Setting up a Highly-Available VMM 2012 R2 Environment

With the introduction of new Azure Site Recovery features and Windows Azure Pack solutions the role of VMM is becoming high importance. It is very clear VMM need to be in HA (Highly Available) mode. VMM Engineer team has taken the liberty of sharing the details how to setup that in detail level. I believe this is right time for customers to adopt this considering the level of Cloud adoption they plan to leverage on their organization.

You can find the step-by-step guide here.


Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment Tool

The Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment tool will automatically inspect your Virtual Machines running in Microsoft Azure. Optimize your investment in Azure with the prioritized recommendations provided.

According to Microsoft this software can be run from your local computer as well targeted the Azure. Detail information are as follows according to Microsoft web site,

“The Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine Optimization Assessment provides prioritized recommendations across six focus area to optimize your experience while running in Microsoft Azure. After a short questionnaire, automated data collection and analysis, a custom report is generated which provides you the information required to implement and understand the recommendations. Your report includes an executive summary and key recommendations which provide a high level view across the focus areas to help you manage and prioritize optimizing your environment. Viewing the detailed recommendations provides action areas within each focus area along with expert guidance and tailored to your environment. “

Download consist of application and brief Readme guide document. In the initial release this tool can assess AD, SQL and SharePoint. Hope this will be a growing list in the future.

You can download the tool from here.

Affordable Azure DR for everyone

Disaster recovery is something we pray never to happen but unavoidable in certain situations. Every business organization regardless of their size need to plan for a disaster recovery plan to protect their key business assets. In this articles we’re look into how Azure Disaster Recovery (Cloud based DR)  can be used to protect critical business applications systems.

With recent updates there are several methods we can use Azure Site Recovery (ASR) to protect our on premise systems,

1. On-premises Hyper-V site to Azure protection with Hyper-V replication — Orchestrate replication, failover, and recovery from an on-premises site with one or more Hyper-V servers but without System Center VMM. Virtual machine data is replicated from a source Hyper-V host server to Azure.

2. On-premises VMM site to on-premises VMM site protection with Hyper-V replication — Orchestrate replication, failover, and recovery between on-premises VMM sites. Virtual machine data is replicated from a source Hyper-V host server to a target host server.

3. On-premises VMM site to on-premises VMM site protection with SAN replication — Orchestrates end-to-end replication, failover, and recovery using storage array-based replication between SAN devices that host virtual machine data in source and target on-premises sites.

4. On-premises VMM site to Azure protection — Orchestrate replication, failover, and recovery between an on-premises VMM site and Azure. Replicated virtual machine data is stored in Azure storage.

5. On-premises VMWare site to on-premises VMWare site with InMage — InMage Scout is a recent Microsoft acquisition that provides real-time replication between on-premises VMWare sites. Right now InMage is available as a separate product that’s obtained via a subscription to the Azure Site Recovery service.

Option 1 will be covered on this article. Most of the SMB business cannot afford to have SCVMM software but till need DR solution. Apart from that we didn’t forget our VMware fan base who need affordable DR solution. With the acquisition of the Inmage software company now Microsoft protect VMware environments as well.

To enable HYPER-V host to protect VM’s on Azure cloud we need to do few more steps earlier. High level steps are as follows,

Step 1: Create a vault—Create an Azure Site Recovery vault.

Step 2: Create a Hyper-V site—Create a Hyper-V site as a logical container for all the Hyper-V servers that contain virtual machines you want to protect.

Step 3: Prepare Hyper-V servers—Generate a registration key and download the Provider setup file. You run the file on each Hyper-V server in the site and select the key to register the server in the vault.

Step 4: Prepare resources—Create an Azure storage account to store replicated virtual machines.

Step 5: Create and configure protection groups—Create a protection group and apply protection settings to it. The protection settings will be applied to every virtual machine you add to the group.

Step 6: Enable protection for virtual machines—Enable protection for virtual machines by adding them to a protection group.

Step 7: Test the deployment—Run a test failover for a virtual machine.

Step 1 – Create a vault,
Sign in to the Azure Management Portal –> Expand Data Services, expand Recovery Services, and click Site Recovery Vault –> Click Create New and then click Quick Create –>In Name field enter a friendly name to identify the vault (in my case matrixvault) –>In Region select the geographic region for the vault –> Click Create vault

Step 2: Create a Hyper-V site,
In the Recovery Services page, click the vault to open the Quick Start page–>In the dropdown list, select Between an on-premises Hyper-V site and Azure –> In Create a Hyper-V Site click Create Hyper-V site. Specify a site name and save.



