Early Look: Azure Migrate & Azure Migrations

Migrating to Azure is a big task and should not be taken lightly. It is important to do your due diligence when embarking on this journey. There have been tools available for a while to assist in migrating to public clouds both for Microsoft Azure and non-Microsoft. Some of the tools out there have been designed and built for Azure migrations and some originally for backup and or disaster recovery but work well helping to migrate workloads. Also with cloud there is IaaS, PaaS, and even SaaS. When looking to migrate from on-premises those are the types that you look at moving to. In this blog post I will talk about migrating to IaaS on Azure and will take a look at the newly announced migration tool from Microsoft. This new migration tool from Microsoft is called Azure Migrate. It was announced here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-azure-migrate and it is still in a limited preview. The most common type of migration project from on-premises to Azure is known as a Lift and Shift to IaaS. This is the standard approach including the tooling:

Stage 1: Discover and assess on-premises environment and workloads that will be moved to Azure.

Stage 2: Stage targeted environments in Azure.

Stage 3: Replicate servers up to Azure.

Stage 4: Optimize migrated workloads i.e. security, backup, sizing, performance, and cost.

 

The typical tooling used mapped to each stage is as follows:

Stage 1: Azure Migrate or 3rd party (Manual, Movere, Cloudamize, DynaCenter, CloudEndure, Unitrends, Stratozone, CloudAtlas and more)

Stage 2: Azure portal, PowerShell, ARM

Stage 3: Azure Site Recovery (ASR)

Stage 4: Security Center, Azure Backup, ASR, OMS, and Cloudyn

 

Now it is common in stage 1 to assess workloads that can move to SaaS or PaaS. Below is a Workload Cloud Migration Decision Tree that can be used to help determine the placement of workloads as you look at migrating to the Azure:

This decision tree flow is from the Azure Operationalized session MVP Natascia Heil and myself delivered in 2017 at MMS. Notice in the Workload Cloud Migration Decision Tree that SaaS is first then PaaS, then IaaS and finally Hybrid Cloud. That is the order workloads should be targeted in as the top typically has the lowest cost and greatest amount of savings when moving to cloud. Also take note that Hybrid Cloud is Azure Stack.

Reminder in this blog post we are only talking about IaaS as that is what the Azure Migrate tool can help with as of now. This may change later expanding to cover PaaS and I hope it does!

Azure Migrate was announced at Ignite 2017. It is still in a limited preview. I am fortunate to have access to it and was given the greenlight to blog about it. Azure Migrate can help with stage 1 of an Azure migration project. Azure Migrate helps eliminate a fair amount of the manual work needed in Azure migration projects. Currently Azure Migrate only evaluates environments and workloads running in VMWare vSphere. Later the goal is to add Hyper-V and physical servers as platforms that can also be assessed.

Azure Migration helps you assess Azure readiness, Size recommendations, Monthly cost estimate, and visualizing dependencies. These breakdown as:

Azure readiness of on-premises virtual machines. This looks at things such as the type of BIOS, OS version.

Size recommendations gives you a recommended Azure IaaS VM sized based on the VM’s on-premises performance history.

Monthly cost estimate is the total cost you will incur running your servers in Azure. This is broken down as compute and storage costs.

–  Visualizing dependencies is basically utilizing Service Map to visualize dependencies between servers so you can scope out servers that make up a workload at the application level and quickly determine any potential issues with migrating.

 

The Azure Migrate tool looks at the following items as a part of the assessment:

Target location

The Azure location to which you want to migrate.

Storage redundancy

The storage option that Azure VMs will use after migration. Currently, Azure Migrate supports only Locally redundant storage (LRS) only.

Pricing plans

The assessment takes into account whether you’re enrolled in Software Assurance and can use the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, and whether you have any Azure offers that should be applied. It also allows you to specify any subscription type.

Pricing tier

Azure Migrate allows you to specify the pricing tier (basic/standard) of the Azure VMs. This helps you migrate to the right Azure VM family, based on whether your on-premises environment is in production or not.

Performance history

By default, Azure Migrate evaluates on-premises machine performance using a month of history, with a 95% percentile value. This can be modified.

Comfort factor

Azure Migrate considers a buffer (comfort factor) during assessment. This buffer is applied on top of the utilization data of VMs (for CPU, memory, disk and network). The comfort factor is added to account for matters such as seasonal usage, short performance history, and likely increases in future usage. For example, normally a 10-core VM with 20% utilization will result in a 2-core VM.

Note: Above list is from the limited preview user guide and subject to change once Azure Migrate is out of preview.

 

Overall I found Azure Migrate easy to setup, configure and use. Now let’s check out the tool.

 

When you go into the Azure portal you basically create a new migration project. This is stored in it’s own resource group. You can create multiple of these.

When you create an Azure migration project it creates an OMS workspace and deploys the Service Map solution. This can be seen in the following screenshot.

After creating the project you then need to perform the discovering and assessment.

To perform the discovery Microsoft gives you a appliance in the form of a VMware virtual machine image. This is the migration collector. You spin it up in your vSphere environment, connect it to your VMWare environment and let it collect data on all or a specified set of virtual servers.

In the following screenshot you can see the collector running.

After it is running you need to log into it via the VMWare console or RDP. You need to ensure the VMware PowerCLI module is installed and then you run the Azure Migrate collector wizard. On the desktop of the collector machine’s desktop you wil see the VMWare PowerCLI for installing it and the collector wizard.

