Tag: Azure

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Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017

My impressions from Microsoft Ignite 2017

Okay, I know, Microsoft Ignite 2017 was already a couple of weeks ago. But still, I finally had time to write about my impressions from Microsoft Ignite, after the conference plus my visit in Seattle for the Intelligent Cloud Architect Bootcamp and spending my days in meetings and back at work in Switzerland. Since there is a lot of stuff and important changes coming, I think it is still valid to write about my impressions.

First, I have to say Orlando is great, I really loved spending my time there. This was my second Microsoft Ignite after the first one in Chicago. I have to say, it was very well organized and organizing such a huge conference is definitely not easy.

The Speaking part…

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017 Theater

I had the great opportunity to speak in several Microsoft Ignite sessions and this was huge fun. It is always fun for me to stand in front of a couple of people and show them some stuff I am working on. I not only had the chance to do my Theather session about “Lessons learned from deploying Windows Server 2016”, I also spoke in two breakout sessions about our customer cases focusing on System Center and Storage Spaces Direct.

The Networking part…

One of the most important parts of such a conference is networking with others. The point is that all the videos are going to be online available for later review, but you get time to meet with people from Microsoft, customers and partners, and talk, share and learn from them. The connections you make at such a conference will be helpful in the future, trust me…

The Learning part…

One of the main reasons for me to attend, was to learn. Not only learn about the latest and greatest technology, but also about where the industry is heading. I believe that our industry is heading to one of the biggest changes in history since the transition from Mainframes to client server topology. I think this is not new to most of us, but what is interesting and something I underestimated is, how fast that transition will be going forward. Cloud Computing, AI, Big Data, IoT and modern applications are going to be big topics in the future and technologies like containers and methods like DevOps are going to accelerate this change. My lesson learned from these events is that we all in the industry have to learn much faster and be ready to adapt to change much quicker.

With that, I hope to see you soon at other conferences and events or again at Microsoft Ignite on September 24 – 28 in Orlando, Florida.



Azure Stack

Speaking at the CLOUD 2017 Infrastruktur & Security Congress Switzerland about Azure Stack

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking aht the CLOUD 2017 Infrastruktur & Security Congress Switzerland on October 26 in Zürich. In the session “The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland” I will talk about a project I have worked on in the past year, very closly with our partners Microsoft, HPE and HIAG Data, to bring Microsoft Azure services to Switzerland using Microsoft Azure Stack.

The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland

The Swiss Azure Stack Cloud – bringing Microsoft Azure to Switzerland

 



Azure vs Azure Stack

Speaking at the InfoNet Day 2017 about Azure Stack

I am proud to announce that I will be speaking at the annual InfoNet Day event in Olten, Switzerland on October 31 2017. The event is focused on a technical audience and covers Microsoft topics across the board – cloud, datacenter and workplace. In my session I will speak together with Uwe Luethy from Microsoft Switzerland. The session is called “Microsoft Azure Stack – Hybrid Cloud. The Modern System Architecture”.

Microsoft Azure Stack – Hybrid Cloud. The Modern System Architecture

Microsoft Azure Stack – Hybrid Cloud. The Modern System Architecture

And by the way, Marcel Zehner (MVP) will talk about “Cloud Trends – Microsoft IT Professional Edition” in one of the keynotes. So hopefully see you there.



Project Honolulu Server Overview

Microsoft Project Honolulu – The new Windows Server Management Experience

Last week Microsoft introduced the world to Project Honolulu, which is the codename for a new Windows Server management experience. Project “Honolulu” is a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and tools to manage Windows Server locally and remote.

Microsoft today launched the Hololulu Technical Preview for the world, I had the chance to already work with Microsoft during the last couple of months in a private preview. Project Honolulu helps you to managed your servers remotely as a new kind of Server Manager. This is especially handy if you run Windows Server Core, which I think is the new black, after Microsoft announced that Nano Server is only gonna live as a Container Image with the next version of Windows Server.

Project Honolulu took many features for the Azure Server Management Tools which were hosted in Azure, and allowed you to manage your servers in the cloud and on-premise. But the Feedback was simple, People wanted to install the Management expierence on-prem, without the dependency to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft listened to the feedback and delivered the with Project Honolulu a web-based management solution, which you can install on your own servers.

