Tag: Storage Spaces Direct

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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 give me the chance to test and work with WAC for quiet 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 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. Basically a hosted services of Windows Admin Center. The feedback however was, that a lot of customer preferred a 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. Rather switching between different tools, you can final 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 core familiar 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 easily get an overview about resources, performance, health and alerts.

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 Manger, Certificate and User Management, Windows Update and so on. The Server Manager Solution also adds management of Virtual Machines, Virtual Switches and Storage Replica.

Failover Cluster Manager

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

Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager

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

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 like the Azure Management Tools).

Windows Admin Center On-Premise and Public Cloud Architecture

You can basically access the Web UI from every machine running modern browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. If you publish the webserver to the internet, you can also manage it remotely from everywhere. The installation and configuration of 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 a 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 a on-premise solutions. Of course WAC brings right now much more functionality then SMT. And the possibility to extend it with solutions and extensions form third parties makes it even better.

You can download Windows Admin Center here: http://aka.ms/WindowsAdminCenter 



Windows Server 2019

Microsoft announces Windows Server 2019 and System Center 2019

Microsoft today announced the next Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release for Windows Server called Windows Server 2019. In a blog post today, Erin Chapple, Director of Program Management Windows Server, announced the Windows Server 2019, which will be available in the second half of calendar year 2018. You can try out a Windows Server Preview build through the Windows Server Insider Program today. Microsoft also mentions that System Center 2019 will be available to manage Windows Server 2019 infrastructures.

Windows Server 2019 is built on the foundation of Windows Server 2016 and focuses on a couple of key scenarios. Microsoft in four key areas, Hybrid Cloud, Security, Application Platform and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI).

Windows Server 2019 – Hybrid Cloud Improvements

Project Honolulu Server Overview

As of today Hybrid Cloud is more real than ever. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft is focusing to improve the customer experience in a hybrid cloud world. Taking advantage of public cloud innovation such as Artificial Intelligence and IoT, and connecting them with on-premise services is a huge enabler for customers. At Microsoft Ignite 2017, Microsoft showed of the Technical Preview of Project Honolulu, a web-based management console for Windows Server. One of the goals of Project Honolulu is to connect Windows Server deployments with Azure services. Together with Windows Server 2019 and Project Honolulu, you can easily integrate services like Azure Backup, Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery and much more.

Windows Server 2019 – Security

Security was already one of the big investments in Windows Server 2016. Microsoft does not stop there. With Windows Server 2019 Microsoft brings various security improvements like Shielded Virtual Machine support for Linux VMs and Encrypted Virtual Networks. One of my favorite improvements is the possibility to integrate with Windows Defender Advanced Thread Protection (ATP). ATP was first available for Windows 10 and provides preventative protection, detects attacks and zero-day exploits among other capabilities, into the operating system. This gives customers access to deep kernel and memory sensors, improving performance and anti-tampering, and enabling response actions on server machines.

Windows Server 2019 – Application Platform

Ubuntu on Windows Server using WSL

One of the key focus of Microsoft for Windows Server, was always on the developer experience. Microsoft brings a couple of improvements to make it the best application platform out there. Microsoft invests in a couple of scenarios such as bringing the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) to Windows Server. Another key investment area are Windows Server Containers and Windows Server Container images. In Windows Server 2019, Microsoft reduces the Server Core base container image to a third of its current size of 5 GB. This will reduce download time of the image by 72%, further optimizing the development time and performance. Another key improvement in terms of Container support is the integration and support for Container orchestrators like Kubernetes.

Windows Server 2019 – Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)

The 4th improvement area is the Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). With Windows Server 2016 Microsoft released a new feature called Storage Spaces Direct. Together with Hyper-V and other Microsoft technologies, this was great to build you own infrastructure for your virtualization workloads. Windows Server 2019 will bring a lot of improvements for Storage Spaces Direct, Hyper-V and other related technologies. Microsoft is adding scale, performance, and reliability to the platform. Microsoft also partnered with hardware vendors to provide an affordable and yet extremely robust HCI solution with validated design.

What else?

  • Windows Server will be GA (generally available) in the second half of calendar year 2018.
  • Windows Server will be a LTSC release. LTSC will be the recommended version of Windows Server for most infrastructure scenarios and workloads like SQL Server, SharePoint and Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter solutions.
  • With the LTSC release of Windows Server 2019, Microsoft will allow customers to use the Server with Desktop Experience as well as Windows Server Core. With the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) release, Microsoft only provides the Windows Server Core option.
  • There will be another Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) release at the same time as Windows Server 2019 focusing on Container innovations. The SAC releases will be supported as before for 18 months, while the LTSC releases follow the normal 5+5 year support.
  • Licensing will use the same model as Windows Server 2016 today, Microsoft mentions that it is likely that they will increase the pricing for Windows Sevrer Client Access Licensing (CAL), but will share more details later.

