Tag: HCI

Azure Hybrid Cloud Deep Dive Sessions

Azure Hybrid Cloud Deep Dive Sessions

As mentioned before, our team created a virtual free event called ITOps Talks – All Things Hybrid.  ITOps Talks – All Things Hybrid is an initiative of our Cloud Advocacy AzOps team, to bring you Azure Hybrid Cloud deep dive sessions from your favorite speakers and program managers at Microsoft. You can learn directly from the people behind the products how you can make your on-premises environment better using build-in technologies in Windows Server, Microsoft Azure, and many more! ☁

I am happy to let you know that the Azure Hybrid Cloud deep dive sessions from our ITOps Talks All Things Hybrid event are now available! You can find the full list of sessions from our team here on YouTube. 📺

I had the chance to work with some top Program Managers within Microsoft, to create some Hybrid Cloud deep-dive sessions. So I am happy to share my list of sessions directly embedded here for you. ⚡

OPS109 – Getting started with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) on Azure Stack HCI

with Matt McSpirit (@mattmcspirit) – Senior Program Manager

In this session, you’ll learn about the new Azure Kubernetes Service on Azure Stack HCI, how you can use it to run your containerized Windows and Linux apps, how it integrates with Azure, and how it provides the best platform to run additional Azure services, including Arc-enabled Data Services. This will help you to modernize your existing applications on our Azure Stack HCI Hybrid Cloud Platform.

This session includes:

0:00 Introduction
2:00 Azure Hybrid Overview
5:10 Kubernetes on Azure
8:39 What is Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) on Azure Stack HCI
15:34 High-Level Architecture
18:51 Architecture AKS-HCI Components
21:21 Demo: Deployment
33:19 Demo: Deploy Worker Nodes
43:41 Demo: Deploy an Application
59:27 How to evaluate the new AKS on Azure Stack HCI
1:00:58 Wrap up

Learn More

OPS111 – Learn the 5 key areas to consider for your hybrid workloads

with David Kurth (@TheDaveKurth) – Senior Product Marketing Manager

In this whiteboard session (after a few slides for context), we will discuss the 5 key areas of any hybrid cloud workload, connectivity, application, data, identity, security & management.

This session includes:

0:00 Introduction
0:55 About Dave
3:56 Why Hybrid
11:38 Azure Hybrid Overview
19:08 Whiteboard Session Hybrid areas
30:15 Wrap up

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OPS112 – Azure Stack HCI Hybrid is built-in: How does it really work?

with Kerim Hanif (@kerimhanif) – Senior Program Manager

Ready to deploy Azure Stack HCI, the new hyperconverged infrastructure operating system delivered as an Azure service? Join this session to learn everything you need to know about how Azure Stack HCI’s hybrid connectivity works. Is it hard to register? (Hint: no.) Is there an agent? (Hint: no.) Does Azure see my VMs and their data? (Hint: no.) Do I need to open my firewall to freely allow Internet traffic? (Hint: no.) All these answers and more.

This session includes:

0:00 Introduction
1:50 What is Azure Stack HCI?
5:55 Azure Stack HCI as a Hybrid services
8:30 Native OS-level integration with Azure
11:20 Demo: Azure Stack HCI
14:10 Registering with Azure
20:19 Demo: How to register
25:21 What happens in the background in Azure?
37:06 Azure Stack HCI Connectivity requirements
44:00 Data privacy
49:36 How can I see the diagnostic data myself?
51:39 Just the foundation more to come!
58:10 Wrap Up

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OPS113 – From WS2008 to Azure with containers – An Ops view on how to modernize existing applications with Windows Admin Center

with Vinicius Apolinario (@vrapolinario) – Senior Program Manager

ITPros around the globe are trying to figure out how to modernize existing applications. End of Support for Windows Server 2008, how to move applications to the cloud, and how to leverage new technologies such as Kubernetes have become a daunting process for Ops teams. In this session, we will cover how to containerize existing applications from the perspective of an ITPro. We will use tools that you are used to – such as Windows Admin Center to jumpstart your modernization process and show how to move an application from Windows Server 2008 to Azure Kubernetes Service.

