Tag: Windows Server

How to Reduce the Costs of your Azure IaaS VMs

How to Reduce the Costs of your Azure IaaS VMs

Azure Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offers significant benefits over traditional virtualization. With benefits like the possibility to quickly spin up a couple of virtual machine in any Azure region around the world whenever you need it, is pretty powerful. There are a lot more benefits to Azure IaaS virtual machines. However, that’s not part of this blog. This blog post is focused on helping you saving money by reducing the costs when you are using Azure IaaS virtual machines (VM). Some of the tips here will help everyone out there, some of the tips

Pick the right Azure VM series and the right Azure VM size

Reduce cost by picking the right Azure VM size

Reduce cost by picking the right Azure VM size

First of all, obviously, you pay more for larger virtual machines. Something I realized by working with a lot of customers is that they take the on-premises VM size and use the equivalent size in Azure. Not realizing that the VM size they had was way to oversized. But since they had the static capacity on-prem, they didn’t’ care. Now when you pay for more capacity in the cloud, the story is different. So make sure you realize that the Azure VM sizes are not oversized. You can still change the size later to a larger virtual machine if needed. And if you are looking at tools like Azure Migrate to migrate your existing VMs to Azure IaaS, you will have some additional advantages. Azure Migrate asses your environment and helps you pick the right Azure VM size depending on performance data history. Azure Migrate works with Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines, if you want to know more about Azure Migrate, check out my blog post. If you are already running the virtual machine in Azure, Azure Advisor can be helpful to figure out that your virtual machine is underutilized. Picking the right size will help you to save money and reduce the cost of Azure IaaS VMs.

To make it easier to pick the right size, Azure offers you different type or also called VM series. You can find a broad set of different virtual machine types in Azure, which give you a choice depending on your use cases, scenarios, and application needs. From general-purpose VMs, compute, memory or storage optimized, VMs with GPUs, and HPC workloads. You can find some documentation on the different VM types and sizes here.

Run them when you need them, shut them off when you don’t

Another great benefit of Cloud Computing and next to the large scale are the Pay-per-use options. If you don’t need a virtual machine, you can shut it down, and you are only paying for the existing storage, but not for the computing power anymore. This helps you with workloads, which will need to scale up and down using virtual machines. Or simply with virtual machines in test/dev environments or labs, which don’t need to run 100 percent of the time.

Commit and use Azure Reserved VM instances

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Azure Reservations Reserved Instances and reserved capacity

Now, I know that shutting down virtual machines is excellent in theory if you have the right workloads and applications running in these virtual machines. However, what about the virtual machines which need to run 24h 365 days a year. For that, Microsoft has something called Azure Reservations, and if you are thinking specifically about Azure IaaS VMs, it is called Azure Reserved VM Instances (RIs). Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances can help you save money by pre-paying for one-year or three-years of virtual machines. Pre-paying allows you to get a discount on the resources you use. Reservations can significantly reduce your Azure IaaS virtual machine, SQL database compute, Azure Cosmos DB, or other resource costs up to 72% on pay-as-you-go prices. If you want to know more about Azure Reservations, check out my blog post about how to save money on Azure using Azure Reservations.

Using Economical burstable VMs

B-series are economical virtual machines that provide a low-cost option for workloads that typically run at a low to moderate baseline CPU utilization, but sometimes need to burst to significantly higher CPU utilization when the demand rises. If you want to know more about B-series Azure VMs, check out the following Microsoft Docs.

Azure Spot Virtual Machines for batch processing jobs with significant cost savings

With Azure Spot Virtual Machines (Spot VMs), you’ll be able to access unused Azure compute capacity at deep discounts, up to 90 percent compared to pay-as-you-go prices. Spot VMs are ideal for workloads that can be interrupted, providing scalability while reducing costs. Using Spot VMs allows you to take advantage of our unused capacity at a significant cost saving. At any point in time when Azure needs the capacity back, the Azure infrastructure will evict Spot VMs. Therefore, Spot VMs are great for workloads that can handle interruptions like batch processing jobs, dev/test environments, large compute workloads, and more. You get unique Azure pricing and benefits when running Windows Server workloads on Spot VMs. Spot VMs are currently in preview and you can find more about them on Microsoft Docs.

Leverage the Azure Hybrid Benefit

If you already have existing Windows Server and SQL Server on-premises licenses with Software Assurance, you can use them for Azure virtual machines (VMs). This will allow you to save the Pay-as-you-go cost for Windows Server and SQL Server licenses. The Azure Hybrid Benefit applies not only to Azure VMs but also on Azure SQL Database PaaS services and the Azure Dedicated Host. If you want to know more about how to take advantage of the Azure Hybrid Benefit, check out the Microsoft Azure Docs page.

