Category Azure Pack

Azure Stack POC Hardware

I have been asked several times what I use for my Azure Stack rig and where I got the hardware from. I am going to share in this post what I use to run my single node Azure Stack POC. I bought all parts from newegg.com. Here is a list of the parts:

  • Motherboard: MSI X99A SLI KRAIT EDITION LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 USB 3.0 ATX Intel
  • Video Card: EVGA GeForce 210 DirectX 10.1 512-P3-1310-LR 512MB 32-Bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Low Profile
  • Power Supply: EVGA 750 BQ 110-BQ-0750-V1 80+ BRONZE 750W Semi Modular Includes Power On Self Tester
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3 GHz LGA 2011-v3 140W BX80648I75820K Desktop
    NOTE: I was not paying attention when I bought this. Azure Stack needs 12 cores. I am able to work around this and have not run into problems yet. When I get a chance and $$$ I will upgrade this.
  • 3 SSD Hard Drives: PNY CS1311 2.5″ 960GB SATA-III (6 Gb/s) TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) SSD7CS1311-960-RB
    NOTE: I bought a couple of more Kingston brand SSD’s. I use these for the OS and general storage.
  • Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 Series 128GB (8 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 2800 (PC4 22400) Intel X99 Platform Extreme Performance Memory Model F4-2800C15Q2-128GRKD
  • Case: Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 CC-9011034-WLED Silver Steel ATX Cube Computer Case

As you can see this is generic hardware. The cost of this hardware was just over $2k USD. I have been running Azure Stack since TP1 on this hardware and I am currently running TP3. This is a personal lab for just me and Azure Stack runs well on my hardware. Don’t let a lack of hardware stop you from diving into Azure Stack. As you can see from this post it does not take much to pick up some parts and get going.

I do also run another Azure Stack POC on much better hardware at work. I can’t wait to get a multi-node environment on one of the hardware providers (Cisco, Dell, Lenovo, or HP) platform.

Here is what my rig looks like complete with Azure Stack and other stickers :-).

Before it was built:

After it was built and running:

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Resource Group Clean-up in Azure Stack

If you are like me, you end up creating a ton of resource groups in Azure Stack when testing things out. I needed a way to delete them without having to click one each one via the portal. The best option of course is to leverage PowerShell. I threw together some PowerShell to handle this. I came up with two options #1 can be used to delete a bunch of RG’s that have a common name. For example, I had a bunch of VM00* resource groups. I use the script to go loop through and delete all resource groups with VMO in the name. Option #2 pop’s up a GUI window so I could select the RG’s I wanted to delete. It put them in an array and then looped through to delete them in one shot.

This is great because I can kick this off and go do something else. I will share both below in this blog post along with some screenshots. I won’t have a download for the PowerShell syntax so just copy from this post if you want to use it. Be sure to use AzureStack.Connect.psm1 for connecting to your Azure Stack environment before running any of the following code.

Code:
#1

#Create Variable of RG’s with common name
$Resourcegroups = Get-AzureRmResourceGroup | where {$_.ResourceGroupName -like (‘*VM0*’)}

#Create array of RG’s
$RGLIST = $Resourcegroups.ResourceGroupName

#Loop to remove each resource group in the array
ForEach(
$rg in $RGLIST
)
{
Get-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name $rg -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | Remove-AzureRmResourceGroup -Force -Verbose
}

This image shows the array of RG’s that will be looped through. I highlighted vm003rg in the array and in the PowerShell status message.

rgcleanup-1

The following screenshot shows VM003RG being deleted in the Azure Stack portal.

rgcleanup-2

#2

#Create Variable of RG’s from GUI selection
$selectedrgs = (Get-AzureRmResourceGroup | Out-GridView ` -Title “Select ResouceGroups you want to remove.”` -PassThru).ResourceGroupName

#Loop to remove each resource group in the array
ForEach(
$rg in $selectedrgs
)
{
Get-AzureRmResourceGroup -Name $rg -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | Remove-AzureRmResourceGroup -Force -Verbose
}

After running the Create Variable of RG’s from GUI selection part of the code a window as shown in the following screenshot will pop up. Select the RG’s you want to remove, click Ok and they will be placed into an array.

rgcleanup-3

Below if the output of the array. Run the Loop to remove each resource group in the array part of the code and each of the RG’s will be removed.

rgcleanup-4

I have also used this when a resource group would not delete from the portal. On some stubborn resource groups I have had to run this a couple of times. This is a short post. I hope this helps someone out!

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System Center 2012 R2 UR7 Highlights

Its been a while since I have posted a new blog. I have been busy working on multiple System Center projects and other behind the scene activities. Today update rollup 7 for System Center 2012 R2 was released and this is definitely worth a post. This UR includes DPM, SCSM, SPF, VMM, , SCORCH, Azure Pack, but not Operations Manager. UR7 for Operations Manager will be coming within a few weeks. More info here.  It is interesting that SCOM is not in this UR and we actually see SCORCH included. Here are some highlights from UR7:

For Orchestrator The Monitor SNMP Trap activity has an issue fixed and there is a fix for Stop Job and Stop Runbook. The SCORCH UR also includes some fixes for SMA.