This is a screenshot of the VMWare PowerCLI install.

Below in the following screenshots is what the collector wizard looks like. On the first screen accept the pre-reqs and click continue. On the second section you are going to point the collector at your VMWare environment to collect either or specific VM’s that you plan to migrate to Azure.

Next you need to input credentials for the Azure Migration project that you created in Azure. Below is a screenshot of the ID and Key.

Input the ID and key as shown in the screenshot below.

After you click continue the wizard will discover the machines and upload the date to your Azure Migration project. This can take a while so go get some coffee at this point.

After it is done go back to the Azure portal and go to Migration projects. This is where you will see the Azure migration project you created and the details of your assessment.

Below are two screenshots one without assessments and one with assessments.

Without any assessments

With some assessments

On the left hand side under manage you can click on assessments to create an assessment. You can create a new group or select an existing group for the machines to belong to.

The following screenshot is what the assessment overview will look like.

You can change many important things for your migration by clicking on Edit properties. Here you can change the target location for the VM’s storage type, offer type, use of hybrid user benefit and much more.  There is a property here names comfort factor. If the comfort factor is set to of 1 the migrate tool will provide only exactly what is needed if this is set higher for example to a comfort factor of 2 then the migrate tool will double the VM size recommended by Azure migrate.

If you click on Azure readiness it will show you the migration readiness details about your VM’s. Here you will see any machines that will have migrations issues and what those issues are so that you can remediate them. After you remediate this will update.

If you click on a machine it will give you details about that specific VM.

If you click on Cost details you will see a breakdown of monthly compute and storage costs. It will break this down per machine.

There is a feature in Azure Migration called Dependency visualization. Dependency visualization will map out the dependencies between servers and applications to help point out any potential issues up front. This feature leverages Service Map within OMS. In order for Service Map to pick up the dependencies on the machines we need to have the OMS MMA agent and the Service Map dependency agent installed on them. This has to happen even before they migrate.

The following screen shows the MMA agent and dependency agent install steps.

They way to access the dependency visualization screen is to drill down into a group and then click on View dependencies button as shown in the following screenshot.

You will be brought to the Service Map dependencies screen where it shows the dependencies to help identify these before migration to Azure.

That concludes this blog post. Hopefully you found the information about Azure Migrations useful and enjoyed this early look overview of the new Azure Migrate tool.

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Monitoring Azure PaaS

I recently had the opportunity to present at the annual SCOM/OMS Day held by the MN System Center user group. Here is a link to the past event https://mnscug.org/meetings/499-october-2017-mnscug-meeting. Other presenters during this event included Microsoft MVP Cameron Fuller, Microsoft MVP Bob Corenelissen, and Nathan Foreman, another Minnesota local. I chose to present on Monitoring Azure PaaS. In this blog post I will cover the information from my presentation and dive deeper into the topic.

Defining PaaS

Before you can monitor something you need a full understanding of what it is that you will be monitoring. Let’s start out by clarifying what PaaS is. There are many facets to cloud and the services that are available in cloud. You also can utilize public cloud, run your own private cloud or utilize a combination of the two known as hybrid cloud. Regardless if you have public, private, or hybrid cloud you can leverage Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service.  Below is an image that has been around for a while that visually explains the main differences between running your own data centers and utilizing cloud.

After viewing the previous image lets dive a little bit deeper into what it is explaining. When you run your own data center/s you are responsible for EVERYTHING all the way down to the networking and storage including monitoring all of that. As you move to the cloud you reduce your administrative overhead releasing that to the cloud vendor.

Most organizations first foray into cloud is to utilize IaaS. With IaaS you take a lift and shift approach of essentially running your existing servers and or new servers in cloud as virtual machines. At this layer you no longer have to worry about and manage the hypervisor, servers, physical storage, and physical networking. At the IaaS layer you still need to manage and monitor what is running on the servers that power workload and applications consisting of things like the OS, middleware, data and the applications. You also manage and monitor software defined storage and networking.

As organizations move to PaaS in cloud you release even more to the cloud vendor reducing even more administrative overhead. Also with PaaS the cost of the cloud services decreases. With PaaS you are responsible for the applications and data. You no longer need to worry about maintaining the administrative tasks of the applications, middleware or the OS.

Examples of some Azure PaaS services are Web Apps, Mobile Apps, API Apps, Media Services, CDN, Search, Event Hubs, Notification Hubs, Service Bus, Batch service, Azure AD, B2B/B2C, Azure DNS, Storage, SQL/MySQL/Postgres databases, CosmosDB, Service Fabric, IoT, Azure Functions, Logic Apps, Azure Container Service, Redis Cache, HD Insight, Key Vault, Azure Bot service, and much more.

Let’s zero in on SQL as a service in the cloud. With traditional SQL you had to properly scope and size the server properly, ensure you have enough storage space, split data, logs etc. After that you would need to plan and make SQL highly available, tune a SQL server for performance, maintain it and more. With PaaS the majority of this goes away. In fact with PaaS there is no SQL server/s to manage anymore. With PaaS when developers or anyone in IT need a SQL database they simply go spin it up. IT can still put controls in place such as policy and governance standards that are essentially boundaries that the consumer of the service needs to stay within however it is all self-service.

