Category: Windows Server 2016

Azure File Sync Windows Admin Center

Sync File Servers with Azure File Sync in Windows Admin Center

One of the biggest challenges a lot of customers are facing, is the capability to provide access to files everywhere and have DR plans in place. This becomes especially true when you are dealing with classic file server infrastructures. Where it is difficult to manage capacity, availability, replication and much more. The Azure Storage team is addressing that need with Azure File Sync. Azure File Sync allows you to sync your file servers with an Azure Files. Azure File is a simple, secure, and fully managed cloud file share solution, using SMB 3.0 and HTTPS.

Azure File Sync

In addtion the service allows customer to use functionality like:

  • Cloud Tiering
  • Cloud Access
  • Multi-site Sync
  • Cloud Backup
  • Rapid File Server DR

In this post I will cover how, Windows Admin Center will help you to deploy Azure File Sync, if you want to know more, check out the Azure File Sync documentation page.

Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

Configure Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

With the Hybrid Cloud effort Microsoft invested heavy to make Windows Server and Hyper-V better connect to Microsoft Azure. One way of doing that is with Windows Admin Center and Azure Site Recovery. The Azure Site Recovery integration in Windows Admin Center, allows you to easily replicate Hyper-V virtual machines to Microsoft Azure. The technology is not new, ASR does exist for a long time and allows you to not only replicate Hyper-V VMs, but also VMware VMs and physical servers. However, with the integration in Windows Admin Center, setting up Azure Site Recovery became super easy.

Set up Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

In the Virtual Machines extension, you can already see a recommendation to setup ASR: “Help protect your VMs from disasters by using Azure Site Recovery.” Which will guide you through the onboarding steps. If you don’t see that banner, just click on the VM you want to protect and replicate to Azure. Click on More and select “Set up VM Protection“, this will guide you through the same wizard.

If you haven’t connected your Windows Admin Center to Microsoft Azure yet, the wizard will help you to go through and set up this connection.

Setup up Hyper-V ASR Host with Windows Admin Cenetr

After your WAC is connected to Azure, you will now setup Azure Site Recovery for the Hyper-V host in Azure. This can directly be done from Windows Admin Center. For example, this will let you select the Azure Subscription you want ASR to connect to. It will let you create a new Resource Group and Recovery Services Vault or use an existing one. After you have done the configuration part, WAC will create the specific Azure resources and configure the Hyper-V host for Azure Site Recovery. This can take up to 10 minutes depending if you are using existing resources or creating new once.

If you have a look at the Hyper-V Replica settings in Hyper-V Manager, you will see that ASR is completely setup and configured.

Windows Admin Center Azure Monitor Setup

Connect Windows Admin Center to Azure Monitor

As mentioned in blogs posts before, Windows Admin Center allows admins to extend there on-prem environments with hybrid Azure services. The latest addition is the integration of Azure Monitor in Windows Admin Center. This allows you to collect events and performance counters from Windows Server to run analytics and reporting in Azure and take action when a particular condition is detected. This can then be a notification (SMS, email, push notification) and/or a direct action using Azure Logic Apps, Azure Functions, Azure Automation Runbooks, webhooks or integration into ITSM tools.

Setup monitoring and alerts in Windows Admin Center with Azure Monitor

Windows Admin Center Azure Monitor Setup

Setting up the Azure Monitor connection in Windows Admin Center is simple. Select the server you want to connect to Azure Monitor. Go to Settings and then Monitoring Alerts.

Windows Admin Center Azure Monitor Connect to Azure Monitor

Here you will be able to configure the server with the right Azure subscription, resource group and log analytics workspace.

Cluster Functional Level and Cluster Upgrade Version

Learn about Windows Server Cluster Functional Levels

A couple of weeks ago, I released a blog post about Hyper-V VM Configuration versions to give an overview about the version history of Hyper-V virtual machines. After that I had the chance to work with John Marlin (Microsoft Senior Program Manager High Availability and Storage) on a similar list of Windows Server Cluster Functional Levels.

Why Cluster Functional Levels are important

With Windows Server 2016, Microsoft introduced a new feature called Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade or Cluster Rolling Upgrade. This feature allows you to upgrade the operating system of the cluster nodes to a new version, without stopping the cluster. With mixed-OS mode, you can have for example 2012 R2 and 2016 nodes in the same cluster. Keep in mind that this should only be temporary, while you are upgrading the cluster. You can basically upgrade node by node, and after all nodes are upgraded, you then upgrade the Cluster functional Level to the latest version.