For Service Manager we see a bunch of fixes. Some fixes I want to call out are MPSync Data Warehouse job stop responding and the Get-SCDWInfraLocations cmdlet introduced in update rollup 5 have been fixed. Great work from the Service Manager team. Keep it up.

Beyond just fixes we see new features in two of the System Center components VMM and DPM. As always its exciting to see new features added via UR’s.

In VMM we see support for Windows 10, the ability to provision and customize Debian 8 Linux as a Guest Operating System, support for VMWare vCenter 5.5, the ability to have Multiple External IP Addresses per Virtual Network, the ability to re-associate orphaned virtual machines to their service or VM role, and support for VMM DHCP Extension PXE/TFP Forwarding. There also is a ton of great fixes for issues in VMM. This is great work from the team and should make VMM more stable.

In DPM we see support for Windows 10 client protection, and a really cool feature being the ability to use alternate DPM servers to recover backups from Azure Backup vault. These means if you sent your backup data to Azure from one DPM server and it croaks you can connect a different DPM server to your Azure Backup subscription and recover data from Azure! I have a feeling we will continue to see greater collaboration between on premise backup/DR (DPM) and cloud backup/DR Azure Backup in the future.

To access update rollup 7 visit this link: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3069110

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System Center Futures 2016 and Beyond

UPDATE 9-4-2015:

***There is an upcoming FREE event covering the Future of System Center. This will be held on Sep 25, 2015 at the Microsoft MTC in Minnesota (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/mtc/locations/minneapolis.aspx). This is a must attend event for any company running System Center. For more info on this event visit: http://bit.ly/1JIHS48***

Last week I was able to attend the first ever Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago. There was a lot of exciting news announced at this conference around the many Microsoft products and technologies. Everything was covered from SharePoint, Exchange, Unified Communications, Office, Windows server, Windows 10, all things Azure and more. This post is focused for any System Center professional that was unable to attend the MS Ignite 2015 conference but what’s to know what’s up with System Center. If you had any concern about System Center going away or just want to know about the future of System Center in general this post is for you.

During conference there were many sessions related to the various System Center components however there were a couple of critical sessions that covered the future of System Center. These are the Platform Vision & Strategy sessions. These are titled:

Windows Server & System Center Futures—Bring Azure to your Datacenter (Platform Vision & Strategy)

And

Platform Vision & Strategy (6 of 7): What’s New in System Center for Management

These sessions are important because they featured System Centers top guy Jeremy Winter and he talked about future direction of the management solutions. In this post I will sum up key information from each of these sessions.

NOTE: This post is my perspective on the Platform Vision & Strategy sessions from Ignite and do not represent the opinions of Microsoft.

Traditionally System Center has been a complete management stack for IT Operations. This is not going to change but will continue to get better. The stack consists of: Managing endpoints (PC’s/Mobile device/servers) – *SCCM/Intune* | Monitor – *SCOM* | Automation – *Orchestrator (SMA)* | Provision – *VMM* | Service Management – *SCSM* | Protection – *Data Protection Manager* | Self-service – *Azure Pack* also represented in the following screenshot from one of the session slides.

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So we are now in the year 2015 and have not had a new major version of the entire stack since 2012. However since the release of System Center 2012 we have seen a steady progression of enhancement to the stack. We have seen it move from SP1 to R2 and now updates and new features through update rollups.

These update rollups have been released on a faster cadence at a speed we have not seen from Microsoft before. In fact we have recently seen a round of new features in update rollup 6 and more announced at Ignite. Below is a list of key features that stuck out to me along with slides from one of the Platform Vision & Strategy sessions giving insight into where the System Center components are headed next.

SCCM: Support for Windows 10 and a plethora new MDM features.

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Automation: Graphical authoring. How cool is this!, DSC Push/Pull servers now in SMA and you can manage DSC in SMA, Role Based Access Control.

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DPM: Backup as a Service in Azure Pack powered by DPM, VMWare Backup, Azure Backup offline seeding.

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SCOM: LAMP Stack monitoring, Scheduled Maintenance Mode.

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VMM: Ability to manage Azure IaaS VM’s in VMM. 🙂

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SCSM: Workflow server scale-out, Azure Stack IT Marketplace

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All of those enhancements are exciting for System Center as it appears to be leading up to a major release soon...

