Tag: Windows Admin Center

Azure File Sync Windows Admin Center

Sync File Servers with Azure File Sync in Windows Admin Center

One of the biggest challenges a lot of customers are facing, is the capability to provide access to files everywhere and have DR plans in place. This becomes especially true when you are dealing with classic file server infrastructures. Where it is difficult to manage capacity, availability, replication and much more. The Azure Storage team is addressing that need with Azure File Sync. Azure File Sync allows you to sync your file servers with an Azure Files. Azure File is a simple, secure, and fully managed cloud file share solution, using SMB 3.0 and HTTPS.

Azure File Sync

In addtion the service allows customer to use functionality like:

  • Cloud Tiering
  • Cloud Access
  • Multi-site Sync
  • Cloud Backup
  • Rapid File Server DR

In this post I will cover how, Windows Admin Center will help you to deploy Azure File Sync, if you want to know more, check out the Azure File Sync documentation page.



Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

Configure Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

With the Hybrid Cloud effort Microsoft invested heavy to make Windows Server and Hyper-V better connect to Microsoft Azure. One way of doing that is with Windows Admin Center and Azure Site Recovery. The Azure Site Recovery integration in Windows Admin Center, allows you to easily replicate Hyper-V virtual machines to Microsoft Azure. The technology is not new, ASR does exist for a long time and allows you to not only replicate Hyper-V VMs, but also VMware VMs and physical servers. However, with the integration in Windows Admin Center, setting up Azure Site Recovery became super easy.

Set up Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

In the Virtual Machines extension, you can already see a recommendation to setup ASR: “Help protect your VMs from disasters by using Azure Site Recovery.” Which will guide you through the onboarding steps. If you don’t see that banner, just click on the VM you want to protect and replicate to Azure. Click on More and select “Set up VM Protection“, this will guide you through the same wizard.

If you haven’t connected your Windows Admin Center to Microsoft Azure yet, the wizard will help you to go through and set up this connection.

Setup up Hyper-V ASR Host with Windows Admin Cenetr

After your WAC is connected to Azure, you will now setup Azure Site Recovery for the Hyper-V host in Azure. This can directly be done from Windows Admin Center. For example, this will let you select the Azure Subscription you want ASR to connect to. It will let you create a new Resource Group and Recovery Services Vault or use an existing one. After you have done the configuration part, WAC will create the specific Azure resources and configure the Hyper-V host for Azure Site Recovery. This can take up to 10 minutes depending if you are using existing resources or creating new once.

If you have a look at the Hyper-V Replica settings in Hyper-V Manager, you will see that ASR is completely setup and configured.



Windows Admin Center Azure Monitor Setup

Connect Windows Admin Center to Azure Monitor

As mentioned in blogs posts before, Windows Admin Center allows admins to extend there on-prem environments with hybrid Azure services. The latest addition is the integration of Azure Monitor in Windows Admin Center. This allows you to collect events and performance counters from Windows Server to run analytics and reporting in Azure and take action when a particular condition is detected. This can then be a notification (SMS, email, push notification) and/or a direct action using Azure Logic Apps, Azure Functions, Azure Automation Runbooks, webhooks or integration into ITSM tools.

Setup monitoring and alerts in Windows Admin Center with Azure Monitor

Windows Admin Center Azure Monitor Setup

Setting up the Azure Monitor connection in Windows Admin Center is simple. Select the server you want to connect to Azure Monitor. Go to Settings and then Monitoring Alerts.

Windows Admin Center Azure Monitor Connect to Azure Monitor

Here you will be able to configure the server with the right Azure subscription, resource group and log analytics workspace.



Azure Stack Familiy - Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI – A new member of the Azure Stack family

Today, the Azure team is proud to announce a new member to the Azure Stack family, the Azure Stack HCI solutions. Azure Stack HCI is Microsoft’s hyper-converged solution available from a wide range of hardware partners. Azure Stack shipped in 2017, and it is the only solution in the market today for customers to run cloud applications using consistent IaaS and PaaS services across public cloud, on-premises, and in disconnected environments. With adding the Azure Stack HCI solutions, Microsoft is offering customers a great new choice for their traditional virtualized workloads.

Today, I am pleased to announce Azure Stack HCI solutions are available for customers who want to run virtualized applications on modern hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to lower costs and improve performance. Azure Stack HCI solutions feature the same software-defined compute, storage, and networking software as Azure Stack, and can integrate with Azure for hybrid capabilities such as cloud-based backup, site recovery, monitoring, and more.

Adopting hybrid cloud is a journey and it is important to have a strategy that takes into account different workloads, skillsets, and tools. Microsoft is the only leading cloud vendor that delivers a comprehensive set of hybrid cloud solutions, so customers can use the right tool for the job without compromise.

It is built on a hyper-converged Windows Server 2019 cluster that uses validated and certified hardware to run virtual machines and workloads on-premises. Azure Stack HCI also allows you to optionally connect Azure services for BCDR, management and more. Azure Stack HCI solutions use Microsoft-validated hardware to ensure optimal performance and reliability. It includes support for technologies such as NVMe drives, persistent memory, and remote-direct memory access (RDMA) networking, to get the best possible performance if needed.