This session includes:

0:00 Introduction
3:33 What are containers?
5:35 Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 End of Life
9:56 The benefits of using containers
17:25 Demo: IIS Application to be containerized
24:14 Demo: Windows Admin Center Container Management
29:50 Demo: Create a Container Image using Windows Admin Center
36:40 Demo: Run Container Image on Windows Server Container Host
41:25 Demo: Push Container Image to Container Registry (ACR)
47:01 Demo: Create Azure Kubernetes Service Cluster
52:37 Demo: Deploy Container to AKS cluster
59:15 Wrap Up

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OPS114 – Governing baselines such as STIG in hybrid server environments using Azure Policy Guest Configuration

with Michael Greene (@migreene) – Principal Program Manager

Learn to use services in Azure to audit the state of servers across private and public clouds and upcoming plans to expand capabilities in this area.

This session includes:

0:00 Introduction
3:40 Providing Feedback and Community
5:10 Hybrid solution using Azure Arc
8:30 Demo using Azure Policy Guest Configuration
18:39 Demo How to set up Azure Policy Guest Configuration for Azure Arc machines
23:19 Azure Arc enabled servers
27:33 What is next for Azure Policy Guest Configuration
31:13 Wrap up

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OPS119 – Databases are cattle too! Running highly available databases consistently on any infrastructure using Arc data services

with Travis Wright (@radtravis) – Principal Group Program Manager

Have you heard people say ‘containers or Kubernetes is not for databases’? Let me show you how that is definitely not the case in 2021. Kubernetes provides an abstraction layer over any infrastructure and an orchestration engine that powers Arc enabled data services so DevOps, DBAs, and developers can provision and manage highly available SQL and PostgreSQL database instances on any infrastructure – on-prem, AWS, or Google. In this session, I’ll dive deep into the technical weeds with nearly 100% demos that show you exactly how it all works and you can manage it all with GUI, CLI, Azure-native tools, or Kubernetes-native tools.

This session includes:

0:00 Introduction
0:45 Databases are cattle
3:36 Are databases cattle or pets?
06:41 Database cow wannabes
07:47 Database cows
11:12 Traditional Always On
11:50 Azure SQL
12:18 Azure Arc enabled data services
17:35 Built-In, Automated High Availability
18:03 Standard HA
19:46 Premium HA
21:38 Demo: Databases are cattle too!
47:48 Wrap Up

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OPS121 – Modernize how you manage hybrid servers with Azure Arc

with Ryan Puffer – Senior Program Manager

Think the cloud is just for things that are…in the cloud? Come learn how you can use Azure Arc to simplify IT operations across your entire fleet, no matter where your servers run. We’ll start with a deep dive into the architecture and benefits of Azure Arc followed by a demonstration of how Azure Arc can help you monitor, secure, and simplify the management of a multi-tier on-premises application.

This session includes:

0:00 Introduction
1:25 Agenda
2:25 What is Azure Arc
4:18 Azure and Azure Arc Architecture
12:58 Demo: Management of Azure VMs
14:39 Azure Arc enabled servers architecture
25:01 Demo: Extensions
26:46 Demo: Azure Arc enabled server and how to add a server
33:51 Demo: How to manage an Azure Arc enabled server
49:49 Demo: Update Management
59:44 Demo: Access Control and RBAC
1:01:28 Demo: Azure Monitoring for hybrid servers
1:06:38 Wrap Up

Learn More

ITOps Talks – Azure Hybrid Cloud Deep Dive sessions

I hope you will enjoy these Azure Hybrid Cloud Deep Dive sessions. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or ping us with a tweet using the #AzOps hashtag on Twitter. I hope you will enjoy ITOps Talks All Things Hybrid!



Microsoft Learn Azure Stack HCI foundations

Learn about Azure Stack HCI on Microsoft Learn!

Last week the general availability of the new Azure Stack HCI, our new hybrid cloud hyper-converged platform was announced. With the release of this new platform, the team also released a new Microsoft Learn learning path called Azure Stack HCI foundations. In this learning path, you will be introduced to the Azure Stack portfolio and describes basic architecture, core capabilities, and primary use cases of its products. You’ll also learn about the differences and similarities between Azure Stack HCI, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and Azure.

If you want to get an overview of the Azure Stack portfolio or the new Azure Stack HCI 20H2 version, check out my blog posts.

The new Azure Stack HCI foundations learning path on Microsoft Learn currently has 4 modules:

Introduction to Azure Stack

This module introduces you to the Azure Stack portfolio and describes basic architecture, core capabilities, and primary use cases of its products. You’ll also learn about the differences and similarities between Azure Stack HCI, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and Azure. You can check out the module here.

Introduction to Azure Stack HCI core technologies

This module introduces Azure Stack HCI technologies. You’ll learn about the core Azure Stack HCI technologies, including Hyper-V, Windows Server software-defined storage, and Windows Server software-defined networking. You can check out the module here.

