Setting up Microsoft Azure and Iaas Backup

Earlier today Microsoft announced the long awaited feature which allows us to take backup of virtual machines directly in Azure. Now before today Microsoft didn’t have any solution to do backup of a VM unless doing a blob snapshot or some third party solution. You can read more about it here –> http://azure.microsoft.com/blog/2015/03/26/azure-backup-announcing-support-for-backup-of-azure-iaas-vms/

The IaaS backup feature is part of Azure Vault, and is pretty easy to setup. Important to note that enabling the backup feature requires that Azure installs an guest-agent in the VM (So therefore they require to be online during the registration process) and note that this is PR region.

So now that when we create a backup vault we get the new preview features. (Firstly we can also create storage replication policies)

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Now in order to setup a backup rutine we first need to setup a policy, which define when to take backup.

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Next head on over to the dashboard, first the backup vault needs to detect which virtual machiens it can protect (so click Discover)

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So it find the two virtual machines which are part of the same sub and in the same region.

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NOTE: If one of your virtual machines are offline during the process the registration job fails (so don’t select VMs that are offline or just turn them on) Now after the item has been registrered to the vault I can see it under protected items in the backup vault

 

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Now after this is setup I can see under jobs what VMs that are covered by the policy

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So when I force start a backup job I can see the progress under the jobs pane

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I can also click on the JOB and see what is happening.

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So for this virtual machine which is a plain vanilla OS image took about 22 min, and doing a new backup 1 hour later took about the same amount of time, looks like there is not a incremental backup.

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So when doing a restore I can choose from the different recovery points

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And I can define where to restore a virtual machine to a new cloud service or back to its original VM

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Citrix XenMobile and Microsoft Cloud happily ever after ?

There is no denying that Microsoft is moving more and more focus into their cloud offerings, even with solution such as Office365, EMS (Enterprise Mobility Suite) and of course their Azure platform.

EMS being the latest product bundle in the suite gives customers Intune, Azure Rights Management and Azure Active Directory Premium. So if a customer already has Office365 (their users are already placed with Azure AD and can then easily be attached to EMS for more features)

We are also seeing that Microsoft is adding more and more management capabilities against Office365 into their Intune suite (Which is one of the keypoints which no other vendors have yet) but is this type of management something we need ? or is it just to give it a “key” selling point?

Now Microsoft has added alot of MDM capabilities to Intune, but they are nowhere close to the competition yet. Of course they have other offerings in the EMS pack, like Azure Rights Management, which are quite unique on the way it functions and integrates with Azure AD and Office365. As of 2014 Microsoft isn’t even listed on the Gartner quadrant for EMM (which they stated would be the goal for 2015)

But it will be interesting to se if Microsoft’s strategy is to compete head-to-head on the other vendors or if they wish to give the basic features and dvelve more into the part of Azure AD and identity management across clouds and SaaS offerings.

Citrix on the other hand, have their XenMobile offering which is a more complete EMM product suite (MDM and MAM, Follow me data with Sharefile, and so on) Now Citrix has a lot of advantages for instance over using Sharefile against OneDrive.  Sharefile has encryption of data even thou it is locally and running on a sandboxed application( on a mobile device), while the only option that OneDrive has is using as a part of Rights Management Service (of course OneDrive has extensive data encryption in-transit and at rest https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn905447.aspx

Citrix also has MicroVPN functionality and secure browser access running VPN access using Netscaler, while Microsoft also has a secure browser application which is much more limited to restricting which URLs to open and what content can be viewed from that browser.

So from a customer side you need to ask yourself.

  • what kind of requirement does my buisness have?
  • Do I use Office365 or a regualr on-premise setup?
  • Do I need the advanced capabilities ?
  • How are my users actually working ?

Is there a best of both worlds using both of these technologies ?

While yes!

Now of course there are some feature that overlaps using Offic365 and EMS + XenMobile, but there are also some features which are important to be aware of.

* Citrix has Sharefile storage controller templates in Azure (Meaning that if a customer has an IaaS in Azure, they can setup a Sharefile connector in Azure and use that to publish files and content without using OneDrive)

* Citrix has a Sharefile connector to Office365 (Which allows users to use Sharefile almost as a file aggregrator for communicating between Office365 and their regular fileservers) which allows for secure editing directly from ShareFile.