With that we can all be very excited for the next LTSC version of Windows Server. Until then the next SAC release of Windows Server, called Windows Server 1803, will be available this spring. The Windows Server, version 1803 will focus on container improvements. If you want to try out, Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 1803, you can join the Windows Server Insider Program.



Windows Server Insider Preview Build 17074

Sneak Peak of Windows Server 1803 (RS4) – Windows Server Insider Preview Build 17074

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a new Windows Server Insider Preview Build (17074) which will be released as the next Semi-Annual Channel release for Windows Server. This release will likely be called Windows Server 1803 (Codename: Restone 4), which is aligned to the Windows Client releases.

Microsoft talked about improvements in the next Windows Server releases and the investments in Containers and Storage Spaces Direct at Microsoft Ignite 2017, and we already got some early Windows Server Insider Preview builds to see what is coming next. The official list is not to big right now, but we can expect Microsoft to add and announce more features in the comment weeks and months.

What is new in Windows Server 1803 (RS4)

  • Storage Spaces Direct (S2D)
    • Microsoft adds Data Deduplication support Storage Spaces Direct and ReFS
    • Microsoft removed the requirement for SCSI Enclosure Service (SES) on the hardware, which enables more hardware to work with S2D
    • Storage Spaces Direct adds support for Persistent Memory (Storage Class Memory), which brings very fast and very low latency storage to S2D. The prices for this devices is still pretty high, but we can expect this to change in the future and we can also see them as a great use as caching devices.
    • Storage Spaces Direct now also supports Direct-connect SATA devices to AHCI controller, which also make more hardware work with S2D
    • CSV Cache is now enabled by default, which delivers an in-memory write-through cache that can dramatically boost VM performance, depending on your workload.
  • Failover Clustering
    • Azure enlightened Failover Cluster – This is a very exciting feature if you run Windows Server Failover Clusters in Microsoft Azure. This feature will let the Windows Server cluster know if there is Azure host maintenance going on and will exclude the specific cluster node from placing workloads on it.

      By making high availability software running inside of an Azure IaaS VM be aware of maintenance events of the host, it can help deliver the highest levels of availability for your applications.

  • Container
    • Microsoft promised to add more Container feature and provide updated Windows Server Container Images. One feature which made it already into this and early Preview builds is a long waited feature which caused some confusion before. Developers can now use localhost or loopback (127.0.0.1) to access services running in containers on the host.
  • Other Improvements

As mentioned before we can expect Microsoft to add and announce new feature for the next Windows Server release in the next couple of weeks and months.

How to download the Windows Server Insider Preview

You can download the Windows Server Insider Previews from the Windows Server Insider Preview download page. If you are not yet an Insider, check out how to get one on the Windows Insider for Business portal.

Careful, this is pre-release software and it is not supported in production.

Test and Provide Feedback to Windows Server

For Microsoft it is very important that they get feedback about the latest releases. To send feedback use the Feedback Hub application in Windows 10, and choose the Server category with the right subcategory for your feedback.

 

 

 



Microsoft Exam 70-745

Passed Microsoft Exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter

This summer I took the Microsoft beta exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter, which focuses on implementing Software-Defined Datacenter solutions, based on Hyper-V, Windows Server, Software Defined Networking and Storage, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, System Center Operations Manager and everything around it.

  • Plan and Implement System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) Core Infrastructure
  • Implement Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
  • Implement Software-Defined Storage
  • Implement Datacenter Compute Solutions with Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  • Secure your Software-Defined Datacenter
  • Monitor and Maintain the Software-Defined Datacenter

Passing Exam 745: Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter validates the skills and knowledge to implement a software-defined datacenter (SDDC) with Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft System Center 2016 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). Candidates have experience implementing and managing highly available SCVMM infrastructures as well as implementing software-defined storage, compute, and networking components.

This week I finally got the message that I passed the Beta exam. If you want to take that exam you should really be familiar with the products and solutions mentioned above, otherwise you will have a hard time passing the exam.

If you want to know more about the exam, check out this link: Microsoft Learning Exam 70-745 Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter

Also big congrats to all the others who passed the exam like Charbel Nemnom.



Windows Server Software-Defined Datacenter Solutions

I am sure you have heard already about the great new improvements of Windows Server 2016 which launched almost a year ago. Especially features like Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, Storage Replica and the Software-Defined Networking part got some great updates and new features. Windows Server delivers a great foundation for your Software-Defined Datacenter.

