Exploring the UniFi – Wifi & Software Defined Networking Solution

It has been a while since I have blogged about non-Microsoft technology. Well I recently moved to a new house and figured this was a good reason to upgrade my network and wifi equipment. I decided to go with Ubiquiti Networks – UniFi line. They have a physical hardware and Software Defined Networking (SDN) combo that I deployed. After deploying Unifi I realized how bad the previous wifi solutions I have used are and wanted to blog about Unifi’s solution. Lets jump in. Here is a list and pictures of the gear for my setup:

1 x UniFi® Security Gateway (Enterprise Gateway Router & Firewall with Gigabit Ethernet)

https://www.ubnt.com/unifi-routing/usg

1 x UniFi® Switch PoE 24 (24 port Managed PoE+ Gigabit Switch with SFP)

https://www.ubnt.com/unifi-switching/unifi-switch-poe

2 x UniFi® AP AC LITE (802.11ac Dual Radio Access Point)

https://www.ubnt.com/unifi/unifi-ap-ac-lite

This gear is enterprise level stuff at consumer level pricing!

NOTE: I originally also bought the UniFi® Cloud Key. This is basically an embedded server that runs the UniFi Controller software for managing all the network gear. It kept rebooting every 5 minutes and was super-hot. I ended up returning it after talking to tech support. I will either buy one in the future when they fix it or I will just run the UniFi Controller software on my own server.

I decided to go with all Unifi gear because it works seamlessly together. The gear overall has great designs especially the AP’s. The AP’s mount to a wall or ceiling and blend in like smoke detectors. The real star in the Unifi solution though is the UniFi Controller software. The UniFi Controller software gives you centralized management of all of your network gear. With the controller software you can Visualize the network in maps, get performance charts with real-time graphs, receive outage notifications and custom alerts, manage updates and schedule tasks, set up alerts, apply mass-configuration changes, get deep insights into metrics, setup VLANs, multiple wifi networks, access schedules, setup guest networks and more. I know this is just for my home network but I am a technical geek and am super excited to have this level of networking in my home. Now let’s explorer the UniFi Controller software on my setup.

In the UniFi Controller software you can add all of your devices. The following screenshot shows this. You can manage the devices from here such as rebooting, upgrading firmware, locating them and more. Something cool about locating the devices is that when you click on locate it makes the blue light the device has flash.

One of my favorite features of the UniFi Controller software is the ability to have network maps. You can upload custom floor plans into the UniFi Controller software and then you can place your devices on the map. In my scenario I uploaded maps for 3 floors. This screenshot shows the lower floor with the gateway and switch.

I have a main level map that has one of the AP’s.

I then have an upper map with the second AP. Something else to note about these maps when you have an AP shown is that you can display wifi coverage. You can should 2G or 5G coverage.

From the maps section of the UniFi Controller software you can also switch to the topology view. The topology view gives you a tree view of your devices and clients that are connected to devices. In the following screenshot you can see clients that are connected via CAT6 to the 24 port switch and you can see what clients are connected to each wifi AP. Something else shown in the screenshot is properties of a client. You can get device info, stats, and even deep packet inspection.

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Microsoft Professional Program for DevOps Finished!

I am a firm believer that no matter how old you are, how far along you are in your career, and regardless of the industry you are in it is important to continue educating yourself. This helps you expand your skillset, stay relevant, and sets you up for new opportunities as they come along. My field of information technology has been changing at a rapid pace and so for a while, I wanted a good way to ramp up on DevOps as a whole. A while back I found out that Microsoft added a new track to their Professional Program for DevOps. When I checked it out I found it to be very thorough and it was not just focused on Microsoft’s DevOps tooling but included non-Microsoft as well. I jumped in without hesitation and started learning.