List of Windows Server Cluster Functional Levels

Since the feature Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade was first introduced with Windows Server 2016, you never really knew about Cluster Functional Levels before. However, it already existed since Windows Server NT4.

Windows Server VersionCluster Functional Level
Windows Server 201911
Windows Server RS410.3
Windows Server RS310.2
Windows Server 20169
Windows Server 2012 R28
Windows Server 20127
Windows Server 2008 R26
Windows Server 20085
Windows Server 2003 R24
Windows Server 20033
Windows Server 20002
Windows Server NT41

Tips and PowerShell

If you want to know more about Cluster OS Rolling Upgrade, you can check out the Microsoft Docs. Together with John, I created a quick list of some tips for you, and some of the important PowerShell cmdlets.

To check which Cluster Functional Levels your cluster is running on, you can use the following PowerShell cmdlet:

If you have upgraded all nodes in the cluster, you can use the Update-ClusterFunctionalLevel to update the Cluster Functional Level. Also make sure that you upgrade the workloads running in that cluster, for example upgrade the Hyper-V Configuration Version or in a Storage Spaces Direct Cluster, the Storage Pool version (Update-StoragePool).

In Windows Server 2019 the Clustering team introduced a new PowerShell cmdlet to check how many nodes of the cluster are running on which level. Get-ClusterNodeSupportedVersion helps you to identify the Cluster Functional Level and the Cluster Upgrade Version.

Cluster Functional Level Get-ClusterNodeSupportedVersion

This means that the functional level is 11 (Windows 2019).  The Upgrade version column is what you can upgrade to/with, meaning 11.1 or Windows 2019 only.

Cluster Functional Level and Cluster Upgrade Version

This means your Cluster Functional Level is 10.  Meaning you can add basically anything 10.x (2016, RS3, RS4) and 11 (2019) to it.

If you are running System Center Virtual Machine Manager, the Cluster OS rolling upgrade, can be fully automated as well. Check out the Microsoft Docs for Perform a rolling upgrade of a Hyper-V host cluster to Windows Server 2016 in VMM.

To find out more about information Cluster operating system rolling upgrade, like how-to, requirements and limitations, check out the Microsoft Windows Server Docs page.

Updated PowerShellGet and PackageManagment

Update PowerShellGet and PackageManagement

Since I am just setting up a new work machine, I wanted to share some information how you can update PowerShellGet and PackageManagement to the latest version. This will give you the usual bug fixes and performance enhancements. Since you don’t get the latest version in Windows PowerShell nor PowerShell Core, you will need to update it manually.

PowerShellGet is a PowerShell module with commands for discovering, installing, updating and publishing the PowerShell artifacts like Modules, DSC Resources, Role Capabilities and Scripts. For example you use PowerShellGet to install the Azure PowerShell module, or other modules.

PowerShellGet module is also integrated with the PackageManagement module as a provider, users can also use the PowerShell PackageManagement cmdlets for discovering, installing and updating the PowerShell artifacts like Modules and Scripts.

(source: GitHub)

How to update PowerShellGet and PackageManagement

Updating to the latest version of PowerShellGet and the PackageManagement module is simple. Since both modules are part of the PowerShell Gallery, you can update them using a couple of simple commands.

You can find both modules in the PowerShell Gallery:

First lets check which versions of the modules you have available. If you use Update-Module, it will automatically load PowerShellGet and PackageManagement and list them as loaded PowerShell modules. Of course you can also use Get-Module -ListAvailable.

PowerShell Modules PowerShellGet and PackageManagement

As you can see, In my default installation, I got PowerShellGet version 1.6.7 and PackageManagement If you have a look at PSGallery, you will see that these are pretty old versions and that there are newer available.

To get the latest version from PowerShell Gallery, you should first install the latest Nuget provider. You will need to run PowerShell as an Administrator for all  the following commands.

If you run PowerShell 5.0 or newer, you can install the latest PowerShellGet using the following command. PowerShell 5.0 is included in Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2019, any system with WMF 5.0 and 5.1 or a system running PowerShell 6.

Two quick tips, first of, you will need to set the execution policy to RemoteSigned to allow the new module to run. Secondly in some cases you will need to use the -AllowClobber parameter to install the updated version of the module.

You can then use Update-Module to get newer versions:

Updated PowerShellGet and PackageManagment

After that you will see the latest versions of PowerShellGet and PackageMangement available

If you run older versions of PowerShell you can check out the full documention on the PowerShell Docs. I hope this blog post helps you to update PowerShellGet and benefit from the latest versions. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

Hyper-V VM Configuration Version

Hyper-V VM configuration version supported features

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about the new Microsoft Hyper-V UEFI in Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10 virtual machines. With that version Microsoft also released a new Hyper-V VM configuration version 9.0. This is not unusual, the Hyper-V teams usually bumps up the version number from release to release, since new Hyper-V features are introduced. In the comments, the question came up, what is new in this version of the Hyper-V VM configuration, Since the version was still a preview release of Windows Server and Windows 10, Microsoft didn’t share the full list of features per configuration version. However, now the documentation is ready and you can find the documentation here.