Now even though SQL databases can be spun up by consumers on their own and the SQL servers are managed by the cloud vendor (Microsoft). Now you would think in a cloud PaaS model you no longer need to monitor as there is no SQL server/s to administer. This is simply not true and we will get more into the monitoring aspect more later on in this post.

Applications running in Azure are typically made up of multiple PaaS services and sometimes a PaaS service itself will have dependencies on other PaaS services. An example of this can be seen in the following Application Map.  This shows that PaaS services have many moving parts across multiple parts and can be complex.

With PaaS components that make up applications it is important not to just monitor the components but also the application itself.

Why Monitor PaaS?

Most folks automatically think that they don’t need monitoring of PaaS because they assume without servers and high availability they don’t need to. This simply is not true. Below is a list of reasons of why it is important to monitor PaaS.

Overall when it comes to PaaS best practice is to move away from the old ways of thinking and methods for monitoring servers and on-premises infrastructure and move to a focus of monitoring the business applications.

Understanding the monitoring framework in Azure

Next up let’s take a look at the framework of monitoring in Azure. This will help you to better understand what is possible and how the monitoring tools plug into this framework. There are three main areas of data that is generated by Azure services that can be leveraged in monitoring. These sit across IaaS and PaaS services. These areas are:

  • Diagnostic
  • Logs emitted by an Azure resource that provide rich, frequent data about the operation of that resource.
  • Resource-level diagnostic logs require no agent and capture resource-specific data from the Azure platform itself.
  • Can send these to OMS Log Analytics, Event Hubs, or an Azure Storage account.

_______________________________

  • Metrics
  • Gain near real-time visibility into the performance and health of Azure workloads.
  • Performance counters are emitted by most Azure resources.

_______________________________

  • Activity Log
  • Insight into subscription-level events that have occurred in Azure.
  • Determine the ‘what, who, and when’ for any write operations (PUT, POST, DELETE) taken on an Azure resource in a subscription.
  • Categories of data: Administrative, Service Health, Alert, Autoscale, and Recommendation. (Policy, Security, and Resource Health coming…)

The types of monitoring data sit at different layers on IaaS and PaaS. On IaaS the application logs and metrics come directly out of the application. Diagnostic logging sits across the application and OS layer while metrics sit across the OS layer and VM layer. The activity logging sits at the Azure infrastructure layer.

On PaaS both the diagnostic logging and metrics come from the Azure resources directly. The activity logs again are at the Azure infrastructure layer.

With the diagnostic logs and metrics you can access and configure these via the Azure portal, PowerShell, Azure CLI and many have API.

Diagnostic logs can be sent to OMS log analytics, Event Hubs or Azure storage for other consumption. Metrics can also be sent to OMS log analytics, Event Hubs, Azure storage, and Application Insights. With Metrics you can also fire off alerts and autoscale a service. Alerts can kick off emails, webhooks, and Azure Automation runbooks. The following diagrams visually breakdown what can be done with metric and diagnostic log data.

Options for monitoring Azure PaaS

When it comes to monitoring PaaS Microsoft has many options available. There also are options available from a ton of 3rd party vendors. In this blog post I will only talk about the Microsoft options. Majority of the monitoring tools from Microsoft that can monitor PaaS are cloud based but you also can do some PaaS monitoring via System Center Operations Manager. The cloud options are much faster, easier to onboard and have been built from the ground up with cloud in mind. With Azure you also have out of the box monitoring capabilities on most of the Azure services. For example with a web app in Azure on the overview blade you can see things like data in and out and the Azure Response Time as shown in the following screenshot.

It is great that we get some monitoring out of the box for PaaS services, however this does not help when you are running hundreds+ of services. To handle enterprise scale monitoring of PaaS services you need to centralize the monitoring and that is where the monitoring solutions come in. Microsoft has 4 cloud based monitoring tools to help centralize your Azure monitoring. These tools are able to scale as needed without any hard limits. SCOM is a 5th monitoring tool that can monitor Azure. SCOM is on-premises only though. Here is a screenshot of the various tools minus SCOM:

Here is an example custom PaaS monitoring dashboard in Azure combining widgets from the various monitoring tools:

Now let’s dive into what each tool is and an example of when and how you would use them to help monitor Azure PaaS services.

Application Insights is a Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solution used to monitor applications all the way down to the code. Application Insights is typically used for web apps and other Azure PaaS services to detect, triage, and diagnose the root cause of issues. Application Insights gives you the ability to monitor many things about your applications such as availability, metrics like data coming in and out, dependency mappings through application map, performance data, and even live streams of data points. The following screenshot is an example of a web app in Application Insights.

The following screenshot is an example of an availability test summary chart in Application Insights. It is a ping test pointed to a URL. It gives you the % of the apps availability, the successful tests and failures.

With the availability ping test you have control over a bunch of options such as the frequency, success criteria, any needed alerts upon failures, and the ability to select the locations the test runs from.

Here is an Example use case for Application Insights:

  • Debug a multi-tier Azure .NET web application for errors and performance issues.
  • Utilize Application Map in Application Insights to discover visually which parts of the application are unhealthy. For the parts that are not healthy drill down using Application Insights to pinpoint the root cause of the errors.