* Citrix XenMobile has alot better MDM features for Windows Phone that Intune has at the moment.

* Azure AAD has a lot of built-in SSO access to many of Citrix web based applications (Sharefile, GTM, GTA and so on) since users are already in Azure AD premium it can be used to grant access to the different applications using SSO)

* Netscaler and SAML iDP (If we have an on-premise enterprise solution we can use the Netscaler to operate as an SAML identity provider against Office365 which allows for replacement for ADFS which is required for full SSO of on-premise AD users to Office365

* Office365 ProPlus with Lync is supported on XenApp/XD with Lync optimization pack (Note that this is not part of XenMobile but of Workspace suite)

* Netscaler and Azure MFA (We can use Azure MFA against Netscaler to publish web based applications with traffic optimization)

* Netscaler will also soon be available in Azure which allows for setting up a full Citrix infrastructure in Azure

But in the future I would be guessing that Microsoft is moving forward with the user collaboration part, it is going to become the heart of identity management with Azure AD directory and rights management, while Citrix on the other hand will focus more and enabling mobility using solutions like EMM ( MAM ) and follow me data aggregator and secure file access and devices. Citrix will also play an important part in hybrid setup using Netscaler with Cloud bridge and as an identity provider on-premise

Upcoming events and stuff

There’s alot happening lately and therefore there has been a bit quiet here on this blog. But to give a quick update on what’s happening!

In february I just recently got confirmation that I am presenting two session at NIC conference (Which is the largest IT event for IT-pros in scandinavia) (nicconf.com) Here I will be presenting 2 (maybe 3) sessions.

* Setting up and deploying Microsoft Azure RemoteApp
* Delivering high-end graphics using Citrix, Microsoft and VMware

One session will be primarly focused on Microsoft Azure RemoteApp where I will be showing how to setup RemoteApp in both Cloud and Hybrid and talk a little bit about what kind of use cases it has. The second session will focus on delivering high-end graphics and 3d applications using RemoteFX (using vNext Windows Server), HDX and PCoIP and talk and demo abit about how it works, pros and cons, VDI or RDS and endpoints so my main objective is to talk about how to deliver applications and desktops from cloud and on-premise…

And on the other end, I have just signed a contract with Packt Publishing to write another book on Netscaler, “Mastering Netscaler VPX” which will be kind of a follow up of my existing book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Implementing-Netscaler-Vpx-Marius-Sandbu/dp/178217267X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417546291&sr=8-1&keywords=netscaler

Which will focus more in depth of the different subjects and focused on 10.5 features as well.

I am also involved with a community project I started, which is a free eBook about Microsoft Azure IaaS where I have some very skilled norwegians with me to write this subject. Takes some time since Microsoft is always adding new content there which needs to be added to the eBook as well.

So alot is happening! more blogsposts coming around Azure and Cloudbridge.

New book project, Azure IaaS free ebook

This is something that I have been thinking about for some time, since I have written two books for publisher in the last year. Now and I saw that when writing the books that much of the stuff I wrote about became outdated pretty fast after the books were released.

So therefore I came up with an idea, what if I wrote it as an ebook and was responsible for the distribution myself ? This would make it alot easier to keep it up to date since I didn’t need to have a publisher to keep “control” over the source, and since it is only in ebook form I can easily update the content to keep it “up-to-date”

So therefore I present my current ebook project,

Azure – IaaS Getting started

this book will cover the basics about the most, but will deep dive into the IaaS features of Azure. I am about 20% in the writing process so it is not ready for release yet, since I’m only one guy.

If you are above average skilled in Azure and want to contribute to the writing process, please get in contact with me on msandbu@gmail.com my whole goal with this book is to make it easier to get the “whole” picture of Azure and having up to date content.

So stay tuned for the release!

Pricing difference between vCloud Air and Microsoft Azure

Now lately I’ve seen alot of blogpost talking about how cheaper one of them is compared to the other. Now most of the time I don’t read them as much, but this time I’ve decied to write a post about it to do a comparison.

Note I am not being prejudice even if I have a MVP logo, I’m trying to get a clear picture of what the pricing actually is. If anyone has any feedback to this post I would really appriciate getting feedback in the comment field below.

