After a bit of a hiatus for some vacation, a monster snow storm, and unexpected additional work, I am back with the weekend reading series. Work continued (and cut short some planned vacation) on the large Azure migration RFP I’ve been working on for the last couple weeks. We are in the home stretch but it’s been a lot of work.
Here are the articles I found most interesting of the last couple of week:
Microsoft loves Linux: Deep dive blog series
We’ve recently completed a 12-part series of blog posts about running and managing Linux and FreeBSD in an on-premises datacenter. While this is the Azure blog, these posts may be relevant to you in two areas:
- Understanding how Microsoft enables Linux workloads on-premises is a useful companion to the Linux workloads you run in Azure.
Many of the core capabilities for running and managing Linux and FreeBSD on-premises also show up in Azure.
- Running Linux on Hyper-V is fundamental to running Linux in Azure since Azure is based on Hyper-V.
- Aspects such as Linux networking performance on Hyper-V are directly reflected in Linux network performance in Azure.
- Management technologies such as PowerShell DSC for Linux show up in Azure offerings such as Azure Automation.
Check out the series below. Microsoft loves Linux: Deep dive blog series | Microsoft Azure Blog
Massive series of articles here, great information around Linux on Azure as well as Hyper-V. The large Azure migration RFP I’ve been working on is a great example of the importance of this, roughly 80% of the 10,000+ VMs the customer is moving to the cloud are Linux.
Azure Automation: Graphical and textual runbook authoring
In Azure Automation in the new Azure portal you can author runbooks using a graphical tool and a graphical programming model, with little or no code required. Simply insert activities from the library to the canvas, link them together into a workflow, and configure the properties in order to create useful runbooks that automate your IT processes. Users of System Center Orchestrator will be familiar with this intuitive method of creating visual runbooks. The graphical and textual authoring tools are complementary, and you can use either tool or both depending on your requirements.
In this post, I will walk you through the features that highlight the graphical and textual authoring experiences in the Azure portal. Azure Automation: Graphical and textual runbook authoring | Microsoft Azure Blog
I wish I had more time to focus on Automation work. That’s been my favorite part of this industry for a long time, and as you may know, I’ve done a LOT of work with Orchestrator in the past. I’m thinking about a massive lab makeover both at home and in the cloud so maybe if I can find the time I’ll challenge myself to setting up all of the with the new dev/test services and Azure Automation/DSC…
Introducing a simplified configuration experience for SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines
We’re excited to introduce a new, simplified configuration experience for SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machine. You can now configure SQL Server connectivity, performance, security, and high availability when you create a SQL Server VM in the Azure Portal. Either accept the default recommended settings or modify them as you want. No more time consuming manual configuration after setup!
This new simplified configuration experience builds on our earlier features to speed up the configuration of SQL Server: Automated Patching, Automated Backup, Azure Key Vault Integration. We have consolidated these SQL Server specific features under a new “SQL Server Configuration” section in the Create Virtual Machine Portal experience, and added the ability to configure SQL Server and VM storage for a target workload, configure SQL Server connectivity, and configure SQL Server to store encryption keys in the Azure Key Vault. Introducing a simplified configuration experience for SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines | Microsoft Azure Blog
This will be very helpful, it was getting to be quite complicated to get a production grade SQL solution running in VMs given how complex the deployment parameters were getting. The automated patching, backup, and key vault config looks pretty cool as well. Continued blurring of the lines between IaaS and PaaS which we will see more and more of.
Microsoft Azure Stack: Hardware requirements – Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs
We’ve been working hard on our Azure in your datacenter vision since this year’s Ignite conference. At this time, we’re ready to share hardware requirements for Azure Stack Technical Preview. For those of you who learn best visually, check out my video below.
Our goal is to enable you to experience the Azure Stack Technical Preview in a single server, instantiated as a Proof-of-Concept (POC) environment. To ensure a good experience, I encourage you to consider the “Recommended” server configuration below.
Note that these requirements only apply to the upcoming POC release, they may change for future releases. Microsoft Azure Stack: Hardware requirements – Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs
The amount of time I have had to spend managing proper expectations around Azure Stack… The strategy is fantastic and will be a huge (continued) differentiator for Microsoft. That said, it was announced pretty far in advance of availability (Ignite last year, preview just coming soon). The way I am looking at it, and talking to both my internal community and colleagues as well as customers is this (2016) is the year of learning about Azure Stack, especially through the upcoming preview, and starting to think about your hybrid cloud strategy given what and architecture of Azure + Azure Stack will provide. Within that frame though, realize that its going to play out over this year and next and that there are plenty of things you can do or keep doing now and not have to wait (Azure itself, Azure Pack, etc.) Too many consultants and customers are in the mode of “the next big thing will solve all my ills”. That’s not a modern approach, the modern approach is use the best of what’s available now and be ready to change.
Hyper-converged infrastructure? Pop open some ‘Azure in a can’ The Register
HPE and Microsoft have teamed up to give everyone else a right good kicking. The product of the now is the “HPE Hyper Converged 250 for Microsoft CPS Standard”. This is a very long name and so I propose instead that we shall think of it as “Azure in a can 250”. Sticking to the Azure-in-a-can theme, HPE’s new gizmo does exactly what it says on the tin, and it changes everything.
The Azure in a can 250 is a 2U chassis containing 4 nodes lashed together into a hyper-converged cluster using HP’s StoreVirtual software. Each node comes with 2 Xeon E5-2640 or 2680 CPUs, 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of RAM and 2 SFP+ 10GbE NICs.
The entry cost for these units is somewhere around $80k. Consider this for a moment: for under $100k you can get a 4 node hyperconverged cluster that you unbox, put on the rack, plug in and go. Not just any hyperconverged cluster, but Azure in a can. Hyper-converged infrastructure? Pop open some ‘Azure in a can’ The Register
Part of this drives me nuts “it’s Azure in a can!” because that is the root cause of a lot of the unwinding I referred to in the previous section (customers thinking that Azure Pack or Stack is “azure in their datacenter”). Aspects of that are true and get truer (or truthier as Colbert would say) as we get to Azure Stack, but the details are important and too many gloss over that.
Anyway, the above is a new appliance, CPS-like but at smaller scale and from HP as opposed to Dell. It’s the sign of a healthy ecosystem and I believe something to keep a real eye on as we get to the WS 2016 wave. I’ve been telling all of my people if your thing is designing Hyper-V clusters or “deploying” WS/SC/WAP you really need to think about new skills either higher in the stack, across private/public cloud, automation, etc. It’s now all about what you do after the platform is deployed, because deployment is either automatic, done already like CPS, or not relevant (cloud).
That’s it for this week. Did any other articles or posts catch your attention?