Category: Work

All about my Work


Thomas Maurer Travel

My 2018 – I call it a year!

This is my last blog post of 2018. I just came back from my last flight in 2018 and I am happy to spend a relaxing New Year’s Eve with my close friends and girlfriend. 2018 was a great, intense and challenging year, with a lot of learnings and a lot of good things happening. I just want to thank all my friends, colleagues, supporters, blog readers and followers for everything. People who read, like, comment and share my blogs and tweets, people who listen to my talks and videos, people who I have conversations with, you all give me the motivation to keep on doing this.

I also want to use the chance to thank my sponsors, your support and partnership helps me a lot.

For years now, I had the chance to travel around the world, engage with the community, learn, make new friends and even find love. For that, I am happy and thankful and that the hard work pays off.

There were a lot of highlights, like traveling, speaking, new gadgets, server releases, hybrid cloud platforms, the Microsoft MVP Award and devices, this year and it is hard to name them all, so I just let them be ūüėĀ

I am looking forward to 2019 and a new year full of new challenges and experiences. 2019 will have some big changes coming up, so stay tuned.

With that I want to thank you all and wish you all the best and a good start into 2019!

Happy New Year! ūü•āūüéČūü•≥

‚Äď Thomas



Technado Podcast

Interview about Azure and Microsoft on Technado ITPro.TV

I was a proud interview guest at the Technado Podcast by ITPro.TV this week! Together with Cherokee and Don, we were talking about Microsoft Azure, Azure Stack and the Cloud as well as Microsoft in general and my favorite foods.

The Technado, Episode 77: Microsoft MVP Thomas Maurer

 

If you’re plugged into the Microsoft community, you’ve heard of Thomas Maurer. In this episode, Thomas will give Don and Cherokee his take on all things Azure. This week also sees a return of the latest tech news from the week.

ITProTV is the industry leader for online, on-demand IT training for tech professionals, students, and organizations worldwide. Home of binge-worthy learning, ITProTV empowers the world through engaging training.

By blending entertainment and cutting-edge technology with IT education, ITProTV creates high-quality training shows taught by experienced educators and industry professionals. Toss the boring PowerPoint classroom training aside, ITProTV is streaming the latest training for the most current tech trends and certification exams daily. Start FREE today: https://www.itpro.tv/plans/

Enjoy watching!



System Center release cadence

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 fatacenter 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.



Azure Stack Tenant Portal

Considerations for deploying apps and services on Azure Stack

I work with a couple of customers on different Azure Stack projects. One of the main topics that always comes up, is what are the differences between Azure and Azure Stack when deploying applications and services. Obviously there are the high level differences, which I have written about it here: Microsoft Azure Stack ‚Äď Azure Extension in your Datacenter. However, there are also small differences in features and services between Azure and Azure Stack. These differences can block customers form deploying and automating workloads. I tried to summarize the most common differences and considerations you should know, in a single blog post.

High-level differences between Azure and Azure Stack

Some of the high-level differences between the to platforms are:

  • An Azure Stack does not have the same SLA and physical security in place, since the Azure Stack does not run in a Microsoft operated location.
  • Azure Stack provides only a subset of the Azure services and features.
  • Azure Stack is not operated by Microsoft. Azure Stack backend is operated by the operators in your company or by a service provider.
  • The Azure Stack operator, which can be your company or a service provider, chooses which services, features and marketplace items he wants to make available on Azure Stack.
  • Azure Stack comes with its own portal. It has the same look and feel, but it will be another URL and endpoints for the portal as well as for the APIs.
  • Azure Stack will have different PowerShell and API versions available. If you are building a hybrid cloud app, which should work on Azure and Azure Stack, make sure you are using the versions supported by Azure Stack.

Considerations and differences between Azure and Azure Stack

Obviously, there is much more to this. I put a list of links together, where you can find the differences between Azure and Azure Stack and more considerations you should think of when deploying on Azure Stack.

Setup an Azure Stack operator and developer environment

Install Azure Stack PowerShell

To connect to Azure Stack using PowerShell, Visual Studio, the Azure CLI or other Azure Stack tooling, you have to setup a few things. I recommend that you read my blog post about how to setup an Azure Stack operator and developer environment. This is not only helpful for operators, but also for people who want to deploy and develop solutions on Azure Stack.

Check API versions available on Azure Stack

Azure Stack API Verions PowerShell

If you are an Azure Stack tenant and you want to check which API versions are available on your Azure Stack, you can run the following PowerShell command against Azure Stack. This does not need any administrator rights, you will just need a tenant account on Azure Stack to access it. If your Azure Stack is running at a service provider, it is very likely that you won’t have access to the Administrator portal to check the version.

Check Azure Stack version release notes

Azure Stack Version Release Notes

Another good thing to check if you are running in any issues deploying applications or services, is to check the Azure Stack version release notes. They document very well the new features added, fixed as well as known issues with that release.

You can find the links to the latest Azure Stack release notes here. I also recommend that you read my article about Updating Azure Stack.

I hope this gives you a quick overview and help you to successfully deploy applications and services on Azure Stack. You can find most of this information on the documentation site, but I decided to consolidate this information in one post.



Geeksprech Podcast Windows Server 2019 with Thomas Maurer

GeekSprech Podcast – Windows Server 2019 (German)

Microsoft just released Windows Server 2019 to the public and with that I was invited to be a guest in the GeekSprech Podcast from Microsoft MVPs Eric Berg and Alexander Benoit. We talked about the Windows Server 2019 release and what great new features in this release. We also got off topic and had some chats about security, Azure Stack and more.

If you want to listen to it (it is in German), you can do this on the GeekSprech website or here:

It was an honor and a lot of fun talking with Eric and Alexander!



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‚Äôre able to live migrate workloads off ‚Äúat-risk‚ÄĚ 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.