I finally completed the program last week. Here is my certificate https://academy.microsoft.com/en-us/certificates/67284e84-8afe-4f13-b477-d7620949fb18. I am planning to dive into the program they have for cloud next. If you have not heard of Microsoft’s Professional Program DevOps before here more information about it:

“DevOps is the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to end users. This program helps the student learn about continuous integration and deployment, infrastructure as code, testing, databases, containers, and application monitoring: skills necessary for a DevOps culture in today’s workplace. This program focuses on Microsoft DevOps technologies as well as some OSS (Open Source Software) DevOps tools. Some of the Microsoft DevOps technologies covered in this course consist of Azure, Azure Resource Manager, IaaS, PaaS, IIS, Azure App Service, DevTest labs, Desired State Configuration (DSC), Azure Automation, OMS, Application Insights, SQL, Nuget, TFS, VSTS, and Visual Studio. Some of the OSS DevOps tools covered in this course consist of Jenkins, Git, Github, New Relic, Nagios, Chef, Docker, DC/OS, swarm, and Kubernetes.”

Here is a link to it:  https://academy.microsoft.com/en-us/tracks/devops

This program consists of 8 required courses. Each course runs for three months and starts at the beginning of a quarter. In the end, there is a capstone that has to be completed. This capstone course is the 8th one. You have four weeks to complete the capstone. The capstone is a bunch of hands-on stuff you have to do. Courses average 16-32 hours per course to complete and are taken via the edX.org platform https://www.edx.org/microsoft-professional-program-devops.

Here is a list of all of the DevOps program courses:

      • Introduction to Dev Ops Practices
      • Infrastructure as Code
      • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment
      • Configuration Management for Containerized Delivery
      • DevOps Testing
      • DevOps for Databases
      • Application Monitoring and Feedback Loops
      • Microsoft Professional DevOps Capstone Project
      • The DevOps Capstone Project contains:
        • Automation
          • Use ARM templates to deploy and configure Infrastructure in Azure
        • Continuous Integration
          • Implement Continuous Integration solution using Visual Studio Team services (VSTS)
        • Continuous deployment
          • Implement Continuous Deployment solution using Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS)
        • Testing
          • Implement Unit tests
          • Implement Testing in Production
        • Application Monitoring
          • Implement application monitoring solution using Application Insights

As you can see from that list this program is not just all about VSTS. There is a lot of Azure baked in as well as other non-Microsoft DevOps tooling. I highly recommend this course for anyone jumping into DevOps, or CloudOps and especially for folks with an IT pro background. If CloudOps is foreign to you here are a couple of blogs related to this topic: Sys Admin to Cloud Admin…ITSM to CloudOps…On-Prem to Azure Stack/Azure and Native Cloud Management in Azure.

My personal opinion is that Microsoft should move away from the certifications as they are and to this format. This format combines training and testing. When Microsoft first started the Professional Program for they only had a track for data scientists. They have added more and more tracks over time. Today there are tracks also for Big Data, Web Development, Software Development, AI, IT Support, and Cloud Administration.

Here is a link for all the tracks so you can check them out: https://academy.microsoft.com/en-us/professional-program/tracks. These programs are a great way to expand your learning. Check them out!

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5th Book Published! Azure Stack Book!

The latest book project I have be a part of has completed and recently published. Back in August in this blog post (http://www.buchatech.com/2017/08/azure-stack-book-coming-soon-training) I mentioned this book was on its way. It is a book about Azure Stack that was officially published on December 21, 2017 by Pearson publishing. This book release has been very exciting as it is a part of the Unleashed series and this one marks the 5th book I have published. Here is a screenshot of all 5 from my Amazon author page:

In total I have published 2 books on System Center Data Protection Manager, 2 books on System Center Service Manager, and now this book covering Microsoft’s Hybrid Cloud with Azure and Azure Stack. This book also comes at the right time as I recently made a transition to a new company (Avanade) with a new focus on Cloud (Azure/Azure Stack) and DevOps. 2018 and beyond look to be exciting times as I “Hit Refresh” on my career focus.