Plan and deploy Azure Stack HCI

This module introduces you to planing for and deploying Azure Stack HCI. Content includes identifying suitable workloads, determining the optimal configuration to host these workloads, stepping through the deployment process, validating post-deployment operational status, and evaluating Azure integration options. You can check out the module here.

Integrate Azure Arc and Azure Stack HCI

In this module, you will learn the fundamentals of Azure Arc and how is it used to bring new capabilities to the management and monitoring of your Azure Stack HCI clusters at scale. You can check out the module here.

Conclusion

I hope this provides you with a great opportunity to learn about Azure Stack HCI on Microsoft Learn. You can also follow my blog and you with some posts about this new solution in the pipeline. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment.



Microsoft Azure Stack HCI version 20H2

Get and Download Azure Stack HCI now!

Yesterday, the Azure Stack HCI team shared some great news; the new Azure Stack HCI is now generally available. Azure Stack HCI is a new hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) operating system delivered as an Azure service that provides the latest security, performance, and feature updates. You can deploy and run Windows and Linux virtual machines (VMs) in your datacenter or at the edge using your existing tools, processes, and skillsets. It extends your datacenter to the cloud with hybrid cloud services like Azure Backup, Azure Monitor, and Azure Security Center. It also allows you to take advantage of the extended security updates offering for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. Let’s have a look at where you can get and download Azure Stack HCI.

Azure Stack HCI offers a great hyper-converged infrastructure stack with Azure hybrid services built-in:

  • Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) – Hyper-converged infrastructure stack for secure, efficient virtualization of Windows and Linux guests. Offers from small two-node systems for edge deployments in branch offices, factories, and retail stores, to large scale and high-performance clusters for your enterprise virtualization environment.
  • Flexible hardware offerings – You can choose the deployment scenario and hardware offering, which works best for your environment. Azure Stack HCI offers more than 20 hardware partners with over 200 solutions.
  • Hybrid Cloud built-in – You can extend your datacenter with Azure Hybrid Cloud services to make your on-premises environment even better. Azure Stack HCI has Azure Arc built-in. You can seamlessly connect to Azure services such as Azure Backup, Azure Security Center, Azure Update Management, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Monitor, and many more. It also offers a tightly-integrated Kubernetes service with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) on Azure Stack HCI. This allows you to deploy and manage containerized apps with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) on-premises, and you can take advantage of AKS consistent experience, extend to Azure with hybrid capabilities, run apps with confidence with built-in security, and use familiar tools to modernize Windows apps.
  • Familiar management and operations – You can use your existing skillsets to manage and operate your Azure Stack HCI infrastructure. You can use the built-in deployment GUI and familiar Windows Server and Hyper-V skills to build your hyper-converged infrastructure. And you can use the cross-platform PowerShell framework to automate your environment.

Azure Stack HCI operating system

Azure Stack HCI operating system

Obviously, there is much, much more. If you want to learn more about the new Azure Stack HCI offering, check out my blog post: Azure Stack HCI version 20H2 – everything you need to know!

You can also find the official announcement blogs on Azure.com and a technical blog on Microsoft Tech Community.

Get and Download Azure Stack HCI

You can download Azure Stack HCI directly from Azure.com with a free 30-day trial period. If you want to learn more about the pricing, check out the official Azure Stack HCI pricing page. To pick the right hardware for your scenario, check out the Azure Stack HCI hardware catalog.

You can also find more information on how to install an Azure Stack HCI host on my blog.



Install Azure Stack HCI

How to install and set up an Azure Stack HCI Host

A couple of months the Azure Stack HCI team announced a new version called Azure Stack HCI version 20H2, which is currently in public preview. As part of the Azure Stack portfolio, Azure Stack HCI is a hyper-converged cluster solution that runs virtualized Windows and Linux workloads in a hybrid on-premises environment. Some of the most popular use cases are datacenter modernization, Remote/Branch office scenarios, SQL Server based virtual applications, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and running Kubernetes clusters. Azure Stack HCI comes now with a specialist operating system (OS), which is based on core components from Windows Server, and it is designed and optimized on being the best virtualization host and hyper-converged platform. It is enhanced with Azure software that includes our latest hypervisor with built-in software-defined storage and networking that you install on servers you control on your premises. This provides additional functionality, features, and performance. This blog post is part of a series of blogs on how you can set up Azure Stack HCI clusters. In this first post, we will cover how to set up an Azure Stack HCI host.

