Tag: Hosting

Azure Preview Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines IaaS now available in the Azure preview portal

Some months ago Microsoft lunched a new preview portal for Microsoft Azure, with a cool new design and features. The IaaS or Virtual Machine services was missing from the portal. A week ago Microsoft announced to add some enhancements to the preview portal including Virtual Machines. Now today Microsoft rolled out the enhancements to the portal. with other improvements:

  • IaaS Functionality: Create, deploy, monitor and manage rich virtual machines’ based applications, and manage virtual networks within a fully customizable Portal experience. In addition to creating simple virtual machines, we are adding the ability to automate the deployment of rich multi-machine application templates with a few clicks. With this, deploying a multi-tier, highly-available SharePoint farm from the portal will be a few clicks away!
  • Resource Group enhancements: Manage infrastructure services like virtual machines and virtual networks along with platform services like web sites and databases, all within the same Resource Group, as a single application. This level of flexibility and control is an example of how Azure is leading the way in blurring the lines between infrastructure and platform services, giving customers the choice to pick the best platform for their application needs.
  • Azure Image Gallery Updates: The completely re-imagined Azure Gallery is more powerful with the addition of several new virtual machine images that enable you to provision dev/test servers or production applications in minutes. The new virtual machine images and templates take the guesswork out of building, orchestrating and deploying complex applications, thus letting you focus on creating business value instead of managing the infrastructure.
  • Azure SQL Database: Customers can manage their Azure SQL Databases within the Portal, consistent with other Azure services. This includes provisioning databases across Web and Business (currently in general availability) and Basic, Standard, and Premium (currently in preview).

Checkout the blog from  Director, Product Marketing, Microsoft Azure to learn more.

Azure Preview Portal Virtual Machine

WAP Register SPF

Windows Azure Pack – Virtual Machine Cloud

One of the big features of Windows Azure Pack right now is the integration of a Infrastructure as a Service offering or in other words Virtual Machine Cloud. VM Cloud allows you to integrate your existing System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 and Hyper-V environment over SPF (Service Provider Foundation) API, so you can create a offering similar to the Windows Azure IaaS experience.

I had the chance working on several Windows Azure Pack projects where we have integrated the Virtual Machine Cloud and created offerings for service providers as well as for enterprise companies for internal use. Two parts of I really like about the solution in the integration of Hyper-V Network Virtualization and the integration of VM Roles, which are basically a solution to deploy services instead of just Virtual Machines. Microsoft also finally fixed the issue we had in App Controller and other products to connect to a Virtual Machine via the Hyper-V Console from outside your organization by using a Remote Desktop Gateway.


To deploy the VM Cloud or IaaS offering in Windows Azure Pack you need several roles, services and components. If you want to know more about the Windows Azure Pack Architecture, check out the following blog post.

Windows Azure Pack VM Cloud Architecture

Picture Source: TechNet

  • Hyper-V – You need a Hyper-V environment for hosting virtual machines.
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager – In a VM Cloud environment you need your Hyper-V resources to connect to a Virtual Machine Manager. You can connect multiple Virtual Machine Manager servers so called VMM stamps. If you are using Hyper-V Network Virtualization (NVGRE) make sure you build a highly available VMM Cluster for each stamp.
  • Service Provider Foundation – To bring those VMM stamps inside Windows Azure Pack you need an API solution called Service Provider Foundation. Every VMM stamp has to be registered in Windows Azure Pack trough a Service Provider Foundation Endpoint.
  • Windows Azure Pack Tenant Portal – The Portal for tenants/customers to manage Virtual Machines
  • Windows Azure Pack Admin Portal – The Portal for Administrator to register new VMM stamps and create offerings for customers.
  • Service Management API – You always need this if you deploy Windows Azure Pack.
  • SQL Server – SQL Server for Windows Azure Pack, SPF and Virtual Machine Manager
  • RD Gateway – Remote Desktop Gateway for the Console Connection to the Virtual Machine
  • System Center Operations Manager – If you just want to monitor your VM environment or you want to do chargeback you need Operations Manager and Service Reporting.

How to setup VM Cloud in Windows Azure Pack

After you have setup your environment you have to register your Service Provider Foundation and VMM in Windows Azure Pack. Enter the address of the SPF Endpoint and the address of the VMM Server.

WAP Register SPF

You can than add VMM servers or VMM Stamps to the Windows Azure Pack.

VMMStamp in WAP

You can now select the Cloud you want to use for your offering. If you create a new plan you can select which VMM stamp and cloud should be used for the offering. You can limit resources like Virtual Machine count, CPU cores, RAM, Storage, VM Networks, Templates and more inside plans and add-ons. You can than offer these plans and add-ons to your customers.

WAP VM Cloud Plan

As another part you can extend the solution by adding a SMA Web Service endpoint to the Windows Azure Pack and configure it for the Virtual Machine Clouds. With this solution you can link SMA Runbooks to actions in Windows Azure Pack VM Cloud, SPF and Virtual Machine Manager.