Books like this require a team effort. On this book I was honored to work with an expert team of authors. All of the authors are fellow Microsoft MVP’s. The other authors are: Kerrie Meyler,‎ Mark Scholman,‎ Jakob Gottlieb Svendsen,‎ Janaka Rangama. Me and the other authors are pictured below + a former Microsoft MVP Nirmal.

A part of the books team also included some members of the Azure Stack product group and Azure CAT team. We lucked out having Daniel Savage Principal PM Manager from the Azure Stack team write the foreword and Marc van Eijk Senior Program Manager from the Azure CAT team serve as our technical reviewer keeping us authors in line. 🙂

Each of us authors had so much to contribute and added much value across a variety of topics for Azure Stack. In this book I focused on bringing the readers into the cloud journey, showing the value of ITIL applied to cloud as well as the value of DevOps and then bringing ITIL and DevOps together applying them to Hybrid Cloud, took a deep dive into resource providers and management of Azure Stack through a CloudOps perspective.

Other topics covered in the book consist of preparing for Azure Stack deployments both with the development kit and integrated system, deep dive into the architecture of Azure Stack including the development kit and integrated system, data center integration with Azure Stack, configuring Azure Stack including delegation and for tenants, provisioning in Azure Stack, using OMS/DSC/VM extensions with Azure Stack, Customizing Azure Stack, automating in Azure Stack, and much more.

This book gives you the information you need around Azure Stack single and multi-node. It is a great place to start as you venture into the world of Microsoft Hybrid Cloud. The plan is to update this book as Microsoft continues to mature Azure Stack so this book will continue to be relevant.

Here is the book cover:

Here is the official description for the book:

“Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Unleashed brings together comprehensive and practical insights into hybrid cloud technologies, complete CloudOps and DevOps implementation strategies, and detailed guidance for deploying Microsoft Azure Stack in your environment.

Written by five Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management MVPs, this book is built on real-world scenarios and the authors’ extraordinary hands-on experiences as early adopters. Step by step, the authors help you integrate your optimal mix of private and public cloud, with a unified management experience that lets you move workloads at will, achieving unprecedented flexibility.

The authors also guide you through all aspects of building your own secure, high-performance hybrid cloud infrastructure. You’ll discover how Azure Stack enables you to run data centers with the same scalability, redundancy, and reliability as Microsoft’s Azure data centers; how to integrate Azure infrastructure and platform services with internal operations; and how to manage crucial external dependencies. The book concludes with a deep dive into automating and customizing Azure Stack for maximum reliability, productivity, and cost savings.

Detailed information on how to

  •     Run a private/hybrid cloud on your hardware in your data center, using APIs and code identical to public Azure
  •     Apply ITIL and DevOps lifecycles to your hybrid cloud implementation
  •     Gain a deep understanding of Azure Stack architecture, components, and internals
  •     Install and configure Azure Stack and master the Azure Stack Portal
  •     Integrate and utilize infrastructure, core, and custom resource providers
  •     Effectively provision, secure, and manage tenants
  •     Manage, monitor, troubleshoot, and back up Azure Stack with CloudOps
  •     Automate resource provisioning with PowerShell, the Azure CLI, templates, and Azure Stack’s API
  •     Write your own Azure Resource Manager templates
  •     Centrally automate cloud management and complex tasks connected to external systems
  •     Develop customized, production-ready Azure Stack marketplace items”

Here is a link to the book:

https://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Hybrid-Cloud-Unleashed-Azure/dp/0672338505

Happy Azure Stacking!

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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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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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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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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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IT Unity Community Champ & 25 ITSM Experts Feature

This has been an exciting year so far and an even more exciting week! I want to share that I am humbly honored to be featured twice this week. Once as an IT Community Champ by the highly respected Mary Jo Foley on www.petri.com and added to this years 25 ITSM Experts to watch list by Cherwell. 🙂 Again all of this was an unexpected surprise and I am honored to be included.  For information on both of these check out the links below:

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External Access to Azure Stack

Here is a little community gift for the new year (2017). Azure Stack expert Ruud Borst (@Ruud_Borst) recently published a blog post titled “Expose the Azure Stack Portal through NAT”. Ruud included a PowerShell script in this blog post that simplifies extending external access to Azure Stack.