For the comparison I’m going to show difference between Virtual Private Cloud offering from Vmware and Virtual Machines from Microsoft Azure.

First of Virtual Private Cloud offering from Vmware is more of a cloud container you gain access to a set of resources and you define yourself what you want to do with those resources, while Microsoft Azure is based upon virtual machines, you have a predefined size based upon the template.

So let us define for this example that we have 5 virtual machines with 2 GHZ each and 4 GM RAM. (Note there are no sizes in Azure that are the equal size so I’m going with Medium based instances which have about 3,5 GB RAM and 2x 1,6 GHZ) and I’m only comparing with the information that I can find on the vendors websites.

SLA:

First of Virtual Private Cloud from VMware has an 99.9% SLA for virtual machines
Microsoft Azure has 99,9% SLA for single virtual machines and 99,95% for multiple role instances. (NOTE: f you deploy a single VM instance within an availability set, you will receive no advanced warning or notification of platform maintenance)

Other features:

The base configuration from Virtual Private Cloud from Vmware contains

10 GHz
vCPU 20 GB vRAM
2 TB of Standard Storage

10 Mbps of Bandwidth (this is official bandwidth for connections out of the data center)

2 Public IP Addresses + support

This is for the price of €727 a month. So for this I can configure 5 virtual machines with 2 GHZ and 4 GB of RAM each and with ~400 GB of disks each.

From Azure I can configure 5x Medium virtual machine instances (Linux based since I don’t want a licensing discussion here)

This will cost about €332.44 a month, and for 2 TB of storage for page blobs is about €74.47 a month. (Locally redundant) + Support which is €223.41 a month (Note that since the support is so different from the vendors, I will choose to exclude it from the price comparison) Public Ip addresses are given from a cloud service and can be one or more adresses. I also need to add storage transactions since all IO to the Blob storage is considered a transaction. So 200 million storage transactions each month equals to €7,45 a month

I also need to define bandwidth usage, for Azure I can define the bandwidth usage to for instance 100GB which costs about €8.49 a month(Note that this bandwidth cost is for US + Europe egress) (Vmware does not charge for data transfer). This sums up to €422,5 euro a month.

Performance: Principled Technologies did a test on virtual machine instaces on both Azure and Vmware and they concluded that the CPU performance is about 2x the performance in vCloud compared to Azure (Note that this is pr vCPU)

http://www.slideshare.net/PrincipledTechnologies/v-chs-cpuperformance0714

Which means that if we have 10 GHZ in vCloud (We would need atleast 20 GHZ in Azure to have the similiar performance CPU-wise)

vCloud Air Azure
10 GHz
vCPU 20 GB vRAM
2 TB of Standard Storage

10 Mbps of Bandwidth
2 Public IP Addresses

5x Medium Instances =
2 x 1.6GHz CPU * 5 = 16 GHZ
2x 3,5 GB RAM * 5 = 17,5 GB
2 TB Page blobs
200 Million storage transactions
100 GB Bandwidth usage
Cloud services public adresses
€644 each month €422,85 each month

Note that this price for Azure is if we use the virtual machines 24/7, we use all 2 TB of storage, we use all the 100 GB bandwidth. If we do not use this much the cost each month will be lower. NOTE: All medium instances have 200mbps bandwidth)

Now, both of them have other options for prepaid 12 months options since this is a cheaper option I going to add them to the option in the table.

Prepaid 12 Month Vmware Prepaid 12 Month Azure
€8,203 (Where €8724 is normal) cost €3805 (€5074 is the normal cost)

Its clear to see that Azure is cheaper over the long run, since it has a really good discount when buying for certain amounts prepaid. http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/offers/commitment-plans/

But it does not perform as well as Vmware. If we were to compare performance/cost we would have another calculation. Since as I mentioned we would need atleast twice the amount of CPU power to be able to have the same amount of performance and in this case I would need to add another virtual machine instance.

vCloud Air Azure
10 GHz
vCPU 20 GB vRAM
2 TB of Standard Storage
6x Medium Instances =
~20 GHZ
21 GB RAM
€644 each month €489.33 each month

This takes the CPU/memory calculation in the mix but it does not say anything about storage performance. Note that Azure Datadisks for medium instances have max 500 IOPS. (While a storage account can have up to 20.000 IOPS) and the maximum size of a blog disk is 1 TB. And Medium instance can have up to 4 Datadisks and therefore a max amount of 2000 IOPS.

