This past week was a lot of fun as I spent a couple of days in Redmond with colleagues from our Premier managed services teams working on new services related to Azure and application management. We spent a lot of time digging into Azure Operations Management Suite, Application Insights, System Center, both current and future to start designing what a fully managed application in Azure might look like. This will turn into both guidance as well as additional services offered through Premier.
Later in the week I spent a day working with a well known consulting company that is planning a migration to a Microsoft hybrid cloud. This one was interesting as it was the full Cloud OS story in that they have their own datacenters, they also use a large hosting company, and they are planning to move to Azure. The discussions were around what the target architecture would look like and how to migrate from VMware to Hyper-V/Azure. Bread and butter stuff for the most part.
In our Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) business I’ve worked with a team for 9 years or so now where we build standard architectures and consulting offerings for helping do this type of work. Most of that is internal to our organization but some we have been able to publish publicly such as the Infrastructure as a Service Product Line Architecture (IaaS PLA). We have a similar document covering Azure architecture in depth that we are also trying to get published publically. Between those two, we have target architectures for private, public, and hybrid cloud scenarios. Our consulting engagement offerings work customers through a design process using those and other materials to help them rapidly design and implement their target architecture.
Given a fully packed week, I was only barely able to keep up with Microsoft news but here are some of the interesting topics I saw.
Creating big data pipelines using Azure Data Lake and Azure Data Factory
This week, Microsoft announced the public preview of a new and expanded Azure Data Lake making big data processing and analytics simpler and more accessible. The expanded Azure Data Lake includes Azure Data Lake Store, Azure Data Lake Analytics and Azure HDInsight.
The Azure Data Lake Store provides a single repository where you can easily capture data of any size, type and speed without forcing changes to your application as data scales. Azure Data Lake Analytics is a new service built on Apache YARN and includes U-SQL, a language that unifies the benefits of SQL with the expressive power of user code. The service dynamically scales and allows you to do analytics on any kind of data with enterprise-grade security through Azure Active Directory so you can focus on your business goals. Creating big data pipelines using Azure Data Lake and Azure Data Factory
Remember when the data platform was just SQL Server 6.0 and Access? There is such an unbelievable amount of technology in this space now. From an evolving infrastructure architect perspective, there are three areas I want to focus on improving and are ones I’m trying to mentor people to focus on: automation, ALM/DevOps infrastructure, and data platform infrastructure. IMHO those ares ARE the new infrastructure (of course there is a fourth category of all kinds of application services for developers).
Reducing troubleshooting time with Azure Resource health
Today we are pleased to preview of Azure Resource health, a new service that exposes the health of the individual Azure resources and provides actionable guidance to troubleshoot problems. The goal for Resource health is to reduce the time customers spend on troubleshooting, in particular reducing the time spent determining if the root of the problem lays inside the application or if it is caused by an event inside the Azure platform.
For this release, we onboarded three f the most used Azure services to Resource health: IaaS Virtual machines (classic only), Web Apps and SQL databases.
As mentioned before, our goal is to help reduce the time customers spend on troubleshooting, first by helping identify the source of the problem and second by providing quick access to the appropriate troubleshooting tools. Reducing troubleshooting time with Azure Resource health | Microsoft Azure Blog
Given the meetings I was in this week mentioned at the top of this post, this announcement was highly relevant. A key areas of feedback in Azure is the need for much more diagnostic and health information across all of the services, exposed both in the portal and via APIs so that management tools (i.e. OMS, others) can pick up those events and render various dashboards and views of component or application health).
Early look at containers in Windows Server, Hyper-V and Azure with Mark Russinovich
In this show, you’ll learn from Mark Russinovich, about the design and architecture of containers and how you can use them. Including the new native container technology in Windows Server 2016 and how this extends to Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure.
Including the new native container technology in Windows Server 2016 and how this extends to Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure. Early look at containers in Windows Server, Hyper-V and Azure with Mark Russinovich | Microsoft Mechanics | Channel 9
I always say that Mark Russinovich is who I want to be when I grow up You’ve by now seen a ton of his stuff on Docker containers and support for that and the entire container ecosystem in Azure but in this one he gets into the Windows Server and Hyper-V container technology forthcoming in Windows Server 2016. There are distinct reasons (such as if you are a heavy Microsoft / .Net development shop) that Windows based containers may be relevant to you. The breadth of what we are doing here I think will be unmatched meaning the support for the Docker and open source ecosystem and the native Microsoft capabilities.
Automate everywhere with the new Azure Automation in OMS with special guest Jeffrey Snover
Azure Automation has provided a highly available, reliable, and scalable process execution engine for orchestrating error-prone and complex IT management tasks around Azure resources for a long time. But recently, Azure Automation has become a whole lot more. Join Rick, Joe Levy, and (surprise guest) Jeffrey Snover as we explore new features of Azure Automation, as part of the Microsoft Operations Management Suite, that have turned Azure Automation into a powerful, reliable solution for automation of IT management tasks on-premises or in any cloud, for Windows and Linux — using the tools you’re already familiar with. Automate everywhere with the new Azure Automation in OMS with special guest Jeffrey Snover | Regular IT Guy | Channel 9
One of my favorite ones of the week as this one really shows the full picture of the automation story (now under the Azure Operations Management Suite umbrella). Resource Groups, Automation Runbooks, PowerShell DSC management, source control integration all come together for a very robust, cloud-based automation platform where you don’t have to manage any of the underlying platform yourself as the are all Azure services. No more database cluster plus runbook servers plus console web sites plus push/pull servers. All that stuff disappears into Azure and you can no focus on the good stuff: the actual automation pipeline from authoring through operations. I’m hoping to have time to hunker down and go deep on that this week and if I do I will augment the above session with some of my own content here.
Introducing the Azure DSCForLinux Extension
You might be already using the Azure PowerShell DSC (Desired State Configuration) extension to manage the configuration for your windows VMs in Azure today. Are you looking for the same way to manage the configuration of your Linux VM?
Several months ago, Microsoft released the Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC) for Linux. Today I’m happy to announce a new Azure Virtual Machine Extension – DSCForLinux Extension, which enables you to manage the configuration of your Linux VMs through DSC for Linux in Azure. You can now easily install DSC for Linux and push the MOF configuration to your Linux VM through this extension. The latest version of DSCForLinux Extension is 1.0, and GitHub location is here. Here is what exactly DSCForLinux Extension can do for you: Introducing the Azure DSCForLinux Extension | Microsoft Azure Blog
Of course the automation story wouldn’t be complete if it only addressed Windows so the continued work on DSC for Linux is also something to keep up with. I have not had time to dig to deep on this and when chatting with customers many of them are down the Chef/Puppet path in their Linux environments but as we know the Microsoft automation platform can co-exist with those. Last week I did a half day workshop with a large retailer and these questions came up. The bottom line is if you want and end to end automation solution from Microsoft, we have that and continue to improve it. If you are already using something else end to end, you can target Azure with it. If you are using something else for part of an end to end solution and you like it, you can keep it and use the Microsoft solutions where they make sense.
Episode 191: Virtual Machine Scale Sets with Guy Bowerman
In this episode Chris Risner and Haishi Bai are joined by Guy Bowerman, Program Manager on the Azure Compute Engineering team focusing on Linux and Scale. He joins us to talk about Virtual Machine Scale Sets. Scale Sets are a way to deploy and manage a set of identical VMs. Scale Sets handles scaling up and down of your VMs in an intelligent manner so the correct VM is always spun down. Scale Sets also integrate with Azure Autoscale and Azure Load Balancer. Scale Sets are currently in private preview but will very soon be in public preview. Episode 191: Virtual Machine Scale Sets with Guy Bowerman | Microsoft Azure Cloud Cover Show | Channel 9
This is a new construct in Azure and part of the direction of making PaaS and IaaS in Azure effectively the same thing with the same capabilities and constructs. Worth checking out as this will soon be in public preview and once GA, will likely become a key part of most deployments.
Episode #001 – Jeffrey on Windows Server 2016
In this episode, with the help of Lindsay Berg, Jeffrey Snover talks about what’s coming in Windows Server 2016. Technology today is moving faster than ever. New cloud options, improved features, and innovation across infrastructure and applications can create challenges for IT. Hear what the goals were for this version of Windows Server and how those goals translate into new capabilities. From software-defined datacenter approaches to building the right foundation for modern applications, Snover will tell you about IT, giving his perspective on where the industry is going. Episode #001 – Jeffrey on Windows Server 2016 | Tell me about IT with Jeffrey Snover | Channel 9
I didn’t get a chance to watch this one yet (will when I exercise later) but anything with Jeffrey talking about Windows Server 2016 is worth watching.
That’s it for this week. Were there any other articles or videos you found interesting this week?