Category: Work

All about my Work


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.



Windows Server 2019

Which Windows Server 2019 Installation Option should I choose?

Windows Server 2019 will bring several installation options and tuning options for virtual machines, physical servers as well as container images. In this blog post I want to give an overview about the different installation options of Windows Server 2019.

Installation Options for Windows Server 2019 Physical Servers and Virtual Machines

As always, you can install Windows Server 2019 in virtual machines or directly on physical hardware, depending on your needs and requirements. For example you can use Windows Server 2019 as physical hosts for your Hyper-V virtualization server, Container hosts, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure using Hyper-V and Storage Spaces Direct, or as an application server. In virtual machines you can obviously use Windows Server 2019 as an application platform, infrastructure roles or container host. And of course you could also use it as Hyper-V host inside a virtual machine, leveraging the Nested Virtualization feature.

Installation OptionScenario
Windows Server CoreServer Core is the best installation option for production use and with Windows Admin Center remote management is highly improved.
Windows Server Core with Server Core App Compatibility FODWorkloads, and some troubleshooting scenarios, if Server Core doesn’t meet all your compatibility requirements. You can add an optional package to get past these issues. Try the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FOD).
Windows Server with Desktop ExperienceWindows Server with Desktop Experience is still an option and still meets like previous releases. However, it is significantly larger than Server Core. This includes larger disk usage, more time to copy and deploy and larger attack surface. However, if Windows Server Core with App Compatibility does not support the App, Scenario or Administrators still need the UI, this is the option to install.

Installation Options for Windows Server 2019 Container Images

For containers Microsoft offers three types of container images with different sizes and different application compatibility levels. You can use the Nano Server and Windows Server Core container image you already know from Windows Server 2016, or you can leverage the new Windows container image, which adds additional application compatibility to beyond the Server Core image.

NameSizeScenario
Nano Server~200MBNano Server is great for new applications for example for .NET Core applications. This image is the smallest of the Microsoft Windows container images. It is lightweight and fast.
Windows Server Core~3.3GBThe Windows Server Core image offers the same application compatibility like the Windows Server 2019 Core Installation option.
Windows~8.0GBThe Windows container image, Microsoft is offering a new option for applications who need more components which are not included in Windows Server Core, like DirectX or proofing support.

Installation Options for Windows Server 2019 in Microsoft Azure

Of course Azure is a great place to run Windows Server. You can run Windows Server 2019 as Azure VMs with the same installation options you have available if you download it. You can also run Windows Server Containers in multiple Azure services.

And of course Windows Server is used in the Azure back-end and powers a large amount of services.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments!



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.



Microsoft Tech Summit Switzerland 2019

Speaking at Microsoft Tech Summit Switzerland 2019

Yesterday Microsoft Switzerland launched the website for the Tech Summit Switzerland 2019 in Bern. I am happy that I will be speaking again this year at Microsoft Tech Summit Switzerland, after speaking there as well last year.

The inspirational and technical learning event for developers and ITPros to gain strategic insight, evolve skills, deepen expertise and grow career – Open Source and Microsoft alike. Besides keynotes on the first day, the Tech Summit will offer 30 breakout sessions delivered by Microsoft employees and Microsoft Technology Enthusiasts.

The Tech Summit Switzerland will at April 3-4, in Bern. We will have great keynote speakers like Scott Hanselman, Marc Pollefeys, Dominik Wotruba and Primo Amrein.

I will be speaking about extend the Intelligent Cloud to the Edge with Azure Stack.

Extend the Intelligent Cloud to the Edge with Azure Stack

Azure Stack allows you to extend Azure to your datacenter and run Azure Services under your terms. Find out more about Azure Stack and how it can help you to in your Hybrid Cloud strategy. 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.

You can also meet other Azure Cloud Advocates like Phoummala Schmitt and Laurent Bugnion!

I hope to see you there!



Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 – App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

In Windows Server 2019 Microsoft is focusing on a couple of things. One of the things Microsoft wants to improve with Windows Server 2019, is the Windows Server Core experience. Bringing a great remote management experience with Windows Admin Center is one thing, the other feature which should improve the Server Core experience, is the Server Core App Compatibility feature-on-demand (FOD).

In the past you might have some problems running application that required a local GUI interaction on Server Core. Some of the applications you couldn’t install, failed after the installation or just didn’t work right. With the Server Core App Compatibility FOD, Microsoft improves this situation in Windows Server 2019 Core. FoD improves application compatibility of Windows Server Core by adding binaries and packages from Windows Server with Desktop Experience, without adding the Windows Server Desktop UI.

Here are some Operating system components that are available with in the FOD package.

  • Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  • Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
  • Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
  • Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
  • Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
  • File Explorer (Explorer.exe)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows PowerShell (Powershell_ISE.exe)
  • Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)

Like the new Windows Container Image, the Server Core App Compatibility FOD should make sure you can run more apps on Server Core.