What is behind Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI Product Overview

Azure Stack HCI is based on Windows Server 2019, parried with validated hardware from OEM partners. With the Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition, customer get Software Defined Infrastructure and Software Defined Datacenter technologies like Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct and many more, which are the base of Azure Stack HCI. Paired with Windows Admin Center, you can use existing skills, gain hyperconverged efficiency, and connect to Azure services.



Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 – App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

In Windows Server 2019 Microsoft is focusing on a couple of things. One of the things Microsoft wants to improve with Windows Server 2019, is the Windows Server Core experience. Bringing a great remote management experience with Windows Admin Center is one thing, the other feature which should improve the Server Core experience, is the Server Core App Compatibility feature-on-demand (FOD).

In the past you might have some problems running application that required a local GUI interaction on Server Core. Some of the applications you couldn’t install, failed after the installation or just didn’t work right. With the Server Core App Compatibility FOD, Microsoft improves this situation in Windows Server 2019 Core. FoD improves application compatibility of Windows Server Core by adding binaries and packages from Windows Server with Desktop Experience, without adding the Windows Server Desktop UI.

Here are some Operating system components that are available with in the FOD package.

  • Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  • Performance Monitor (PerfMon.exe)
  • Resource Monitor (Resmon.exe)
  • Device Manager (Devmgmt.msc)
  • Microsoft Management Console (mmc.exe)
  • File Explorer (Explorer.exe)
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows PowerShell (Powershell_ISE.exe)
  • Failover Cluster Manager (CluAdmin.msc)

Like the new Windows Container Image, the Server Core App Compatibility FOD should make sure you can run more apps on Server Core.

How to install Windows Server 2019  App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

Windows Server 2019 App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand

First you will need to download the Feature-on-Demand ISO and safe it on your server. Mount the ISO Image:

Install Server Core App Compatibility

After that you can use DISM to add the FOD package to your Windows Server 2019, installation. Just be sure, this only works on Windows Server Core, Desktop Experiences already has these binaries.

Windows Server 2019 Core App Compatibility FOD

You will need to restart your server. After the restart you can run tools like explorer.exe, Device Manager and many more on Windows Server Core.

When to use which Windows Server 2019 Installation Option

With WIndows Server 2019 you now get a couple of installation options, I tried to summrize this in this table:

Installation OptionScenario
Windows Server CoreServer Core is the best installation option for production use and with Windows Admin Center remote management is highly improved.
Windows Server Core with Server Core App Compatibility FODWorkloads, and some troubleshooting scenarios, if Server Core doesn’t meet all your compatibility requirements. You can add an optional package to get past these issues. Try the Server Core App Compatibility Feature on Demand (FOD).
Windows Server with Desktop ExperienceWindows Server with Desktop Experience is still an option and still meets like previous releases. However, it is significantly larger than Server Core. This includes larger disk usage, more time to copy and deploy and larger attack surface. However, if Windows Server Core with App Compatibility does not support the App, Scenario or Administrators still need the UI, this is the option to install.

Windows Server 2019 Insider Preview for Server Core App Compatibility FOD

As of today Windows Server 2019 is still only available as Windows Server Insider Preview. You can download the Windows Server 2019 Preview and the App Compatibility Feature-on-demand from the Windows Server Insider download page.

You can read more about the Server Core App Compatibility Feature-on-Demand on the Windows Server Blog.

 



System Center Journey

System Center 2019 – What’s new

Microsoft just launched Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center, which also raised the interest in System Center 2019. At Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft was talking about what is new in System Center 2019, the future of System Center, and how it fits in with Windows Admin Center and other management tools.

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Story

Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Overview

With Microsoft now offering a range of products to manage your Cloud and Datacenter environments, the question comes up “which is the best solution?”. It is not only depending on the size of your company, it also depends on which services you are using and what your job role is. Coming from the Azure site, you have Azure Security and Management, which allows you not only to manage your Azure resources but also integrates and extends with your on-premises environment. System Center is aimed to manage fatacenter environments at scale, and Windows Admin Center helps you to dig deeper to manage individual servers or single cluster management. Both Windows Admin Center and System Center 2019, can be used side by side and both are integrated into Microsoft Azure.

System Center Windows Admin Center better together

System Center vs Windows Admin Center

I often get the question, does Windows Admin Center replace System Center? The answer to this is no, System Center is aimed to do management at a datacenter scale, while Windows Admin Center is giving you deep management access to a single server or clusters. In small environments you might end up using Windows Admin Center only, but in larger datacenter deployments, you are likely to use a combination of System Center and Windows Admin Center.

System Center 2019 Suite Improvements

System Center 2019 Focus

The System Center 2019 release focuses on three main areas. First of all, it adds more capabilities to the existing components and features which were requested by customers. Secondly, it brings integration for the next version of Windows Server, Windows Server 2019 and brings new Windows Server features to life in System Center. Last but not least, System Center 2019 adds more Hybrid Cloud integrations with Microsoft Azure.



Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was, more or less, datacenter grade hardware, it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not really the thing for a home lab on your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap and not very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. Mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features, are also making it a great option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today, there is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.