Tag: Hybrid Cloud

Last updated by at .

Azure Stack Tenant Portal

Considerations for deploying apps and services on Azure Stack

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

High-level differences between Azure and Azure Stack

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

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

Considerations and differences between Azure and Azure Stack

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

Setup an Azure Stack operator and developer environment

Install Azure Stack PowerShell

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

Check API versions available on Azure Stack

Azure Stack API Verions PowerShell

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

Check Azure Stack version release notes

Azure Stack Version Release Notes

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

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

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



Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was, more or less, datacenter grade hardware, it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not really the thing for a home lab on your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap and not very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. Mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features, are also making it a great option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today, there is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Azure Update Management Resource Group

Azure Update Management using Windows Admin Center

I already posted a couple of blogs about the Windows Admin Center. For example how you can use and configure Azure Backup or how you can configure the Azure Network Adapter directly from Windows Admin Center. Windows Admin Center does also allow you to manage Windows Updates on your Windows Server. However, if you want to have some more control over your updates and have a centralized orchestration for updates, Azure Update Management can help you. You can use the Update Management solution in Azure Automation to manage operating system updates for your Windows and Linux computers that are deployed in Azure, in on-premises environments, or in other cloud providers. With Windows Admin Center you will get a direct integration with Azure Update Management.

Setup Azure Update Management in Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center Windows Update Management

Setting up Azure Update management in Windows Admin Center is very simple. First you will need to register your WAC installation with Azure, if you haven’t done this already. After that you go to the Update extension and you will find a button to Set up now.

Windows Admin Center Setup Azure Update Management

Now you can configure Azure Update Management from Windows Admin Center. You can select your Azure Subscription where you want to deploy the solution. You can select an existing Resource Group and Log Analytics Workspace, or you can create a complete new setup.

Windows Admin Center Configured Azure Update Management

This will install the Microsoft Monitoring Agent on your Windows Server, which is used for the Azure Update Management.

Azure Update Management Resource Group

If you create a new setup, this will also create all the resources in Azure, like the Resource Group, Log Analytics Workspace, Azure Automation Account and adding the Update Solution.

Azure Update Management

Now you can start managing the Windows Updates centralized from Azure Update Management.

Azure Update Management supports not only Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2016, it supports Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and later.

This again shows Microsoft efforts to build Hybrid Cloud functionality directly into Windows Server and Windows Admin Center. This should help especially administrators, which are mostly managing on-premises environments, to extend and benefit from Microsoft Azure.



HPE Azure Stack Innovation Center

Let’s talk about the HPE Azure Stack Innovation Center

Together with HPE, I did some short videos about HPE Azure Stack and the HPE Azure Stack Innovation Center in Geneva. The videos are very short to just give you a quick idea about the different scenarios and the benefits of the Innovation Center as well as the HPE solutions. If you want to know more about it, you can check out my blog and look for my articles on Azure Stack and Azure.

About the Azure Stack Innovation Centers

To help you get started on your journey with Microsoft Azure Stack, HPE and Microsoft have built Azure Stack Innovation Centers. Staffed by HPE and Microsoft experts, and leveraging the latest industry-leading Azure Stack hardware and software solutions, the Azure Stack Innovation Centers are designed to help simplify and accelerate your hybrid cloud journey.

In simple words, the Innovation Centers are a place to try out Azure Stack multi-node systems, do proof of concepts and test your real-world workloads. We used the Azure Stack Innovations Centers to work with customers, to try out their workloads directly on a full multi-node system. This helps to better understand the benefits and challenges for the specific customer workloads and get some hands-on experience. It is also a great possibility to test out the Azure Stack Operator capabilities and tasks.

Thomas Maurer about the HPE Azure Stack Innovation Center

Thomas Maurer talks about how the HPE Microsoft Azure Innovation Center helps partners and customers on Azure Stack Implementation projects!



Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 released, get it now!

Microsoft announced Windows Server 2019 a while ago and also showed of a lot of new features and improvements at Microsoft Ignite last week. Today Microsoft announced the release of Windows Server 2019. Windows Server brings improvements in four key areas, such as Hybrid, Security, Application Platform and Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI). Together with Windows Admin Center, Windows Server 2019 becomes a powerful platform to run your workloads on-premise or in the cloud.

Update: Windows Server 2019 availability

On October 2, 2018, we announced the availability of Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809. Later that week, we paused the rollout of these new releases to investigate isolated reports of users missing files after updating to the latest Windows 10 feature update. We take any case of data loss seriously, so we proactively removed all related media from our channels as we started investigation of the reports and have now fixed all known related issues.

 

In addition to extensive internal validation, we have taken time to closely monitor feedback and diagnostic data from our Windows Insiders and from millions of devices on the Windows 10 October 2018 Update. There is no further evidence of data loss. Based on this data, today we are beginning the re-release of Windows Server 2019, Windows Server, version 1809, and the related versions of Windows 10.

 

Customers with a valid license of Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809 can download the media from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). Azure customers will see the Windows Server 2019 image available in the Azure Marketplace over the coming week. We are also working to make the Windows Server 2019 evaluation available on the Microsoft Eval Center. We will provide an update to this blog and our social channels once it’s available.

 

November 13, 2018 marks the revised start of the servicing timeline for both the Long-Term Servicing Channel and the Semi-Annual Channel. For more information please visit the Support Lifecycle page.

