MICROSOFT OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT SUITE

During the Microsoft Ignite event new “Operations Management Suite” which is the new name for Azure Operational Insights announced. What´s new with this cloud based solution other than the name change is the fact that this no longer just contains log analytics and the things we’ve seen before. It is now also now capable to manage your Azure backup jobs, Azure Site Recovery and Automation. When it comes to onboarding, it´s the exact same process as there was to onboard Azure Operational Insights (and System Center Advisor before that) and there are still two ways to connect the servers to the solution.

The first method is to directly attach the server to Operations Management Suite (OMS) using the Microsoft Monitoring Agent and there is also the possibility to connect your SCOM management group to OMS as well.

As mentioned above the new stuff would be you can manage,

Azure backup
Automation
Azure Site Recovery

If you look at the product history you’ll find this would grow to a similar solution like SCOM where you’ll be able to manage on-prem servers as well.

In order to onboard you go to web site Microsoft.com/OMS and register your account. Process is as much easier than configuring SCOM on-prem Winking smile 

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Once onboarded you can go through the wizard and add your Azure subscription and start connecting the components. For the VM’s you can install the agent. One thing I like about OMS is the rich dashboard just like previous version. It’s easier to navigate and get required information.

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Another thing that´s gotten a new name are the Intelligence Packs known from the Azure Operational Insights days. They are now called Solutions instead and besides from the ones that came along from OpInsights.

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Apart from that Microsoft has confirmed this solution has be extend to monitor VM’s hosted AWS, VMWare, OpenStack and also monitoring Linux VMs. This given the clean vision how broader Microsoft is looking and OMS.

Data exchange within Azure VM’s with Veeam FastSCP

Are you a IT Pro or a Developer who work with Azure VM’s frequently? Have you gone through the pain of finding best way to transfer files between Azure VM’s up and down? There are numerous methods you can do this but I found Veeam’s FastSCP (Secure Copy Protocol) is much easier to use. This is still in the Beta stage but I found it’s quote useful. Though I found out sometimes folder refresh is not very efficient but I guess it will be fixed soon. You can grab the beta software for testing from here.

Step 1: Downlaod the software and install and go to FastSCP console
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Step 2: Make sure you already have a Azure VM created prior. Go to Azure portal and copy the Azure cloud service url
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Step 3: Go to Veeam FastSCP console and click “Add Virtual machine” and provide the url you’ve copied along with VM login credentials,

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Step 4: Start playing around Smile You can create folders from FastSCP console to the Azure VM and start uploading and downloading files easily. If there is any bugs you better call Veeam guys Smile

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Bug: When I try to create a colder I found out even though I click the button called “Create Folder” it doesn’t appear in the FastSCP console. Best method is to click that button once and refresh the console and then you’ll find the folder you’ve created.

System Center Universe #APAC

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If you’re a organization who is using System Center or planning to user System Center, Cloud and Virtualization technology then this is an event you shouldn’t miss. All the industry gurus and experts will be on one location to share their experience with you. What’s more you’ll get a chance to meet them in-person and share your ideas and get expert advise free of charge.

System Center Universe is a global event carried out in various part of the world. APAC region event will be help on March 5-6. Look forward to see most of you during that time.

Protecting VMware and Physical Workloads with Azure Site Recovery

In my previous blogs I’ve highlighted how Microsoft Azure Site Recovery technology keep on improving everyday. Overall Microsoft Azure keep on adding new features frequently and keeping the phase with that is somewhat difficult as well Smile

Azure Site Recovery is such area Microsoft has been keep on improving to provide Disaster Recovery solutions to customers across the business segments. With the acquisition of the Image Scout who specialize in the disaster recovery solutions Microsoft expand their portfolio of DR options. Now ASR can provide support to protect VMware sites and physical machines as well. Current option are as follows,

1. VMware Site A to VMware Site B orchestrated DR failover via ASR
2. Protecting Physical machines from Site A to Site B orchestrated DR failover via ASR
3. Migrating VMware and Physical servers to Azure using Microsoft Migration Accelerator (Which use Image technology)

Microsoft leveraging Image technology as it is without much modification at this stage. Main components and function model of Image Scout is as follows,

  • Configuration Server – VM running at the secondary site that is responsible for maintaining replication policies, replication status, and health reports.
  • Master Target – VM running at the secondary site that acts as the repository for all replicated data and change journals.
  • Mobility Service – Light-weight software component that captures data changes being generated on the protected workloads continuously, in real-time and directly from memory, for replication purposes.
  • Process Server – Gateway residing at the primary site that handles all compute and IO intensive aspects of replication.

Base on the VM’s, physical machines capacity you need to size the PS (Process Server) & MT (Master Target) servers accordingly. PS server will be holding all the data which is need to be replicated to the Azure side.It can be deployed on a physical or a virtual machine running Windows Server 2012 R2. It is responsible for receiving data changes from the primary workloads, performing compression, encryption, caching and bandwidth management, before replicating to a secondary location for DR purposes. This approach off-loads all compute and IO intensive tasks involved in continuous replication to the Process Server, thereby eliminating nearly all overheads on the protected workloads.

In general, Process Server sizing depends on the daily change rate across all protected workloads. Sufficient compute is needed to perform tasks such as inline compression and encryption. You also need to ensure that you provision sufficient cache storage in the event of a network bottleneck or outage between primary and secondary sites. The table below provides a good guideline to follow, especially when implementing ASR with the InMage replication channel, or Migration Accelerator the first time.

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Replication of the data will occur over IP network. This can be via Site to Site VPN between onsite and Azure or via the public internet. Inbound ports include 9080 or 9443 for data transfer from source and target entities; and outbound ports include 80 or 443 to the Configuration Server to provide real-time updates on replication status and health.

n summary, sizing and placement aspects of provisioning a Process Server for ASR with the InMage replication channel depend on a couple of factors such as number of protected workloads, and daily change rate. In future you’ll find more exciting news from ASR team on their improvement for the Disaster Recovery with combination of Image Scout Smile

Affordable Disaster Recovery Solution for every organization

January 2015

Last month I had the opportunity to present above topic during local ITPro community event. With the recent announcement if Azure Site Recovery enhancement it is very clear Disaster Recovery is no longer only Enterprise level only solution. Now this is available even for SMB customers with very low price tag.

Some of the key questions are raised on multi hypervisor support. It is no surprise Microsoft has not left those customers alone. With the acquisition of Image Scout solution we now can offer DR solution for VMware, Citrix & Physical servers as well. Very soon Microsoft will focus on providing VMware to Azure site recovery solutions as well.

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
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Now lets jump into the HYPER-V MMC console and check the VM replication status,
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Depending on your internet connection speed VM replication time can be vary.
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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.

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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,

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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.