Tag: Windows Azure

Building Clouds

Windows Azure for your Datacenter

Some years back, when Microsoft launched Windows Azure and I was working for a Hosting company, I remember that we were thinking and talking about this and were hoping that Microsoft would make Windows Azure available for hosters. At the beginning of last year Microsoft made this step by releasing Windows Azure Services for Windows Server and together with Windows Server, Hyper-V and System Center you could build your own Windows Azure. With the R2 wave of System Center and Windows Server, Microsoft also renamed Windows Azure Services for Windows Server to Windows Azure Pack (wow what a great idea ;-)) and added some great new functionality to the product it self.

Windows Azure Pack Archtiecture Overview

Windows Azure Pack is a collection of Windows Azure technologies, available to Microsoft customers at no additional cost for installation into your data center. It runs on top of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and, through the use of the Windows Azure technologies, enables you to offer a rich, self-service, multi-tenant cloud, consistent with the public Windows Azure experience.

The Windows Azure Pack is basically a framework which offers you to build several offerings for customers.

  • VM Cloud – This is an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering which allows customer to deploy and manage Windows and Linux Virtual Machines including VM Template, scaling and Virtual Networking options.
  • Web Sites – a service that helps provide a high-density, scalable shared web hosting platform for ASP.NET, PHP, and Node.js web applications. The Web Sites service includes a customizable web application gallery of open source web applications and integration with source control systems for custom-developed web sites and applications.
  • Service Bus – a service that provides reliable messaging services between distributed applications. The Service Bus service includes queued and topic-based publish/subscribe capabilities.
  • SQL and MySQL – services that provide database instances. These databases can be used in conjunction with the Web Sites service.
  • Automation and Extensibility – the capability to automate and integrate additional custom services into the services framework, including a runbook editor and execution environment.

Source: TechNet

On top of this Windows Azure Pack offers two management portals, one for tenants and one for administrators which are build on top of the Service Management API. The Service Management API is a RESTful API which allows you build some custom scenarios such as custom portals or billing integrations on top of the Azure Pack framework.

Windows Azure Pack IaaS

In the last months I had time to work within several different project with the integration of Windows Azure Pack, mainly with the VM Cloud and automation integration and also some work with the Service Management API and some customization together with Stefan Johner and Fulvio Ferrarini from itnetx. I will write some blog post about Windows Azure Pack, the stuff we have done and we are doing right now.

If you are looking for some good blogs around Windows Azure Pack you should definitely checkout the blogs from Marc van Eijk, Hans Vredevoort and Kristian Nese or the Windows Azure Pack Wiki on TechNet. And btw. Windows Azure Pack is not just made for hoster and service providers, it is also a great solution for enterprises, check out why by reading Michael Rueeflis blog.

 



Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica

Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica updated

Back in 2013 Microsoft released a tool called Capacity Planner for Hyper-V Replica. Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner allowed IT Administrators to measure and plan their Replica integration based on the workload, storage, network, and server characteristics. Today Aashish Ramdas announced on the TechNet Virtualization blog that Microsoft has updated the Hyper-V Replica Capacity Planner. The new version now support Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager and some other cool stuff based on the feedback of customers.

  • Support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 in a single tool
  • Support for Extended Replication
  • Support for virtual disks placed on NTFS, CSVFS, and SMB shares
  • Monitoring of multiple standalone hosts simultaneously
  • Improved performance and scale – up to 100 VMs in parallel
  • Replica site input is optional – for those still in the planning stage of a DR strategy
  • Report improvements – e.g.: reporting the peak utilization of resources also
  • Improved guidance in documentation
  • Improved workflow and user experience

It’s great to see Microsoft improving free tools which help implement their solutions.



CDM UM Logo

The Birth of the Cloud and Datacenter Management Group

Finally I have time to write about this. We invested a couple of hours in 2013 and at the beginning of 2014. We are proud to officially launch the Cloud and Datacenter Management User Group short CDM.UG. The user group is focused on Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter technologies based on Windows Server, System Center, Hyper-V and Windows Azure. The goal of such a community is to bring Cloud technology enthusiasts together to share knowledge and learn from each other. The Cloud and Datacenter Management User Group offers several ways to spread the words and share knowledge, from local event over to online Lync sessions over to the our community platform in Yammer.