Supported features

The following table shows the minimum virtual machine configuration version required to use some Hyper-V features.

Windows ServerWindows 10VersionFeature
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Hot Add/Remove Memory
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Secure Boot for Linux VMs
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Production Checkpoints
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2PowerShell Direct
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Virtual Machine Grouping
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 Windows 10 15117.0Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM)
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 57.1Virtual machine multi queues (VMMQ)
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0XSAVE support
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Key storage drive
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Guest virtualization-based security support (VBS)
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Nested virtualization
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Virtual processor count
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Large memory VMs
Windows Server 1803Windows 10 April 2018 Update8.3Increase the default maximum number for virtual devices to 64 per device (e.g. networking and assigned devices)
Windows Server 2019/1809Windows 10 October 2018 Update9.0Allow additional processor features for Perfmon
Windows Server 2019/1809Windows 10 October 2018 Update9.0Automatically expose simultaneous multithreading configuration for VMs running on hosts using the Core Scheduler
Windows Server 2019/1809Windows 10 October 2018 Update9.0Hibernation support

Source: Microsoft Docs (Thanks to Rene Moergeli for the link)

How to list the supported VM configuration versions

You can list all supported VM configuration versions on your Hyper-V host using the Get-VMHostSupportedVersion cmdlet.

Get-VM Hyper-V VM Configuration Version

If you want to see the version of a Hyper-V virtual machine, you can use Hyper-V Manager or the following PowerShell command:

Full list of Hyper-V VM versions

Here you have a full list of VM configuration versions of Hyper-V VMs together with the operating system.

Windows ClientWindows ServerVersion
Windows Server 20081.0
Windows Server 2008 SP12.0
Windows Server 2008 R23.0
Windows 8Windows Server 20124.0
Windows 8.1Windows Server 2012 R25.0
Windows 10 1507Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 36.2
Windows 10 1511Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 47.0
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 57.1
Windows 10 Anniversary UpdateWindows Server 20168.0
Windows 10 Creators Update8.1
Windows 10 Fall Creators UpdateWindows Server 17098.2
Windows 10 April 2018 UpdateWindows Server 18038.3
Windows 10 October 2018 UpdateWindows Server 2019 / 18099.0
Windows 10 April 2019 UpdateWindows Server 19039.1

How to upgrade Hyper-V VM configuration version

Hyper-V vNext Update VM Configuration Version

Upgrading the Hyper-V VM version is pretty straight forward. If the VM is running on a host supporting a newer version of Hyper-V VMs, you can right click the virtual machine in the Hyper-V Manager and click on upgrade or you can run the Update-VMVersion PowerShell cmdlet.

I hope this blog was help full for understanding Hyper-V VM versions, let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Azure Stack VM Update Management

Using Azure Update Management on Azure Stack

At Microsoft Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced the integration of Azure Update and Configuration Management on Azure Stack. This is a perfect example how Azure services from the public cloud can be extended into your datacenter using Azure Stack. Azure Update and Configuration Management brings Azure Update Management, Change Tracking and Inventory to your Azure Stack VMs. In the case of Azure Stack, the backend services and orchestrator like Azure Automation and Log Analytics, will remain to run in Azure, but it lets you connect your VMs running on Azure Stack.

Azure Update and Configuration Managemen Schemat

Today, the Azure Update and Configuration Management extension, gives you the following features:

  • Update Management – With the Update Management solution, you can quickly assess the status of available updates on all agent computers and manage the process of installing required updates for these Windows VMs.
  • Change Tracking – Changes to installed software, Windows services, Windows registry, and files on the monitored servers are sent to the Log Analytics service in the cloud for processing. Logic is applied to the received data and the cloud service records the data. By using the information on the Change Tracking dashboard, you can easily see the changes that were made in your server infrastructure.
  • Inventory – The Inventory tracking for an Azure Stack Windows virtual machine provides a browser-based user interface for setting up and configuring inventory collection.

If you want to use Azure Update Management and more on VMs on-premise (without Azure Stack) or running at another Cloud Provider, you can do this as well. Have a look at Windows Admin Center, which allows you to directly integrate with Azure Update Management. However, there will be a difference in pricing.