OMS stands for Operations Management Suite. OMS is goes beyond just a tool that can be used for monitoring. It is a suite that also provides, backup, DR, automation and security. It extends to on-premises and it can monitor both IaaS and PaaS. OMS is a platform and has something called solutions. Solutions are used to extend the functionality of OMS. The solutions are packaged management scenarios. I am not going to list out or dive into all of the solutions available for OMS here. Solutions can be found directly in OMS or from the Azure Marketplace. There are a bunch of OMS solutions that can be used to help monitor and gain insight into your Azure PaaS services. The following screenshot has some of the PaaS related solutions that are available for OMS.

In the previous screenshot the OMS solutions with the white background can be found in the Azure Marketplace while the other OMS solutions will be found directly in OMS. More and more solutions are being added to OMS and the Azure Marketplace all the time.

Below is a screenshot of the Azure Web Apps Analytics OMS solution used to gain insight into an Azure web app/s.

Below is a screenshot of Azure Storage Analytics OMS solution from the Azure Marketplace used to monitor and gain insight into Azure storage.

OMS example use case for monitoring Azure PaaS:

  • Front end application can sometimes connect to a SQL database; and sometimes it cannot. Suspected cause is SQL timeout.
  • Utilize the Azure SQL Analytics to drill-down into SQL timeouts that have occurred on databases.

Azure Monitor provides a consolidated place for monitoring data from Azure services and base-level infrastructure metrics/logs from Azure services. It is typically used to track performance, security, and identify trends on Azure services. Azure Monitor brings (OMS) log analytics, application insights, and even network watcher into one place. Azure Monitor is still a relatively new service in Azure and it is still taking shape. Azure Monitor does offer some data that (Application Insights and OMS do not). The data you cannot get in OMS and Application Insights includes the history of Azure service issues, planned maintenance, health advisories, health history, and Azure activity logs.

An example use case for using Azure Monitor to help monitor Azure PaaS is:

  • Need a report of all services issues for a specific region for the past 3 months.
  • Utilize health history in Azure Monitor to pull a list of all service issues for a specific region from the past 3 months. This example can be seen in the following screenshot.

The following screenshot shows the following areas in Azure Monitor that have important Azure monitoring data.

Azure Monitor also has the ability to integrate with many 3rd party solutions that are used by DevOps folks today. The following screenshot is a group of 3rd party integrations that are available for Azure Monitor.

SCOM can be utilized if you want to monitor Azure resources from on-premises you can utilize SCOM for this. There is a management for Azure. There also is a SCOM management pack for Azure Stack. The SCOM management pack for Azure Stack is used to monitor Azure Stack’s fabric. In order to monitor Azure Stack’s IaaS and PaaS you would use the Azure management pack pointing it to your Azure Stack enviroment. The Azure management pack can monitor the availability and performance of Azure resources that are running on Microsoft Azure via Azure REST APIs.

Azure services that can be discovered and monitored with the Azure SCOM management pack.

Below is a diagram of how the health rolls up in the Azure SCOM management pack.

Where to get the Azure Management Packs

Azure Management Pack:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50013

Azure Stack Management Pack:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=55184

But what about security?

This is where Azure Security Center comes into play. Security Center is a unified security management and advanced threat protection for workloads running in Azure, on-premises, and in other clouds.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more blogs on Azure and Azure Stack.

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Azure Stack book (coming soon) & training

It has been a long time coming but I recently have wrapped up a couple projects around Azure Stack. The first is a course on Azure Stack for Opsgility the second is a book on Azure Stack in the Unleashed Series.

For the first project I was fortunate enough to help build some Azure Stack training for the folks at Opsgility. It was great working with Azure MVP’s Michael Washam (@mwashamtx)  and  Dan Patrick (@deltadan) on this.

Here is an overview of the course:

This course is designed for cloud architects, cloud administrators, DevOps engineers, and IT professionals that have experience with Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Services (IaaS) and Platform Services (PaaS). This course focuses on architecting, deploying, and managing Microsoft’s enterprise hybrid cloud solution Azure Stack. This course covers scenarios such as Azure Stack Architecture, deploying and configuring Azure Stack to be enterprise ready, configuring Azure Stack for tenants, region management, monitoring, backup and disaster recovery.

Here are a couple of screenshots from the online training:


Be sure to check out the course here:

https://www.opsgility.com/courses/player/implementing-azure-stack


The second project is a book on Azure Stack in the Pearson Unleashed Series. It is not published yet but all the chapters are in and the book will be published in the near future! This book has a solid team of authors who are all Microsoft MVP’s. I was honored to work with them. The authors are: Kerrie Meyler (@kerriemeyler), Jakob Svendsen (@JakobGSvendsen), Mark Scholman (@markscholman), and Janaka Rangama (@JanakaRangama). Here is a picture of the Azure Stack book author team:

Also thanks to Marc van Eijk (@_marcvaneijk) of the Azure CAT team for doing the technical review and Daniel Savage (@dsavageatms) PM on the Azure Stack team for writting the foreword.

Here is the cover for the book:

Here is the book description:  “Microsoft Hybrid Cloud with Azure Stack and Azure Unleashed cuts through the hype to explain exactly what hybrid cloud is, presents complete CloudOps- & DevOps-based implementation strategies, guides you through deploying the brand-new Microsoft Azure Stack, and helps you maximize the value of your hybrid cloud investment.

Written by an expert team of Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter MVPs, it covers all-new material included in no othe book, and thoroughly illuminates Microsoft Azure Stack, one of Microsoft’s most eagerly awaited cloud technologies.