Prerequisites and Azure Stack HCI system requirements

Before you deploy Azure Stack HCI hosts, make sure you follow the following prerequisites:

  • Determine whether your hardware meets the requirements for Azure Stack HCI clusters. You can find Azure Stack HCI hardware in the Azure Stack HCI Catalog. Keep in mind that the nodes must have the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). For testing purposes, you can also set up Hyper-V Generation 2 virtual machines.
  • Gather the required information for a successful deployment. Here is a quick checklist of information you will need to deploy an Azure Stack HCI cluster
    • Server names: Get familiar with your organization’s naming policies for computers, files, paths, and other resources. You’ll need to provide several servers, each with unique names.
    • Cluster name: Name for the Azure Stack HCI cluster
    • Domain name: Get familiar with your organization’s policies for domain naming and domain joining. You’ll be joining the servers to your domain, and you’ll need to specify the domain name.
    • Static IP addresses: Azure Stack HCI requires static IP addresses for storage and workload (VM) traffic and doesn’t support dynamic IP address assignment through DHCP for this high-speed network. You can use DHCP for the management network adapter unless you’re using two in a team, in which case, again, you need to use static IPs. Consult your network administrator about the IP address you should use for each server in the cluster.
    • RDMA networking: There are two types of RDMA protocols: iWarp and RoCE. Note which one your network adapters use and if RoCE, note that the version (v1 or v2). For RoCE, also note the model of your top-of-rack switch.
    • VLAN ID: Note the VLAN ID to be used for the network adapters on the servers, if any. You should be able to obtain this from your network administrator.
    • Site names: For stretched clusters, two sites are used for disaster recovery. You can set up sites using Active Directory Domain Services, or the Create cluster wizard can automatically set them up for you. Consult your domain administrator about setting up sites.
    • Cluster witness: You will need to set up an Azure Stack HCI cluster witness. There are two witness types you can use.
      • Cloud witness – Azure storage account name, access key, and endpoint URL, as described below.
      • File share witness – file share path “(//server/share)”
    • Microsoft Azure credentials and subscription: Azure Stack HCI is delivered as an Azure service and needs to register within 30 days of installation per the Azure Online Services Terms. Azure Stack HCI comes with native Azure Arc integration for monitoring, support, billing, and hybrid services.
      • Internet Access – The Azure Stack HCI nodes need connectivity to the cloud to register to Azure.
      • Azure Subscription – If you don’t already have an Azure account, create one. You can use an existing subscription of any type:
        • Free account with Azure credits for students or Visual Studio subscribers
        • Pay-as-you-go subscription with credit card
        • Subscription obtained through an Enterprise Agreement (EA)
        • Subscription obtained through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program
      • Azure Active Directory (AzureAD) permissions – You will need Azure AD credentials with permissions to complete the registration process. If you don’t already have them, ask your Azure AD administrator to grant permissions or delegate them to you. See Manage Azure registration for more information.
  • Install Windows Admin Center on a management PC or server
  • For Azure Kubernetes Service on Azure Stack HCI requirements, see AKS requirements on Azure Stack HCI.

You can find a full list of System requirements for Azure Stack HCI on Microsoft Docs.

Operating system deployment options

After you have prepared the hardware for deployment, you have multiple options to deploy the Azure Stack HCI OS on your physical nodes, depending on your environment and processes. You can deploy the Azure Stack HCI operating system in the same ways that you’re used to deploying other Microsoft operating systems:

  • Server manufacturer pre-installation – nodes come with the Azure Stack HCI operating system preinstalled.
  • Headless deployment using an answer file – Check out my blog about unattend.xml installations.
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) – You can use System Center Virtual Machine Manager Bare-metal deployment to install the Azure Stack HCI nodes.
  • Network deployment – You can use the Windows Deployment Service (WDS) to deploy the operating system over the network.
  • Manual deployment – Connecting either a keyboard and monitor directly to the server hardware in your datacenter or by connecting a KVM hardware device to the server hardware.

Install and set up an Azure Stack HCI host manually

If you want to manually deploy the Azure Stack HCI operating system, you can use your preferred method to boot the installation from a DVD or USB drive. You can download the latest version of Azure Stack HCI from here.

Install Azure Stack HCI

Install Azure Stack HCI

You can follow through the Azure Stack HCI OS installation wizard. Select “Custom Install” to install a new version of Azure Stack HCI.

