Category: Windows

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

As you know Windows Admin Center enables you to not just manage Windows Server machines with a web-based user interface, but also to easily connect Azure Hybrid services to your on-premises Windows Server environment. Windows Admin Center allows you to connect services like Azure File Sync, Azure Update Management, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery and many more to your Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment. With the latest release of Windows Admin Center (WAC) which was announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019, we get another hybrid cloud feature. We get a new Azure Cloud Shell extension in Windows Admin Center. Azure Cloud Shell is an interactive, authenticated, browser-accessible shell for managing Azure resources. It provides the flexibility of choosing the shell experience that best suits the way you work, either Bash or PowerShell. We are able to use Cloud Shell directly from the Azure portal, shell.azure.com, in Visual Studio Code, in the new Windows Terminal or even in the Azure mobile app. Now with the new solution/extension, administrators can also run Cloud Shell directly within WAC.

How to run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

First, you will need to enable and install the new Azure Cloud Shell solution. For that open Windows Admin Center, go to Settings and in the menu click on Extensions.

Extensions

Extensions

Under available extensions, you will find the new Azure Cloud Shell (Preview) extension. Click on Install, the WAC portal will refresh automatically.

After the page has refreshed, the Cloud Shell option will show up in the top menu.

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

If you start Azure Cloud Shell for the first time, you will need to login to Azure.

After that, you can run the PowerShell or Bash experience, depending on what you prefer. You also have access to the clouddrive which comes with Cloud Shell.

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

In that, you can run tools like the Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell and much more. If you want to learn more about Azure Cloud Shell, check out my blog post, Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell. Windows Admin Center is a free download to use with your Windows Servers, you can download Windows Admin Center here. If you want to know more about the Hybrid capabilities, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you can run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Azure Hybrid

Azure Arc – Cloud-native Management for Hybrid Cloud

Azure Hybrid is not just Azure Stack, it also includes a couple of other Azure Hybrid services like Azure Update Management, Azure File Sync and many more. Today, Microsoft will extend the hybrid cloud solutions in Azure and announced Azure Arc, which is designed to extend Azure Management to any infrastructure. In the new world where organizations run servers, containers, and applications across multi-cloud environments, on-premises locations, and the edge, managing these hybrid resources becomes challenging. Azure Arc enables cloud-native Azure management across any infrastructure and also allows you to run Azure data services to be deployed anywhere. It includes hybrid server management, Kubernetes and Azure data services.

Azure Arc Overview

Azure Arc Overview

As you can see Azure Arc consists of a set of different technologies and components like:

  • Organize and govern all your servers – Azure Arc extends Azure management to physical and virtual servers anywhere. Govern and manage servers from a single scalable management pane. You can learn more about Azure Arc for servers here.
  • Manage Kubernetes apps at scale – Deploy and configure Kubernetes applications consistently across all your environments with modern DevOps techniques.
  • Run data services anywhere – Deploy Azure data services in moments, anywhere you need them. Get simpler compliance, faster response times, and better security for your data. You can learn more here.
  • Adopt cloud technologies on-premises – Bringing cloud-native management to your hybrid environment.

In this blog post, we will have a closer look at hybrid server management. If you want to know more about Azure Arc, check out the announcement blog post by Jeremy Winter, Director of Program Management, Microsoft Azure.

Cloud-native Azure management for hybrid environments with Azure Arc

By extending Azure Resource Manager to support hybrid cloud environments, Azure Arc to make it easier to implement cloud security across environments with centralized role-based access control, security policies. Azure Management provides you now with a single control plane for Azure native and Azure Arc resources.

Azure Management Overview

Azure Management Overview

Hybrid Server Management

Today Azure Arc allows you to onboard physical and virtual servers in your hybrid environment (on-premises, edge, and multi-cloud). By joining serves to Azure Arc, you get the benefits you are used from native Azure resources, like tags, RBAC, and many more. In the preview, you can now use Azure Management services like Azure Log Analytics and Azure Policy to make sure your servers are compliant across your hybrid environment.

Hybrid Server Management

Hybrid Server Management

I had the chance to have a very early chat with Jian Yan from the Azure Management team, a couple of weeks ago, about hybrid server management. Check out the video here:

Join the Preview

Azure Arc for Server is currently in public preview, while you can sign up for the preview to manage Kubernetes and data services. To enable hybrid server management, you must register the required Resource Providers.

