Category: Virtualization

Azure Live Migration

Azure uses Live Migration for VMs

If you have worked with Azure in the past, you might have been aware that Azure didn’t have live migration for VMs hosted in Azure for a long time. This had an impact for customers in terms of VM up-time during host maintenance. You basically got emails, that the host your VMs were running is going into maintenance during a specific time, and you will have a possible outage. Microsoft Hyper-V, which is the Hypervisor in Azure, had Live Migration for a long time. Today, Microsoft revealed that they are using Live Migration in Azure since early 2018 to move virtual machines in cases of rack maintenance and software and BIOS updates, as well as hardware faults.

But Microsoft didn’t stop there, they made even better using Machine Learning. Predictive ML helps Microsoft to detect proactively failure and do failure predictions. And in case a hardware failure is predicted, Microsoft can move the virtual machines from that host without downtime, using live migration.

To further push the envelope on live migration, we knew we needed to look at the proactive use of these capabilities, based on good predictive signals. Using our deep fleet telemetry, we enabled machine learning (ML)-based failure predictions and tied them to automatic live migration for several hardware failure cases, including disk failures, IO latency, and CPU frequency anomalies.

 

We partnered with Microsoft Research (MSR) on building our ML models that predict failures with a high degree of accuracy before they occur. As a result, we’re able to live migrate workloads off “at-risk” machines before they ever show any signs of failing. This means VMs running on Azure can be more reliable than the underlying hardware.

Microsoft talks in a blog post more about Live Migration in Azure and goes more in details about the challenges and how live migration in Azure works. It is great to see Microsoft adding features to improve VM resiliency with features like live migration and machine learning technology.



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.



Remove All Docker Container Images

New Windows Server 2019 Container Images

Microsoft today released the new Windows Server 2019 again. After they quickly released Windows Server 2019 during Microsoft Ignite, they removed the builds again, after some quality issues. However, today Microsoft made the Windows Server 2019 builds available again. Microsoft also released new Windows Server 2019 Container Images for Windows, Windows Server Core and Nano Server.

Download Windows Server 2019 Container Images

You can get them from the new Microsoft Container Registry (MCR).

Microsoft was hosting their container images on Docker Hub until they switch to MCR (Microsoft Container Registry). This is now the source for all Windows Container Images like Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016 and all the Semi-Annual Channel releases like Windows Server, version 1709 or Windows Server, version 1803.

Download the Windows Server 2019 Semi-Annual Channel Container Images (Windows Server, version 1809). This includes also the new Windows Container Image.

The Windows Server Core Image is also available as a Long-Term Servicing Channel Image:

However, if you want to browse through container images, Docker Hub continues to be the right place to discover container images. Steve Lasker wrote a blog post about how Microsoft syndicates the container catalog and why.

Download Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server SAC Container Images

Also the existing Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server, version 1803 and Windows Server 1709 container images moved to the Microsoft Container Registry (MCR).

You should also make sure to update your Dockerfile references:

Old Windows Server Dockerfile reference

FROM microsoft/windowsservercore:ltsc2016

New Windows Server Dockerfile reference

FROM mcr.microsoft.com/windows/servercore:ltsc2016

Removing the “latest” tag from Windows Images

Starting 2019, Microsoft is also deprecating the “latest” tag for their container images.

We strongly encourage you to instead declare the specific container tag you’d like to run in production. The ‘latest’ tag is the opposite of specific; it doesn’t tell the user anything about what version the container actually is apart from the image name. You can read more about version compatibility and selecting the appropriate tag on our container docs.

Removing Container Images

Remove All Docker Container Images

If you want to remove existing container images from your PC, you can run docker rmi to remove a specific image. You can also remove all containers and container images with the following commands:

If you want to know more about Windows Containers and the Microsoft container eco system, visit the Microsoft container docs.



WLinux WSL Setup Wizard for Windows 10

WLinux – The best WSL for Windows 10

A couple of Windows 10 releases back, Microsoft delivered the Windows Subsystem for Linux. The Windows Subsystem for Linux allows you to run Linux distros, like Ubuntu, Debian, Suse and others, on Windows 10. Around the Microsoft Ignite 2018 timeframe another distro was released to the Windows Store called WLinux. WLinux is a Linux environment for Windows 10 built on work by Microsoft Research and the Debian project. WLinux is a custom Linux distro built from Debian specifically for use on the WSL. While other distros are available for WSL, WLinux is the first optimized for use by users of WSL for WSL. It helps developer run Linux tooling on Windows and integrates into perfectly into Windows.