Step 3: Prepare Hyper-V servers,
In Prepare Hyper-V servers, click Download a registration key file –> On the Download Registration Key page, click Download next to the site –> Click Download the Provider to obtain the latest version


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In the last picture you can see two files has been installed. Their function is as follows,

Azure Site Recovery Provider—Handles communication and orchestration between the Hyper-V server and the Azure Site Recovery portal.
Azure Recovery Services Agent—Handles data transport between virtual machines running on the source Hyper-V server and Azure storage.


On the Vault Settings page, click Browse to select the key file. Specify the Azure Site Recovery subscription, the vault name, and the Hyper-V site to which the Hyper-V server belongs.





Step 4: Prepare resources – You need to have a storage account in Azure if not you can go ahead and create a one. Make sure the storage account having geo-replication enabled.
I also make sure there will be a dedicated virtual network created as well.


Step 5: Create and configure protection groups
Protection groups group the virtual machines togerhter and apply same protection settings. You apply protection settings to a protection group, and those settings are applied to all virtual machines that you add to the group.



Step 6: Enable protection for virtual machines

Now its time to select which VM’s you need to protect from your HYPER-V host.


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ASR will start checking VM compatibility to be exported to the Azure side.


Now lets jump into the HYPER-V MMC console and check the VM replication status,

Depending on your internet connection speed VM replication time can be vary.

Step 7: Test the deployment
Now it’s time to test the VM failover to Azure side. To do that we need to we need to run a test failover for the protected virtual machine.
Protected Items –> Protection Groups –> protectiongroup_name –> Virtual Machines (select the virtual machine you want to fail over) –> and click Test Failover.



You can put the test VM into production virtual network in Azure or start the VM without a virtual network. In my case I’ll put into my production virtual network.

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Now series of actions will be carried out in orderly manner. Once that completed we will get our VM in Azure side active. In any case you’ll encounter any issues in this tasks you can get a detail report from the bottom of the Azure portal. This is useful for troubleshooting purpose.

Now VM creation is completed. We have to go and test the VM up and running properly. If things are ok once we confirm VM will be removed from the ASR since our ASR test is success.

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Now ASR will remove the temporary test VM from the environment,


Some of our VM’s can be very large and replication via internet not feasible. In that situation you can courier the data to Microsoft Azure data center. Microsoft introduce a a service called as “Microsoft Azure Import/Export service” You can find more information about that here.

Azure VNet to VNet Connection

Extending your on-prem Private Cloud to Public Cloud is going to be highly anticipated on Year 2015. During such time I came across requirement of interconnecting two Azure subscriptions private networks. I assume by now most of you’ll are aware by leveraging Windows Azure platform you can extend your on-prem network to Azure by using Site to Site (S2S) VPN. If not you can get more information about that from here and if a picture makes it much more clear then it is as follows Smile

Now in my new challenge customer already having two Azure subscriptions. One subscription he is having database virtual machines and another Azure subscription he is having applications VMs. Now how is the earth he face such scenario by not having all the VM’s in same subscription? Well that is along story which will not bring any good for this article Smile

His requirement is to interconnect two Azure subscription via VPN connectivity. Again the picture story is as follows,

Azure vnet to vnet

Few months back this is not possible but again Microsoft keep on improving their services frequently. Once of that surprise is allowing Azure vNet to  vNet VPN connection.

What can I do with VNet to VNet connectivity?

Cross region geo-redundancy and geo-presence

  • You can set up your own geo-replication or synchronization with secure connectivity without going over internet-facing endpoints.
  • With Azure Load Balancer and Microsoft or third party clustering technology, you can setup highly available workload with geo-redundancy across multiple Azure regions. One important example is to setup SQL Always On with Availability Groups spreading across multiple Azure regions.

Regional multi-tier applications with strong isolation boundary

  • Within the same region, you can setup multi-tier applications with multiple virtual networks connected together with strong isolation and secure inter-tier communication.

Cross subscription, inter-organization communication in Azure

  • If you have multiple Azure subscriptions, you can now connect workloads from different subscriptions together securely between virtual networks.
  • For enterprises or service providers, it is now possible to enable cross organization communication with secure VPN technology within Azure.

So now it’s time to get our hands dirty and find out how to test this right Smile In my step-by-step guide below I’m demonstrating this by using my two Azure subscriptions.