Now as I see it, we can’t compare these two solutions equally. So it is not an apple vs apple comparison. vCloud has the flexibility that you “purchase” a bunch of resources and you can form and mold them as you want. It has better performance since it is mostly a IaaS platform, while on the other hand you have Azure which has different forms and shapes that you can purchase depending on what the customers needs.

Also important to note that vCloud Air (Is as I have read about) that it is priced upon recourses you buy, not what you use so If you have bought 10GHZ and only use 50% you still need to pay the same amount, while Azure is based upon what you use.

Also the options around the ecosystem is also completely different. So I appriciate any feedback here! If I have done a wrong calculation or if statements are wrong.

Study resources 74-409 Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center

NOTE: This is work in progress
Now its a long time made since I made any of these, but been busy Smilefjes
Here is a new exam from Microsoft which just released earlier this november, this is the first Microsoft exam which contains Azure technology from an “it-pro” perspetive and it also contains stuff from the latest 2012 R2 release.
The exam also goes trough stuff like Generation 2 VMs, Hyper-V recovery manager and so on.
You can read more about the exam here –> http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam.aspx?ID=74-409 This exam replaces the earlier MCTIP Server Virtualization for Windows Server 2008.

The exam will contain the following. So im addind study resources under each section.

Configure Hyper-V

  • Create and configure virtual machine settings.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Configure dynamic memory; configure smart paging; configure Resource Metering; configure guest integration services; create and configure Generation 1 and 2 virtual machines; configure and use extended session mode, and configure RemoteFX

Dynamic Memory –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831766.aspx
Enable Resource Metering –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh848481.aspx
Configure Guest Integration –> http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/data-center/configure-integration-services-options-for-hyper-v-vms/
Create Gen 2 VMs –>http://blogs.technet.com/b/jhoward/archive/2013/10/24/hyper-v-generation-2-virtual-machines-part-1.aspx
Extended session –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn282274.aspx
Configure RemoteFX –> http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/16652.remotefx-vgpu-setup-and-configuration-guide-for-windows-server-2012.aspx

  • Create and configure virtual machine storage.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Create VHDs and VHDx; configure differencing drives; modify VHDs; configure pass-through disks; manage checkpoints; implement a virtual Fibre Channel adapter; configure storage Quality of Service

Create VHD and VHDX –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh848503.aspx
Create Differeing disks –> http://lyncdup.com/2012/06/creating-hyper-v-3-differencing-disks-in-server-2012-with-gui-and-powershell/
Pass-trough disks –> http://www.petri.co.il/convert-hyper-v-pass-through-disk-to-a-vhdx.htm
Implement virtual fibre channel –> http://www.virtualizationadmin.com/articles-tutorials/microsoft-hyper-v-articles/storage-management/first-look-hyperv-vs-virtual-fibre-channel-feature-part2.html
Configure Storage QoS –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn282276.aspx
Modify VHD –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn282284.aspx

  • Create and configure virtual networks.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Configure Hyper-V virtual switches; optimize network performance; configure MAC addresses; configure network isolation; configure synthetic and legacy virtual network adapters; configure NIC teaming in virtual machines

Configure Hyper-V virtual Switches –> http://www.serverwatch.com/server-tutorials/harnessing-the-power-of-hyper-v-network-virtual-switches.html
Optimize network performance –> http://www.aidanfinn.com/?p=15414
Configure network isolation –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj679878.aspx#bkmk_pvlan
Configure NIC teaming in virtual machines –> http://www.msserverpro.com/configuring-windows-server-2012-nic-teaming-to-a-hyper-v-virtual-machine/

Configure and Manage Virtual Machine High Availability

  • Configure failover clustering with Hyper-V.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Configure shared storage; configure Quorum; configure cluster networking; restore single node or cluster configuration; implement Cluster Aware Updating; upgrade a cluster; configure and optimize clustered shared volumes; and configure clusters without network names