This book is built on real-world scenarios and the authors’ extraordinary early adopter, hands-on experience. Leading System Center expert Kerrie Meyler and her colleagues guide you through every step and technique you’ll need to build your own secure, high-performance hybrid cloud infrastructure.

You’ll discover how Azure Stack enables you to run your datacenters with the same scalability, redundancy, and reliability for computer, network, and storage as Microsoft’s own Azure datacenters; how to integrate Azure infrastructure and platform services for use in your internal operations; how to manage virtualized instances of Microsoft software; and how to manage key dependencies with other products and technologies that Microsoft’s hybrid cloud solution depends upon.”

Here is the link to the books page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Hybrid-Unleashed-Kerrie-Meyler/dp/0672338505  This is the link you want to watch for the publish date.

Happy Azure Stacking!

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Azure Stack SQL RP – Need Azure PowerShell with version 1.2.9 Error

I ran into this error when installing the Azure Stack SQL RP on the Azure Stack Development Kit:

Azure Powershell Module with 1.2.10 version found. Need Azure Powershell with version 1.2.9. Please uninstall the “current version and rerun the RP setup

If you look at the SQL RP doc here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-stack/azure-stack-sql-resource-provider-deploy

It says “If you have installed any versions of the AzureRm or AzureStack PowerShell modules other than 1.2.9 or 1.2.10, you will be prompted to remove them or the install will not proceed. This includes versions 1.3 or greater.” on step #6 under Deploy the resource provider.

 

On my ASDK host I had:

and

The funny part is that in the SQL RP deployment script titled has a line where it installs AzureStack 1.2.10 but this is the version that the SQL RP deployment script is complaining about. Here is the syntax from the SQL deployment script.

# Installs and imports the API Version Profile required by Azure Stack into the current PowerShell session.

Use-AzureRmProfile -Profile 2017-03-09-profile

Install-Module -Name AzureStack -RequiredVersion 1.2.10 -Force

So the next thing I tried to do was run:

Get-Module -ListAvailable | where-Object {$_.Name -like “Azure*”} | Uninstall-Module

It kept throwing these warnings and errors:

WARNING: The version ‘1.0.4.4’ of module ‘Azure.Storage’ is currently in use. Retry the operation after closing the applications.

PackageManagement\Uninstall-Package : Module ‘Azure.Storage’ is in currently in use.

At C:\Program Files\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\PowerShellGet\1.0.0.1\PSModule.psm1:2157 char:21

+ …        $null = PackageManagement\Uninstall-Package @PSBoundParameters

+                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    + CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (Microsoft.Power…ninstallPackage:UninstallPackage) [Uninstall-Package], Exception

    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : ModuleIsInUse,Uninstall-Package,Microsoft.PowerShell.PackageManagement.Cmdlets.UninstallPackage

So now I was stuck in this endless loop of PowerShell module uninstall and install hell. For a moment I thought I went insane. After recovering from temporary insanity. I ran this:

Get-InstalledModule -Name “AzureStack” -RequiredVersion 1.2.10 | Uninstall-Module

No errors on this. I then ran:

Get-Module  -ListAvailable | where-Object {$_.Name -like “Azure*”}

to see if the module was gone. Boom it was!

I then kicked off the SQL RP deployment script again and this time it worked!

NOTE: If you somehow have AzureRM version 1.2.10 just run Get-InstalledModule -Name “AzureRM” -RequiredVersion 1.2.10 | Uninstall-Module to get rid of that guy.

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Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK) Deployment Step by Step

At Microsoft Inspire Microsoft announced the Azure Stack Development Kit (ASDK) as a replacement to the POC and the general availability of the production Azure Stack named Azure Stack Integrated Systems. The Azure Stack Development Kit is here to stay. This will remain single node and should be used for trying out Azure Stack. You can develop your ARM templates and or applications on it and they will work on a production Azure Stack. The Azure Stack Integrated Systems are the ones that you buy from the OEM partners HP, Lenovo, Dell and soon to be Cisco, Avanade, and Huawei.

The ASDK install has improved 1,000 times over the previous TP’s of Azure Stack. I am going to detail the steps in this blog post. The steps start after you have downloaded the Azure Stack cloudBuilder.vhdx. Here we go:

PREPARE AZURE STACK HOST SERVER:

First off download the Azure Stack tools onto your Azure Stack host server. Just download all the tools as you will need all of them at some point. They can be found here: https://github.com/Azure/AzureStack-Tools

I put these in a folder on the C: drive named ASTools. I extract them and place them in the root.

Open up an elevated PowerShell window, navigate to your Astools folder and run the asdk-installer.ps1 script. Next a GUI wizard will pop-up.

Click on Prepare Environment.

Point it to your cloudBuilder.vhdx and click Next.

Put in the host servers local admin password. Make sure this matches the Azure account you plan to use.

Select the other options as you see fit.

It will run for a while creating the unattended file for Windows Server 2016.

Once it is done click Reboot now.

DEPLOY AZURE STACK DEVELOPMENT KIT:

Next lets deploy Azure Stack. After the server has rebooted log onto your AS server. Use the localhost\administrator account and the password you set.

Once again from PowerShell run asdk-installer.ps1. A GUI wizard will come up. Click on Install.

Select Azure Cloud (Azure Active Directory) or ADFS. Put in your directory and password.

Verify and select the correct NIC.

Select DHCP or put in your static IP settings.

It will verify the network settings.