Custom Install the newer version of Azure Stack HCI

Custom Install the newer version of Azure Stack HCI

Select the disk the operating system should be installed on.

Select disk for the Operating System

Select disk for the Operating System

After that, the installation will run for a couple of minutes to install the Azure Stack HCI operating system.

Installing Azure Stack HCI host

Installing Azure Stack HCI host

After the installation is complete, you will need to set up the local administrator password.

Set Administrator Password

Set Administrator Password

After the installation is completed, you set the password for the local administrator and you logged in, you will be prompted by the welcome screen and the sconfig tool. The sconfig tool is part of Windows Server Core and was completely rewritten for Azure Stack HCI. Sconfig helps you to quickly configure your Azure Stack HCI nodes, such as name, domain join, network configuration, installing updates, and much more.

Welcome to Azure Stack HCI sconfig

Welcome to Azure Stack HCI sconfig

You can find more information on how to deploy Azure Stack HCI hosts on Microsoft Docs.

Conclusion and next steps

As you can see, there are multiple ways to set up and install your Azure Stack HCI hosts. You can even use the same tooling to deploy the operating system, as you have used to deploy Windows or Windows Server, In the next blog post we will have a look at how we build an Azure Stack HCI cluster, register it with Azure using Azure Arc, how we connect Azure hybrid cloud services, and how we build an Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster on Azure Stack HCI. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Microsoft Azure Stack HCI version 20H2

Azure Stack HCI version 20H2 – everything you need to know!

Microsoft just announced the new Azure Stack HCI, delivered as an Azure hybrid service, at Microsoft Inspire 2020. Azure Stack HCI, as a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solution, is expanding the Azure Stack portfolio to offer a comprehensive and flexible lineup of edge infrastructure and hybrid cloud environments. In this blog post, I want you to provide you with an overview of the new Azure Stack HCI, version 20H2.

You can also find the full announcement blog on Azure.com.

What’s Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI is a hyper-converged cluster solution that runs virtualized Windows and Linux workloads in a hybrid on-premises environment. Some of the most popular use cases are datacenter modernization, Remote/Branch office scenarios, SQL Server based virtual applications, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and running Kubernetes clusters.

  • Hyperconverged infrastructure stack – The Azure Stack HCI operating system is based on core components from Windows Server, and it is designed and optimized on being the best virtualization host and hyper-converged platform. It is enhanced with software from Azure that includes our latest hypervisor with built-in software-defined storage and networking, that you install on servers you control, on your premises. This provides additional functionally, features and performance.
  • Delivered as an Azure hybrid service – Azure Stack HCI is now delivered as an Azure service with a subscription-based licensing model and hybrid capabilities built-in. You can enhance the cluster with Azure hybrid capabilities such as cloud-based monitoring, site recovery, and backup, as well as a central view of all of your Azure Stack HCI deployments in the Azure portal.
  • Familiar for IT to manage and operate – Runs on your choice of hardware, from your preferred vendor, and continue using the tools and processes your team already knows to manage virtual machines, including Windows Admin Center, System Center, and PowerShell.

This new Azure Stack HCI product takes its name from a program that Microsoft has run for several years with recent versions of Windows Server. That program was very popular, and it’s what inspired this new product.

Azure Stack HCI - Inspired by its popular predecessor

Azure Stack HCI – Inspired by its popular predecessor

Part of the Azure Stack Portfolio

Azure Stack HCI joins the growing family of Azure Stack solutions, which offers a comprehensive and flexible lineup of edge infrastructure. The Azure Stack portfolio ranges from Azure Stack Hub, which is an extension of Azure, bringing the agility and innovation of cloud computing to your on-premises environment, to Azure Stack Edge, which brings Azure compute for AI and machine learning at the edge.

Azure Stack HCI version 20H2 - Part of the Azure Stack portfolio

Azure Stack HCI version 20H2 – Part of the Azure Stack portfolio

You can learn more about the Azure Stack portfolio on Azure.com.



Video Microsoft Ignite Live 2019 - Azure Stack HCI

Video Microsoft Ignite Live 2019 – Azure Stack HCI

At Microsoft Ignite 2019, I had the chance to interview different people across the Microsoft product groups on the Microsoft Ignite Live stage. In the next couple of weeks, I will share with you the links to the recordings of these videos. In this video, I was able to speak to Cosmos Darwin from the Windows Server team about how to get started with Azure Stack HCI. Azure Stack HCI is another part of the Microsoft Azure Stack portfolio, next to Azure Stack Hub and Azure Stack Edge.