  • Microsoft.HybridCompute
  • Microsoft.GuestConfiguration

You can register the resource providers with the following Azure PowerShell commands:

Login-AzAccount
Set-AzContext -SubscriptionId [subscription you want to onboard]
Register-AzResourceProvider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.HybridCompute
Register-AzResourceProvider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.GuestConfiguration

or with Azure CLI:

az account set --subscription "{Your Subscription Name}"
az provider register --namespace 'Microsoft.HybridCompute'
az provider register --namespace 'Microsoft.GuestConfiguration'

You can also run them from Azure Cloud Shell. If you want to know more, check out the following Microsoft Docs article.

Onboarding Servers to Azure Arc

As mentioned we will have a closer look here at how you can onboard Linux and Windows Server to Azure Arc. To onboard a server which can run Linux or Windows, physical or virtual, and can run on-premises or at another service provider, you open Azure Arc in the Azure Portal. There you can select manage servers.

Azure Arc Portal

Azure Arc Portal

Here you will see your existing servers which you have on-boarded.

Azure Arc Server in Portal

Azure Arc Server in Portal

 

You can click on Add, to add another server. You will be able to add a single server or get instructions to onboard servers at scale.

Add server to Azure Arc

Add server to Azure Arc

Here you can go through a wizard that will help you to generate a script, which you can copy or download to run it on your server. You can select the subscription and resource group, as well as the region where you want to join your server.

You will also be able to configure a proxy server if your server is behind a proxy. Since this will use the Azure Resource Manager, you will also be able to use tags. After you are done with the wizard, you are able to download or copy the command to run that on your server.

Generate Script

Generate Script

After you have run that command on your on-premises server, your server will show up as an Azure resource in a couple of minutes.

Use Windows Admin Center to onboard a server to Azure Arc

Windows Admin Center and Azure Stack HCI

Windows Admin Center and Azure Stack HCI

If you are using Windows Admin Center on Windows Server or with Azure Stack HCI, you can also onboard servers directly from there. Go to the settings of the server and click on Azure Arc. Now you can sign in and select the specific subscription and resource group.

More

If you want to know more about the Azure Hybrid announcements at Microsoft Ignite 2019, check out the blog post of Julia White. If you want to know more about Azure Arc, check out the blog post from Jeremy Winter. If you have any questions about it feel free to leave a comment, or if you are at Microsoft Ignite, feel free to talk to me and the Azure team.

I will also host a Microsoft Ignite Live interview with Jian Yan, which you can watch live in Orlando or online.

Microsoft Ignite Live

Azure is built from the ground up to manage at-scale, cross-geography environments with multiple operational models and DevOps patterns. The vision is to keep Azure at the center of the enterprise as the control plane for governance, management, and modern development and bring the Azure management capabilities and services to any customer environment. In this session, we demo one of the extension services to enable you to bring servers from anywhere to Azure, and use Azure to get a compliance view for all your server assets.



New Windows Server Performance Monitor

New Performance Monitor for Windows Server

In this blog post, I am going to show you the new Windows Performance Monitor feature in Windows Admin Center. This feature was announced publicly at Microsoft Ignite 2019. But before we are going to have a look at the new Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor extension, it is time for some history. If you have worked with Windows or Windows Server in the past, you almost certainly have used a tool called perfmon.exe, or Windows Performance Monitor.

You can use Windows Performance Monitor to examine how programs affect your computer’s performance, both in real-time and by collecting log data for later analysis. It uses performance counters, event trace data, and configuration information, which can be combined into Data Collector Sets. Perfmon exists already for a long time. It is super powerful for troubleshooting Windows. However, it is definitely if you look at the classic MMC user-interface and the user-experience in general, probably not your favorite tool to use. That is why we needed something better.

Perfmon

Perfmon.exe

Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that provides tools for analyzing system performance. From a single console, you can monitor application and hardware performance in real time, customize what data you want to collect in logs, define thresholds for alerts and automatic actions, generate reports, and view past performance data in a variety of ways.

You can find more about the classic perfmon.exe here.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Windows Server Program Manager Cosmos Darwin, who works at great features in Windows Server like Storage Spaces Direct. He asked me if I remember my feedback item in user voice, which I created a couple of years ago.

Windows Server Windows Admin Center User Voice Feedback

Windows Server Windows Admin Center User Voice Feedback

Back then, I wasn’t working for Microsoft, but I was working in a couple of different projects where we were using Windows Server and needed to build a real-time performance monitoring system. Which allowed us to monitor remote servers and clusters.

And here it is, the shiny new Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor extension. This new UI is integrated into the web-based Windows Admin Center management tool.

Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Windows Admin Center Performance Monitor

Using the Performance Monitor extension in Windows Admin Center uses the same performance data as perfmon, like performance counters, which means that it will just work with your existing configuration. However, it adds a couple of benefits. No worries, the classic perfmon.exe is still there for you to use it.