Configure shared storage –> http://blogs.technet.com/b/keithmayer/archive/2012/12/12/step-by-step-building-a-free-hyper-v-server-2012-cluster-part-1-of-2.aspx
Configure Quorum –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612870.aspx
Configure cluster networking –> http://www.msserverpro.com/implementing-windows-server-2012-hyper-v-failover-clustering/
Optimizate clustered shared volumes –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612868.aspx
Restore cluster configuration –>
Configure clusters without network names –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn265970.aspx
Cluster aware updating –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831694.aspx

  • Manage failover clustering roles.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Configure role-specific settings including continuously available shares; configure VM monitoring; configure failover and preference settings; and configure guest clustering

Configure VM monitoring –> http://blogs.msdn.com/b/clustering/archive/2012/04/18/10295158.aspx
Configure guest cluestering –>  http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn265980.aspx 

  • Manage virtual machine movement.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Perform Live Migration; perform quick migration; perform storage migration; import, export, and copy VMs; configure Virtual Machine network health protection; configure drain on shutdown; manage Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) and Virtual-to-Virtual (V2V) migrations; and implement virtual machine migration between clouds

Live Migration –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831435.aspx http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj860434.aspx
Virtual Machine network health protection –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn265972.aspx#BKMK_VMHealth
Virtual Machine Drain on shutdown –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn265972.aspx#BKMK_VMDrain
Physical-to-Virtual –> http://blogs.technet.com/b/scvmm/archive/2013/10/03/how-to-perform-a-p2v-in-a-scvmm-2012-r2-environment.aspx
V2V migration –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg610672.aspx

Implement a Server Virtualization Infrastructure

  • Implement virtualization hosts.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: implement delegation of virtualization environment (hosts, services, and virtual machines) including self-service capabilities; implement multi-host libraries including equivalent objects; implement host resource optimization; integrate third-party virtualization platforms; and deploying Hyper-V hosts to bare metal

Bare Metal –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg610634.aspx
Host Resource optimization –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg675109.aspx
Selv-service capabilites –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg610573.aspx
Integrate third-party virtualization –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg610687.aspx

  • Implement virtual machines.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Implement highly available VMs; implement guest resource optimization including shared VHDx; configure placement rules; create a Virtual Machine Manager template

Shared VHDx –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn265972.aspx#BKMK_SharedVHDX
Placement rules –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj860428.aspx
Create template –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh427282.aspx

  • Implement virtualization networking.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Configure Virtual Machine Manager logical networks including virtual switch extensions and logical switches; configure IP address and MAC address settings across multiple Hyper-V hosts including network virtualization; configure virtual network optimization; plan and implement Windows Server Gateway; implement VLANs and pVLANs; plan and implement virtual machine networks; and implement converged networks
  • Implement virtualization storage.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Configure Hyper-V host clustered storage; configure Hyper-V virtual machine storage including virtual Fibre Channel, Internet SCSI (iSCSI), and shared VHDx; plan for storage optimization; and plan and implement storage by using SMB 3.0 file shares
  • Manage and maintain a server virtualization infrastructure.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: Manage dynamic optimization and resource optimization; integrate Operations Manager with System Center Virtual Machine Manager and System Center Service Manager; update virtual machine images in libraries; implement backup and recovery of a virtualization infrastructure by using System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM)

Monitor and Maintain a Server Virtualization Infrastructure

  • Plan and implement a monitoring strategy.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: planning considerations including monitoring servers using Audit Collection Services (ACS) and System Center Global Service Monitor, performance monitoring, application monitoring, centralized monitoring, and centralized reporting; implement and optimize System Center 2012 Operations Manager management packs; and plan for monitoring Active Directory
  • Plan and implement a business continuity and disaster recovery solution.
    • This objective may include but is not limited to: plan a backup and recovery strategy; planning considerations including Active Directory domain and forest recovery, Hyper-V replica including using Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager, domain controller restore and cloning, and Active Directory object and container restore using authoritative restore and Recycle Bin; and plan for and implement backup and recovery by using System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM)

Microsoft launched RDS RemoteFX clients today for iOS and Android

So big day today Microsoft released System Center 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 and just today they release RemoteFX clients for iOS and Android which are now available at their respective stores.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-remote-desktop/id714464092?mt=8

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.rdc.android&hl=en

So I haven’t given it a try yet, but if you have get around to try it give me some feedback! Smilefjes