WLinux Setup

WLinux WSL Setup Wizard for Windows 10

WLinux comes with a custom setup, to prepare your environment in a very simple and easy wizard. It lets you setup some predefined software and settings and configure integration into Windows.

WLinux WSL Docker Bridge to Windows

WLinux Docker Bridge

If you want to run Docker in the Windows Subsystem for Linux, you can bring the Docker Client to the Windows Docker Engine. This allows you to run Docker directly from WSL and from PowerShell at the same time.

Microsoft Tooling

WLinux Installing Azure CLI

Of course WLinux brings the usual Linux development tools and easy setup for Ruby, NodeJS, Go, Java, Python, editors like emacs and even different shells. You can also easily add Microsoft tooling by adding Azure CLI, PowerShell Core and even Visual Studio Code.

Windows Explorer Integration and WSL Utilities (wslu)

It easily lets you to setup Windows Explorer integration and brings wslu, a collection of utilities for WSL, preinstalled. Wslu bringt the following features to the WSL

  • wslusc This is a WSL shortcut creator to create a shortcut on your Windows 10 Desktop.
  • wslsys This is a WSL system information printer to print out some basic system information.
  • wslfetch This is a WSL Screenshoot Information Tool to print information in an elegant way.
  • wslupath This is a WSL Windows path Converter that can convert Windows path to other styles of path.
  • wslview This is a fake WSL browser that can help you open link in default Windows browser.

WSLfetch

If you want to know more about WLinux, check out the website Whitewater Foundry.

Or download WLinux from the Microsoft Store.

You can also contribute on the project on GitHub.



E2EVC

Speaking at E2EVC 2018 Athens

I am back from some great travel and speaking opportunities like Experts Live Europe 2018 last week. That said, I’m happy to speak at the E2EVC Conference in Athens this week. E2EVC stands for Experts 2 Experts Virtualization Conference, and brings the best people together to talk about virtualization. This will be my 11th E2EVC, I was speaking in many events since 2012 in cities like Rome, Hamburg, Dublin, Copenhagen, Brussels and last year in Prague. I am really happy to speak at this event again.

In my session I will speak about the great new feature in Windows Server 2019.

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!

About E2EVC

E2EVC Virtualization Conference is a non-commercial, virtualization community event. The main goal of the E2EVC is to bring the best virtualization experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. E2EVC is a weekend crammed with presentations, Master Classes and discussions delivered by both virtualization vendors product teams and independent experts. I am happy to be part of the community and listen to other industry leading experts.

I am looking forward to the E2EVC and hopefully see you in Athens.



Azure Confidential Compute VM Deployment

Protect Workloads with Azure Confidential Computing

A year ago Microsoft announced that they were working on a new technology in Azure to protect and encrypt data in use, called Azure Confidential Computing. If you are moving sensitive data to the cloud, you also want to encrypt it. Today, you can do this for data in transit and data at rest, however data in use is a challenge. Azure Confidential Computing addresses exactly that scenario, and helps you to encrypt data in use. Microsoft was running a private preview program in the last year, and at Microsoft Ignite this year, Microsoft opened up a public preview.

What is Azure Confidential Computing

Azure Confidential Computing together with Intel SGX technology addresses the following threads:

  • Malicious insiders with administrative privilege or direct access to hardware on which it is being processed
  • Hackers and malware that exploit bugs in the operating system, application, or hypervisor
  • Third parties accessing it without their consent

There are ways to secure data at rest and in transit, but you need to protect your data from threats as it’s being processed. Now you can. Confidential computing adds new data security capabilities using trusted execution environments (TEEs) or encryption mechanisms to protect your data while in use. TEEs are hardware or software implementations that safeguard data being processed from access outside the TEE. The hardware provides a protected container by securing a portion of the processor and memory. Only authorized code is permitted to run and to access data, so code and data are protected against viewing and modification from outside of TEE.



Thomas Maurer Speaker

Speaking at Cloud Camp 2018 Dublin

I am very excited to announce that I will be speaking at Cloud Camp 2018 in Dublin. Cloud Camp is Irelands Inaugural Conference for Microsoft Cloud & Server 2019. The conference takes place on October 17th 2018 in the Dublin Convention Center. In my sessions I will be speaking about Microsoft Azure Stack and Windows Server 2019, the latest and greatest new features.

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!

About Cloud Camp

In a time of rapid changes to “the cloud” – with continuous and frequent changes to Windows Server; Azure and even Microsoft 365. Add in the ever increasing importance to security and the challenges of compliance at its too easy to fall behind.

Cloud Camp brings together international speakers to one event where you will learn the latest about digital transformation, IT modernisation, productivity, security and compliance and governance.