows Admin Center is giving you deep management access to a single server or clusters. In small environments you might end up using Windows Admin Center only, but in larger datacenter deployments, you are likely to use a combination of System Center and Windows Admin Center.

System Center 2019 Suite Improvements

System Center 2019 Focus

The System Center 2019 release focuses on three main areas. First of all, it adds more capabilities to the existing components and features which were requested by customers. Secondly, it brings integration for the next version of Windows Server, Windows Server 2019 and brings new Windows Server features to life in System Center. Last but not least, System Center 2019 adds more Hybrid Cloud integrations with Microsoft Azure.



SCOM Days 2018

Speaking at SCOM Days 2018 Gothenburg

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking at the Swedish SCOM-dagen 2018 conference in Gothenburg. This years main topic of the SCOM-dagen or SCOM Days 2018, is Hybrid Cloud Monitoring. In my session I will cover an overview about Azure Stack and than focus on Azure Stack operations and monitoring.

The SCOM Days 2018 will take place on October 10 in Gothenburg. This will be the first time at SCOM Days and I am already very exited. I heard a lot of great things about this event, and of course I am also happy to visit Gothenburg for the first time.

SCOM Day attracts Operations Manager users from all over Sweden. Since the start in 2014, SCOM Day has turned into being the most popular event for the Swedish System Center Operations Manager community.

My Session at SCOM Days

Azure Stack Operations

Already looking forward to this event, and hopefully meet you there!



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.



Windows Server 2019

Microsoft announces Windows Server 2019 and System Center 2019

Microsoft today announced the next Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release for Windows Server called Windows Server 2019. In a blog post today, Erin Chapple, Director of Program Management Windows Server, announced the Windows Server 2019, which will be available in the second half of calendar year 2018. You can try out a Windows Server Preview build through the Windows Server Insider Program today. Microsoft also mentions that System Center 2019 will be available to manage Windows Server 2019 infrastructures.

Windows Server 2019 is built on the foundation of Windows Server 2016 and focuses on a couple of key scenarios. Microsoft in four key areas, Hybrid Cloud, Security, Application Platform and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI).

Windows Server 2019 – Hybrid Cloud Improvements

Project Honolulu Server Overview

As of today Hybrid Cloud is more real than ever. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft is focusing to improve the customer experience in a hybrid cloud world. Taking advantage of public cloud innovation such as Artificial Intelligence and IoT, and connecting them with on-premise services is a huge enabler for customers. At Microsoft Ignite 2017, Microsoft showed of the Technical Preview of Project Honolulu, a web-based management console for Windows Server. One of the goals of Project Honolulu is to connect Windows Server deployments with Azure services. Together with Windows Server 2019 and Project Honolulu, you can easily integrate services like Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery and much more.

Windows Server 2019 – Security

Security was already one of the big investments in Windows Server 2016. Microsoft does not stop there. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft brings various security improvements like Shielded Virtual Machine support for Linux VMs and Encrypted Virtual Networks. One of my favorite improvements is the possibility to integrate with Windows Defender Advanced Thread Protection (ATP). ATP was first available for Windows 10 and provides preventative protection, detects attacks and zero-day exploits among other capabilities, into the operating system. This gives customers access to deep kernel and memory sensors, improving performance and anti-tampering, and enabling response actions on server machines.

Windows Server 2019 – Application Platform

Ubuntu on Windows Server using WSL

One of the key focus of Microsoft for Windows Server, was always on the developer experience. Microsoft brings a couple of improvements to make it the best application platform out there. Microsoft invests in a couple of scenarios such as bringing the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to Windows Server. Another key investment area are Windows Server Containers and Windows Server Container images. In Windows Server 2019, Microsoft reduces the Server Core base container image to a third of its current size of 5 GB. This will reduce download time of the image by 72%, further optimizing the development time and performance. Another key improvement in terms of Container support is the integration and support for Container orchestrators like Kubernetes.

Windows Server 2019 – Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)

The 4th improvement area is the Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). With Windows Server 2016 Microsoft released a new feature called Storage Spaces Direct. Together with Hyper-V and other Microsoft technologies, this was great to build you own infrastructure for your virtualization workloads. Windows Server 2019 will bring a lot of improvements for Storage Spaces Direct, Hyper-V and other related technologies. Microsoft is adding scale, performance, and reliability to the platform. Microsoft also partnered with hardware vendors to provide an affordable and yet extremely robust HCI solution with validated design.

What else?

  • Windows Server will be GA (generally available) in the second half of calendar year 2018.
  • Windows Server will be a LTSC release. LTSC will be the recommended version of Windows Server for most infrastructure scenarios and workloads like SQL Server, SharePoint and Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter solutions.
  • With the LTSC release of Windows Server 2019, Microsoft will allow customers to use the Server with Desktop Experience as well as Windows Server Core. With the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) release, Microsoft only provides the Windows Server Core option.
  • There will be another Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) release at the same time as Windows Server 2019 focusing on Container innovations. The SAC releases will be supported as before for 18 months, while the LTSC releases follow the normal 5+5 year support.
  • Licensing will use the same model as Windows Server 2016 today, Microsoft mentions that it is likely that they will increase the pricing for Windows Sevrer Client Access Licensing (CAL), but will share more details later.

With that we can all be very excited for the next LTSC version of Windows Server. Until then the next SAC release of Windows Server, called Windows Server 1803, will be available this spring. The Windows Server, version 1803 will focus on container improvements. If you want to try out, Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 1803, you can join the Windows Server Insider Program.