Honolulu Management Experience

Project Honolulu Server Overview

Project Honolulu has different solutions which give you different functionality. In the technical preview there are three solutions available, Server Manager, Failover Cluster Manager and Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager.

Server Manager

The server manager lets you is kind of like the Server Manager you know from Windows Server, but it also replaces some local only tools like Network Management, Process, Device Manger, Certificate and User Management, Windows Update and so on. The Server Manager Solution also adds management of Virtual Machines, Virtual Switches and Storage Replica.

Failover Cluster Manager

As you might think, this allows you to manage Failover Clusters.

Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager

The Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager is very interesting if you are running Storage Spaces Direct clusters in a Hyper-Converged design, where Hyper-V Virtual Machines run on the same hosts. This allows you to do management of the S2D cluster as well as some performance metrics.

Honolulu Topology

Project Honolulu On-Premise Architecture

Project Honolulu leverages a three-tier architecture, a web server displaying web UI using HTML, a gateway service and the managed nodes. The web interface talks to the gateway service using REST APIs and the gateway connected to the managed nodes using WinRM and PowerShell remoting (Similar like the Azure Management Tools).

Project Honolulu On-Premise and Public Cloud Architecture

You can basically access the Web UI from every machine running modern browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. If you publish the webserver to the internet, you can also manage it remotely from everywhere. The installation and configuration of Project Honolulu is straight forward, but If you want to know more about the installation check out, my friend and Microsoft MVP colleague, Charbel Nemnom’s blog post about Project Honolulu.

Project Honolulu Gateways Service can be installed on:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

You can manage:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 and higher

Conclusion

In my opinion Microsoft Project Honolulu provides us with the Windows Server Management Tool we need so much. It helps us to manage our servers from a centralized HTML5 web application, and really makes management of GUI less servers easy. Deployment and configuration is very easy and simple and doesn’t take a lot of effort, while drastically removing the need to locally logon to a server for management reasons. I hope with that we will see a higher deployment of Windows Server Core installations, since we don’t need the GUI on every single server anymore.

You can download the Project Honolulu Technical Preview here: Project Honolulu Technical Preview

You can give feedback to Project Honolulu here: User Voice Project Honolulu

 



Ubuntu on Microsoft Azure

Microsoft and Canonical create Azure optimized Ubuntu Kernel

Ubuntu is a popular choice for Virtual Machines running on Microsoft Azure and Hyper-V. Yesterday Microsoft and Canonical that they will provide an Azure Tailored Kernel for Ubuntu. Microsoft and Canonical were already working on a lot of projects together, like Linux Containers on Windows using Docker, or the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Canonical, with the team at Microsoft Azure, are now delighted to announce that as of September 21, 2017, Ubuntu Cloud Images for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on Azure have been enabled with a new Azure tailored Ubuntu kernel by default.  The Azure tailored Ubuntu kernel will receive the same level of support and security maintenance as all supported Ubuntu kernels for the duration of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS support life.

The kernel itself is provided by the linux-azure kernel package. Some of the special feature this kernel provides are:

  • Infiniband and RDMAcapability for Azure HPC to deliver optimized performance of compute intensive workloads on Azure A8, A9, H-series, and NC24r.
  • Full support for Accelerated Networking in Azure.  Direct access to the PCI device provides gains in overall network performance offering the highest throughput and lowest latency for guests in Azure.  Transparent SR-IOV eliminates configuration steps for bonding network devices.
  • NAPI and Receive Segment Coalescing for 10% greater throughput on guests not using SR-IOV.
  • 18% reduction in kernel size
  • Hyper-V socket capability — a socket-based host/guest communication method that does not require a network.
  • The very latest Hyper-V device drivers and feature support available.

Source: https://insights.ubuntu.com/2017/09/21/microsoft-and-canonical-increase-velocity-with-azure-tailored-kernel/

I am sure these improvements will not only help Ubuntu Virtual Machines running on Azure, but also Ubuntu Virtual Machines running on Hyper-V

Canonical and Microsoft also promise to work close in the future to deliver more new feature.

As we continue to collaborate closely with various Microsoft teams on public cloud, private cloud, containers and services, you can expect further boosts in performance, simplification of operations at scale, and enablement of new innovations and technologies.