WAP Link SMA Runbook to VMM Action

If you need to enable Console access to the Virtual Machine to the tenant users, you also have to register a Remote Desktop Gateway. This will allow user to access the Virtual Machine without having a IP address set inside the VM.

Tenant VM Console Access WAP

Remember there are much more steps you have to do. For example configuring the fabric in System Center Virtual Machine Manager or configuring the Remote Desktop Gateway to have access to the Hyper-V hosts. And if you are doing NVGRE (Hyper-V Network Virtualization) you may also want to have NVGRE Gateways in place so customers can leave the Virtual Network and connect to the physical network or the internet. So setting this thing up is one part but having it designed and configured the right way is another.

Windows Azure: General Availability of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Windows Azure Logo

Today Microsoft announced the General Availability of the Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service offering. This includes the new Virtual Machine and Virtual Network capabilities. This release is now live in production, backed by an enterprise SLA, supported by Microsoft Support, and is ready to use for production apps.

Today’s IaaS release also includes new enhancements:

  • VM Image Templates (including SQL Server, BizTalk Server, and SharePoint images)
  • VM Sizes (including Larger Memory Machines)
  • VM Prices (reduced prices 21%-33% for IaaS and PaaS VMs)

Windows Azure Infrastructure as a Service allows you to create Virtual Machine and Virtual Networks hosted by the Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud. I already created a blog post how you can create new Virtual Machines in Windows Azure and how you can connect System Center App Controller to manage your Private Cloud, as well as your Public Cloud, hosted in Windows Azure.

New Windows Azure Virtual Machine Compute Pricing

Below are the new hourly on-demand rates for Windows Azure Virtual Machines:

Size Name # of CPU Cores Memory Windows VM Pricing Linux VM Pricing
ExtraSmall Shared 768 MB $0.02 per hour $0.02 per hour
Small 1 1.75 GB $0.09 per hour $0.06 per hour
Medium 2 3.5 GB $0.18 per hour $0.12 per hour
Large 4 7 GB $0.36 per hour $0.24 per hour
ExtraLarge 8 14 GB $0.72 per hour $0.48 per hour
A6 4 28 GB $1.02 per hour $0.82 per hour
A7 8 56 GB $2.04 per hour $1.64 per hour


Note that the above prices are for hourly on-demand usage (meaning there is no commitment to use them for more than an hour, and you pay only for what you consume).  Complete pricing details for Windows Azure Virtual Machines can be found here.

Commitment Pricing Discounts

You can also optionally take advantage of our 6 Month and 12 Month commitment plans to obtain significant discounts on the standard pay as you go rates.  With a commitment plan, you commit to spending a certain amount of money each month, and in return, Microsoft gives you a discount on any Windows Azure resource you use that money on.

You can get more information on the blog post from Scott Guthrie or the Windows Azure homepage.

Windows Azure Services on Windows Server for Hosting Service Providers now available

Windows Azure Services

Today Microsoft announced that Windows Azure Services on Windows Server are now available.

Microsoft is committed to delivering customers a consistent platform regardless of deployment location and calls this vision the Cloud OS. As part of this strategy, Microsoft is now enabling Hosting Service Providers to use Windows Server and System Center to deliver the same great experiences already found in Windows Azure. The first two of these finished services are high density website hosting and virtual machine provisioning and management. Hosting Service Providers enable these modules through the new Service Management API and optional portal, which will continue to add more services from Microsoft and 3rd party providers over time.

Get more information about the Windows Azure Services on Windows Server on the Microsoft Hosting homepage.

How to Install VPN on Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 RC Logo

This post should show you how to install a VPN Server on Windows Server 2012. This post covers a VPN server for a small environment or for a hosted server scenario. This post is note made for enterprise deployments. If you want to run a VPN solution in your enterprise you should definitely look at Direct Access which is much easier to deploy in Windows Server 2012 than in Windows Server 2008 R2.

For a VPN server on Windows Server 2008 R2 check this post: How to Install VPN on Windows Server 2008 R2


    1. Install the role “Remote Access” via Server Manager or PowerShell

Windows Azure Logo

Create a Virtual Machine on Windows Azure

I had some time left and checked out the new features of Windows Azure. Some days ago, Microsoft showed some new preview features for Windows Azure like Virtual Machine Hosting and Website Hosting.

Now, this post should show you how easy it is to create a new Virtual Machine on demand.

First, open the Windows Azure portal, and in the Virtual Machine tab you can create a new Virtual Machine

You can now choose the Operating System, and wow besides Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 and the Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012 you can choose between different Linux systems or you can add your own images



Type the name of your Virtual Machine, set the local Administrator password and select the Hardware profile of your VM.

Now choose a DNS name for your VM and do some other administrative tasks.

Now you can create your new Virtual Machine.

This will take some time 3-5 minutes in my case.


After the Virtual Machine is deployed, you can check out the Virtual Machine dashboard where you can check out som stats and do configuration changes.

After the Virtual Machine is deployed, you can connect to it via RDP and configure your system.


I am sure this will be interesting to see how the Private Cloud merges with the Public Cloud. And I am also looking forward to seeing some really cool implementations of other Hosting Providers to bring the same functionality as Windows Azure.

