Tag: Manage

How to Manage Hyper-V VM Checkpoints with PowerShell

How to Manage Hyper-V VM Checkpoints with PowerShell

In this blog post we are going to have a look at how you can create, manage, apply, and remove VM Checkpoints in Hyper-V using PowerShell. Hyper-V virtual machine (VM) checkpoints are one of the great benefits of virtualization. Before Windows Server 2012 R2, they were known as virtual machine snapshots. VM Checkpoints in Hyper-V allow you to save the system state of a VM to a specific time and then revert back to that state if you need to. This is great if you are testing software and configuration changes, or if you have a demo environment, which you want to reset.

Hyper-V VM Checkpoint Types

Before we got on how you can manage Hyper-V VM Checkpoints with PowerShell, let me first explain the two different types. Since Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10, Hyper-V includes two types of checkpoints, Standard Checkpoints, and Production Checkpoints.

  • Standard Checkpoints: takes a snapshot of the virtual machine and virtual machine memory state at the time the checkpoint is initiated. A snapshot is not a full backup and can cause data consistency issues with systems that replicate data between different nodes such as Active Directory. Hyper-V only offered standard checkpoints (formerly called snapshots) prior to Windows 10.
  • Production Checkpoints: uses Volume Shadow Copy Service or File System Freeze on a Linux virtual machine to create a data-consistent backup of the virtual machine. No snapshot of the virtual machine memory state is taken.

You can set up these settings in Hyper-V Manager or in PowerShell.

Hyper-V VM Checkpoint Types

Hyper-V VM Checkpoint Types

If you are using PowerShell to configure Checkpoints for virtual machines these commands may help you.

Configure and set VM for Standard Checkpoints

Set-VM -Name "Windows10" -CheckpointType Standard

Set VM to Production Checkpoints, if the production checkpoint fails a Standard Checkpoint is created

 Set-VM -Name "Windows10" -CheckpointType Production

Set VM to only use Production Checkpoints

 Set-VM -Name "Windows10" -CheckpointType ProductionOnly

Disable VM Checkpoints for the Hyper-V virtual machine

 Set-VM -Name "Windows10" -CheckpointType Disabled

Managing Hyper-V VM Checkpoints using PowerShell

Create VM Checkpoints

You can create a new VM Checkpoint with PowerShell, you can round the following command:

Checkpoint-VM -Name "Windows10"

You can find more on the cmdlet on Microsoft Docs.

You can list the VM Checkpoints of a Hyper-V VM:

Get-VMCheckpoint -VMName "Windows10"
How to Manage Hyper-V VM Checkpoints with PowerShell

How to Manage Hyper-V VM Checkpoints with PowerShell

Applying Hyper-V VM checkpoints using PowerShell

If you want to revert your virtual machine state to a previous point-in-time, you can apply an existing checkpoint, using the following PowerShell command.

Restore-VMCheckpoint -Name "checkpoint name" -VMName "Windows10" -Confirm:$false

You can find more information about the cmdlet here.

Renaming checkpoints

To rename a checkpoint you can use the following command

Rename-VMCheckpoint -VMName "Windows10" -Name "Checkpointname" -NewName "MyNewCheckpointName"

Deleting checkpoints

You can also delete or remove a Hyper-V VM checkpoint with the following PowerShell command. This will merge the .avhdx files in the background.

Remove-VMCheckpoint -VMName "Windows10" -Name "Checkpointname"

Conclusion

I hope this blog post gives you a great overview on how you can manage, apply, restore, and remove Hyper-V VM Checkpoints using PowerShell. You can learn more about Hyper-V virtual machine checkpoints on Microsoft Docs. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Livestream Hybrid Cloud Server Management with Azure Arc

Livestream on Hybrid Cloud Server Management with Azure Arc

On Wednesday, May 27, I plan to do a Livestream on how to govern and manage servers in a hybrid cloud environment with Azure Arc. In the live stream, we will set up my Azure environment and add on-premises Windows and Linux servers to Azure Arc, so I can start managing them using the Azure Resource Manager.

Azure Arc allows you to onboard physical and virtual servers in your hybrid environment (on-premises, edge, and multi-cloud). By joining serves to Azure Arc, you get the benefits you are used from native Azure resources, like tags, RBAC, and many more. In the preview, you can now use Azure Management services like Azure Log Analytics and Azure Policy to make sure your servers are compliant across your hybrid environment.

Livestream Azure Arc for Servers – Hybrid Cloud Server Management

YouTube Livestream will be starting on Wednesday, May 27 at 16:00 (CEST): Make sure you set a reminder!

 ▶ Download the calendar ICS file here. 📅✔

You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel to get a notification.