Cost Management to Analyse your Spendings

Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management

With Azure Cost Management, you can monitor your cloud spending by tracking resource usage and manage costs across all your clouds with a single unified view. It also helps to analyze and optimize your cloud spendings and cloud efficiency. It gives you a transparent view across your organization and helps you to identify resources to optimize. Sonia Cuff wrote a great blog on Step-by-Step: Finding and Analyzing Microsoft Azure Cloud Usage Costs.

Reduce the Costs of your Azure IaaS VMs using Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor Recommendations

Azure Advisor Recommendations

Azure Advisor is a personalized cloud consultant that helps you follow best practices to optimize your Azure deployments. It analyzes your resource configuration and usage data to recommend solutions that can help you improve the performance, high availability, security, but also the cost-effectiveness of your Azure resources. It will recommend you to right-size or shutdown underutilized virtual machines, buy virtual machines reserved instances to save money over pay-as-you.go costs and much more. If you want to know more about Azure Advisor, you can check out the Microsoft Docs.

Select the right Azure region

Today, Microsoft Azure offers up more than 54 Azure regions worldwide, more than any other cloud provider. This has not only a massive benefit of having the capability of deploying Azure resources and virtual machines where ever you need them. But it can also help you to reduce costs. Not all Azure services are available in all Azure regions, and not all Azure services cost the same in every region. Azure resource prices can depend on operational costs and other factors in the specific region. Usually, you want to deploy your virtual machines as close as possible where you need them, and you place them in the specific Azure regions. However, if there is no need to deploy them within a particular region, you can run your VMs in the cheapest available regions to reduce the cost for your Azure virtual machines.

You can find a list of services and products available by region here.

Move services to PaaS and SaaS

Azure Migrate and modernize with cloud migration strategies

Azure Migrate and modernize with cloud migration strategies

This is obvious to many of you, but by analyzing your workloads running inside your virtual machines, you will find specific workloads that can be modernized to run on Azure Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) services or even migrate into a Software-as-a-service solution. For example, if you think about Exchange or SharePoint, instead of migrating these applications into Azure virtual machines, you can reduce costs by migrating to Office 365. Don’t understand me wrong. I know that modernizing applications can be a lot of work and can cost a lot of time and money. The Azure Migration Center gives you an excellent overview of your cloud migration journey, including assess, migrate, optimize, secure, and manage.

The Azure Migration Center also helps you with your cloud migration strategies. And it enables you to define your journey to the cloud. Migration and Modernization by rehosting, refactor or rearchitect, using cloud-native by rebuild or create new, or using SaaS and replace the existing application.

Receive free extended security updates for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2

A year ago, Microsoft announced new options for SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 end of support. Support for SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 already ended on July 9, 2019, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2 followed on January 14, 2020. Customers who are still running Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 do have different options. First, migrate to a newer version like Windows Server 2019, or buy extended security support, or migrate your Windows Server and SQL Server workloads to Azure, to get free extended security updates for thee years. This offer not only works for virtual machines running on Azure but also running on Azure Stack Hub.

Conclusion

Many different ways allow you to save money and reduce the costs of your Azure IaaS VMs. If you combine, for example, Azure Reserved VM Instances, the Azure Hybrid Benefit, and the free extended security support for Windows Server and SQL Server, you will gain massive price reductions. Even if you are only following one of these tips, you might save a lot of money.



Microsoft Ignite The Tour Milan 2020

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2020 Milan

After our leading Microsoft Ignite 2019 conference in Orlando in November 2019, and my first two stops in Shenzhen, China, and London, I am happy and honored that my third stop of Microsoft Ignite The Tour will be in Milan, Italy. By the way, if you are interested in taking a Microsoft certification exam for free, check out the following blog post: Free Microsoft Certification exam voucher at Microsoft Ignite The Tour 2020.

  • Date: January 27–28, 2020
  • Location: Milano Convention Centre

Microsoft Ignite The Tour Milan

Our industry-leading conference is hitting the road—and coming to a city near you. You don’t want to miss the very latest in cloud technologies and developer tools with guest speakers, industry experts, and more. Get on the list today!

I will be speaking in the Microsoft Ignite The Tour learning paths. I am thrilled to show you some cool stuff about PowerShell, Windows Server 2019, Windows Admin Center, Azure Arc, and much more! I will be presenting the following sessions:

THR30033 - Top five new features of Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019 is Microsoft’s most rapidly adopted server operating system. With Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 end of support upon us, learn about some of the amazing new features included in the latest version of the Windows Server operating system. In this session, learn about the top new features in Windows Server 2019, including Windows Admin Center, Storage Migration Service, hyperconverged storage improvements, System Insights, Cluster Sets, Azure integration, Linux Containers, and Kubernetes integration.

