Tag: automation

Windows Sandbox

How to configure Windows Sandbox

With the latest release of Windows 10 (1903), Microsoft introduced a new feature called Windows Sandbox. Windows Sandbox is based on Hyper-V technology and allows you to spin up an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software. In this blog post, I will show you how you can set up and configure Windows Sandbox in Windows 10. I will also cover who you can do an advanced configuration of your Windows Sandbox using Windows Sandbox config files.

The sandbox is great for demos, troubleshooting or if you are dealing with malware. If you close the sandbox, all the software with all its files and state are permanently deleted. It is a Windows 10 virtual machines, with the advantage that it is built into Windows 10, so it leverages the existing OS, which gives you faster startup, less footprint, better efficiency, and easier handling, without losing security.

Dynamic Image

Source: Microsoft

Windows Sandbox is a lightweight virtual machine with an operating system. The significant advantage which makes it so small is the usage of existing files from the host, for data which cannot change. For the files which can change, it uses a dynamically generated image, which is only ~100MB in size.

There are much more exciting things happening with the Windows Sandbox like smart memory management, Integrated kernel scheduler, Snapshot and clone, Graphics virtualization and Battery pass-through. If you want to find out more about the Windows Sandbox, check out the official blog post.

Prerequisites

Windows Sandbox comes with a couple of requirements. How more powerful your machine is, the better the experience will be.

  • Windows 10 (1903) Pro or Enterprise build 18362 or later
  • 64-bit architecture
  • Virtualization capabilities enabled in BIOS
  • At least 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 1GB of free disk space (SSD recommended)
  • 2 CPU cores (4 cores with hyperthreading recommended)


Azure Automation PowerShell ISE Add-on

Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on

Microsofts Joe Levy (Program Manager, Azure Automation) just announced in the blog post a new PowerShell ISE add-on for Azure Automation: Announcing the Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on. The Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on helps you if you are writing PowerShell runbooks for Azure Automation:

In Azure Automation, runbook authoring is typically done in the Azure portal, using our browser-based experience. However, in experimenting with ways to improve our runbook authoring process, we developed a new, open-source tool for runbook authoring – the (take a deep breath) Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on!

This project has been in the works for a while and is already used by many of our customers. Now we think it’s finally ready for more exposure and usage. We built this experience because we observed two things:

Our customers heavily use the PowerShell ISE when writing PowerShell
They even use the PowerShell ISE when writing runbooks, copy/pasting back and forth with the portal or importing/exporting with the PowerShell cmdlets
So we thought, why not create an Azure Automation experience that builds on top of this powerful tool? If you’re interested in speeding up your runbook authoring process using tools you’re already familiar with, we hope you’ll give the Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on a try!

Installation is very easy, you can get the Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on from the PowerShell Gallery:

Install the PowerShell Add-on:

If you want the PowerShell ISE to always automatically load the add-on:

If you just want to load the add-on if you need it run:

 

For more information check out Joe Levy blog post on the Azure blog: Announcing the Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on



Webinar PowerShell Scripting and Automation for Hyper-V

Recording: Scripting & Automation in Hyper-V without SCVMM now available

Last week I had the chance to do a Webinar together with Altaro about Scripting & Automation in Hyper-V without SCVMM. Now you can watch the recording from this online webinar.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) provides some great automation benefits for those organizations that can afford the hefty price tag. However, if SCVMM isn’t a cost effective solution for your business, what are you to do? While VMM certainly makes automation much easier, you can achieve a good level of automation with PowerShell and the applicable PowerShell modules for Hyper-V, clustering, storage, and more.

Are you looking to get grips with automation and scripting?

Join Thomas Maurer, Microsoft Datacenter and Cloud Management MVP, who will use this webinar to show you how to achieve automation in your Hyper-V environments, even if you don’t have SCVMM.

Remember, any task you have to do more than once, should be automated. Bring some sanity to your virtual environment by adding some scripting and automation know-how to your toolbox.

 



Webinar PowerShell Scripting and Automation for Hyper-V

Webinar: Scripting & Automation in Hyper-V without SCVMM

There are some great Webinars coming up and I am proud to speak in one of them with Andrew Syrewicze (Altaro Software and Microsoft MVP) about PowerShell Scripting and Automation in Hyper-V.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) provides some great automation benefits for those organizations that can afford the hefty price tag. However, if SCVMM isn’t a cost effective solution for your business, what are you to do? While VMM certainly makes automation much easier, you can achieve a good level of automation with PowerShell and the applicable PowerShell modules for Hyper-V, clustering, storage, and more.