You will see the PowerShell deployment script that will be run. Click on Deploy!

The PowerShell deployment will kick off in a PowerShell window.

After a little bit (1-2 minutes) an Azure login window will ask for your Azure account creds. This is the account ASDK will be deployed under.

NOTE: We still have the log folder and files under CloudDeployment on the C drive.

A few hours later and there it is successfully!

Having been involved with Azure Stack since TP1 and losing about a week to deploying Azure Stack TP1 this is a much….much better deployment experience. Nice work Microsoft Azure Stack team!!!

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Microsoft MVP for 6th year!

Today was another special July 1st becuase I received an email from Microsoft stating I was awarded as an MVP for the 6th year! Here is the email:

This year the award is VERY special. It is not just special becuase it is the 6th one but becuase there are other MVP’s that did not get renewed. I feel lucky to make it back in. Also it is special becuase Microsoft technology has been changing so much...

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OMS and Cherwell ITSM Integration

Microsoft recently released public preview of OMS and ITSM integration. Here is the link for that announcement:

https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msoms/2017/05/11/it-service-management-connector-public-preview

Microsoft has built an ITSM connector in OMS. This new ITSM connector can connect to many ITSM solutions out there. The ITSM solutions it can connect to are:

  • System Center Service Manager (SCSM)
  • Cherwell
  • ServiceNow
  • Provance

This new ITSM connector is bi-directional meaning work items can flow from the ITSM solution into OMS and OMS can create work items in the ITSM solution such as incidents, alerts, and events. Hopefully in the future OMS could be used to populate a CMDB and even create application maps from OMS’s Service Map.

I wanted to give this a test run with a test Cherwell instance that I have. There is official documentation for the integrations. The documentation is good however after setting this up I did find that there could be a few more steps spelled out as well as screenshots with the Cherwell piece.

Needed settings from Cherwell:

Before you set the connection in OMS go and get the information you will need. So you will need a username and password of an account that has access to Cherwell, the Cherwell URL, and a Cherwell Client ID.

If you don’t know your Cherwell URL you can get this from the Cherwell client console. Launch Cherwell.

Before you login you can edit the connection to see the URL as shown in the screenshot. You will want to copy this to use in the OMS ITSM connector setup.

Note that you do not want to copy the entire URL. Only copy to the .com like https://test.demo.cherwell.com.

Next we need to generate the Client ID. The Client ID is basically a generated string called the client key used for connecting to Cherwell’s API. To get this client ID Launch the Cherwell Administrator console.

Login and click on Security and then Edit REST API client settings.

A window will pop up and you will need to click on the green plus to create a new one. Give it a name and copy out the Client Key.

Copy this as you will need it later.

Setup in OMS:

Next log into OMS and add the ITSM Connector preview. It is shown in the screenshot below.

After this has been added go to your OMS settings screen click on Connected Sources>ITSM Connector and then click on Add New Connection.

Select Cherwell for the connection type add in your Cherwell settings and save it. If everything worked your OMS is now connected to Cherwell.

Exploring the ITSM Connector:

Next let’s check things out in OMS. Before I did that I first went and created a new incident so I could see this flow over into OMS. So I created the following over in Cherwell:

After doing that I went back into OMS and kicked off a sync because I did not want to wait.

The connector picked up my new incident right away. You can see the dashboard ITSM tile has 2 incidents.

After clicking into this I am brought to the full ITSM dashboard. I then clicked on the Incident tile.

I was then brought to the incident dashboard and I could see the new incident I created.

I clicked on the new incident and it brought me to the OMS search with the details of the incident. Very cool!

I am excited to see cool stuff like this in OMS and integration with many ITSM tools. Look out for more blog posts in the future about ITSM Integration in OMS as well as in Azure Stack.

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Speaking at OSCON and MMS May 2017

May is a busy month for me with the opportunity to speak at both OSCON – Open Source Convention (https://conferences.oreilly.com/oscon/oscon-tx) and MMS – Midwest Management Summit (https://mmsmoa.com)! OSCON is May 8th through the 11th in Austin Texas. MMS is May 15th through the 18th in Minnesota.

At OSCON I will be presenting on “How to Motivate Technical Employees” with friend and fellow Microsoft MVP Samuel Erskine – @samerskine. This will be on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 4:15pm–4:55pm. This session is for CIOs, CTOs, IT directors, and IT managers and will cover how to retain your top talent and give you five ways to motivate technical employees. Come to this session to learn the secret sauce for keeping employee’s engaged!  Here is a link to the session: https://conferences.oreilly.com/oscon/oscon-tx/public/schedule/detail/57374

At MMS I will be presenting three sessions! These sessions are:

Awesomize your Azure Stack Deployments with Azure Stack Tools” with fellow MVP Mikael Nystrom -@mikael_nystrom.

Link: https://mms2017.sched.com/event/AUae/awesomize-your-azure-stack-deployments-with-azure-stack-tools

Azure Operationalized” with fellow MVP Natascia Heil – @NatasciaHeil.

Link: https://mms2017.sched.com/event/AUbn/azure-operationalized

Backup is Dead! Restore is Born in the Cloud!” with fellow MVP Robert Hedblom -@RobertandDPM.

Link: https://mms2017.sched.com/event/AUaR/backup-is-dead-restore-is-born-in-the-cloud

These conferences will be lots of great community fun! Hope to see you there.