  • Compute – Hyper-V delivers a highly scalable, resilient and secure virtualization platform.
  • Storage – Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), Storage Replica and ReFS file system improvements, deliver a affordable high-performance software-defined storage solution
  • Network – The new Windows Server Software-Defined Networking v2 stack, delivers a high performance and large scale networking solution for your datacenter

However, deploying a Software-Defined Datacenter can be challenging and expensive. The Microsoft Software-Defined Datacenter certification allows you to simplify deployment and operations with a certified partner solutions. I have worked on a couple of deployments and building complex solutions can be expensive and time consuming. The Microsoft Software-Defined Datacenter certification allows you to have a pre-validated solution which result in faster deployment times, accelerated the time to value, a more reliable solution and optimized performance.

Windows Server Software-Defined Solutions WSSD

Microsoft is working with different partners like DataOn, Dell EMC, Fujitsu, HPE, Lenovo, Quanta (QCT) and SuperMicro to deliver these solutions. Partners offer an array of Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions that work with Window Server 2016 to deliver high-performance storage or hyper-converged infrastructure. Hyper-converged solutions bring together compute, storage, and networking on industry-standard servers and components, which means organizations can gain improved datacenter intelligence and control while avoiding the costs of specialized high-end hardware.

Three types of Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions

These partners offer three types of Windows Server Software-Defined (WSSD) solutions:

  • Software Defined Storage (SDS) – Enterprise-grade shared storage solution built on server node clusters replaces traditional SAN/NAS at a much lower cost. Organizations can quickly add storage capacity as needs grow over time. Support for all-flash NVMe drives delivers unrivaled performance.
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Standard – Highly virtualized compute and storage are combined in the same server node cluster, making them easier to deploy, manage, and scale. By eliminating traditional IT compute, storage, and networking silos, you can simplify your infrastructure.
  • Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) Premium – Comprehensive “software-defined datacenter in a box” adds Software-Defined Networking and Security Assurance features to HCI Standard. This makes it easy to scale compute, storage, and networking up and down to meet demand just like public cloud services.

Windows Server Software-Defined solution features comparison

These three types offer different features depending on your needs.

Windows Server Software-Defined Solution

If you are thinking do build your next software-defined datacenter or private cloud, I recommend that you have a look at these solutions. Find a partner at www.microsoft.com/wssd

Download a white paper about Microsoft hyper-converged technologies

Read a datasheet about the Windows Server Software Defined partner program

(Image Credits: www.microsoft.com/wssd)



ITCampRO

Speaking at ITCamp 2017 in Cluj-Napoca

This week I am speaking at MMS MOA 2017 in Minneapolis and I am proud to announce that I will speak next week at ITCamp in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, for the second time after 2016. I already was speaking at the ITCamp 2016 and I am happy to be a speaker again this year. You will find a lot of interesting topics and experts to talk to.

In two sessions I will talk about:

The best of Hyper-V

Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V introduced a huge amount of new features. Come to this session to learn about what we have actually been doing with Window Server 2016. Gain insight into what features and functionality you can utilize quickly to get an immediate benefit from using Hyper-V on Windows Server 2016.

The best of Windows Server 2016

Join this session for The Best of Windows Server 2016 — The New Foundation of your Datacenter. You’ll get an overview about the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server 2016 and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job. In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations including: •Hyper-V 2016 features •Nano Server •Storage Spaces Direct •Storage Replica •Windows Server Containers •And more!

Hopefully see you there!



ExpertsLive Australia

Speaking at ExpertsLive Australia 2017

Last year I had the honor to speak at SCU Australia in Melbourne, and I am happy to announce that I will be speaking at this year’s ExpertsLive Australia 2017 (previously known as System Center Universe) event in Australia. The event will take place 6th – 7th April 2017 in the
Crown Promenade, Melbourne. Last year’s event was great and I really can’t wait to get back at Down Under and especially the ExpertsLive conference.

Surface Book OneNote Melbourne

I will be presenting three sessions:

Azure Stack - Everything you need to know!

Microsoft released Azure Stack as a Azure appliance for your datacenter. Learn how you deploy, manage and operate a Azure Stack in your datacenter. Learn about the features and options you will get by offering Azure Stack to your customers.

Nano Server – The Future of Windows Server

Nano Server is the future of Windows Server. With Nano Server Microsoft created the foundation for Windows Server for the next years. In this session you will get an overview about Nano Server and see some great live demos how you can deploy, manage and operate Nano Server as well as creating applications for it. Get a better understanding of Nano Server and see how you deploy, manage and operate it.

The best of Windows Server 2016

Join this session for The Best of Windows Server 2016 — The New Foundation of your Datacenter. You’ll get an overview about the new, exciting improvements that are in Windows Server 2016 and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job. In this presentation Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations including: •Hyper-V 2016 features •Nano Server •Storage Spaces Direct •Storage Replica •Windows Server Containers •And more!