Manage and govern your hybrid servers using Azure Arc

Thomas Maurer shows you how you can manage and govern your Windows and Linux machines hosted outside of Azure on your corporate network or other cloud providers, similar to how you manage native Azure virtual machines. When a hybrid machine is connected to Azure, it becomes a connected machine and is treated as a resource in Azure. Azure Arc provides you with the familiar cloud-native Azure management experience, like RBAC, Tags, Azure Policy, Log Analytics, and more.

If you are interested in these topics, join me and check out the following links:

Join us on the YouTube Livestream

If you are interested, join us on May 27 online. I am really looking forward to chatting with you in the Livestream about hybrid cloud server management with Azure Arc. You can find the live stream here on YouTube.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



How I Manage and Plan Tasks as a Remote Worker

How I Manage and Plan Tasks as a Remote Worker

I know being a remote worker and working from home can be a challenge, especially when it comes to managing and planning your tasks and to-dos. Since I started at Microsoft, I became a remote worker working from my home office, and I needed to figure out what the best way for me is to get things done. In this blog, I want to share my experience on how to manage and plan tasks as a remote worker working from home and be more productive. That said, this is specifically for my job and my personal preferences, this might not work in the exact same way for you. But I hope you get some tips and tricks out of it, which can help you to be more productive when you are working from home.

Getting an Overview of my Tasks and the Things I need to work on 🤓

To get your tasks and your work items planned, you first need to know what these are. Not just for you but also for your team and the people you are working with. So for me, there are two types of to-do items. First of all, the more significant things I am working on, alone but also together with my team. This helps you to collaborate in a team and also gives a good overview of who is doing what. The other things to-dos and tasks I want to track are all my personal ones (but still work-related), small tasks, ideas, emails I need to reply, and so on. For me separating this made a lot of sense since I also want to be very efficient and not spend time more time on a task writing it down than actually completing it (If it is not something the team should know about). With that, I quickly want to share how we collaborate and plan and track our work as a team, as well as how I work with my own personal work tasks.

Working and Collaborating in a Team 🙌

As a team, we are using Azure DevOps Boards to track and plan our work items. We can create new work items and then move them into the “in progress”-column. When the task is completed, we then move it in to closed. You can also see that we are tracking and planning our content we are publishing, offline and online events we are presenting at, and much more. You can see that we also use that board to plan and schedule posts on our ITOpsTalk.com blog. With that, we can easily plan and see who is releasing a blog on what topic on which specific day.

Work Items in Azure DevOps Boards

Work Items in Azure DevOps Boards

Azure DevOps also allows us to integrate into other systems and automate specific tasks and update databases. I know that Azure DevOps is might not be for everyone, but if you want to use a similar but simpler tool to collaborate and organize your teamwork, you should have a look at Microsoft Planner.

Managing my Personal Tasks ✔

For all the rest of my tasks, I use the Microsoft To Do app. The app helps me to organize different tasks in different lists. This is also how I write down ideas or to-dos I get out of a meeting or a conversation.

Microsoft To Do Management

Microsoft To Do Management

I don’t use the planning feature in the To Do app since I use my calendar for doing the planning. However, I still use it to give my tasks a time where they pop up, so I don’t forget to include them. Again using the Microsoft To Do app has a couple of advantages. First of all, you basically get this app on almost all devices I own, and it automatically syncs tasks, and there is also a web version. What I also highly appreciate is the fact that it connects to many other services and places and can show you tasks from different places like Outlook. For example, I can easily list all the emails I flagged and the Microsoft Planner tasks which are assigned to me.

One personal thing I can recommend is to create some quick notes lists. I, for example, created one for feedback, I often get feedback from customers during events or calls. To quickly write these items down, I use a list called Feedback in my Microsoft To Do app, and later on go through it and forward it to the right people and systems we have in place. The other quick lists I created are for recurring meetings. From time to time, something pops in my head, which I want to discuss during my next team meeting or my 1:1 with my manager. I quickly write that item down, and when the meeting starts, I can quickly open the list and make sure I don’t forget anything I wanted to discuss.

Planning my Tasks and my Week using Calendar Blocking 📅

Okay, now I have all of my tasks and to-dos listed, the next step is to plan them. One of the main challenges I found myself in was to figure out what I should work next. I have enough tasks, but it took me a lot of time to go through them and decided on which one I should work. Of course, you can prioritize your tasks, but since you also have meetings scheduled, one that is sometimes too big to start with. To make that process a little bit easier, I used the concept of calendar blocking.

There are many great articles and videos out there, which describe the concept of calendar blocking. For me it is straightforward, at the beginning of the week, I open up my Outlook calendar and a list of the tasks and items I need to do. I then start to put blocks in my calendar to plan when I am working on which item or task. So now, when I finish a task, I just have a look at my calendar, and I can see what I should work on next.