Are you looking to get grips with automation and scripting?

Join Thomas Maurer, Microsoft Datacenter and Cloud Management MVP, who will use this webinar to show you how to achieve automation in your Hyper-V environments, even if you don’t have SCVMM.

Remember, any task you have to do more than once, should be automated. Bring some sanity to your virtual environment by adding some scripting and automation know-how to your toolbox.

We’re live on Thursday, 10th December 2015 at 10am EST / 4PM CET (30-45mins + live Q&A!)

Register for the webinar here

Free Webinar about Scripting & Automation in Hyper-V without SCVMM

 



SMA Author RunBooks in Windows Azure Pack

Service Management Automation – The Next Step in Cloud and Datacenter Automation

With System Center Orchestrator Microsoft already had an datacenter automation engine in his portfolio. Microsoft acquired Opalis added it to the System Center Suite, after a while Microsoft renamed Opalis to System Center Orchestrator. As we have a look at modern datacenters and our cloud environment automation is a key part of it. With the latest release of System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft release a new automation engine based on PowerShell Workflows called Service Management Automation (SMA).

Windows Azure Pack Automation with SMA

SMA is integrated as one of the key Resource Provider in Windows Azure Pack, and allows you to manage your PowerShell Workflows in so called Runbooks. Service Management Automation enhances PowerShell Workflows in several different ways.

  • Centralized management
  • Centralized store for variables, credentials, certificates, connections, modules, workflows, checkpoints and schedules.
  • High availability workflow execution
  • Versioning
  • Odata web service (HTTP API)
  • Historical view of workflow jobs and their output

Architecture

SMA is build form several different components.

  • Web Service – HTTP/HTTPS API which distributes runbook jobs to runbook workers and builds the connection to Widnwos Azure Pack
  • Runbook worker – Executes Runbooks
  • PowerShell module – Enables SMA to be managed by Windows PowerShell
  • Windows Azure Pack – UI for administrators to create and manage runbooks
  • SQL database – Store for Runbooks and settings

SMA Architecture

  • The Automation web service communicates with Windows Azure Pack and authenticates users.
  • The SQL Server databases store and retrieve runbooks, runbook assets, activities, integration modules, and runbook job information.
  • Runbook workers run the runbooks, and they can be used for load balancing.
  • The management portal in Windows Azure Pack is where you author, debug, and start and stop runbooks.

Source: TechNet

One of the greats enhancements Service Management Automation together with Windows Azure Pack brings is the possibility to link runbooks to SPF and VMM activates used in the Virtual Machine Cloud. What does this mean? For example you link a runbook to a Create Virtual Machine activity, so every time a VM gets created the runbooks starts and also gets as input object the VM which was created. This is just one example what you can do with SMA and Windows Azure Pack VM Cloud, there are a lot of other possibilities as well.

If you compare System Center Orchestrator to Service Management Automation, SMA looks a little bit more complex if you have used a lot of Integrations Packs in SCORCH but if you have done a lot of work in PowerShell you will really like SMA and see the advantages of it.

Service Management Automation does not offer an user interface by itself, instead it is using the Windows Azure Pack portal, where admins can author, run, schedule and link runbooks.

SMA Author RunBooks in Windows Azure Pack



Microsoft Azure Update at Build 2014

At the Build Conference 2014 Microsoft already announced a lot of new stuff for the whole Microsoft or IT ecosystem. There is absolutely no time to cover all the changes and announcements Microsoft has made in the past 2 days. So I will just focus on the things I care about.

