Azure Site Recovery is now available as Preview

Azure Site Recovery is now available as Preview. This service formerly known as Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager is able to orchestrate failover between two customer owned sites.

It is also able to replicate Hyper-V virtual machine to Microsoft Azure datacenters saving customers on costs of a secondary datacenter.

Besides replication to Azure the service also allows an orchestrated recovery of virtual machines in case of failover to an Azure datacenter.

Customers must be using System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R and virtual machines running on Hyper-V. At the moment only Generation 1 VMs are supported. VHD & VHDX virtual disk files are supported.

A getting started with Azure Site Recovery  for on-premises to Azure is available here.

More information on Site Recovery here.

Costs
During Preview customers ger a 50% discount on pricing. The costs of protecting on-premises virtual machines to Microsoft Azure are $ 27,- per month per virtual machine *during Preview* . Customers receive 100GB of replication and storage per VM. Charging is based on an average usage per month. Suppose a customer protects 20 virtual machines for the first half of the month and none for the second half, the average daily number of protected virtual machines being charged by Microsoft would be 10.

Costs for using Azure Site Recovery as an orchestration tool for replication to another customer managed site is $ 16,- per month per virtual machine.

Book
I will cover Azure Site Recovery in my new book on Microsoft hybrid cloud.

System Center, Hyper-V , Azure Meat(ing) June 26 the Netherlands

If you like System Center, Hyper-V, Azure as well as meat, don’t forget to register for System Center Summer Night “The MasterChef edition” which is rapidly approaching. This event is held in Culemborg, the Netherlands at June 26.

Do not worry about the Worldcup, the Netherlands is not playing. Below the games scheduled for June 26.

wc-soccer

At June 26 nine experts, seven of them are MVPs, will present five interesting presentations.

Because we have plenty of space left we invite those who have registered to bring a friend without additional cost. If you haven’t registered yet, please do and have a great afternoon which is completed with a nice barbecue.

 

Date of event

June 26th

 

Program

15:00 – 16:15 How many System Center fits on one grill by Ronny de Jong / James van den Berg [MVP] / Helmer Zandbergen / Marc van Eijk [MVP] / Dieter Wijckmans [MVP]

16:15 – 17:30 How Service Manager can do everything you need – a best-of-the-best Swiss cheese selection by Marcel Zehner [MVP]

17:30 – 17:45 Break

17:45 – 19:00 Light up the fire on your Hyper-V by Hans Vredevoort [MVP] & Peter Noorderijk on Hyper-V Architecture

19:00 – 20:15 Become a Masterchef on Microsoft Azure Automation by Maarten Goet [MVP]

20.15 BBQ time

This event is organized by SCUG.nl and Hyper-V.nu

 

Registration

Please register at https://www.eventbrite.nl/e/tickets-system-center-summer-night-2014-9265847399

 

Location

Unieplaza
Multatulilaan 12
4103 NM Culemborg

Google map here

Microsoft DirSync to be replaced by Azure Active Directory Sync Services

Microsoft is actively working on enhancements to connect on-premises Active Directory to Azure Active Directory.

DirSync and Active Directory Federation Services are two options to connect both. DirSync can now be used as a backup for ADFS. See my post here.

Microsoft is working on a replacement for DirSync. DirSync is a software tool used to synchronize objects located in an  on-premises, single forest Active Directory  to Azure Active Directory. Azure Active Directory is the Microsoft multi-tenent cloud version of Active Directory used for identity management for services like Office 365.

DirSync is basically an implementation of Forefront Identity Manage but with limited features. For example it is not able to sync objects of multiple on-premises AD forests nor is it able to handle multiple Exchange organizations.

To support these scenarios enterprises are at the moment required to use Forefront Identity Manager. However, configuring FIM can be challenging and can take considerable time.

The new tool which replaces DirSync will be named Azure Active Directory Sync Services or AADSync.  AADSync significantly simplifies the configuration and makes it more predictive.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory Sync Services (AADSync) is used to onboard an on-prem environment to Windows Azure Active Directory and Office 365 and continue to synchronize changes. It is used for more advanced scenarios where DirSync does not provide support, for example multiple on-prem AD forests. At the moment AADSync does not support multiple Azure subscriptions.