Before that some considerations you need to be aware of,

Requirements and considerations

  • VNet to VNet supports connecting Azure Virtual Networks. It does not support connecting virtual machines or cloud services NOT in a virtual network.
  • VNet to VNet requires Azure VPN gateways with dynamic routing VPNs – Azure static routing VPNs are not supported. Connecting multiple Azure virtual networks together does NOT require any on premises VPN gateways, unless cross premises connectivity is required.
  • Virtual network connectivity can be used simultaneously with multi-site VPNs, with a maximum of 10 VPN tunnels for a virtual network VPN gateway connecting to ether other virtual networks or on premises sites.
  • The address spaces of the virtual networks and on premises local network sites MUST NOT overlap. Overlapping address spaces will cause the creation of virtual networks or uploading netcfg configuration files to fail.
  • The virtual networks can be in the same or different subscriptions.
  • The virtual networks can be in the same or different Azure regions (locations).
  • Redundant tunnels between a pair of virtual networks are not supported.
  • A cloud service or a load balancing endpoint CANNOT span across virtual networks even though they are connected together.
  • All VPN tunnels of the virtual network, including P2S VPNs, share the available bandwidth on the Azure VPN gateway and the same VPN gateway uptime SLA in Azure.

Before starting the steps I like to share with you all the steps high level,

  1. Plan your IP address ranges
  2. Create your virtual networks
  3. Add local networks
  4. Create the dynamic routing gateways for each VNet.
  5. Connect the VPN gateways

1. Plan your IP address ranges – Planning is the key on this part. If you ever plan to extend this setup to your on-prem private cloud then plan well ahead about your IP address ranges. Don’t allow them to be duplicate. Same goes among the Azure subscriptions as well. So in our scenario we’ll create two Virtual network between two Azure subscriptions as VNET1 & VNET2.

rom the perspective of VNet1, VNet2 is just another VPN connection that’s defined in the Azure platform. And from VNet2, VNet1 is just another VPN connection. They’ll both be identifying each other as a local network site. Keep in mind that you must make sure that none of your VNet ranges or local network ranges overlap in any way.

Below I’ve shown an example of how to define your VNets. Use the ranges below as a guideline only. Write down the ranges that you’ll be using for your virtual networks. You’ll need this information for later steps.

Table 1

2. Create your virtual networks – Following the above table we’ll go ahead and create VNET1 = and region as SoutEast Asia,

Log into the Azure Management portal and in the lower left-hand corner of the screen click “New” click “Network Services” and then “Virtual Network”. Click “Custom Create” to begin the wizard,



You don’t have to select DNS server or do any configuration on this page. But if you’re planning to have name resolution between your virtual networks then you’ll need to configure your own DNS servers.


As pre planned I’ve change the IP address range for Go ahead and complete the wizard. Now carry out the same task on your other subscription. Only changes are VNET1 will be VNET2 and IP address range is

3. Add local networks – Now go back to the VNET1 in Azure portal. Click “Local Networks” You’ll find there is not local network exists. Go ahead and create one with the range of Carry out same on the other Azure subscription (VNET2) with the value of



The VPN device IP address you provide in the above is not matter right now. Once we obtain the correct VPN IP address we’ll be entering that.


Note: Keep on eye about the naming convention and the IP address range I provided. Follow the same steps on the other Azure subscription as well. (Vales will be different)
Now on the first Azure subscription click VNET1. Click “Configure” Click “Connect to the local network” under Site-to-Site-connectivity section.

make sure “Gateway” has been added,

Click “Save” on the bottom of the screen.

4. Create the dynamic routing gateways for each VNet – Now we have configured the VNET now it’s time to configure the VNET Gateways,
go back to the dashboard of the VNET1. Bottom of the screen click “ Create Gateway” and select “Dynamic Routing”


Confirm the action. This will take around 10 –15 minutes time to complete. Carry out the same action on the other Azure subscription as well.

When the gateway status changes to Connecting, the IP address for each Gateway will be visible in the Dashboard. Write down the IP address that corresponds to each VNet, taking care not to mix them up. These are the IP addresses that will be used when you edit your placeholder IP addresses for the VPN Device in Local Networks.

5. Connect the VPN gateways  – When Gateway creation completed we can go ahead and setup IPsec/IKE pre-shared key (same key) in both side. This action has to be carried out in the PowerShell.
On the VNET1 side type the following PS command,

PS C:\> Set-AzureVNetGatewayKey -VNetName VNet1 -LocalNetworkSiteName VNet2 -SharedKey A1b2C3D4E6

on VNET2 side type the following PS command,

PS C:\> Set-AzureVNetGatewayKey -VNetName VNet2 -LocalNetworkSiteName VNet1 -SharedKey A1b2C3D4E6

Now give little bit of time and refresh the Azure portal page. You’ll find the VPN connection established.


Once that completed you can create two VM’s on each Azure subscription and try pining to each other. If your get the response you’ll know the connection has been established Smile