  • Prior to the Build Conference Microsoft announced that Windows Azure will be renamed to Microsoft Azure. This will show how Microsoft is not only building on top of the Windows platform, they also have opened up for other platforms an solutions a long time ago. One example for that maybe was the announcement of supporting Oracle Software in Microsoft Azure around a year ago.
  • Mark Russinovich announced some great new changes to Microsoft Azure IaaS. You can now capture and deploy images, you can Puppet and Chef as well as PowerShell DSC support, to configure you server environment. An this is great for developers, some of the features will show up directly in Visual Studio. Microsoft also did some work on the Networking site which was really important, for example you can now change the subnet for Virtual Machines.
    Microsoft Azure Announcements
  • Microsoft also launched a lot of new preview features like Azure Cache and a lot more. What I love the most is the new Microsoft Azure feature called Azure Automation. Azure Automation allows you to automate the creation, monitoring, deployment, and maintenance of resources in your Azure environment using a highly-available workflow execution engine. Orchestrate time-consuming, error-prone, and frequently repeated tasks against Azure and third party systems to decrease time to value for your cloud operations. This is basically Service Management Automation (SMA), which was released with System Center 2012 R2 as a on premise version, now running up in Microsoft Azure. For those how haven’t heard about SMA, SMA is a new automation engine and Runbooks in Service Management Automation and Microsoft Azure Automation are Windows PowerShell workflows.
    Microsoft Azure Automation
  • Microsoft also release a new preview of the Microsoft Azure portal. Since Microsoft released a huge number of new features in Azure, the “old” management portal didn’t really fit the requirements anymore. The new Azure management portal helps you to be much more organized and is using a lot of new concept like “blades” to help you navigate through your Azure environment. The new dashboard also gives you a quick overview about the Microsoft Azure datacenters and there service status, and the new touch friendly dashboard also allows you to customize it for your need. You can check it out on portal.azure.com
    New Microsoft Azure Portal
  • I am not a developer but I was really impressed what Microsoft did for developers. They are just generating a huge numbers of new opportunities with their new platforms not only in Microsoft Azure using IaaS, mobile Services or PaaS, Microsoft also announced a new concept of Universal Apps which allows developers to write apps which run on Windows Phone, Windows and Xbox One. Some days ago Microsoft also showed the new Kinect v2 hardware which I hope developers will use to write some really cool stuff. If we have a lot back at Microsoft Azure, what I really liked about the new Portal is the  integration of Team Foundation Server or “team projects”.
    Microsoft Azure Team Projects

This are just a few of the cool new things Microsoft announced at Build 2014, there is a lot more which is definitely worth to talk about.



Building Clouds

Windows Azure for your Datacenter

Some years back, when Microsoft launched Windows Azure and I was working for a Hosting company, I remember that we were thinking and talking about this and were hoping that Microsoft would make Windows Azure available for hosters. At the beginning of last year Microsoft made this step by releasing Windows Azure Services for Windows Server and together with Windows Server, Hyper-V and System Center you could build your own Windows Azure. With the R2 wave of System Center and Windows Server, Microsoft also renamed Windows Azure Services for Windows Server to Windows Azure Pack (wow what a great idea ;-)) and added some great new functionality to the product it self.

Windows Azure Pack Archtiecture Overview

Windows Azure Pack is a collection of Windows Azure technologies, available to Microsoft customers at no additional cost for installation into your data center. It runs on top of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and, through the use of the Windows Azure technologies, enables you to offer a rich, self-service, multi-tenant cloud, consistent with the public Windows Azure experience.

The Windows Azure Pack is basically a framework which offers you to build several offerings for customers.

  • VM Cloud – This is an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering which allows customer to deploy and manage Windows and Linux Virtual Machines including VM Template, scaling and Virtual Networking options.
  • Web Sites – a service that helps provide a high-density, scalable shared web hosting platform for ASP.NET, PHP, and Node.js web applications. The Web Sites service includes a customizable web application gallery of open source web applications and integration with source control systems for custom-developed web sites and applications.
  • Service Bus – a service that provides reliable messaging services between distributed applications. The Service Bus service includes queued and topic-based publish/subscribe capabilities.
  • SQL and MySQL – services that provide database instances. These databases can be used in conjunction with the Web Sites service.
  • Automation and Extensibility – the capability to automate and integrate additional custom services into the services framework, including a runbook editor and execution environment.

Source: TechNet

On top of this Windows Azure Pack offers two management portals, one for tenants and one for administrators which are build on top of the Service Management API. The Service Management API is a RESTful API which allows you build some custom scenarios such as custom portals or billing integrations on top of the Azure Pack framework.

Windows Azure Pack IaaS

In the last months I had time to work within several different project with the integration of Windows Azure Pack, mainly with the VM Cloud and automation integration and also some work with the Service Management API and some customization together with Stefan Johner and Fulvio Ferrarini from itnetx. I will write some blog post about Windows Azure Pack, the stuff we have done and we are doing right now.

If you are looking for some good blogs around Windows Azure Pack you should definitely checkout the blogs from Marc van Eijk, Hans Vredevoort and Kristian Nese or the Windows Azure Pack Wiki on TechNet. And btw. Windows Azure Pack is not just made for hoster and service providers, it is also a great solution for enterprises, check out why by reading Michael Rueeflis blog.