The PowerShell script runs on your Azure Stack host and will make the IP mappings in NAT on MAS-BGPNAT01 to expose your Azure Stack instance externally to your network.

We no longer have to work through a bunch of tedious steps to give external access to Azure Stack. Thanks Ruud! Great example of community power. With Ruud’s script it can be done even if you already have Azure Stack deployed. The link to his blog post and script is here:

https://azurestack.eu/2016/12/expose-portal-azurestack-through-nat

Running the script is as easy as running something like this:

.\Expose-AzureStackPortal.ps1 -PortalExternalIP YOURFIRSTIPHERE -ACSExternalIP YOURSECONDIPHERE

Add -AppServiceAPIExternalIP if you are using the App Service RP you will need to specify a 3rd IP. SQL and MySQL both use the -PortalExternalIP so no need for an extra IP for these.

A successful run of the script should look like this:

VERBOSE: Created NAT external addresses 192.168.1.40 and 192.168.1.45 for Portal and ACS.

VERBOSE: Created Static NAT port mappings on 192.168.1.40 to 192.168.102.7 for Portal
VERBOSE: Created Static NAT port mappings on 192.168.1.40 to 192.168.102.12 for XRP
VERBOSE: Created Static NAT port mappings on 192.168.1.45 to 192.168.102.3 for ACS
VERBOSE: Created Static NAT port mappings on 192.168.1.40 to 192.168.102.14 for SQLrp
VERBOSE: Created Static NAT port mappings on 192.168.1.40 to 192.168.102.1 for MySQLrp

The last step in this process is to make sure you add the DNS records on your external network or to the host file on external servers or clients. Ruud explains this in his blog. I extended Azure Stack to my Buchatech lab environment so I went the DNS route.

For DNS entries I used a CSV file and PowerShell to import all of the DNS records I needed for Azure Stack. I used a PowerShell script from a fellow MVP. The blog post with that script can be found here:

http://www.lazywinadmin.com/2012/10/create-dns-entries-using-powershell-and.html

Here is what the CSV file should look like:

name ip type zone dnsserver
 portal 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
 api 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
 xrp.tenantextensions 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
 keyvault.tenantextensions 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
 health.adminextensions 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
 compute.adminextensions 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
 network.adminextensions 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
 storage.adminextensions 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
*.blob 192.168.1.45 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
*.queue 192.168.1.45 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
*.table 192.168.1.45 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
sqlrp 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
mysqlrp 192.168.1.40 A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com
A azurestack.local dc.buchatech.com

Here is the CSV file I used so you don’t have to create it.

Azure Stack DNS Entries

Notice something different I did with my DNS is I did not add *.azurestack.local. I did not do this because it caused any of the storage DNS entries to respond with the PortalExternalIP instead of the ACSExternalIP. Here is a screenshot of my Azure Stack DNS zone in my Buchatech domain:

After adding the DNS records and installing the Azure Stack certificate in the trusted root authority store I was able to access the Azure Stack portal and connect via PowerShell or Visual Studio without VPN. 🙂

Here is a screenshot of me connecting to Azure Stack’s portal from my Buchatech.com domain on one of my utility servers.

A huge thanks to Ruud for building that PowerShell script. I am excited about bringing access to Azure Stack on my other lab network because this opens up all sorts of possibilities and will net some cool blog posts very soon!

Happy Stacking!

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Fun @ the MVP Summit 2016

This year at the MVP Summit was a great one.

I learned a lot of stuff mostly about OMS, System Center, and Azure Stack.

I cannot talk about any of it. 🙂

I can however talk about some of the fun times we had and share some pictures.

 

First picture….a warm welcome to MVP’s from around the world.

image001

Here is a picture of the US MVPs at the summit!

all-us-mvps

Me at the Microsoft Enterprise Engineering Center in Redmond.

image003

image005

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