CDM.UG will start taking free registrations in a couple of minutes. Becoming a member of the Could and Datacenter Management User Group is easy, just go and the CDM.UG website and register for free. After you have registered you will get an invite to the closed Yammer group.

At this point I have to thank Marcel Zehner and Stefan Roth which are working on this community project and of course the community itself, with all the people and great minds out there, which share their knowledge day after day. Another thanks goes to Microsoft Switzerland, without their support such a project would not really be possible.

 

 



Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) Overview

Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) FAQ

With the evolution of cloud computing, datacenter are getting more important, and having multiple datacenter for a site failover is more and more a must have solution. With Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Microsoft introduced a new feature called Hyper-V Replica, which allows you to do an asynchronous replication on a virtual machine level. If you are working in a lager environment you may not want to failover single machines with the Hyper-V Manager, you need a tool which orchestrates the Failover from one site to another site. There are several different options you could do this, like a PowerShell script, System Center Orchestrator or the new automation engine called Service Management Automation (SMA). All of these solutions can work with Hyper-V Replica but they all have some up and downsides.

Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) Overview

Microsoft developed a solution for this problem called Hyper-V Recover Manager which is basically a hosted orchestration engine in Windows Azure. You can simply connected your System Center Virtual Machine Manager servers to this service by installing an agent on the VMM servers. After that you can login to the Windows Azure Portal and configure the orchestration and recovery plans for your VMM Clouds. An important thing here, Windows Azure is only the orchestration engine, no data or VMs are replicated to Windows Azure. VMs will be replicated just between your sites.

Windows Azure Portal Hyper-V Recovery Manager

Still here are some things unclear about Hyper-V Recovery Manager, so here is a little FAQ, which should answer some of the questions:

Q: Can I fully automate my datacenter failover?
A: Yes, you can Failover your Virtual Machines extend the solution with Scripts.

Q: Can I Failover my Domain Controllers and SQL Servers first before failing over my application servers.
A: Yes, you can create your own order in which the failover should happen, by creating recovery plans.

Q: My secondary site has not the same network or subnet available, can I still use it?
A: Yes, Hyper-V Replica and Hyper-V Recovery Manager can change IP addresses of VMs during a failover. In a HRM scenario VMM IP Pools are used to automatically change IP addresses.

Q: Can I test my Recovery Plan?
A: Yes, as in Hyper-V Replica, you can also do a Test Failover.

Q: I have different Storage vendors, can I still use Hyper-V Recovery Manager
A: Yes, there is no dependency to the Storage

Q: I am using Storage Spaces and a Scale-Out Fileserver, does this work with HRM?
A: Yes, you can configure SMB shares for VM locations.

Q: Can’t have my Application data go to cloud
A: Application data never goes to Azure – it transmits encrypted over your own network link between two DCs.

Q: Both of my sites are managed with the same Virtual Machine Manager, does it still work?
A: Yes, it works with both single VMM and HA VMM environments.

Q: My Hosts and Applications don’t have internet connectivity
A: No, Windows Azure connectivity needed by Hyper-V Hosts and Applications. Only connectivity is from VMM Server to Azure Service which can be done by a proxy server.

Q: Do I need to install another agent on every Hyper-V host or Guest VM?
A: No, Disaster Recovery Provider is only needed on VMM Machine.

Q: My N Tier App is using SQL AlwaysON can I get single click App failover?
A: Yes, Hyper-V Recovery Manager failover plans can be customized with scripts, so you can also Failover SQL or other applications using PowerShell.

Q: In addition to Primary DC my ISP is also impacted, can I still failover?
A: Yes, During failover no dependency on Primary Site or Connectivity to Primary Site is needed.

Q: Service Providers want to use HRM but see Azure as competition with their own offering.
A: There is no need to share customer information with Windows Azure, Hoster’s customers never go to HRM Portal.

Q: Does Hyper-V Recovery Manager offer System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) integration?
A: Yes, ongoing replication health monitoring in SCOM

Q: I already have done some System Center Orchestrator Runbooks for failing over Applications, can I still use them?
A: Yes, You can trigger Orchestrator RunBooks from Hyper-V Recovery Manager via scripts.