  • Easy Remoting ✔ – You can easily use it on your remote machine. Windows Admin Center uses PowerShell remoting in the background to connect to the remote computer.
  • Share Workspaces ✔ – You can create workspaces that you can save and use for multiple systems within the same Windows Admin Center instance. But you can also export them and import them on other Windows Admin Center gateway installations.
    Upload and Download Workspaces

    Upload and Download Workspaces

  • Search and highlighting ✔ – You can easily search for objects and counters. Performance Monitor also highlights the useful objects for your system. So you don’t have to guess which counter to use.
    Performance Monitor Search Counter

    Performance Monitor Search Counter

  • Different Graph Types ✔ – You can use different types of graphs, which make it easier to find and compare the right information depending on your scenario.
    Min-Max View

    Min-Max View

    Windows Server Performance Monitor Heatmap

    Windows Server Performance Monitor Heatmap

     

I hope this gives you a quick overview of the new Performance Monitor extension in Windows Admin Center. You can get Windows Admin Center from here. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. There is also a short survey, about different tools like perfmon, this will directly influence the work on Windows Admin Center. You can check out the official announcement blog here.

By the way, Windows Admin Center also offers a great set of Azure Hybrid services integration. Check out my blog post and videos about the Azure Hybrid services in Windows Admin Center.



Azure Stack Migration Series YouTube Playlist

Learn about Azure Stack Migration in this Video Series

Together with Tiberiu Radu from the Azure Stack Product Group, I worked on a series of videos to show how you can migrate workloads to Microsoft Azure Stack. This includes basic workloads like Active Directory Domain Controllers, File Servers, and SQL Servers. We are not only adding videos about Azure Stack Migration, but we also added a couple of tips on how you can take advantage of some of the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) features on Azure Stack, like Azure Resource Manager templates and extensions.

The journey to the cloud provides many options, features, functionalities, as well as opportunities to improve existing governance, operations, implement new ones, and even redesign the applications to take advantage of the cloud architectures.
This video series was created in the context of the End of Support (EOS) motion for Windows Server 2008/2008R2 and SQL Server 2008/2008R2, with the target to highlight some of the migration options. The EOS program could be a good opportunity to start this process and it’s not only about the lift-and-shift or move your servers and forget about them, instead it could be the start of a modernization journey. As part of the EOS motion, Azure VMs running Windows 2008/R2 and SQL 2008/R2 on Azure and Azure Stack, offer 3 years of free Extended Support Updates. That means you can enable the same operational processes, use ARM templates, and use the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform on both Azure and Azure Stack, to start this journey.
– Tiberiu Radu

Azure Stack Migration Introduction

Check out my Azure Stack Migration introduction video, which will give you a quick overview of migrating workloads to Azure Stack.

Video Series

You can find the full playlist with the complete Azure Stack Migration video series on YouTube.

Azure Stack Migration Series YouTube Playlist

Azure Stack Migration Series YouTube Playlist

If you want to read more, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com. There we have some detailed blogs on these videos. I also recommend that you check out the IaaS blog series from the Azure Stack team, which includes different features around running virtual machines on Azure Stack.

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



Connect Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

How to manage Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center is a browser-based management tool to manage your servers, clusters, hyper-converged infrastructure, and Windows 10 PCs. You can deploy it anywhere you want. If you run on-prem, you can install it on a Windows Server running in your infrastructure, or you can also install Windows Admin Center on an Azure virtual machine (VM). In this post, we want to address scenarios where you have deployed Windows Admin Center on-premises, and you want to manage some Azure VMs. In this post, I am going to show you how you can manage Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center (WAC).

If you want to know more about Windows Admin Center in general, check out my blog post.

How to manage Azure IaaS VMs with your on-premises Windows Admin Center gateway

As mentioned before, you can also install a Windows Admin Center server running on Azure IaaS virtual machine, but more on that in another post. In this post, I will cover how you can connect to an Azure VM from your on-prem Windows Admin Center (WAC) installation. There are two ways you can connect from WAC to Azure VMs.

The first one would be using the public IP address of a virtual machine running in Azure. This would mean that you need to open the PowerShell remoting port in the network security group (NSG), to be able to connect. I wouldn’t recommend this scenario since this exposes your virtual machines to the public internet. However, if you want to know more about that solution, check out the Microsoft Docs.