Video: Azure Stack HCI

Hyperconverged infrastructure is rapidly becoming the most common way to deploy servers. Join Cosmos Darwin from the Azure Stack HCI team to how affordable and approachable HCI can be!

Azure Stack HCI is a hyper-converged Windows Server 2019 cluster that uses validated hardware to run virtualized workloads on-premises. You can also optionally connect to Azure services for cloud-based backup, site-recovery, and more. Azure Stack HCI solutions use Microsoft-validated hardware to ensure optimal performance and reliability and include support for technologies such as NVMe drives, persistent memory, and remote-direct memory access (RDMA) networking.

Azure Stack HCI is a solution that combines several products:

  • Hardware from an OEM partner
  • Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition
  • Windows Admin Center
  • Azure services (optional)

I hope this gives you a short overview of Azure Stack HCI. You can check out the following links to get more information:

Microsoft Ignite 2019 was a lot of fun, and you can also watch my session about Hybrid Cloud Management at Microsoft Ignite. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Azure Hybrid Cloud Bus

An Overview at the New Azure Stack Portfolio

Last week at the Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference, the Azure team announced a lot of new updates. One of the significant focus topics at this year’s Ignite was the investment in the Azure Hybrid Cloud offerings. Starting with the buses driving attendees to the conference venue, over the Ignite keynotes, to the expo floor and breakouts, Hybrid Cloud was everywhere. Today, organizations rely on a hybrid technology approach to take advantage of utilizing cloud innovation in combination with their on-premises investments. Azure is Hybrid by design, and Microsoft is continuing the investment in our hybrid cloud technologies with the announcements of Azure Arc (link) and the new Azure Stack portfolio (link). I already was able to get an early look at Azure Arc for Servers, in this post, I am going to focus on the new Azure Stack portfolio with Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge, and Azure Stack HCI.

At and after Microsoft Ignite 2019, I got a lot of questions around the Azure Stack announcements. So in this blog, I want to give you a quick overview of that, and if you want to know more, check out the blog post from Talal Alqinawi, Senior Director Azure Marketing.

Azure Stack Portfolio

Azure Stack Portfolio

The Azure Stack family now consists of three members, Azure Stack Hub, formerly known as Azure Stack, Azure Stack HCI, and Azure Stack Edge (formerly known as Azure Databox Edge). This offers customers new capabilities, form factors, and solutions in the Azure Stack portfolio, to ensure that the customer has the right solutions for their edge infrastructure.

Azure Stack Hub

Azure Stack Hub (formerly known as Azure Stack) will continue to be the cloud-native offering for enterprise and public sector customers, especially those interested in operating a cloud environment that is disconnected from public internet or meeting regulatory and compliance requirements. It will continue to bring Azure services to locations where you need them. The Azure Stack Hub team also announced some new capabilities and features, which the team is working on:

  • Working on support for N-Series virtual machines (VMs) which included GPU support
  • Event Hubs Public Preview in 2020
  • Azure Stream Analytics Public Preview in 2020
  • General Availability (GA) of Kubernetes on Azure Stack with Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) engine to automate the creation, update, and scaling of Kubernetes clusters.
  • Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) Private Preview
  • Azure Data Services with Azure Arc Private Preview

Azure Stack HCI

A couple of months ago, I already wrote a blog post about Azure Stack HCI, which enables customers to run a highly efficient hyper-converged virtualization infrastructure. From small 2-node deployments up to high-performance and high capacity clusters, the Azure Stack HCI catalog offers solutions for every scenario. Together with Windows Admin Center, you can also easily connect Azure hybrid solutions and services. With the new automated deployment of Azure Stack HCI clusters, it becomes even easier to deploy new installations. I had the chance to talk about this new feature with Cosmos Darwin on the Microsoft Ignite Live stage, and you can watch the recording here. You can also learn more about the new Azure Stack HCI, version 20H2 here on my blog.

I also have an article on ITOpsTalk.com about how Azure Stack HCI fits into the Azure Hybrid Cloud offering.

Azure Stack Edge

Azure Stack Edge (formerly known as Azure Databox Edge) is an Azure managed appliance that brings the compute, storage, and intelligence of Azure to the edge.