How to install Windows Server 2019  App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

Windows Server 2019 App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

First you will need to download the Feature-on-Demand ISO and safe it on your server. Mount the ISO Image:

Install Server Core App Compatibility

After that you can use DISM to add the FOD package to your Windows Server 2019, installation. Just be sure, this only works on Windows Server Core, Desktop Experiences already has these binaries.

Windows Server 2019 Core App Compatibility FOD

You will need to restart your server. After the restart you can run tools like explorer.exe, Device Manager and many more on Windows Server Core.

When to use which Windows Server 2019 Installation Option

With WIndows Server 2019 you now get a couple of installation options, I tried to summrize this in this table:

Installation OptionScenario
Windows Server CoreServer Core is the best installation option for production use and with Windows Admin Center remote management is highly improved.
Windows Server Core with Server Core App Compatibility FODWorkloads, and some troubleshooting scenarios, if Server Core doesn’t meet all your compatibility requirements. You can add an optional package to get past these issues. Try the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FOD).
Windows Server with Desktop ExperienceWindows Server with Desktop Experience is still an option and still meets like previous releases. However, it is significantly larger than Server Core. This includes larger disk usage, more time to copy and deploy and larger attack surface. However, if Windows Server Core with App Compatibility does not support the App, Scenario or Administrators still need the UI, this is the option to install.

Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview for Server Core App Compatibility FOD

As of today Windows Server 2019 is still only available as Windows Server Insider Preview. You can download the Windows Server 2019 Preview and the App Compatibility Feature-on-demand from the Windows Server Insider download page.

You can read more about the Server Core App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand on the Windows Server Blog.

 



Joining Microsoft

Joining Microsoft

Today is a great day! I’m excited and proud to announce that as of February 1st, 2019, I’m joining Microsoft. I will join the Microsoft Azure Engineering team as a Senior Cloud Advocate. After being a Microsoft MVP for 7 years and working very closely with Microsoft the last couple of years, this is a great new opportunity and an exciting time ahead.

Microsoft Cloud Advocate

Microsoft Azure Cloud Advocate

The Microsoft Cloud Advocate Mascot by Ashley McNamara

My role is part of the Microsoft Developer Relations group and more specific the Cloud Advocates. I’m joining the team of Rick Claus, which many of you know from Channel9, Microsoft conferences and his overall work at Microsoft. Our team is focused in the IT Ops and IT Pro community. This allows me to do what I love most, which is being an advocate for customers in the Azure product group, sharing knowledge and engaging with the community.

We are advocates for the IT community within Microsoft. Using the products, listen to customers and help the product teams to prioritize their work. We develop tools to help use the products, we write documentation and tutorials, and we build connections between the community and the engineering teams.

Our team’s charter is to help every technologist on the planet succeed, be they students or those working in enterprises or startups. We engage in outreach to developers and others in the software ecosystem, all designed to further technical education and proficiency with the Microsoft Cloud + AI platform.

A large part of our mission is to make Microsoft Azure the best platform to run your applications and services, as well as making migration to the Microsoft Azure ecosystem simple. Our team looks for common pain points and works with the product teams to address them. In other cases, we build the missing pieces like tools and documentation.

My focus is going to be on the Azure and Microsoft hybrid cloud strategy. Besides the Azure services, this will include products and services like Windows Server and Azure Stack. Which will help bringing that consistent cloud experience to life, so our customers can make the best out of the Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge.

If there’s anything you would like us to improve reach out to me or to our team. We listen to your needs and take your feedback into consideration in our future developments.



Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Passed Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Today I am on my way to Geneva for a customer meeting. Before I left I quickly check my email and had some exciting news in my inbox. I got the confirmation that I passed the Microsoft Exam AZ-302 Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Certification Transition, which together with my previous exam, 70-535 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, gives me the certification as Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert.

Earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification demonstrates skills and knowledge to advise stakeholders and translate business requirements into secure, scalable, and reliable solutions. Candidates have advanced experience and knowledge across various aspects of IT operations, including networking, virtualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data management, budgeting, and governance – managing how decisions in each area affects an overall solution.

I took this exam as a beat exam back in September at Microsoft Ignite 2018. For people who do not have already done 70-535, you will need to take AZ-300 and AZ-301 to get the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect certification. The AZ-Series are basically the new edition of the Microsoft Azure Certification path. These exams were announced at Microsofts Partner conference, Microsoft Inspire in 2018.

There is a great blog post by Chris Pietschmann, about the state of the current Microsoft Experts exams.

I am happy about getting the confirmation about my second successful Microsoft Azure exam this year, after passing AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals last week.

If you want to know more about the exam and the skills measured in this exam, check out the official Microsoft Exam page for AZ-302. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

Congrats to all the others which got the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification today. Otherwise I wish you good luck taking the exam, let me know how it was in the comments.