MSI20 - Hybrid management technologies

Tailwind Traders has now migrated the majority of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019. Now, they are interested in the Azure hybrid technologies that are readily available to them. In this session, learn how Tailwind Traders began using Windows Admin Center and Azure Arc to manage its fleet of Windows Server computers and integrated hybrid technologies, such as Azure File Sync, Azure Site Recovery, and Azure Update Management, to improve deployment performance and manageability.

MSI30 - Migrating IaaS workloads to Azure

Now that the migration of their server hosts from Windows Server 2008 R2 to Windows Server 2019 is complete, Tailwind Traders wants to begin the process of “lift and shift”: migrating some of their on-premises VMs they’ve been running in their datacenter. In this session, learn about how Tailwind Traders began the process of migrating some of their existing VM workloads to Azure and how this allowed them to retire aging server hardware and close datacenter and server rooms that were costing the organization a substantial amount of money.

MCO20 - Azure governance and management

Tailwind Traders’ deployments are occurring in an ad hoc manner, primarily driven by lack of protocol and unapproved decisions by various operators or employees. Some deployments even violate the organization’s compliance obligations, such as being deployed in an unencrypted manner without DR protection. After bringing their existing IaaS VM fleet under control, Tailwind Traders wants to ensure future deployments comply with policy and organizational requirements. In this session, walk through the processes and technologies that will keep Tailwind Traders’ deployments in good standing with the help of Azure Blueprints, Azure Policy, role-based access control (RBAC), and more.

I am looking forward to speaking at Microsoft Ignite The Tour (MITT) 2019-2020 in Milan. Let me know in the comments if you are going too, and I hope to see you there!



Secure your Server with Azure Security Center

Use Azure Security Center with Windows Server on-premises

Windows Admin Center makes it easy to connect Azure Hybrid Cloud services to your on-premises Windows Server environment. For a while now we can connect services like Azure Monitor, Azure File Sync, Azure Update Management and many more to Windows Server. This helps us to make our on-premises environment even better, by using Azure Cloud Services. At Microsoft Ignite we also announced Azure Arc, which brings cloud-native management to your on-premises environment. With the latest version of the Windows Admin Center, we can now easily connect Windows Servers to Azure Security Center. Azure Security Center will help you to quickly strengthen your security posture and protect against threats. It will not just scan your Azure resources but also your hybrid resources, for example, servers running on-premises or at other cloud providers. You can add Linux and Windows servers to Azure Security Center, and Windows Admin Center makes it easy to onboard your Windows Server.

Azure Security Center is a unified infrastructure security management system that strengthens the security posture of your data centers, and provides advanced threat protection across your hybrid workloads in the cloud – whether they’re in Azure or not – as well as on premises.

Keeping your resources safe is a joint effort between your cloud provider, Azure, and you, the customer. You have to make sure your workloads are secure as you move to the cloud, and at the same time, when you move to IaaS (infrastructure as a service) there is more customer responsibility than there was in PaaS (platform as a service), and SaaS (software as a service). Azure Security Center provides you the tools needed to harden your network, secure your services and make sure you’re on top of your security posture.

You can find more about Azure Security Center here.

Add an on-premises Windows Server to Azure Security Center

To add an on-premises Windows Server to Azure Security Center you can install an agent or you can use Windows Admin Center.

Secure your Server with Azure Security Center

Secure your Server with Azure Security Center

Open Windows Admin Center and click on Azure Security Center in the menu. Click on Sign into Azure and set up. This will open the wizard to onboard the server.

Onboard Server to Azure Security Center with Windows Admin Center

Onboard Server to Azure Security Center with Windows Admin Center

The wizard will ask you to with Azure subscription, resource group and log analytics workspace the server should be connected to. After a couple of minutes, you will get recommendations which you can review in the Azure Security Center or directly for the Windows Server in Windows Admin Center.

Azure Security Center Recommendations

Azure Security Center Recommendations

Get Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center is a free download to use with your Windows Servers, you can download Windows Admin Center here. If you want to know more about the Hybrid capabilities, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com. If you want to know more about Azure Hybrid Cloud, check out azure.com/hybrid.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you add Windows Servers to Azure Security Center using Windows Admin Center. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Video Microsoft Ignite Live 2019 - Azure Stack HCI

Video Microsoft Ignite Live 2019 – Azure Stack HCI

At Microsoft Ignite 2019, I had the chance to interview different people across the Microsoft product groups on the Microsoft Ignite Live stage. In the next couple of weeks, I will share with you the links to the recordings of these videos. In this video, I was able to speak to Cosmos Darwin from the Windows Server team about how to get started with Azure Stack HCI. Azure Stack HCI is another part of the Microsoft Azure Stack portfolio, next to Azure Stack Hub and Azure Stack Edge.

Video: Azure Stack HCI

Hyperconverged infrastructure is rapidly becoming the most common way to deploy servers. Join Cosmos Darwin from the Azure Stack HCI team to how affordable and approachable HCI can be!

