Azure Automation and Using Hybrid workers runbook on vSphere

During the day I have been digging into the Microsoft Operations Management Suite which is a collection of cloud services that you can get for a quite reasonable price.

The different services included is Log Analytics, Security, Automation, Availability.

I have registered my on premise Windows Servers in the log analyzer and started uploading logs getting a nice overview with several out of the box solutions that will give you a heads up on areas in your environment that needs attention…

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So how about the automation? I have already been using the automaton for different services within Azure but in this case I wanted to see how I could utilize the Hybrid worker and the VMware environment residing there.

With the release of VMware PowerCLI 6 some of the stack are remade as PowerShell Modules.

So if I configure a hybrid worker on premise with the PowerCLI installed I can then utilize that in a runbook that as an example takes an input variable VMName and restarts the VM (in this case I do it without being nice and asking for a shutdown but just pulling the plug)

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And here is the runbook:

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And here I start the runbook with the variable,

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And as you can see in the vSphere Client my VM winrecover restarts

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This can of course be made a bit more complex and also as you can see in the Azure automation view, scheduled. So if you have something that needs to be automated at 11 PM every night within your VMware vSphere environment it can be done by Azure Automation and Hybrid workers..

 

Windows Server 2016 TP3 alive on Azure

So the day we all have been waiting for is here, Microsoft releases the Technical Preview 3 of Windows Server 2016

This is really exciting news as for example in this build containers is here for us to play with!

Azure have been updated with the image and I immediately went in and created myself a VM with the new bits…

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And as you can see when I have the VM provisioned and log in it is actually the real stuff 🙂

 

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As you can read on the technet site there is more news besides containers!

I will do a follow up post with more details later!

Azure Site Recovery for VMware VM´s now GA

Today was not only the day when Office 2016 for Mac was released but also the day when ASR for VMware and Physical was released as GA.

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This is some awesome news for companies that want an easy way to create a DR plan and site for their most important systems and not only for those lucky guys that already run Hyper-V and can utilize Hyper-V replica.

I did some evaluations for a presentation about ASR for VMware VM´s when it was in preview and it requires some additional VM´s for management of the replication such as the process server and on the Azure side, Master target and config server. If you like me evaluate this with an MSDN Azure subscription, be sure to shut down the servers on the Azure side when not using it as it otherwise will drain your money 🙂 , that of course should not be done when in production. It uses when protecting Windows workloads the built in VSS to create consistent replicas.

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And the supported OS´s are the ones supported in Azure:

  • Windows 2008 R2 SP1
  • Windows 2012
  • Windows 2012 R2

So if you still use Windows 2003 and earlier OS then you need upgrade before utilizing this.

TechDays Session: Managing your Azure workloads with Chef and PS DSC

Are you possibly going to the TechDays Sweden this autumn ? Me self and my friend and former colleague Fredrik Nilsson will have a session on this conference about automation and how to use Chef and PowerShell DSC for your deployment.

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This session will focus on how Chef, a systems and cloud infrastructure automation framework, can manage both Windows and Linux workloads on Azure or any physical, virtual location no matter the size of the infrastructure easily.

We will also look at how Chef can interact with PowerShell Desired State Configuration to deliver a consistent and compliant infrastructure. In this session you will learn the basic paradigms of Chef, launching VM instances and deploying applications to these instances. It is DevOps times now with a faster and agile world where the IT-Dinosaurs will have to watch out! 

 

Nanoserver TP2 ( Winserv 2016) running in Azure IaaS

I have been evaluating Nanoserver that was released and wanted to try if I could get it to work in Azure IaaS as a VM. And as you can see, it works!!

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I had created a VHDx with the packages that was described on the “getting started with Nanoserver” So first of all as only vhd is supported I had to convert the disk and then I used Azure PowerShell to upload it to Azure storage:

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After creating a VM I tried to connect to it from remote over the Internet but that did not work, probably something that needs to be configured with winrm setup on the Nanoserver or I just missed something. I created a VM with Winserv TP2 in the same Azure network and tried to connect to the nanoserver which succeeded:

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And I can also change name and it reflects on the Azure portal:

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Is this cool or what?!