I also set myself some rules, and I had certain learnings over time. First, calendar items or blocks are not necessarily fixed, and they can be moved around as long as the deadline allows it. Sometimes you can’t finish something in time, so you might just want to keep working on it and move the other block or item for later. Secondly, I try to create as many recurring blocks as I can; this makes planning much more comfortable and faster and gives you some sort of consistency. Third, usually, my work items and blocks are larger then they need to be, I still want to have some time to interact with others on Microsoft Teams or just get a coffee, without stressing myself out.

All that said, I want to give you a quick example of how a week can look like. I want to highlight again, that this is based on my personal preferences and aligned with the teams I work with, it can be entirely different for you.

How I Manage and Plan Tasks as a Remote Worker

How I manage and plan tasks as a remote worker

Usually, I start planning my week on Sunday evening or Monday morning. A lot of blocks are already in my calendar because I created these recurring tasks and entries. Then I go into my Microsoft To Do App and my Azure Board, to check what the open tasks are I should be working at, and start blocking time for these items.

Outlook Calendar Blocking

Outlook Calendar Blocking

In this example, I want to quickly highlight a couple of things.

  1. As said before, you can see that many of my blocks are recurring tasks; this helps me to save time.
  2. I usually start the week with something easy I just can do, and I don’t need much brainpower, like reporting tasks. By just quickly getting these things done, I also get motivated to get more tasks done.
  3. I plan breaks to make sure that I don’t mess up my whole schedule. They are usually recurring tasks in my calendar.
  4. Even recurring tasks and blocks and easily moved around, depending on if I have meetings or different appointments going on.
  5. Since we are a remote team with people all over the globe, I can’t attend all of our meetings, and that is fine. We record our meetings, and I usually schedule some time to watch the recording.
  6. Working from home prevents you from having your usual chats with your colleagues while getting coffee or other breaks. That’s why our organization has some scheduled and recurring watercooler events for everyone to join.
  7. You can see here that I blocked some time to do some focus work on a specific topic. However, at the beginning of the week, I have no idea what and how many meetings I will have. Since a lot of people I usually collaborate are in another timezone and start working in my afternoon, I enter a blocker in my calendar but marked it as free. So people can still find some free time to schedule meetings with me using the Outlook availability feature.
  8. Here you can see I booked some focus time to work on a specific task. However, later in the week, I scheduled some meetings instead.
  9. I use the category feature in Outlook to color code my blocks depending on different tasks. Red, for example, means focus work, dark red means collaboration work and meetings, and orange are important meetings.
  10. One thing I like to do as a remote worker is to schedule some virtual coffee breaks with my co-workers over teams, outside of the regular meetings.
  11. I also highlight important tasks where I am presenting or speaking on a specific topic. Having that color-coding for these also reminds me to be prepared with the necessary content.

Note Taking

Another big part, to stay organized and get things done, is the way I am taking notes. I need a place to write down my meeting notes, or my planning for new projects and content, as well as my travel planning. For that I am using Microsoft OneNote, it is great because it syncs across all my devices, lets me do typing as well as handwritten notes, and has many more awesome features.

Taking Notes in OneNote

Taking Notes in OneNote

I can also easily collaborate and share notes with others as well as super easy automate processes using Power Automate. We are also using it a lot in our team to brainstorm ideas and work together.

There is also some stuff I always need ready, or I just quickly want to write down, or maybe quickly want to copy past later or something I need all the time. For that, I am using the Windows 10 Stick Notes app.

Stick Notes

Stick Notes

These also sync across my devices and really help me to get these quick notes done.

Automate processes between these tools

As you can see there are many tools which can help you to stay organized. However, too many tools can also have the opposite effect and can use a lot of time. I start using Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow) which is part of the Microsoft Power Apps. Power Automate helps me to easily connect different tools and services together. For example, I can automatically create a new Outlook task or Microsoft To Do task when an Azure DevOps workitem is assigned. Power Automate can also do things like sending emails or notifications, send an article to OneNote, integration with Microsoft Teams. and integrates in many other third-party services.

Automate tasks using Power Automate

Automate tasks using Power Automate

Conclusion

I hope this gives you a little bit of an overview of how I manage and plan my tasks as a remote worker. I know that this might not work for you in the same way as it does for me; however, I hope you get the one or other idea out of it. It is also important to mention that I highlighted a couple of different tools like Azure Boards, Microsoft Planner, Microsoft To Do and Outlook, I know that there are much more out there and maybe work better for your specific scenario. Again, I would never say I am an expert on that. I just wanted to share how I handle and manage my tasks when working from home, and I am super interested in learning from you, and how you organize yourself to become more productive. If you have any tips and tricks to share, feel free to leave a comment.