Azure Stack HCI is a hyper-converged Windows Server 2019 cluster that uses validated hardware to run virtualized workloads on-premises. You can also optionally connect to Azure services for cloud-based backup, site-recovery, and more. Azure Stack HCI solutions use Microsoft-validated hardware to ensure optimal performance and reliability and include support for technologies such as NVMe drives, persistent memory, and remote-direct memory access (RDMA) networking.

Azure Stack HCI is a solution that combines several products:

  • Hardware from an OEM partner
  • Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition
  • Windows Admin Center
  • Azure services (optional)

I hope this gives you a short overview of Azure Stack HCI. You can check out the following links to get more information:

Microsoft Ignite 2019 was a lot of fun, and you can also watch my session about Hybrid Cloud Management at Microsoft Ignite. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Video Microsoft Ignite Live 2019 - Hyper-V Containers

Video Microsoft Ignite Live – Hyper-V and Containers

This is the last set of recordings of Microsoft Ignite Live stage recordings I am going to share. Today I am going to share two videos, in one I had the chance to speak with Craig Wilhite and Vinicius Apolinario about why you should care about containers and how to get started. In the second one, I spoke with Ben Armstrong from the Hyper-V team about some of the great fun bits the team is doing.

Video: Windows Container

A lot has been said about containers recently, but why should you care? Containers are not an “all or nothing” situation and understanding when they can be beneficial is key to a successful implementation. Come and learn from the containers team how you can get started with this technology and some tips and tricks that will help you with your containerization journey!

Video: Hyper-V

Ben Armstrong, Principal Program Manager on the Hyper-V team talks about some of the challenging, interesting, quirky, and just fun changes that have happened in virtualization over the last year.

I hope this gives you a quick look at some of the fun parts the Hyper-V team is doing with containers and Hyper-V. You can check out the following links to get more information:

Microsoft Ignite 2019 was a lot of fun, and you can also watch my session about Hybrid Cloud Management at Microsoft Ignite. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.



Azure Friday Windows Server Azure Hybrid Cloud Windows Admin Center

Azure Friday: Connect Windows Server to Azure Hybrid services

Last Friday, I had the honor to be part of the Azure Friday show with Scott Hanselman. On this Azure Friday episode, I was talking about how you can connect Windows Server to Azure Hybrid Cloud services using Windows Admin Center. You can watch the full episode here:

If you want to know more about the Azure Hybrid services and Windows Server, check out the following blog post and Microsoft Docs articles:

Back at the time of the recording, we didn’t have the chance to talk about Azure Arc, but if you want to know more about Azure Arc, check out my blog post and my session from Microsoft Ignite, as well as the Microsoft Ignite Live stage interview with Jian Yan. I hope you liked this Azure Friday episode about how you can connect Windows Server to Azure Hybrid services with Windows Admin Center. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.



Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

As you know Windows Admin Center enables you to not just manage Windows Server machines with a web-based user interface, but also to easily connect Azure Hybrid services to your on-premises Windows Server environment. Windows Admin Center allows you to connect services like Azure File Sync, Azure Update Management, Azure Backup, Azure Site Recovery and many more to your Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI environment. With the latest release of Windows Admin Center (WAC) which was announced at Microsoft Ignite 2019, we get another hybrid cloud feature. We get a new Azure Cloud Shell extension in Windows Admin Center. Azure Cloud Shell is an interactive, authenticated, browser-accessible shell for managing Azure resources. It provides the flexibility of choosing the shell experience that best suits the way you work, either Bash or PowerShell. We are able to use Cloud Shell directly from the Azure portal, shell.azure.com, in Visual Studio Code, in the new Windows Terminal or even in the Azure mobile app. Now with the new solution/extension, administrators can also run Cloud Shell directly within WAC.

How to run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

First, you will need to enable and install the new Azure Cloud Shell solution. For that open Windows Admin Center, go to Settings and in the menu click on Extensions.

Extensions

Extensions

Under available extensions, you will find the new Azure Cloud Shell (Preview) extension. Click on Install, the WAC portal will refresh automatically.

After the page has refreshed, the Cloud Shell option will show up in the top menu.

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Start Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

If you start Azure Cloud Shell for the first time, you will need to login to Azure.

After that, you can run the PowerShell or Bash experience, depending on what you prefer. You also have access to the clouddrive which comes with Cloud Shell.

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center

In that, you can run tools like the Azure CLI, Azure PowerShell and much more. If you want to learn more about Azure Cloud Shell, check out my blog post, Mastering Azure with Cloud Shell. Windows Admin Center is a free download to use with your Windows Servers, you can download Windows Admin Center here. If you want to know more about the Hybrid capabilities, check out my blog post on ITOpsTalk.com.

I hope this gives you an overview of how you can run Azure Cloud Shell in Windows Admin Center. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.