FreeBSD Support on Windows Server Hyper-V

Hyper-V R2 SP1

Big news from the Open Source guys at Microsoft. Microsoft, Citrix and NetApp together with the FreeBSD community announced the support of FreeBSD for Hyper-V. I think this is a very important step to get Hyper-V in a better position. A lot of Hosting providers I know are running FreeBSD machines, and now with the support they can run it on Hyper-V.

Check out this post about FreeBSD Support on Windows Server Hyper-V on [email protected] blog.

Virtualization technology plays an increasingly critical role at all levels of IT, from the desktop to the datacenter. As more organizations use virtualization to manage mission-critical workloads, they are taking advantage of the cost-saving benefits of server consolidation and building foundations for private, public and hybrid cloud computing. To help customers adopt virtualization and progress toward cloud computing, Microsoft is committed to supporting multiple platforms with its server virtualization solution. Tomorrow at BSDCan 2012, Microsoft and its partners NetApp and Citrix will extend this cross-platform commitment, presenting FreeBSD support on Windows Server Hyper-V.

The FreeBSD drivers will allow FreeBSD to run as a first-class guest on the Windows Server Hyper-V hypervisor. The drivers will be fully released early this summer, including the source code for the drivers under the BSD license, and will initially work with FreeBSD 8.2 and 8.3 on Windows Server 2008 R2.

For Microsoft the project breaks new ground – it’s the first project in which open source co-development was done with commercial partners like NetApp and Citrix. Also, the FreeBSD community is a new relationship for us relative to other open source communities that we’ve worked with for years. It was invaluable to have partners NetApp and Citrix, both users of and contributors to FreeBSD, be so knowledgeable about how to enable their products to run on Hyper-V with high performance. Given their expertise, they focused their attention mostly on the storage and network aspects of the drivers respectively, but the project was a joint effort in all aspects. Microsoft partnered with Insight Global on developing the VMBUS driver, which is the core that interfaces between the guest operating system and the host Windows Server Hyper-V hypervisor. From the earliest stages the code was intended to be open source, with the goal of incorporating it into the core of FreeBSD. This drove decisions such as using Github as the software development infrastructure.



How Microsoft Hyper-V and the Cisco UCS changed our lives

Cisco UCS Hardware

At the end of last year we had our Cisco UCS ordered and in your datacenter. In January we started the testing and made the Clusters ready for the production environment. In February we started the migration of our existing environment, mostly P2V and also some V2V migrations.

Here some interessting facts about our Cisco UCS and Hyper-V project.

  • We use 12 Cisco UCS Blades this is like 10 HE of rackspace
  • We migrated 45 Windows Servers and 47 Unix Servers in just one week
  • We replace 2 racks of server with a half rack of two Cisco UCS Bladecenters
  • We think we can replace 2-3 racks more with our two Bladecenters.
  • At the end of this year we think we could replace 4-5 racks with 1/2 rack
  • We still have a lot of physical and virtual server which will be needed to be migrated to the Bladecenter.
  • We will get even more out of our Blade Servers by activting Hyper-V Dynamic Memory as a new feature of Hyper-V R2 ServicePack 1

This migration had a lot of positive influence on other things in the datacenter.

Datacenter Power

  • we need now 4% less energie overall
  • we need now 6% less cooling overall
  • we need less space (1 and 1/2 racks at the moment)
  • now our system administrator travel 50% less to the datacenter, because of hardware defects or other administrative tasks.
  • We can deploy new servers in minutes instead of hours

I think all of this numbers (except the time we need to deploy new servers )will increase after the next migrations.

Now I started to write a series of blog posts about installing Microsoft Hyper-V R2 on the Cisco UCS system:

Microsoft Hyper-V and the Cisco UCS Bladecenter are a powerful team. The UCS Virtual Hardware takes alot of complexety from the hypervisor in your case Hyper-V. You don’t need NIC teaming and stuff like that. Thats is making it very easy to deploy Hyper-V Clusters. And with the Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager you can save a lot of time in managing your clusters, hosts, virtual machine and also in P2V and V2V migrations. Since Microsoft SCVMM supports Windows Powershell you can also do a lot of scripting automation. And with the release of the new Version of SCVMM (System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012) this will even get better for deploying new virtual machines, services and even public and private clouds.

Hyper-V R2 SP1

We started with Microsoft Hyper-V R2 Servers before the release of Service Pack 1. We think we can even get a lot more out of your systems with the new Dynamic Memory feature for Hyper-V which comes in Service Pack 1.

At the end we think choosing the Cisco UCS, Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager for our datacenter was the best choice we have made, in terms of costs and technology.

Microsoft Hosting Day 2011

Microsoft Hosting Day 2011

Powershell: Count Sharepoint Sites on Sharepoint Server 2010

Powershell Header

This is a very small line of code to count Sharepoint 2010 Site Collections with Powershell.

(Get-SPSite -Limit all).Count

By the way, we at Genotec AG are offering a Hosted Sharepoint 2010 solution based on Powershell automation.