Azure Stack Edge

Azure Stack Edge

This is a first-party appliance which customer can order and run as an Azure service with no upfront costs (billed monthly with your Azure bill). In addition to the name change, the Azure Stack Edge team also announced that it soon will be supporting new compute and AI features and capabilities like:

  • Virtual machines on Azure Stack Edge
  • Kubernetes clusters
  • NVIDIA GPU support
  • Support for high-availability

The Azure Stack Edge will also be available in a rugged version as well as in a battery-powered form-factor that can be carried in a backpack.

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series with battery

Azure Stack Edge Rugged series with battery

Next to talking to Cosmos Darwin about Azure Stack HCI, I was also able to have Stephanie Krieger and Chris Dickens on the Microsoft Ignite Live stage to talk about Azure Stack Edge. You can watch the recording here.

Hybrid Cloud in combination with Azure Arc

In conjunction with Azure Arc, which brings Azure services and management to any infrastructure. With Azure Arc, you can deploy Azure Data services on any Kubernetes cluster. Azure Arc and Azure Stack portfolio are complementary.

You can combine the benefits of Azure Arc with Azure Stack portfolio where Azure Arc can manage virtual machines, containers, and run Azure Data Services on Azure Stack portfolio of validated and integrated systems while leveraging the compute and cloud capabilities of Azure Stack.

If you want to know more about Azure Arc, check out my blog post, Azure Arc – Cloud-native Management for Hybrid Cloud, or you can watch my Microsoft Ignite 2019 session about Hybrid Cloud Management.

I hope this gives you an overview of the new Azure Stack portfolio, which was announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Azure Stack Familiy - Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI – New Member of the Azure Family

Today, the Azure team is proud to announce a new member to the Azure Stack family, the Azure Stack HCI solutions. Microsoft Azure Stack HCI is Microsoft’s hyper-converged solution available from a wide range of hardware partners. Azure Stack shipped in 2017, and it is the only solution in the market today for customers to run cloud applications using consistent IaaS and PaaS services across public cloud, on-premises, and in disconnected environments. With adding the Azure Stack HCI solutions, Microsoft is offering customers a great new choice for their traditional virtualized workloads.

Today, I am pleased to announce Azure Stack HCI solutions are available for customers who want to run virtualized applications on modern hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to lower costs and improve performance. Azure Stack HCI solutions feature the same software-defined compute, storage, and networking software as Azure Stack, and can integrate with Azure for hybrid capabilities such as cloud-based backup, site recovery, monitoring, and more.

Adopting hybrid cloud is a journey and it is important to have a strategy that takes into account different workloads, skillsets, and tools. Microsoft is the only leading cloud vendor that delivers a comprehensive set of hybrid cloud solutions, so customers can use the right tool for the job without compromise.

It is built on a hyper-converged Windows Server 2019 cluster that uses validated and certified hardware to run virtual machines and workloads on-premises. Azure Stack HCI also allows you to optionally connect Azure services for BCDR, management and more. Azure Stack HCI solutions use Microsoft-validated hardware to ensure optimal performance and reliability. It includes support for technologies such as NVMe drives, persistent memory, and remote direct memory access (RDMA) networking, to get the best possible performance if needed. You can find more about this Hyper-converged system on azure.com.

What is behind Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI Product Overview

Azure Stack HCI is based on Windows Server 2019, parried with validated hardware from OEM partners. With the Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition, customers get Software-Defined Infrastructure and Software-Defined Datacenter technologies like Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct and many more, which are the base of Azure Stack HCI. Paired with Windows Admin Center, you can use existing skills, gain hyper-converged efficiency, and connect to Azure services.



Windows Server Banner

Microsoft Windows Server Summit – Online Summit

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018 Microsoft will held the Windows Server Summit Online, a virtual experience to learn tips and tricks for modernizing your infrastructure and applications—regardless of whether you’re running it on-premises or in the cloud. And you can bet you will also get some new information on Windows Server 2019.

Learn how to build the future with Windows Server

Microsoft will talk about the roadmap for Windows Server, and let you discover new skills and best practices, and get your questions answered in conversations with the Microsoft experts behind our products.

This online summit will focus on 4 key areas of Windows Server:

  • Hybrid – Learn how Windows Server helps you integrate Azure services into your on-premises environment and how to better run Windows Server in Azure.
  • Security – Better security starts with the Operating System. Learn how Windows Server helps you elevate your company’s security posture.
  • Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) – Windows Server 2016 introduced new HCI capabilities that are game-changers. Now, check what’s new around HCI for Windows Server 2019.
  • Application platform – Containers are changing the way developers and operations teams run applications. Learn how Windows Server helps you modernize yours.

So if you want to know more, join the Microsoft online event!