 

 

Taking the SCVMM 2012 R2 UR6 for a test drive

Noticed this evening that Microsoft released the UR6 for System Center and my interest is in Virtual Machine Manager so I wanted to test-install it  and also connect to an Azure IaaS subscription as this was one of the new added features besides all fixes and also of course the other added feature with Generation 2 Service template support etc.

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Here you can read more about the fixes and also if you do not use Microsoft Update, download the files.

As I had my environment connected to the Internet I could press install,

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Once it was finished a reboot of the server had to be done and I could start to add Azure subscriptions to VMM. Here you have to use a management certificate and that is easily created with makecert if you do not have any other CA available!

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And when that is complete you can see my VM´s in Azure on the subscription and the commands that I can use on them,

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Good luck in your tests of this nice new feature.

 

Watch out, extended OS disk in Azure IaaS VM makes it not bootable

After a week of Azure Ninja course at Microsoft Sweden I wanted to dig a bit deeper into Azure IaaS.

I found that the Update-AzureDisk had a new parameter that looked interesting -ResizedSizeInGB and I wanted to test that one in real action on the OS disk which resulted in a VM that could no longer be started :-(. As described in an earlier post it was a bit more difficult to extend a vhd for a VM in Azure before this powershell way and in those days you had to tear down the VM and throw it away and also the pointer to the blog and after that you could with a tool extend the blob.

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So far it looked good but when I then tried to start the VM I got the error

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This VM was provisioned from the gallery and after reading the blog about the changes in Azure and that the OS disk now could support 1 TB in size i also found this little text saying that it only applied to disks that was migrated to Azure and not the gallery items or already provisioned VM´s…

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So I wanted to test the same thing as above for a migrated vhd, first of all I created a vhd on-premise with 140GB vhd and then used powershell Add-AzureVhd to upload it.

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after that I created a VM and started it with no problems 🙂

And then I ran the above resize parameter on this uploaded vhd to extend it to 150GB. With the PowerShell cmdlet I can apply this to a VM that is not running and do not need to remove any relations to the blob or VM´s.

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Started it and as you can see it worked nicely

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Here you can see when looking inside the VM and checking the Disk manager it shows the extra 10 GB

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So watch out if you test to extend your Production VM´s VHD´s depending on where they have come from, although an OS volume does not need to be too large..

I have tested the Update-AzureDisk -ResizedSizeInGB on VM Data disks without any issues no matter if they were created or uploaded so this warning just points at the OS disk!

Playing with the Azure VM agent and changing user on IaaS VM with PowerShell

I am at a Azure training at Microsoft and have been playing a bit with both the portal and PowerShell.

We where talking about the VM agent that is installed on the IaaS VM´s and what functionality it has.

There is a nice and powerful feature that allows you to reset the password for the user from the Azure PowerShell console. The cool part is that you also can change the user on the VM so if you have to take over a Azure IaaS deployment and do not know the username or password for the virtual machines you can change it!

from Keith Mayers blog post I used the PowerShell code and changed both password and username for a user

So first of all in my Windows 2012 R2 I have a user vniklas and I want to change it to Bruno, but as I said above you do not have to know the username that is set inside the VM´s to be able to change it!

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And I use PowerShell to set a credential with username and password:

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And the following change both user and password, updates the VM and then to actually get it to hit on the VM I need to restart the VM:

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And when you then try to use RDP in to the VM you need to use the new password and username and as you can see on the Local Users the account have changed to bruno instead.

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Here is the PowerSHell code to get this to work:

And now as you see that this is so easy you can realize that your Azure subscription account becomes quite important to keep safe and not let anyone get access to it.

May the force be with you!