Q: Does System Center Virtual Machine Manager have Hyper-V Replica support.
A: Yes, Hyper-V Replica has a rich integration with VMM which lights up when you register to Hyper-V Recovery Manager service. Following are key Hyper-V replica integration points with VMM

  • Ability to enable protection during Create VM Wizard
  • Ability to setup default protection for VMs through integration with VM Template
  • Ability to enable protection for already created VMs
  • VM Placement algorithm takes protection information (Cloud, Network) to select appropriate cloud and Host
  • Ability to view replication health from VMM console
  • Specific Icon and actions for Replica VMs
  • Connecting replica VMs to networks and assign IP addresses at scale using VMM networking (VM Networks)

Thanks to Vishal Mehrotra (Microsoft Principal Group Program Manager WSSC)

Feel free to add additional questions to the comment section.



Import MSOnline PowerShell Module

Change Office 365 password expiration policy

Well if you are using Office 365 and you may have the need to change the password expiration policy for some accounts. (Important: This is not recommended, in my opinion password changes are even more important when using cloud services.)

To change the password expiration policy for an user on Office 365 you have to to this with Windows PowerShell.

To manage Windows Azure Active Directory with PowerShell, where also your Office 365 users are stored, you have to do some simple steps.

First make sure you have installed the .NET Framework 3.5 on your management machine.

<br />
Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -FeatureName NetFx3<br />

Install Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant: Install the appropriate version of the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant for your operating system from the Microsoft Download Center. Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant for IT Professionals RTW.

Install Windows Azure AD Module for Windows PowerShell: Install the appropriate version of the Windows Azure AD Module for Windows PowerShell for your operating system from the Microsoft Download Center:

Import the MSOnline Windows PowerShell module

<br />
Import-Module MSOnline<br />

Import MSOnline PowerShell Module

Connect to your Windows Azure Active Directory Tenant or your Office 365 Tenant:

<br />
Connect-MsolService<br />

This will open a popup windows where you have to enter your credentials.

Now now you can start working with your Windows Azure Active Directory.

Connect Windows Azure AD via PowerShell

And you can now finally change the password expiration policy to never.

<br />
PS C:\Users\Thomas\Desktop&gt; Get-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName user@domain.com | Set-MsolUser -PasswordNeverExpires $true<br />



Building Clouds

Fast and Easy VMware to Hyper-V Migration

Until now, planning a migration from VMware to Hyper-V meant that even though you’d save money, you’d spend days migrating the VMs in your datacenter.

Now you can do it in about 5 minutes.

In this video, Migration Mark discusses the remarkable tool that he built with his friends from NetApp:
The Migration Automation Toolkit (MAT)- Powered by Project Shift

Get more information on the migrate.azurewebsites.net/



Import MSOnline PowerShell Module

Manage Windows Azure AD using Windows PowerShell

Well I am a huge fan of Microsoft Office 365 and we are not only using this in our company, I am also using Office 365 for my mothers restaurant. It helps us organzise stuff very easily and allows us to work from everywhere. Now the great thing about using Office 365 and Windows Azure Active Directory it that I can manage it with the same management tools I also use for my on-premise Active Directory. My favorit is of course Windows PowerShell.

To manage Windows Azure Active Directory with PowerShell, where also your Office 365 users are stored, you have to do some simple steps.

First make sure you have installed the .NET Framework 3.5 on your management machine.

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -FeatureName NetFx3

Install Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant: Install the appropriate version of the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant for your operating system from the Microsoft Download Center. Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant for IT Professionals RTW.

Install Windows Azure AD Module for Windows PowerShell: Install the appropriate version of the Windows Azure AD Module for Windows PowerShell for your operating system from the Microsoft Download Center:

Import the MSOnline Windows PowerShell module

Import-Module MSOnline

Import MSOnline PowerShell Module

Connect to your Windows Azure Active Directory Tenant or your Office 365 Tenant:

Connect-MsolService

This will open a popup windows where you have to enter your credentials.

Now now you can start working with your Windows Azure Active Directory.

Connect Windows Azure AD via PowerShell