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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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.

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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.

clip_image004

The next two screenshots show creating a new group.

clip_image005

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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.

clip_image007

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.

clip_image008

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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.

clip_image013

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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