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Streaming Enterprise Backup Ignite 2015 Session

My Enterprise Backup session with Microsoft PFE Islam Gomaa and System Center MVP Robert Hedblom from Microsoft Ignite is now on Channel 9. Here is what we covered in the session:

  • Offline seeding to Azure Backup
  • Monitoring and the new enhanced reporting
  • Custom reporting
  • Real-world deployment best practices

and

  • The all new Backup as a Service in Azure Pack powered by DPM

You can watch it here:


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Early look: DPM BaaS in Azure Pack

I am very excited about something new with Data Protection Manager (DPM) that I was able to announce during my Enterprise Backup session @ Microsoft Ignite (http://meme.ms/d5gpbrq). It is DPM Backup As A Service (BaaS). I wanted to blog about it with even more information about this new functionality in DPM.

Well what is DPM BaaS? In a nutshell it is Backup as a Service in Azure Pack powered by Data Protection Manager. This is a new resource provider built by the DPM team. It lights up the functionality for tenants to protect VM’s in Azure Pack. Here is a screenshot of what the new BaaS in Azure Pack looks like for a tenant:

clip_image001

DPM has always had a role in the Microsoft Private Cloud story. This role has been on the backend through backing up the Private Cloud fabric components that power Private Cloud (Windows Server, Hyper-V, System Center). The following image is the framework of Microsoft Private Cloud:

clip_image002

DPM has also been used for protection of front end tenant workloads such as websites, SQL databases and virtual machines. However protecting tenant workloads had no visibility or control by the tenants themselves. This story changes with the introduction of BaaS for Azure Pack giving the control for tenants to choose if they want to protect their virtual machines from their cloud!

NOTE: As of now BaaS for Azure Pack can only protect virtual machines in tenant clouds. If you would like to see BaaS extended to protect other areas of the Private Cloud such as SQL databases or websites feel free to reach out to me.

Now let’s pick apart this new DPM BaaS to gain a better understanding of it in the rest of this post.

DPM BaaS in Azure Pack Architecture

So what do you need for this new BaaS? The following components make up BaaS:

clip_image003

You can deploy many DPM servers for scale as your Private Cloud grows. The rest of the components are standard with a Private Cloud so if you already have Azure Pack running you simply need to add DPM and the DPM BaaS Resource Provider.

As previously stated BaaS only protects virtual machines. A DPM agent needs to be installed to Hyper-V hosts. The BaaS in Azure Pack does not do this for you. The DPM agent will not be required inside VM’s. The agent will be installed on Hyper-V hosts only.

Admin Perspective

Now let’s take a look at what can and admin do with BaaS. NOTE: The BaaS is still under development so some of these features may change. If you have any feedback about the features and functionality you would like to see feel free to contact me. Let’s explore the BaaS admin perspective through a series of screenshots.

Here is a shot of the VM Backup within the Azure Pack admin site. Here is where you would register the resource provider with SPF, you could also add a DPM server, or create a server group. Note that you still need to deploy your DPM servers before you can add them to BaaS. BaaS will not deploy the DPM servers for you.

A server group allows you to logically group DPM servers and then add DPM servers to the group and you can set settings based on a group and then add this to a plan for a tenant. An admin of the Resource Provider will set the Protection Group policy settings that will be used for all subscriptions to a particular plan.

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The next two screenshots show creating a new group.

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This screenshot shows the registration of a DPM server. Notice you have the ability to add the DPM server to a group. Adding the DPM server to a group is optional.

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The next three screenshots give you an idea of what settings you can set for a group. These settings will help you apply limits to the tenant that will be assigned this group via a plan. Notice that some of the settings will look familiar to what you see in DPM when setting up a Protection Group.

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This final screenshot is of the Usage & Metering within for the Resource Provider. The cool thing about this is we do not have a dashboard like this in DPM. This monitoring can be scoped per VM or All Up of the BaaS Resource Provider. Here is what you can see as the part of this monitoring:

  • Retention Days
  • Number of Restore Points
  • Size used

clip_image011

Tenant Perspective

So we walked through what and administrator can do in the BaaS let’s look at the tenants perspective. Here is what a tenant can do with BaaS?

Ability to add a VM under protection. This essentially adds the VM to a DPM protection group on the backend. If a Protection Group does not exist for this tenant’s subscription yet one will be created.

Ability to back up a protected VM. This creates a Recovery Point in DPM on the backend. An admin of the BaaS resource provider has the option to allow this or not allow this to tenants.

Ability to restore a protected VM. This will restore a VM from a Recovery Point in DPM on the backend. Self-service restore of a deleted VM that is protected is out of scope as DPM doesn’t have VMM information (cloud, etc.) to correctly reassign it to a tenant. However an administrator with direct access to DPM could still go and restore the VM.

clip_image012

Ability to remove a VM’s protection. The protection group for the tenant subscription will be created when the first VM is protected and destroyed when the last VM is removed.

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For more information:

My Microsoft Ignite session on this:

http://meme.ms/d5gpbrq

Download the DPM BaaS Resource Provider:

Coming Soon!!!

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