Source: Microsoft

Windows Server 2019 Investments

You can also read more about Windows Server innovations on my blog:

I have some other blog post in the pipeline, covering new features in Windows Server 2019.

Download Windows Server 2019

You can download and get Windows Server 2019 form different Microsoft source:

MSDN and the Microsoft Partner Network will get Windows Server 2019 later in October.

At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft showed also some great Windows Server demos and I hope you check it out!



SCOM Days 2018

Speaking at SCOM Days 2018 Gothenburg

I am happy to announce that I will be speaking at the Swedish SCOM-dagen 2018 conference in Gothenburg. This years main topic of the SCOM-dagen or SCOM Days 2018, is Hybrid Cloud Monitoring. In my session I will cover an overview about Azure Stack and than focus on Azure Stack operations and monitoring.

The SCOM Days 2018 will take place on October 10 in Gothenburg. This will be the first time at SCOM Days and I am already very exited. I heard a lot of great things about this event, and of course I am also happy to visit Gothenburg for the first time.

SCOM Day attracts Operations Manager users from all over Sweden. Since the start in 2014, SCOM Day has turned into being the most popular event for the Swedish System Center Operations Manager community.

My Session at SCOM Days

Azure Stack Operations

Already looking forward to this event, and hopefully meet you there!



Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 – What is coming Next

A while ago Microsoft announced the next key versions Windows Server 2019 and System Center 2019. And a couple of weeks ago, at the Windows Server Summit, Microsoft was taking more about what is new in Windows Server 2019. Microsoft also talked a lot about the positioning of Windows Server and what we can expect in the future. With the news finally released to the public, I can start talking and blogging about the new features and investments. I decided to create a series of blogs, to show the world the great new features. This blog post here, should give you a high level overview about how Microsoft is investing in Windows Server 2019.

Windows Server – The Power behind the Intelligent Cloud and the Intelligent Edge

Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge

Windows Server is not only powering the Intelligent Edge where you have a great Software-Defined Datacenter plaform running Hyper-V or Stroage Spaces Direct, or as application platform. It is also powering the Microsoft Azure Intelligent Cloud. Windows Server is running the foundation of the platform of Azure and also many many services running in Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Azure Stack. If the innovation happening in the Microsoft Public Cloud, we as customers also benefit from that.

Windows Server – Hybrid Cloud in the DNA

Windows Server Hybrid Cloud

Windows Server is a great platform and it runs where ever you are. If you run on-premises in your Software-Defined Datacenter running in on physical hardware or in virtual machines or on Azure Stack, Windows Server is your platform. If you are running in the Public Cloud, Windows Server is not only the platform powering Azure. Windows Server is also a great platform for you to run application in Microsoft Azure or other cloud services providers.

Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server

Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server Reserved Instances

The Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server is also a great option to run Windows Server workloads in the cloud. It allows customer to leverage the licensing they already have. This can bring down cost by a huge factor, and this together with Azure Reserved VM Instances up to 82%.

Windows Server 2019 – Innovation and Investments

Windows Server 2019 Investments

If we have a look at the investments done in Windows Server 2019, we can see that we can categorize them in 4 categories.

  • Hybrid Datacenter Platform
  • Security
  • Application Innovation
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure

Unique hybrid datacenter platform

Windows Server 2019 brings new functionality and features to extend your datacenter to Azure to maximize existing investments and gain new hybrid capabilities. To achieve this Microsoft brings improvements to Windows Server 2019 like built-in Azure Active Directory integration, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery, Storage Migration Services and many more.

Enhanced security capabilities

One of the key factors in today’s IT landscape is security. Microsoft started the journey by bringing enhanced security features to Windows Server 2016. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft improves these security features of their server operating system. Microsoft adds new capabilities like Shield Virtual Machines for Linux, Exploit Guard, Encrypted Virtual Networks and under a lot of others. My favorite, the integration of Windows Defender Advanced Thread Protection or Windows Defender ATP.

Faster innovation for applications

With the Semi-Annual Channel releases of Windows Server, Microsoft already released some great investments to enable developers and IT pros. These allow them to create cloud native apps or modernize their traditional apps using containers and micro-services. In Windows Server 2019, Microsoft goes one step further and releases the SAC Improvement s like Linux Containers on Windows Server and the Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows Server to the LTSC release. Microsoft also invest heavily to improve the container experience on Windows Server, by optimizing the container images for Server Core and Nano Server, a new Windows Container Image and better integration into orchestrators like Kubernetes and Service Fabric.

Unprecedented Hyper-converged Infrastructure

Microsoft is also improving your software-defined datacenter experience to achieve greater efficiency and security. With Windows Admin Center, Microsoft introduced a new web-based management UI which will be a perfect solution to manage your Windows Server 2019 servers. However, Microsoft is also investing in more hardware support like Storage Class Memory support. But also, on adding scale, resilience and performance improvements to your Storage Spaces Direct deployments. This includes improvements like Cluster Sets, improved performance for Mirror-accelerated parity volumes and much more.

In the next couple of days and weeks I will release some blog posts. These will covering the new features and improvements in Windows Server 2019 with a little more technical depth. And I am sure we will even have more to share after Microsoft Ignite. So ,stay tuned and follow my blog 🙂