 



Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center – The Next Generation Windows Server Management Experience

Back in September Microsoft released Project Honolulu, which is the codename for a new Windows Server management experience. Today Microsoft announced the Windows Admin Center. Windows Admin Center is a flexible, locally deployed, browser-based management platform and tools to manage Windows Server locally and remote. Windows Admin Center (WAC) gives IT Admins full control over all aspects of their Server infrastructure and is particularly useful for management on private networks that are not connected to the Internet.

I had the chance to test and work with Windows Admin Center for a while in a private preview program. This allows me to test and work with WAC for quite some time.

Windows Admin Center is the modern evolution of the “in-box” management tools of Windows Server, like Server Manager, MMC, and many others. It is complementary to other Microsoft Management solutions such as System Center and Operations Management Suite. And as Microsoft clearly states, WAC is not designed to replace these products and services. WAC is a replacement for the local-only tools and is especially handy if you run Windows Server Core.

Windows Admin Center also became the management user interface for the Azure Stack HCI solutions.

Windows Admin Center Deployment Overview

(Picture for Microsoft)

You might remember the Azure Server Management Tools (SMT). SMT were management tools hosted in Azure and allowed you to manage your servers in the cloud and on-primes. A hosted services of Windows Admin Center. The feedback, however, was, that a lot of customers preferred an on-premise solution for their management experience. Microsoft took that feedback and created Windows Admin Center formally known as Project Honolulu.

Windows Admin Center Functionality

Windows Admin Center PowerShell

  • Simplified server management – WAC consolidates many distinct tools into one clean and simple web interface. Instead of switching between different tools, you can finally have everything in one place.
  • Illuminate your datacenter infrastructure – With WAC you can manage Windows Server 2016, 2012/2012 R2, Hyper-V Server 2012 and higher. WAC not only allows you to manage standalone servers but also complete solutions such a failover clusters, hyper-converged clusters based on Storage Spaces Direct and much more. And I am sure you can bet it will also support Windows Server 2019 when it arrives.
  • The tools you know, reimagined – Windows Admin Center provides the familiar core tools you have used in the past.
  • Manage Hyper-Converged Infrastructure –  WAC brings solutions to manage your Hyper-Converged systems. You get a single pane of glass to manage and operate your Storage Spaces Direct Clusters. You can quickly get an overview of resources, performance, health, and alerts.
  • Extend your on-prem environment with Azure Hybrid Services – Windows Admin Center lets you easily extend our on-premises environment, or an environment hosted on another cloud platform with Azure services.

Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center Video Series

I have created a short video series which shows how to set up the Azure Hybrid services directly from Windows Admin Center. You can start with the intro here and then follow the different videos, and check out our overview blog about Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center.

 

 

Windows Admin Center Management Experience

Windows Admin Center Solutions

WAC 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 Manager, 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 exciting 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 the management of the S2D cluster as well as some performance metrics.

WAC Deployment Options

Windows Admin Center Deployment

(Picture from Microsoft)

WAC can be deployed in several different ways, depending on your needs.

WAC Topology

Windows Admin Center On-Premise Architecture

Windows Admin Center 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 to the Azure Management Tools).

Windows Admin Center On-Premise and Public Cloud Architecture

You can 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 Windows Admin Center is straight forward and very simple.

The WAC Gateway Service can be installed on:

  • Windows Server 2016 (LTSC)
  • Windows Server, version 1709 (SAC)
  • and higher

You can manage the following operating systems

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

Identity Provider and RBAC

Windows Admin Center Azure Active Directroy

In Project Honolulu during the preview time, one of the missing pieces was the missing RBAC (Role-Based Access Control). Windows Admin Center now comes with RBAC so you can configure it for your needs. Also new is the possibility to use Azure Active Directory as an Identity Provider. In this case, you can use your Azure AD users and groups to access the Windows Admin Center.

Conclusion

In my opinion, Windows Admin Center provides us with the Windows Server management tools we were looking for. It helps us to manage our systems form a centralized, modern HTML5 web application and makes managing GUI-less servers easy.

I still think the Server Management Tools hosted in Azure were a better overall solution. Since we only needed to deploy a gateway in our datacenter and we could access and manage our systems from the Azure portal. However, a lot of customers didn’t like the dependency on the cloud, so the Windows Admin Center makes perfect sense as an on-premise solution with the option to extend the on-prem environment with Azure. The possibility to extend it with solutions and extensions from third parties makes it even better.

You can download Windows Admin Center here.