Tag: Storage Spaces

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.



Surface Pro Storage Spaces Boot

Boot from Storage Spaces Virtual Disk in Windows 10

A couple of weeks ago I got my new Microsoft Surface Pro, I decided to go with the 1TB version to have enough space.

Surface Pro Storage

After the first minutes of setup I quickly wanted to run disk optimization, which for SSDs usually does quick trim operations. In my case this was running way longer then on my Surface Book, so I checked what was going on, and I realized that it was running Optimization on a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk, which is kind of strange.

Surface Pro PowerShell Storage Spaces Boot

I checked the disk configuration and really, my Surface Pro (2017) does have a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk which it boots from. The Storage Spaces Pool does include two physical 512GB NVMe drives with one Virtual Disk on top configured as simple (striped) volume. Right now I don’t know how they did it, but it seems now possible to boot Windows from a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk with the Windows 10 Creators Update or some Surface team magic. Then when Storage Spaces was introduced with Windows 8, boot from Storage Spaces was not possible.

 



Speaking at Microsoft TechDays 2017 Switzerland

I hope everyone had or is still having a great holiday. Today I am proud to announce that I have the opportunity to speak again at the Microsoft TechDays in Switzerland. From 30th – 31st January the Microsoft TechDays will take place in Baden. The conference will cover the latest trends and news from the industry and is a great opportunity for IT professionals and software developers to learn all about the newest developments in Microsoft technologies, products and services.

Microsoft TechDays Featured Speaker

My session will be placed under the IT Pro track and I will cover some of the new stuff coming with Windows Server 2016 and Hyper-V 2016, including:

  • Hyper-V 2016 features
  • Nano Server
  • Storage Spaces Direct
  • Storage Replica
  • Windows Server Containers
  • And more!

So if you want to learn the latest and greatest about Microsoft technology, make sure you attend this event.

TechDays 2017

From 30th – 31st January the Microsoft TechDays will take place in Baden. The conference will cover the latest trends and news from the industry and is a great opportunity for IT professionals and software developers to learn all about the newest developments in Microsoft technologies, products and services.

 

 



Add Updates to Nano Server Image

Getting started with Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016

Microsoft announced Windows Server 2016 release at Microsoft Ignite in Atlanta 2 weeks ago. Microsoft released the Evaluation version of Windows Server 2016 which allow you to start play with Windows Server 2016. And today Microsoft announced the GA (General Availability) of Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016.

Windows Server brings some great new features and possibilities such as Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct, Nano Server, Storage Replica and much more.

Here are some information about deployment, upgrading and certification:

Windows Server

If you want to go to production make sure you also install the latest Cumulative Update for Windows Server 2016:

If you want to try Windows Server 2016 you can also do this on Microsoft Azure.

System Center:

 

 

 



Microsoft TechDays 2016

Speaking at Microsoft TechDays 2016 Switzerland

Today I am proud to announce that I have the opportunity to speak at the Swiss version of the Microsoft TechDays. My session will be placed under the IT Pro track and I will cover some of the new stuff coming with Windows Server 2016 and Hyper-V 2016, including:

  • Hyper-V 2016 features
  • Nano Server
  • Storage Spaces Direct
  • Storage Replica
  • Windows Server Containers
  • And more!

Microsoft TechDays 2016 Session

There are also more cool session and I specially want to announce the session of Markus Erlacher (CEO itnetX) and Marcel Zehner (Microsoft MVP) called “Better Together: System Center und Microsoft Operations Management Suite”. So if you want to learn the latest and greats about Microsoft technology, make sure you attend this event.

TechDays 2016

Check out the Microsoft TechDays 2016 in Baden, Switzerland. Keynotes – February 29, 2016 | 1.30pm to 6.15pm with subsequent networking get-together and apéro riche Breakout sessions – March 1st, 2016 | 9.00am to 4.30pm



Best of Windows Server 2016

Recording: Best of Windows Server 2016 – The New Foundation of Windows

Last week I presented in a webinar together with Rick Vanover from Veeam about the Best of Windows Server 2016 – The New Foundation of Windows Server. And now you can watch the recording of that webinar:

Join Veeam for the Best of Windows Server 2016 — The New Foundation of Windows webinar. You’ll be one of the first to know about new, exciting improvements that are coming in Windows Server 2016 and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job.

In this hour-long webinar, Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP and Veeam Vanguard) 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!

Enjoy the video:

Best of Windows Server 2016 – The New Foundation of Windows

Join Veeam® for the Best of Windows Server 2016 — The New Foundation of Windows webinar. You’ll be one of the first to know about new, exciting improvements that are coming in Windows Server 2016 and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job. In this hour-long webinar, 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!



Best of Windows Server 2016 Webinar

Webinar: Best of Windows Server 2016 – The new Foundation of Windows

Together with Veeam I am proud to present in two webinars about the new features in Windows Server 2016. The title of the webinar will be Best of Windows Server 2016 – The new Foundation of Windows and will cover the greatest new features of Windows Server 2016.

Join Veeam for a webinar on the Best of Windows Server 2016 — The New Foundation of Windows. You’ll be one of the first to know about new, exciting improvements that are coming in Windows Server 2016 and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job. In this hour-long webinar, Thomas Maurer (Microsoft MVP) will guide you through the highly anticipated innovations including:

Attend this FREE Webinar to learn about the latest and greatest features of Windows Server 2016. You have to options one for North America and one for EMEA.

December 15 Tuesday NA 1pm ET, EMEA 2pm CET

Best of Windows Server 2016 – The new Foundation of Windows

Join Veeam for a free webinar on the Best of Windows Server 2016 — The New Foundation of Windows. You’ll be one of the first to know about new, exciting improvements that are coming in Windows Server 2016 and how they’ll improve your day-to-day job.

 

Thomas Maurer, one of the first Veeam Vanguards, is a cloud architect at a Swiss consulting and engineering company called itnetX AG. Thomas focuses on Microsoft Technologies, specifically Microsoft Cloud Solutions based Microsoft System Center, Microsoft Virtualization and Microsoft Azure. Thomas was awarded the Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) Award for his expertise in virtual machines (VMs) in 2012. He works closely with Microsoft and their partners to promote Microsoft technology at technical events.



Scale Windows Server Storage Spaces

System Center Operations Manager Management Pack for Windows Server Storage Spaces

Microsoft just released the System Center Operations Manager Management Pack for Windows Server Storage Spaces 2012 R2 to the public. This allows you to monitor your Storage Spaces deployments with Operations Manager.

You can download the Management Pack for Storage Spaces from the Microsoft Download Site.

Monitoring Scenarios

This Management Pack contains rules to monitor physical disk and enclosure state in storage spaces.
Health is calculated by the storage service and is passed to Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) using the Storage Management API (SM-API), and is in turn passed to Operations Manager (OM) through the OM connector for VMM.

Supported Configurations

This management pack requires System Center Operations Manager 2012 SP1 or later. A dedicated Operations Manager management group is not required.

The following table details the supported configurations for the Management Pack for Storage Spaces:

Configuration Support
Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 with Update Rollup 4 or later installed
Windows Server File Servers 2012 R2 with KB 3000850 (November 2014 update rollup) or later
Clustered servers Yes

Management Pack Scope

This management pack supports up to:

  • 16 Storage Nodes
  • 12 Storage Pools
  • 120 File Shares

Prerequisites

The following requirements must be met to run this management pack:

  • Operations Manager Connector for Virtual Machine Manager installed and configured.
    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh427287.aspx
  • Configuring this connection will install the required VMM Management Packs.
  • Storage Spaces managed by Virtual Machine Manager
  • KB2913766 “Hotfix improves storage enclosure management for Storage Spaces” must be installed on the VMM server and file server nodes


Windows Server 2012 R2 Private CLoud Storage and Virtualization

Windows Server 2012 R2 Private Cloud Virtualization and Storage Poster and Mini-Posters

Yesterday Microsoft released the Windows Server 2012 R2 Private Cloud Virtualization and Storage Poster and Mini-Posters. This includes overviews over Hyper-V, Failover Clustering, Scale-Out File Server, Storage Spaces and much more. These posters provide a visual reference for understanding key private cloud storage and virtualization technologies in Windows Server 2012 R2. They focus on understanding storage architecture, virtual hard disks, cluster shared volumes, scale-out file servers, storage spaces, data deduplication, Hyper-V, Failover Clustering, and virtual hard disk sharing.

Bedsides the overview poster, Microsoft Includes the following Mini-Posters:

  • Virtual Hard Disk and Cluster Shared Volumes Mini Poster
  • Virtual Hard Disk Sharing Mini Poster
  • Understanding Storage Architecture Mini Poster
  • Storage Spaces and Deduplication Mini Poster
  • Scale-Out and SMB Mini Poster
  • Hyper-V and Failover Clustering Mini Poster

You can get the posters from the Microsoft download page.



EMC – SMB 3.0 is the Future of Storage

At the moment I am working in a lot of customer cloud deployment projects and the huge topic at the moment are networking and storage. In the networking part there is a lot of talk going on, on “small” things like NIC Teaming and also on bigger topics like Network Virtualization. On the storage part I think a lot of customers are ready to take new approach to save money and get a better solutions. The main parts I talk a lot about is Storage Spaces and Hyper-V over SMB. I already wrote a lot about Hyper-V over SMB, which is not only in my opinion the future of storage. EMC released a solution overview for their EMC VNX and VNXe solution which offer SMB 3.0. EMC calls SMB 3.0 “The Future of Storage”.

SMB 3.0 is the Future of Storage

SMB 3.0 in Windows 8 clients and Windows 2012 servers is the future of storage protocols. It gives excellent performance with low CPU overhead – plus fault tolerance. Its load balancing/scaling will adjust throughput to available NICs and it also supports simultaneous access by multiple cluster hosts, with build-in arbitration for data consistency. There’s also file-share VSS (RVSS) backup support that facilitates the capture of application-consistent backups on SMB shares. This resiliency, combined with increasing Ethernet speeds, open up the potential for demanding, mission critical workloads such as Hyper-V and Microsoft SQL Server, to be placed on NAS.

You can read more here: EMC VNX and VNXe with Microsoft SMB 3.0

As I already mentioned I deployed SMB 3.0 and Hyper-V over SMB a couple of times and for me this is absolutely the way to go: No Fiber channel, no more iSCSI. And it’s funny that EMC the owner of VMware is calling SMB 3.0 the Future of Storage. I have to admit the EMC VNX and VNXe solutions on paper look pretty great and it looks like EMC did a great job implementing SMB 3.0. Unfortunately I could not test and VNX or VNXe yet.

EMC SMB 3 the future of Storage

Btw make sure you read my other blog post on SMB 3.0: