Tag: Update Management

Azure Automatic VM Guest OS Patching

How to configure Azure Automatic VM guest OS patching

If you want to keep your Azure virtual machines (VMs) up-to-date, then there is a service called Azure Update Management, which helps you to manage updates on your Azure VM guest operating system. However, this needed some additional planning and configuration. To make patching of your Azure virtual machines (VMs) easier, there is a new option called Automatic VM guest patching, which helps ease update management by safely and automatically patching virtual machines to maintain security compliance.

Automatic VM guest patching is now available in public preview for Windows virtual machines on Azure.

With Azure automatic VM guest patching enabled, the VM is assessed periodically to check for available operating system patches for that Azure VM. Updates classified as ‘Critical’ or ‘Security’ are automatically downloaded and installed on the VM during off-peak hours. This patch orchestration is managed and handled by Azure and patches are applied following availability-first principles.

In a nutshell, Azure automatic VM guest patching has the following capabilities:

  • Patches classified as Critical or Security are automatically downloaded and applied on the VM.
  • Patches are applied during off-peak hours in the VM’s time zone.
  • Patch orchestration is managed by Azure and patches are applied following availability-first principles.
  • Virtual machine health, as determined through platform health signals, is monitored to detect patching failures.
  • Works for all VM sizes.

Patches are installed within 30 days of the monthly Windows Update release, following availability-first orchestration described below. Patches are installed only during off-peak hours for the VM, depending on the time zone of the VM. The VM must be running during the off-peak hours for patches to be automatically installed. If a VM is powered off during a periodic assessment, the VM will be automatically assessed and applicable patches will be installed automatically during the next periodic assessment when the VM is powered on.

You can find more information on Azure automatic VM guest patching on Microsoft Docs.

How to enable Azure Automatic VM guest OS patching

To enable Azure automatic VM guest OS (operating system) patching, we currently have a couple of requirements.

  • Currently, only Windows VMs are supported (Preview). Currently, Windows Server 2012 R2, 2016, 2019 Datacenter SKUs are supported. (and more are added periodically).
  • Only VMs created from certain OS platform images are currently supported in the preview. Which means custom images are currently not supported in the preview.
  • The virtual machine must have the Azure VM Agent installed.
  • The Windows Update service must be running on the virtual machine.
  • The virtual machine must be able to access Windows Update endpoints. If your virtual machine is configured to use Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), the relevant WSUS server endpoints must be accessible.
  • Use Compute API version 2020-06-01 or higher.

These requirements might change in the future during the preview phase (for the current requirements check out Microsoft Docs).

During the preview, this feature requires a one-time opt-in for the feature InGuestAutoPatchVMPreview per subscription. You can run the following Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI command.

Azure PowerShell:

# Register AzProvider
Register-AzProviderFeature -FeatureName InGuestAutoPatchVMPreview -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.Compute
 
# Check the registration status
Get-AzProviderFeature -FeatureName InGuestAutoPatchVMPreview -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.Compute
 
# Once the feature is registered for your subscription, complete the opt-in process by changing the Compute resource provider.
Register-AzResourceProvider -ProviderNamespace Microsoft.Compute

Now you can enable automatic VM guest patching for your Azure virtual machines within that subscription. To do that you can currently use the REST API, Azure PowerShell, or the Azure CLI.

With Azure CLI, you can use the az vm get-instance-view .

az vm update --resource-group test-autopatch-rg--name azwinvm01 --set osProfile.windowsConfiguration.enableAutomaticUpdates=true osProfile.windowsConfiguration.patchSettings.patchMode=AutomaticByPlatform

You can see that there are two important parameters for this cmdlet. First the -enableAutoUpdate and secondly the -PatchMode. There are currently three different patch orchestration modes you can configure.

AutomaticByPlatform

  • This mode enables automatic VM guest patching for the Windows virtual machine and subsequent patch installation is orchestrated by Azure.
  • Setting this mode also disables the native Automatic Updates on the Windows virtual machine to avoid duplication.
  • This mode is only supported for VMs that are created using the supported OS platform images above.

AutomaticByOS

  • This mode enables Automatic Updates on the Windows virtual machine, and patches are installed on the VM through Automatic Updates.
  • This mode is set by default if no other patch mode is specified.

Manual

  • This mode disables Automatic Updates on the Windows virtual machine.
  • This mode should be set when using custom patching solutions.

If you need more control, I recommend that you have a look at Azure Update Management, which is already publicly available and also supports Windows and Linux servers running in Azure or on-premises.

To verify whether automatic VM guest patching has completed and the patching extension is installed on the VM, you can review the VM’s instance view.

az vm get-instance-view --resource-group test-autopatch-rg --name azwinvm01

This will show you the following result:

Azure Automatic VM Guest OS Patching Status

Azure Automatic VM Guest OS Patching Status

You can also create the patch assessment on-demand.

Invoke-AzVmPatchAssessment -ResourceGroupName "myResourceGroup" -VMName "myVM"

I hope this provides you with an overview of the new Azure automatic VM guest patching feature. If you want to have some advanced capabilities to manage updates for your Azure VMs and even your servers running on-premises, check out Azure Update Management. This will provide you with some advanced settings and your own maintenance schedules. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Azure Arc Enabled Servers Extension Management

Azure Arc Enabled Servers Extension Management

Azure Arc for Server just got a couple of new features. In this blog post, we are going to have a look at the new feature on Azure Arc enabled servers called extension management. This new Azure Arc enabled servers features allows you not only to deploy extensions like the Custom Script Extension, or the Microsoft Monitoring Agent but also enable features like Azure Update Management, Inventory, Change Tracking, and more for your servers running in a hybrid environment.

Introducing Azure Arc
For customers who want to simplify complex and distributed environments across on-premises, edge and multicloud, Azure Arc enables deployment of Azure services anywhere and extends Azure management to any infrastructure.
Learn more about Azure Arc here.

Azure Arc enabled servers already could benefit from several Azure Resource Manager features like Tags, Policies, RBAC, and some Azure Management features like logs and Azure Policy. With the new update, you can start using more extensions.  With these extensions available, Azure Arc enabled servers also get features like Azure Update Management, Inventory, Change Tracking, and insights capabilities.

Azure Arc Azure Management Control Plane

Azure Arc Azure Management Control Plane

Azure Arc Enabled Servers Extension Management Video

You can also watch my summary video on YouTube.



Azure IaaS VM enable Update Management

How to Manage Updates for Azure IaaS VMs

As a lot of customers are moving their workloads to Azure and specifically moving virtual machines to Azure Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), the question is how do I manage my Azure virtual machines (VMs) efficiently. The great thing about Azure IaaS, it is not just another virtualization platform. Azure IaaS also offers a lot of other benefits versus classic virtualization. Azure IaaS and Azure Management provide a lot of functionality to it make it more efficient to run and manage virtual machines. One of them is Azure Update Management. In this blog post, I am going to show you how you can efficiently manage updates for your Azure IaaS VMs.

Overview and benefits Azure Update Management ☁

The Azure Update Management solution is part of Azure Automation. And with Azure Update Management you can manage operating system updates for your Windows and Linux computers in Azure, in on-premises environments, or in other cloud providers. That is right, it is not only for your Azure VMs, it also works with all your environment and provides you with a single pane of glass for your Update Management. It allows you to quickly assess the status of available updates on all virtual machines and servers, and manage the process of installing required updates for servers.

  • Azure Update Management works with Azure IaaS VMs, on-premise servers and even servers running at other cloud service providers.
  • Update Management supports Linux and Windows servers
  • It is directly integrated into the Azure portal and onboarding of Azure VMs is very simple.
  • It works with existing update sources like Microsoft Update, WSUS or on Linux with private and public update repositories.
  • Azure Update Management can be integrated into System Center Configuration Manager. You can learn more about Azure Update Management and System Center Configuration Manager integration on Microsoft Docs.
  • You can onboard new Azure VMs automatically to Update Management in multiple subscriptions in the same tenant.
Architecture

Architecture

How to onboard Azure IaaS VMs ✈

Onboarding Azure VMs to Azure Update Management is fairly simple and there are many different ways you can enable Update Management for an Azure VM.

One thing I want to highlight is, that you can set up automatic enablement for future virtual machines. With that Azure virtual machines, you create in the future, will automatically be added to the Update Mangement solution.

Onboarding

Onboarding

Since this blog post is all about managing updates for Azure VMs, I will keep it short, but if you want to add servers running on-premises or at other service providers, you can have a look how you can configure Azure Update management from Windows Admin Center. If you are running Azure Stack, you can also easily add your Azure Stack VMs to the Update Management solution.

Update Assesment 📃

Azure Update Management Compliant Assessment

Azure Update Management Compliant Assessment

After you have enabled and connected your virtual machines, Azure Log Analytics and Update Management start to collect data and analyze it and creates a continuous assessment of your Azure VM infrastructure and the additional servers you added. It will let you know which servers are compliant and which updates are missing. In the Azure documentation for Azure Update Management, you can find the schedules and time new updates will be added to the assessment.

Manage and deploy updates to Azure VMs 🔧

After you know which servers are compliant or not, you can schedule an update deployment, to update your servers.

Update Azure VMs using Update Deployment

Update Azure VMs using Update Deployment

An update deployment configuration is done very easily.

  1. Enter a name for the update deployment
  2. Select which operating system you want to target with the deployment (Linux or Windows)
  3. Choose the machines you want to update. You can select specific Azure virtual machines, non-Azure machines, groups, AD, WSUS, SCCM groups and filters.
  4. Select the Update Classifications you want to deploy
  5. Include or exclude updates
  6. Schedule the deployment. You can also create recurring update deployments for example for monthly patching.
  7. Configure pre- and post-scripts
  8. Configure the maintenance window size
  9. Configure the reboot update after the updates are installed

View update deployments ✔

Update Azure VMs Status

Update Azure VMs Status

During and after the duration of the update deployment, you can see an overview of the deployment, which updates on which machine were installed and if they were successful.

Pricing – What does it cost? 💵

Now I know what you are thinking now, this is great, but I am sure Microsoft is making me pay for this. No! there are no charges for the service, you only pay for log data stored in the Azure Log Analytics service. You can find more pricing information here.

Conclusion and Learn more 🎓

Update Management is a great solution to keep your environment up to date. If you want to know more, check out Microsoft Docs or follow this tutorial to onboard Azure VMs. There is also a very good blog series by Microsoft MVP Samuel Erskine. If you don’t have Azure today, create an Azure Free account.

Create free Azure Account ☁

Create your Azure free account today and get started with 12 months of free services!

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.



Azure Stack VM Update Management

Using Azure Update Management on Azure Stack

At Microsoft Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced the integration of Azure Update and Configuration Management on Azure Stack. This is a perfect example how Azure services from the public cloud can be extended into your datacenter using Azure Stack. Azure Update and Configuration Management brings Azure Update Management, Change Tracking and Inventory to your Azure Stack VMs. In the case of Azure Stack, the backend services and orchestrator like Azure Automation and Log Analytics, will remain to run in Azure, but it lets you connect your VMs running on Azure Stack.

Azure Update and Configuration Managemen Schemat

Today, the Azure Update and Configuration Management extension, gives you the following features:

  • Update Management – With the Update Management solution, you can quickly assess the status of available updates on all agent computers and manage the process of installing required updates for these Windows VMs.
  • Change Tracking – Changes to installed software, Windows services, Windows registry, and files on the monitored servers are sent to the Log Analytics service in the cloud for processing. Logic is applied to the received data and the cloud service records the data. By using the information on the Change Tracking dashboard, you can easily see the changes that were made in your server infrastructure.
  • Inventory – The Inventory tracking for an Azure Stack Windows virtual machine provides a browser-based user interface for setting up and configuring inventory collection.

If you want to use Azure Update Management and more on VMs on-premise (without Azure Stack) or running at another Cloud Provider, you can do this as well. Have a look at Windows Admin Center, which allows you to directly integrate with Azure Update Management. However, there will be a difference in pricing.



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 completely 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, but it also 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.

Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center Video Series

I have created a short video series which shows how to set up the Azure Hybrid services directly from Windows Admin Center. You can start with the intro here and then follow the different videos, and check out our overview blog about Configure Azure Hybrid Services in Windows Admin Center.

Besides, you can also have a look at my other blog post about how to set up Azure hybrid cloud services.

You can download Windows Admin Center here. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

How to buy Azure Stack HCI Solutions

WAC is also part of the Azure Stack HCI solutions, check out my blog about it.