Really looking forward how this works. Also funny to see the comments on the Tweet from the @Ubuntu on twitter, which shows how many people live in the old world.



Azure Nested Virtualization

How to setup Nested Virtualization in Microsoft Azure

At the Microsoft Build Conference this year, Microsoft announced Nested Virtualization for Azure Virtual Machines, and last week Microsoft announced the availability of these Azure VMs, which support Nested Virtualization. Nested Virtualization basically allows you to run a Hypervisor in side a Virtual Machine running on a Hypervisor, which means you can run Hyper-V within a Hyper-V Virtual Machine or within a Azure Virtual Machine, kind a like Inception for Virtual Machines.

Azure Nested Virtualization

You can use Nested Virtualization since Windows Server 2016 or the same release of Windows 10, for more details on this, check out my blog post: Nested Virtualization in Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10

With the release of the Azure Dv3 and Ev3 VM sizes:

  • D2-64 v3 instances are the latest generation of General Purpose Instances. D2-64 v3 instances are based on the 2.3 GHz Intel XEON ® E5-2673 v4 (Broadwell) processor and can achieve 3.5GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. D2-64 v3 instances offer the combination of CPU, memory, and local disk for most production workloads.
  • E2-64 v3 instances are the latest generation of Memory Optimized Instances. E2-64 v3 instances are based on the 2.3 GHz Intel XEON ® E5-2673 v4 (Broadwell) processor and can achieve 3.5GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0. E2-64 v3 instances are ideal for memory-intensive enterprise applications.

With the upgrade to new Intel Broadwell processors, Microsoft enabled Nested Virtualization, which will allows a couple of different scenarios, when you create a Virtual Machine running Windows Server 2016.

  • You can run Hyper-V Containers (Windows Containers with additional isolation) inside an Azure VM. With future releases we will also be able to run Linux Containers in Hyper-V Containers running on a Windows Server OS.
  • You can quickly spin up and shut down new demo and test environments, and you only pay when you use them (pas-per-use)

How to Setup Nested Virtualization in Azure

Deploy Azure VM

To setup Nested Virtualization inside an Azure Virtual Machine, you first need to create a new Virtual Machines using one of the new instance sizes like Ev3 or Dv3 and Windows Server 2016.I also recommend to install all the latest Windows Server patches to the system.

Optional: Optimize Azure VM Storage

This step is optional, but if you want to better performance and more storage for your Nested Virtual Machines to run on, this makes sense.

Azure VM Data Disks

In my case I attached 2 additional data disks to the Azure VM. Of course you can choose more or different sizes. Now you can see 2 new data disk inside your Azure Virtual Machine. Do not format them, because we gonna create a new storage spaces pool and a simple virtual disk, so we get the performance form both disks at the same time. In the past this was called disk striping.

Azure VM Storage Spaces

With that you can create a new Storage Spaces Storage Pool and a new Virtual Disk inside the VM using the storage layout “Simple” which basically configures it as striping.

Azure VM Storage Spaces PowerShell

I also formatted the disk and set the drive letter to V:, this will be the volume where I will place my nested virtual machines.

Install Hyper-V inside the Azure VM

Install Hyper-V on Windows Server using PowerShell

The next step would be to install the Hyper-V role in your Azure Virtual Machine. You can use PowerShell to do this since this is a regular Windows Server 2016.This command will install Hyper-V and restart the virtual machine.

Azure VM Hyper-V

After the installation you have Hyper-V installed and enabled inside your Azure Virtual Machine, now you need to configure the networking for the Hyper-V virtual machines. For this we will use NAT networking.

Configure Networking for the Nested Environment

Hyper-V NAT Network inside Azure VM

To allow the nested virtual machine to access the internet, we need to setup Hyper-V networking in the right why. For this we use the Hyper-V internal VM Switch and NAT networking. I described this here: Set up a Hyper-V Virtual Switch using a NAT Network

Create a new Hyper-V Virtual Switch

First create a internal Hyper-V VM Switch

Configure the NAT Gateway IP Address

The Internal Hyper-V VM Switch creates a virtual network adapter on the host (Azure Virtual Machine), this network adapter will be used for the NAT Gateway. Configure the NAT gateway IP Address using New-NetIPAddress cmdlet.

Configure the NAT rule

After that you have finally created your NAT network and you can now use that network to connect your virtual machines and use IP Address from 172.21.21.2-172.21.21.254.

Now you can use these IP Addresses to assign this to the nested virtual machines. You can also setup a DHCP server in one of the nested VMs to assign IP addresses automatically to new VMs.

Optional: Create NAT forwards inside Nested Virtual Machines

To forward specific ports from the Host to the guest VMs you can use the following commands.

This example creates a mapping between port 80 of the host to port 80 of a Virtual Machine with an IP address of 172.21.21.2.

This example creates a mapping between port 82 of the Virtual Machine host to port 80 of a Virtual Machine with an IP address of 172.21.21.3.

Optional: Configure default Virtual Machine path

Since I have created an extra volume for my nested virtual machines, I configure this as the default path for Virtual Machines and Virtual Hard Disks.

Create Nested Virtual Machines inside the Azure VM

Azure Nested Virtualization

Now you can basically start to create Virtual Machines inside the Azure VM. You can for example use an existing VHD/VHDX or create a new VM using an ISO file as you would do on a hardware Hyper-V host.

Some crazy stuff to do

There is a lot more you could do, not all of it makes sense for everyone, but it could help in some cases.

  • Running Azure Stack Development Kit – Yes Microsoft released the Azure Stack Development Kit, you could use a large enough Azure virtual machine and run it in there.
  • Configure Hyper-V Replica and replicate Hyper-V VMs to your Azure VM running Hyper-V.
  • Nested a Nested Virtual Machine in a Azure VM – You could enable nesting on a VM running inside the Azure VM so you could do a VM inside a VM inside a VM. Just follow my blog post to created a nested Virtual Machine: Nested Virtualization in Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10

In my opinion Nested Virtualization is mostly help full if you run Hyper-V Containers, but it also works great, if you want to run some Virtual Machines inside a Azure VM, for example to run a lab or test something.



AzureStack Admin Portal

Microsoft Azure Stack packaging and pricing – July 2017

Today Microsoft released the packaging and pricing information for Azure Stack in July 2017. You can download the Azure Stack packaging and pricing and the Azure Stack Customer licensing guide pdf here. If you want to know more about Azure Stack, check out my blog post: Microsoft Azure Stack – Azure Extension in your Datacenter

The Azure Stack pricing models

Azure Stack will be offered in two different models, Pay-as-you-use model and Capacity model. The pay-as-you-use model is licensed by Microsoft via the Enterprise Agreement (EA) or Cloud Service Provider (CSP) programs. The capacity model is available via EA only. It is purchased as an Azure Plan SKU via normal volume licensing channels. For typical use cases, Microsoft expects the pay-as-you-use model to be the “most economical” option.

Azure Stack Pay-as-you-use model

For the pay-as-you-use model you will you can take advantage of the cloud economics and only pay for resources which are actually consumed, plus additional costs for the Azure Stack hardware and the operations.

Service prices:

  • Base virtual machine $0.008/vCPU/hour ($6/vCPU/month)
  • Windows Server virtual machine $0.046/vCPU/hour ($34/vCPU/month)
  • Azure Blob Storage $0.006/GB/month (no transaction fee)
  • Azure Table and Queue Storage $0.018/GB/month (no transaction fee)
  • Azure App Service (Web Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps, Functions) $0.056/vCPU/hour ($42/vCPU/month)

Azure Stack Capacity model

For the capacity model, two packages are available which makes you license the physical cores of your Azure Stack system via an annual subscription. The packages are only available via Enterprise Agreement (EA).

  • App Service package ($400/core/year)
    Includes App Service, base virtual machines and Azure Storage
  • IaaS package ($144/core/year)
    Includes base virtual machines and Azure Storage

You will also need additional licenses if you deploy Windows Server and SQL Server virtual machines, like you would do if you are using your traditional Hyper-V servers.

What else will you need

  • Integrated System (hardware) – you will need to purchase the Azure Stack hardware from one of the OEM vendors. You can find more information about integrated system offerings here: HPE, Dell EMC, Lenovo
  • Support – you will need to purchase support from Microsoft for software support and a support package for the hardware from the hardware provider. If you already have Premier, Azure, or Partner support with Microsoft, your Azure Stack software support is included.
  • Service Providers – Service Provider can also license Azure Stack to others using the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) channel.