Azure Friday - Manage and govern your hybrid servers using Azure Arc

Azure Friday: Manage hybrid servers using Azure Arc

Last Friday, I had the chance to join Donovan Brown on Azure Friday to talk about how you can manage and govern your hybrid servers using Azure Arc. I showed how you can manage and govern your Windows and Linux machines hosted outside of Azure on your corporate network or other cloud providers, similar to how you manage native Azure virtual machines. When a hybrid machine is connected to Azure, it becomes a connected machine and is treated as a resource in Azure. You can watch the full episode here on Microsoft Channel 9.

Azure Friday - Manage and govern your hybrid servers using Azure Arc

Azure Friday – Manage and govern your hybrid servers using Azure Arc

If you want to know more about the Azure Arc and Azure Hybrid services, check out the following blog post and Microsoft Docs articles:

If you want to check out my other Azure Friday episode, in which I was joining Scott Hanselman to talk about how you can connect Windows Server to Azure Hybrid Cloud services using Windows Admin Center. And how you can use other Azure Hybrid services to improve your on-premises environment, check out my blog here.

I hope you liked this Azure Friday episode about how you can manage and govern your Windows and Linux machines hosted outside of Azure on your corporate network or other cloud providers, using Azure Arc for servers. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. And yes, this is a Surface Pro X.



Visual Studio Code Azure Virtual Machines Extension

Create and Manage Azure VMs from VS Code

With the new Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) extension for Visual Studio Code (VS Code), you can now create and manage Azure VMs directly from VS Code. This is a great new extension if you are working with VS Code and Microsoft Azure. The extension is currently in preview and lets you view, create, delete, start and stop Azure Virtual machines, as well as adding SSH keys to existing Azure VMs.

Get started

To get started with the Azure Virtual Machine extension in Visual Studio Code, simply follow these steps:

  1. Download and install the Azure Virtual Machines extension for Visual Studio Code
  2. Once complete, you’ll see an Azure icon in the Activity Bar
  3. Sign in to your Azure account by clicking Sign in to Azure. If you don’t have an Azure account yet, you can create a free Azure account here.

Free Azure Account

If you don’t have an Azure account yet, you can sign up today for your free Azure account and receive 12 months of free popular services, $200 free credit, and 25+ always free services.

Create an Azure VM in VS Code

You can now create Azure VMs directly from Visual Studio Code. The wizard will ask you for a VM name, username, Azure region, and passphrase.

VS Code creating Azure Virtual Machines

VS Code creating Azure Virtual Machines

This will create an Azure VM Standard D2s V3 (2 CPU Cores & 8 GB of ram) with the image Ubuntu 18.04-LTS. An SSH key will be created, and your SSH Config file (~/.ssh/config) will be updated so you can immediately connect via SSH ($ ssh vm-name) or using the Remote-SSH extension. You can find more information about how you can connect to Azure VM using Visual Studio Code in my blog post.

Azure VM management in VS Code

Azure VM management in VS Code

Having the possibility to manage Azure VMs and connect with them directly within Visual Studio makes working with these tools and Azure much more convenient.

I hope you can go and try out the Azure VM extension for VS Code. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.



Azure Advent Calendar Azure Arc

Azure Advent Calendar 2019 – Azure Arc for Servers

The Azure Advent Calendar is a great initiative by Microsoft MVPs Gregor Suttie and Richard Hooper. Over the course of 25 days, the community creates and released 75 videos about Azure technologies and topics. I am happy to be part of the community and release an Azure Advent Calendar 2019 video on Azure Arc for Servers.

 

Azure Arc for servers allows customers to manage and govern servers across their hybrid cloud environment, Windows and Linux servers running in Azure, on-premises, at the edge, and in a multi-cloud environment. You can use the Azure cloud-native management technologies included in Azure Resource Manager to manage and govern server on any infrastructure.

Azure Arc consists of a set of different technologies and components like:

  • Organize and govern all your servers – Azure Arc extends Azure management to physical and virtual servers anywhere. Govern and manage servers from a single scalable management pane. You can learn more about Azure Arc for servers here.
  • Manage Kubernetes apps at scale – Deploy and configure Kubernetes applications consistently across all your environments with modern DevOps techniques.
  • Run data services anywhere – Deploy Azure data services in moments, anywhere you need them. Get simpler compliance, faster response times, and better security for your data. You can learn more here.
  • Adopt cloud technologies on-premises – Bringing cloud-native management to your hybrid environment. You can learn more about Azure Arc for servers here.

Watch Azure Arc Video

Here you can watch the Azure Arc Video from the Azure Advent Calendar 2019.

You can find and watch the video about Azure Arc for servers here. If you want to see more Azure Advent Calendar videos, you can check the Azure Advent Calendar website and the Youtube channel.

I hope you enjoy the video if you have any question about the Azure Advent Calendar 2019 video and Azure Arc for servers, please feel free to leave a comment.