New version of Microsoft Assessment and Planning 9.2

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Yesterday Microsoft released a new version of Microsoft Assessment and Planning toolkit 9.2 and the new key features are

  • Azure VM Capacity assessment to include assessment for A8 and A9 Azure VMs
    MAP 9.2 updated Windows Azure VM Capacity assessment to include assessment for A8 and A9 Azure VMs. A8 and A9 Azure VMs are processor intensive and thus have a base processor of an Intel Xeon E5-2670 2.6 GHz.
  • Included Windows Server 2008(x86/x64) under Legacy Server Discovery
    Windows Server 2008(x86/x64) included under Legacy Server Discovery in addition to Windows Servers 2000, 2003 and Itanium. For example, before MAP 9.2 the discovery of the Legacy Servers which were added are Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003(x86/x64) and Itanium Windows Server. Now MAP 9.2 includes the discovery of Windows Server 2008(x86/x64) as well to the collection of Legacy Server Discovery.
  • Improved Legacy Server Discovery reporting by including OS Architecture
    In this version of MAP we included OS Architecture(32 or 64 bit) as an expansion in the Legacy Server Discovery reporting.
  • Collection of additional performance counters and included CPU speed
    In this version of MAP we added four new performance counters Disk Queue Length, Disk Read Queue Length, Disk Write Queue Length, Disk Bytes/sec and expanded performance collection process to accomodate the new counters and assessment process. Added CPU Speed(GHz) to Performance Metric Summary report.

You can download the new version from the Microsoft download here.

Passed the 70-533 Azure Infrastructure exam

Today I had registered for a second try of the 70-533 Azure Infrastructure exam, two weeks ago I tried this exam and failed, this time it was a bit more successful and I passed.

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The first time doing the exam I was thinking that my knowledge in Azure would be enough but I was a bit wrong 😛

These last two weeks since my last try I have been studying and exploring the features and documentation on Azure and it is a seriously complex and full-featured cloud platform!

I will in this post give you some advice on what areas I have been studying if you are also aiming for taking this test..

First of all, you can see on the Microsoft Learning page on what areas that is covered in the exam,

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I have used Azuremans blog post about the exam topics, Marius has also made a blog post about the exam and what to read and learn.

I have also used the Microsoft Virtual Academy : Establish Microsoft Azure IaaS Technical Fundamentals course.

Some of the links to Azure documentation and blog post that I have gone through during my hours of learning :

http://up2v.nl/2014/03/05/windows-azure-now-allows-to-set-fixed-ip-addresses-for-virtual-machines/

http://www.codemag.com/Article/1403071

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/asgoyal/archive/2013/07/16/linking-a-resource-to-your-cloud-service-what-does-that-mean.aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn376543.aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn741337.aspx

http://justazure.com/azure-blob-storage-part-one-introduction/

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn683781.aspx

http://azure.microsoft.com/blog/2014/08/05/azure-site-recovery-enables-one-click-orchestrated-failover-of-virtual-machines-to-azure/

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn197896.aspx

http://www.asp.net/aspnet/overview/developing-apps-with-windows-azure/building-real-world-cloud-apps-with-windows-azure/automate-everything

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/web-sites-scale/#scalingstandard

http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/azure/jj156007.aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/azure/dn643636.aspx

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn306639.aspx

http://blogs.iis.net/webtopics/archive/2009/06/12/troubleshooting-a-simple-error-message-using-freb.aspx

https://www.digicert.com/ssl-certificate-installation-azure-website.htm

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/dn499820.aspx#BKMK_Auth

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/cloud-services-how-to-monitor/

http://azure.microsoft.com/sv-se/documentation/articles/web-sites-staged-publishing/

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/windowsazurestorage/archive/2013/12/04/introducing-read-access-geo-replicated-storage-ra-grs-for-windows-azure-storage.aspx

http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/web-sites-configure/

Good luck in your pursue for the Azure certification!