Monday, October 20, 2014

Understanding Windows Azure Pack and your service offerings

Understanding Windows Azure Pack and your service offerings

From time to time, I meet with customers (and also other system integrators) that is not fully aware of the definition of cloud computing.
I never expect people to know this to the very nasty details, but have an overview of the following:

·         Deployment models
·         Service models
·         Essential characteristics

What’s particular interesting when discussing Windows Azure Pack, is that the deployment model that’s relevant, is the private cloud. Yes, we are touching your own datacenter with these bits – the one you are in charge of.

For the service models, we are embracing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS – using the VM Cloud Resource Provider), and Platform as a Service (PaaS – Using the Web Site Cloud Resource Provider).

The essential characteristics are also very important, as we’ll find elasticity, billing/chargeback, self-service, resource pooling and broad network access.

If you combine just self-service and IaaS, this tells us that we empower our users to deploy virtual machines on their own. Right?
So having the flexibility to provide such service, we also rely on the underlying architecture to support this. Due to scalability (elasticity), we need to ensure that these users constantly have access to the solution – no matter what device they are using (broad network access), we need to find out who is consuming what (billing/chargeback), and last but not least – be able to produce these services in an efficient way that makes it cost effective and profitable (resource pooling).

So, it starting to make sense.

There is a reason for what we are seeing and we are providing these services by abstracting the underlying resources into clouds, plans and subscriptions with the Cloud OS.

Implementing a complete IaaS solutions may bring some obstacles to the table.

Organizations tends to think that IaaS is something they have provided for years. Perhaps they have provided virtual machines, but not a complete IaaS solution.
The reason for that is that IaaS is relying on abstraction at every layer. This is not only about virtual compute (memory, CPU), but also about virtual storage and virtual networking.
This is when it gets interesting, using network virtualization.

Remember that self-service is an essential characteristic of the cloud, right?
So delivering IaaS would also mean that the user is able to do stuff with the networking aspect as well, with no interaction from the service provider/cloud administrator.
This is why Software-Defined Networking (NVGRE) is so essential to this service model, and hence we run into the following obstacles.

·         The customer (most often service provider) wants to continue to provide managed services, such as:
o   Backup (both crash consistent and app consistent)
o   Monitoring (above the operating system level, covering the application stack)

This is what they are doing today, with their infrastructure. But this also has a high cost to operate due to all the manual operations needed and involved to get the wheels moving.

Luckily, Windows Azure Pack is able to cover both scenarios, providing a consistent experience to users/tenants no matter if they are running resources in a “legacy” infrastructure, or a new modern IaaS infrastructure.

The following architecture shows that we are using two Virtual Machine Management Stamps.
Both of these are located behind the SPF endpoint – which present the capabilities, capacity and much more to the service management API in Azure Pack.

A cloud administrator then creates a Hosting Plan in the Admin Portal of Azure Pack, which is associated with the legacy cloud in the legacy VMM server. This plan is available for the users/tenants who are subscribing to managed services.

A new plan is created, associated with the IaaS cloud and the IaaS VMM server, available for the users/tenants that need IaaS, without the requirement of managed services. They are dealing with these themselves.

Hopefully this blog post gave you an overview of what’s possible to achieve using Azure Pack and combine both kind of services using a single solution.

(Want more info? – please join my TechEd session in Barcelona next week).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New TechEd session - Azure Site Recovery

New session at TechEd Europe

I have already announced that I will present at TechEd, Planning & Designing Management Stamps for Windows Azure Pack.

Another session is now available on the content catalog, where I will co-present together with Manoj Jain (PM for ASR) on the topic: “Microsoft Azure Site Recovery: Leveraging Azure as your Disaster Recovery Site”.

This will be fun and I really encourage you to join to see how you can extend your services, ensure business continuity and get a true Hybrid Cloud setup using the best from both clouds.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The specific IP address is already allocated by the pool - SCVMM

Every now and then, I see fabric environments where the following have occurred:

·         They tried to create their Hyper-V Cluster in VMM
·         The process failed at some step (it can be many reasons for this, not necessary that’s VMM fault)
·         They go to one of the hosts and create the cluster from there
·         They refresh the nodes in VMM and the cluster appear

Now, that is quite common actually, and this works great.
One of the reasons why VMM is complaining a lot more than Failover Cluster Manager, is because VMM has high expectations regarding networking, storage etc.

So what happens when you create the cluster outside of VMM, and at the same time, is so rude and steal an IP address from the IP Pool in VMM?

You will see the following in the job view on a regular basis:

Frustrating. So imagine you have added Hyper-V Replica Broker to that cluster as well, stealing another IP from the pool in VMM? Then this can be noisy.


First thing first, find out what IP address VMM is referring to.


Find the right name in your environment. I will use “MGMT IP Pool Copenhagen” as I know this is a Hyper-V Cluster in that site.

Next, put that in a variable like this:

See which addresses you have registered:

Once you have detected the IP, it is time to remove it.

Get-SCIPAddress –IPAddress “” | Revoke-SCIPAddress

The only thing left, is to reserve this IP address in the VMM IP Pool so that VMM will ignore it in the future.
Once this is done, perform a refresh of the cluster object in VMM to verify that it is green and happy.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Scratching the surface of Networking in vNext

The technical previews of both Windows Server and System Center is now available for download.
What’s really interesting to see, is that we are making huge progress when it comes to core infrastructure components such as compute (Hyper-V, Failover Clustering), storage and networking.

What I would like to talk a bit about in this blog post, is the new things in networking in the context of cloud computing.

Network Controller

As you already know, in vCurrent (Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2), Virtual Machine Manager act as the network controller for your cloud infrastructure. The reasons for this have been obvious so far, but has also lead to some challenges regarding high availability, scalability and extensibility.
In the technical preview, we have a new role in Windows Server, “Network Controller”.

This is a highly available and scalable server role that provides the point of automation (REST API) that allows you to configure, monitor and troubleshoot the following aspects of a datacenter stamp or cluster:

·         Virtual networks
·         Network services
·         Physical networks
·         Network topology
·         IP Address Management

A management application – such as VMM vNext can manage the controller to perform configuration, monitoring, programming and troubleshooting on the network infrastructure under its control.
In addition, the network controller can expose infrastructure to network aware applications such as Lync and Skype.

GRE Tunneling in Windows Server

Working a lot with cloud computing (private and service provider clouds), we have now and then ran into challenges for very specific scenarios where the service providers want to provide their tenants with hybrid connectivity into the service provider infrastructure.

A typical example is that you have a tenant running VMs on NVGRE, but the same tenant also wants access to some shared services in the service provider fabric.
The workaround for this have never been pretty, but due to GRE tunneling in Windows Server, we have many new features that can leverage the lightweight tunneling protocol of GRE.

GRE tunnels are useful in many scenarios, such as:

·         High speed connectivity
This enables a scalable way to provide high speed connectivity from the tenant on premise network to their virtual network located in the service provider cloud network. A tenant connects via MPLS where a GRE tunnel is established between the hosting service provider’s edge router and the multitenant gateway to the tenant’s virtual network

·         Integration with VLAN based isolation
You can now integrate VLAN based isolation with NVGRE. A physical network on the service provider network contains a load balancer using VLAN-based isolation. A multitenant gateway establishes GRE tunnels between the load balancer on the physical network and the multitenant gateway on the virtual network.

·         Access from a tenant virtual networks to tenant physical networks
Finally, we can provide access from a tenant virtual network to tenant physical networks located in the service provider fabrics. A GRE tunnel endpoint is established on the multitenant gateway, the other GRE tunnel endpoint is established on a third-party device on the physical network. Layer-3 traffic is routed between the VMs in the virtual network and the third-party device on the physical network

No matter if you are an enterprise or a service provider, you will have plenty of new scenarios made available in the next release that will make you more flexible, agile and dynamic than ever before.
For hybrid connectivity – which is the essence of hybrid cloud, it is time to start investigate on how to make this work for you, your organization and customers.