What I wound recommend is that you use a VPN connection to connect to your Azure virtual network where your VM is running. However, I know that in a lot of cases, you might not have a Site-2-Site VPN connection to your Azure virtual network. To still be able to connect form Windows Admin Center to an Azure VM, you can use the Azure Network Adapter feature. The Azure Network Adapter will create a Point-2-Site VPN connection from your Windows Server to Azure. And we are going to use this feature on our WAC gateway, so the WAC gateway is able to reach the virtual machine in Azure.

Add Azure Network Adapter

Add Azure Network Adapter

First, you will need to add a new Azure Network Adapter. This can be done in the Network extension in Windows Admin Center. This will open up a wizard that will guide you through the setup and if needed also helps you to register WAC in Microsoft Azure.

Create Azure Network Adapter

Create Azure Network Adapter

The setup can take a while, depending on if you already have a VPN gateway in Azure or not. WAC will create all the necessary resources in Azure, and create the Point-to-Site VPN connection for you. Also, keep in mind that the VPN gateway is an additional resource and will have an additional cost.

Connect to an Azure Virtual network

Connect to an Azure Virtual network

Now you can add and connect to your virtual machine running in Azure, using the private IP address of the machine.

Connect Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

Connect Azure VMs with Windows Admin Center

You add a server by directly entering the IP address or you can use the Add Azure Virtual Machine wizard, to discover the VM in your Azure subscription.

Add Azure VM in Windows Admin Center

Add Azure VM in Windows Admin Center

I hope this helps you to connect your Azure virtual machines security without exposing ports to the public internet. If you have a site-to-site VPN connection to your Azure virtual network, you can use this as well without the need of setting up Azure Network Adapter.

If you are interested in other Azure Hybrid services in Windows Admin Center, check out the following blog post including the video series: Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center

Besides, you can also have a look at my other blog post about how to set up Azure hybrid cloud services.

If you want to download Windows Admin Center, check out the download page. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



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.



Reset and Reinstall Windows 10 using Cloud download

Reset and Reinstall Windows 10 from the Cloud

In the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build you have a new feature called Windows 10 Cloud Reset. This new feature helps you to reset and reinstall your Windows 10 machine from the cloud. The feature first showed up in Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18970 which are preview releases of Windows 10 20H1. If you wanted to reset or reinstall your Windows 10 machine, you already had the option doing that from your local installed copy of Windows 10 and reusing existing Windows files to construct a fresh copy. Or if you wanted a completely fresh install of your Windows 10 machine, you needed to download Windows and create a USB stick to boot from. The new Cloud download option in the Windows 10 recovery settings, allows you to get the best of both worlds.

Reset and reinstall Windows 10 using the cloud download feature ☁

The new Windows cloud download feature allows you to reinstall Windows 10 using fresh Windows installation files from the cloud. There is no need for a recovery partition or create a USB drive.

Brandon LeBlanc from the Windows team wrote about the benefits of using cloud download for the reset or fresh installation:

  • A more reliable way to reinstall Windows ✅
  • Depending on your internet speed it can be faster ✅
  • No need for a USB stick or DVD ✅

There are two options to reset from the cloud. First, if you have a running copy of Windows 10 and you want to do a fresh installation, you can use the recovery.

How to reset your Windows 10 PC from the cloud in the recovery settings 💻

Reset and Reinstall Windows 10 using Cloud download

Reset and Reinstall Windows 10 using Cloud download

If you have currently a running Windows 10 machine and you want to initiate a reset or reinstallation from with the cloud download option, you can do this through the Windows settings.

  • Open Settings
  • Go to Update & Security
  • Click on Recovery
  • On the recovery screen, select Get started
  • Choose between Keep my files or Remove everything
  • Now you can select Cloud download or Local reinstallation
  • If you select Cloud download, this will use Windows Update to download the fresh Windows files

How to reinstall Windows 10 from the cloud if you can’t boot

Windows RE recovery cloud download

Windows RE recovery cloud download

In the case that you are not able to boot your Windows 10 machine anymore, you can start your reinstallation using cloud download from Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE).

  • Click on Troubleshoot
  • Click on Reset this PC
  • Choose between Keep my files or Remove everything
  • Now you can select Cloud download or Local reinstallation
  • This will need drivers for the network adapter in the Windows RE image. Most of the time you have drivers for the wired connection. It might also work with wireless network connection depending on the drivers loaded by the PC vendor in the Windows RE image.

Conclusion

Cloud download is a great new option to reset and reinstall your Windows 10 machine, and getting it back to a healthy and fresh installation. This is just another great new feature in Windows 10 like other improvements we have seen over the last couple of years.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment and use the Feedback Hub.

Check out other Windows 10 improvements like: