Tag: VM Cloud

SMA Author RunBooks in Windows Azure Pack

Service Management Automation – The Next Step in Cloud and Datacenter Automation

With System Center Orchestrator Microsoft already had an datacenter automation engine in his portfolio. Microsoft acquired Opalis added it to the System Center Suite, after a while Microsoft renamed Opalis to System Center Orchestrator. As we have a look at modern datacenters and our cloud environment automation is a key part of it. With the latest release of System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft release a new automation engine based on PowerShell Workflows called Service Management Automation (SMA).

Windows Azure Pack Automation with SMA

SMA is integrated as one of the key Resource Provider in Windows Azure Pack, and allows you to manage your PowerShell Workflows in so called Runbooks. Service Management Automation enhances PowerShell Workflows in several different ways.

  • Centralized management
  • Centralized store for variables, credentials, certificates, connections, modules, workflows, checkpoints and schedules.
  • High availability workflow execution
  • Versioning
  • Odata web service (HTTP API)
  • Historical view of workflow jobs and their output

Architecture

SMA is build form several different components.

  • Web Service – HTTP/HTTPS API which distributes runbook jobs to runbook workers and builds the connection to Widnwos Azure Pack
  • Runbook worker – Executes Runbooks
  • PowerShell module – Enables SMA to be managed by Windows PowerShell
  • Windows Azure Pack – UI for administrators to create and manage runbooks
  • SQL database – Store for Runbooks and settings

SMA Architecture

  • The Automation web service communicates with Windows Azure Pack and authenticates users.
  • The SQL Server databases store and retrieve runbooks, runbook assets, activities, integration modules, and runbook job information.
  • Runbook workers run the runbooks, and they can be used for load balancing.
  • The management portal in Windows Azure Pack is where you author, debug, and start and stop runbooks.

Source: TechNet

One of the greats enhancements Service Management Automation together with Windows Azure Pack brings is the possibility to link runbooks to SPF and VMM activates used in the Virtual Machine Cloud. What does this mean? For example you link a runbook to a Create Virtual Machine activity, so every time a VM gets created the runbooks starts and also gets as input object the VM which was created. This is just one example what you can do with SMA and Windows Azure Pack VM Cloud, there are a lot of other possibilities as well.

If you compare System Center Orchestrator to Service Management Automation, SMA looks a little bit more complex if you have used a lot of Integrations Packs in SCORCH but if you have done a lot of work in PowerShell you will really like SMA and see the advantages of it.

Service Management Automation does not offer an user interface by itself, instead it is using the Windows Azure Pack portal, where admins can author, run, schedule and link runbooks.

SMA Author RunBooks in Windows Azure Pack



WAP Register SPF

Windows Azure Pack – Virtual Machine Cloud

One of the big features of Windows Azure Pack right now is the integration of a Infrastructure as a Service offering or in other words Virtual Machine Cloud. VM Cloud allows you to integrate your existing System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 and Hyper-V environment over SPF (Service Provider Foundation) API, so you can create a offering similar to the Windows Azure IaaS experience.

I had the chance working on several Windows Azure Pack projects where we have integrated the Virtual Machine Cloud and created offerings for service providers as well as for enterprise companies for internal use. Two parts of I really like about the solution in the integration of Hyper-V Network Virtualization and the integration of VM Roles, which are basically a solution to deploy services instead of just Virtual Machines. Microsoft also finally fixed the issue we had in App Controller and other products to connect to a Virtual Machine via the Hyper-V Console from outside your organization by using a Remote Desktop Gateway.

Architecture

To deploy the VM Cloud or IaaS offering in Windows Azure Pack you need several roles, services and components. If you want to know more about the Windows Azure Pack Architecture, check out the following blog post.

Windows Azure Pack VM Cloud Architecture

Picture Source: TechNet

  • Hyper-V – You need a Hyper-V environment for hosting virtual machines.
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager – In a VM Cloud environment you need your Hyper-V resources to connect to a Virtual Machine Manager. You can connect multiple Virtual Machine Manager servers so called VMM stamps. If you are using Hyper-V Network Virtualization (NVGRE) make sure you build a highly available VMM Cluster for each stamp.
  • Service Provider Foundation – To bring those VMM stamps inside Windows Azure Pack you need an API solution called Service Provider Foundation. Every VMM stamp has to be registered in Windows Azure Pack trough a Service Provider Foundation Endpoint.
  • Windows Azure Pack Tenant Portal – The Portal for tenants/customers to manage Virtual Machines
  • Windows Azure Pack Admin Portal – The Portal for Administrator to register new VMM stamps and create offerings for customers.
  • Service Management API – You always need this if you deploy Windows Azure Pack.
  • SQL Server – SQL Server for Windows Azure Pack, SPF and Virtual Machine Manager
  • RD Gateway – Remote Desktop Gateway for the Console Connection to the Virtual Machine
  • System Center Operations Manager – If you just want to monitor your VM environment or you want to do chargeback you need Operations Manager and Service Reporting.

How to setup VM Cloud in Windows Azure Pack

After you have setup your environment you have to register your Service Provider Foundation and VMM in Windows Azure Pack. Enter the address of the SPF Endpoint and the address of the VMM Server.

WAP Register SPF

You can than add VMM servers or VMM Stamps to the Windows Azure Pack.

VMMStamp in WAP

You can now select the Cloud you want to use for your offering. If you create a new plan you can select which VMM stamp and cloud should be used for the offering. You can limit resources like Virtual Machine count, CPU cores, RAM, Storage, VM Networks, Templates and more inside plans and add-ons. You can than offer these plans and add-ons to your customers.

WAP VM Cloud Plan

As another part you can extend the solution by adding a SMA Web Service endpoint to the Windows Azure Pack and configure it for the Virtual Machine Clouds. With this solution you can link SMA Runbooks to actions in Windows Azure Pack VM Cloud, SPF and Virtual Machine Manager.

WAP Link SMA Runbook to VMM Action

If you need to enable Console access to the Virtual Machine to the tenant users, you also have to register a Remote Desktop Gateway. This will allow user to access the Virtual Machine without having a IP address set inside the VM.

Tenant VM Console Access WAP

Remember there are much more steps you have to do. For example configuring the fabric in System Center Virtual Machine Manager or configuring the Remote Desktop Gateway to have access to the Hyper-V hosts. And if you are doing NVGRE (Hyper-V Network Virtualization) you may also want to have NVGRE Gateways in place so customers can leave the Virtual Network and connect to the physical network or the internet. So setting this thing up is one part but having it designed and configured the right way is another.