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Sys Admin to Cloud Admin…ITSM to CloudOps…On-Prem to Azure Stack/Azure

A while back I posted a blog titled “Surviving the future of IT as an IT pro”. In that blog post I set out to share my opinion on where IT is headed and what you should focus on as an IT pro going forward. I guess this post could be considered part 2 however in this post I will focus more on where things are heading as a whole.

So what is this blog really about? It is about “the Transition from ITOPS & ITSM to CloudOps via Azure Stack (Hybrid Cloud) powering DevOps and becoming core to the Digital Transformation of business” that is happening. Whew…..Ok, a lot was said in that previous sentence. J Let’s break it down.

Transition from ITOPS & ITSM to CloudOps

There has been this transition in IT for a while to increase the density in data centers. This was started with the wide adoption of the hypervisor (VMWare, Hyper-V, Citrix Xen etc…). The goal is to get more out of existing and less physical hardware. Think about 1 physical server hosting hundreds of virtual servers. Things have since accelerated at a fast pace. We now have containers, PaaS, and serverless. With these newer technologies, the density is even greater.

The real power behind cloud is software defined everything. With software, defined environments AKA cloud a new skillet and a different way of thinking about managing operations is needed. This new skillset and new way of thinking for the operationalization of cloud is known as CloudOps. IT Operations and IT Service Management do not go away with CloudOps. The evolution of ITOPS and ITSM become CloudOps. The best parts of ITOPS and ITSM (ITIL) funnel into CloudOps used for operating clouds.

Hybrid Cloud (Azure Stack)

Hybrid Cloud is going to be a huge part of cloud initiatives in many organizations for years to come. You can see this on the Gartner reports(http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3354117), Right Scale reports (http://www.rightscale.com/blog/cloud-industry-insights/cloud-computing-trends-2017-state-cloud-survey) and based on the investments the major cloud players are making to build the best Hybrid Cloud solutions.

Hybrid Cloud Is the Preferred Enterprise Strategy, but Private Cloud Adoption Fell

From Rightscale “Cloud Computing Trends: 2017 State of the Cloud Survey” Report:

http://www.rightscale.com/blog/cloud-industry-insights/cloud-computing-trends-2017-state-cloud-survey#hybrid-cloud

Recently IBM and Red Hat announced their launch into the Hybrid Cloud space.

(http://www.networkworld.com/article/3182989/cloud-computing/ibm-red-hat-an-open-source-hybrid-cloud.html)

A while back Amazon and VMWare announced their launch into the Hybrid Cloud space.

(http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161013006574/en/VMware-AWS-Announce-Hybrid-Cloud-Service-%E2%80%9CVMware>)

Microsoft was the first to jump into the Hybrid Cloud space and is the only company that has a 100% true Hybrid Cloud solution. Both VMWare/Amazon and IBM/Red Hat have solutions that run private cloud on public cloud. The private cloud solutions are being retrofitted to run in public cloud as the framework for their Hybrid Cloud solutions. These are not consistent cloud platforms running the same exact bits on bare metal on-premises and in the cloud like Microsoft’s Azure Stack solution. Azure Stack is the same bits in the public cloud and on-premises down to the bare metal.

IBM and Amazon jumping into the Hybrid Cloud space is more proof this will be a large area of growth in IT for years to come. I wonder if Google will decide to jump into the Hybrid Cloud space at some point and what their strategy will be.

DevOps powered by Azure Stack and CloudOps

Azure Stack serves as a catalyst to help move DevOps initiatives forward within organizations. With Azure Stack’s comes the native ability to run the environment using Infrastructure as code, continuous integration, continuous delivery, microservices, integration with source control systems, and more. All of the aforementioned are a part of DevOps.

Along with Azure Stack is the need to run the environment using a CloudOps model. Here is a list of concepts that drive CloudOps:

  • Extreme Hardware Standardization
  • Software Defined Everything
  • Extreme Automation
  • Focus on Zero Downtime
  • Self Service
  • Measured Service
  • Multitenancy

CloudOps is overall focused on business applications critical for running the business through the continuous operations of clouds. CloudOps leaves business unit projects to DevOps. CloudOps instead focuses on the delivery of the the cloud infrastructure to support self-service leveraged by DevOps teams.

David Armour of Microsoft often shares great information on CloudOps and what it means. You can follow him on twitter here: https://twitter.com/Darmour_MSFT

CloudOps supports DevOps and DevOps is core to Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation is the accelerating transformation of the way businesses do business from traditional ways often brick and mortar to the digital front through the use of digital technologies. Businesses are shifting to meet their customers and employees where they are today on digital platforms. In the business world, today it is well known that you must innovate and grow through the use of technology or become obsolete and left in the wake of disruptive companies that are leveraging technology to meet their customers on the digital front.

Examples of digitally transformed company’s vs non-digitally transformed companies are:

  • Netflix vs Blockbuster
  • Amazon vs Target, Best Buy, Macy’s
  • Airbnb vs Wyndom hotels
  • Uber vs Taxi Companies

Digital Transformation is critical to business and IT departments need to be a core driver to help organizations move forward on the digital transformation front. Digital Transformation is the new Industrial Revolution of business today with CloudOps/DevOps being the Assembly line that will bring innovation to the business.

Through DevOps businesses can bring digital services to the market at very fast rates and can pivot quickly as needed to beat and stay ahead of the competition meeting the customers’ demands in an agile way. CloudOps allows the scale and another point to pivot on at any time to redirect in a new direction as needed by the business in an agile manor.

Through a Hybrid Cloud solution like Azure Stack things IoT, Microservices, extreme automation, hyper-scale, and agility can be realized for the business empowering Digital Transformation from the core.

The transition of the IT Pro to Cloud Pro

Ok. That was a lot of information and background on CloudOps, DevOps, Digital Transformation and Hybrid Cloud. You may be asking yourself at this point where does the IT Pro fit into the picture? Let me answer that for you and take you on a tour of Azure Stack to prove why as an IT Pro you should start working with it today!

The path for an IT Professional when moving from traditional IT into a Hybrid Cloud world consists of:

  A cloud administrator can configure and manage resource providers, tenant offers, plans, services, quotas, and pricing.
A tenant purchases (or acquires) services that the service administrator offers. Tenants can provision, monitor, and manage services that they have subscribed to, such as Web Apps, Storage, and Virtual Machines.

Those cloud roles fit in a new world of CloudOps including Cloud architect, engineer, and administrator. Being a part of CloudOps requires a different mindset. Think about dynamic shifts such as software defined everything and extreme standardization. More concepts and technologies that a cloud role requires an understanding of are:

  • IaaS
  • PaaS
  • Software Defined Data Center technologies
  • Automation
  • Source Control Systems
  • Business Intelligence (Showback/Chargeback)
  • High Availability technologies
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Scaling technologies
  • Containerization
  • Server less technologies
  • Cloud Security
  • Both Linux and Windows
  • Self-Service (Service Catalog)
  • Multitenancy technologies
  • Tenant administration
  • And more

Ok. Now let’s jump into some example of CloudOps tooling in Azure Stack. First off, we as a cloud admin you need to know how to perform management of tenants (customers). Here is an example of a dashboard for doing this in Azure Stack:

In Azure Stack, you will need to know and understand the administration of managing the cloud itself. This includes many things some of them being management of a region/s, resource providers that contain the services you can offer up to tenants, along with monitoring, high availability, and backup of the cloud. Below is an example of administration in Azure Stack at the cloud model layer of CloudOps.

We already mentioned monitoring. There is monitoring of the cloud environment itself but there also is a need to monitor the resources being consumed by the tenants. One of the great things about Azure and Azure Stack is the out of the box monitoring and health diagnostics of IaaS virtual machines. I am a SCOM guy and have done a lot of SCOM projects. SCOM works well and serves a purpose but the out of the box monitoring in Azure and Azure Stack is amazing in the ease of turning it on. Once turned on it just works and has very nice visuals to see and work with as shown in the following screenshot. As a cloud administrator, you need technology to be easy so that you can move away from complex setups and troubleshooting the monitoring solution and move to monitoring the resources.

One of the best benefits about Hybrid Cloud is the consistency between public and on-premises cloud. In the following screenshot news updates on Azure and Azure stack are the same. 🙂 Another huge point of consistency between Azure and Azure Stack is the ability to view, deploy and run items from the Azure marketplace in Azure Stack. This is called marketplace syndication.

 

Azure

 

Azure Stack

Azure Stack is set to release in 2017. I want to highlight some of the services already in Azure Stack and more coming to Azure Stack that can be offered in your Service Catalog to tenants.

Already in Azure Stack as of TP3:

  • SQL PaaS
  • MySQL PaaS
  • Web Apps PaaS
  • Computer IaaS
  • Virtual Machines (Linux or Windows)
  • VM Scale Sets
  • Storage
  • Networking
  • PaaS: Storage
  • Key Vault
  • Management of Azure Pack virtual machines
  • Marketplace Syndication

Coming to Azure Stack at some point:

  • Microservices
  • Service Fabric
  • Cloud Foundry
  • Blockchain
  • Container Service
  • IoT

Another big part of CloudOps is being able to measured services that are being consumed. Measured Service can translate to show back or charge back. Measured Service is the ability to track the usage of resources down to the individual resource level. With Azure and Azure Stack resource management (ARM) model resources are carved out and placed into resource groups. In ARM, each resource has an associated cost that is tracked via the usage. There is full role based access around resources and resource groups. Resources and resource groups can be tagged and each resource or resource group’s usage can be tracked and displayed on business intelligence reporting or a dashboard like shown in the following screenshot.

That concludes this blog post. I hope I was able to shed some light on the transition from IT Pro to cloud pro, from IT Ops/ITSM to CloudOps and showcase the power of Hybrid Cloud via Azure Stack. Stay tuned for more exciting stuff coming from Azure Stack.

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The Evolution of ITSM

 

Again I am honored to be included among 14 other ITSM experts in a new e-book. This new e-book is about Future of IT Service Management. This e-book is free as it was sponsored by Cherwell. The e-book covers these five key areas:

  • Transforming Processes & Technology
  • Eliminating Business Silos
  • Enhancing Agility, Speed & Efficiency
  • Driving Business Objectives & Value
  • Focusing on Customer Experience

The goal of the e-book is to help IT professionals and organizations get a future outlook on the role of ITSM as we see more automation, cloud, and digital transformation. Here is the cover of the e-book:

Here is a shot of all of the thought leaders that contributed to the e-book:

You will find my insight in the Transforming Processes & Technology section on page 4 of the e-book!

Download the e-book here:

https://goo.gl/kH7haF

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