AADSync will also be able to synchronize Exchange Global Address Lists. Support for PowerShell is also available, it has about 58 commands.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory Sync Services is currently available in customer technology preview (CTP).  This is a first beta release.

You can join the Azure Active Directory Sync Services preview here. The AADSync preview will then be added to your Microsoft Connect account. Through this you will be able to download the most recent version, get information on known issues and updates, as well as provide feedback.

Currently AADSync is in beta. You may not use this release in a production environment unless agreed to by Microsoft. For customers participating in the TAP program, the beta can be used in production.
To be considered for the TAP program, please contact the feedback alias AADSyncFB@microsoft.com.

Mind AADSync does not have these features at the moment:

    • Exchange hybrid co-existence is not available.
    • Compared to DirSync, the following features are not available:
      • Password synchronization
      • Self-service password reset write-bac

More information on AADSync here.

Documentation on AADSync can be found here 

 

Automatically download Microsoft sessions published on Channel 9 (TechEd, BUILD etc)

Microsoft publishes recorded sessions and PowerPoint slides of many Microsoft events on Channel 9. Recently TechEd 2014 North America was held in Houston. Over 600 sessions can be watched for free here. 

What if you could download those sessions so you can watch those while offline?

Claus Nilsen wrote a great PowerShell script. It is very easy to use: execute the PowerShell script. You will be presented with a graphical user interface which allows to select the category, author and the event. You can also choose to download the PowerPoint slides, the recorded sessions or both.

Download the script here.

 

download-channel9

Partners will be able to resell Microsoft Azure in Open Licensing per August 1

Microsoft customers  wanting to use Microsoft Azure services currently have two options for purchasing:

1. Register for Azure and submit creditcard details. Microsoft will charge on pay-as-you go. For enterprises using a creditcard it is very difficult to manage costs and perform chargeback to internal departments.
2. Buy Azure credits as part of an Enterprise Agreement. Enterprise Agreements are sold exclusively by Microsoft Licensing Solution Providers (LSP , the new name for Large Account Reseller). The disadvantage of purchasing Azure in Enterprise Agreement is  the customer needs to buy up-front credits. Those credits last for one year. If not consumed the remaining credit is lost. 

The current model was not very attractive for system integrators (SIs) and value-added resellers (VARs). When they help customers onboarding to Microsoft Azure they get a kickback fee lasting two years while Microsoft does the billing. The registration of leads by the partner and receiving the kickback free is a rather complex and lengthy process.

Especially System Integrators selling hardware like storage would hesitate to onboard a customer to Microsoft Azure. It could turn out to a shoot in the own foot as they start to loss the revenue of selling hardware as well as the relationship with the customer.

Microsoft is now enabling selling of Azure more easily.

Starting August 1 Microsoft Azure becomes available in Open Licensing. Open License is a two year agreement with Microsoft for buying software licenses. Targeted at organizations having 5 to max 250 devices. Customers pay up-front.

Microsoft Partners will be able to purchase tokens from a distributor. The partner resells tokens to their customer. Reselling is actually adding the tokens (each worth $ 100,-) to the Azure subscription of the customer. This enables a billing relationship between the Microsoft partner and the customer consuming Azure resources. It also ensures recurring revenue for the partner.  Mind the credit is only valid for 1 year. Remaining credit does not roll over to the next year!

More information here and here.

Aidan Finn wrote a blogpost about this news here. As usual his opinions are just a little bit  biased. His quote below is incorrect.

finn-biasMicrosoft  certainly does not have a unique selling point here. VMware has a hybrid cloud offer as well. Not only VMware itself offers a public IaaS service (VMware vCloud Hybrid Service or vCHS owned by VMware) which connects seamless to on-premises vSphere infrastructures. There are also many vCloud Providers offering public IaaS with excellent connectivity to on-premises owned datacenters.

Microsoft is not the only cloud vendor with a partner-enabling model. VMware vCHS is sold the same way as on-premise VMware licenses with a standard SKU and partners can retain the billing relationship with their customers.

Amazon has a Channel Reseller Programm for quite some time now.

 

 

Microsoft adds new virtual machine sizes to Microsoft Azure

Today Microsoft announced it added two new virtual  machine sizes to Microsoft Azure. Those are available both in the Azure IaaS and PaaS offering (web and worker roles).

These two sizes name A8 and A9 provide faster processors, faster interconnect, more virtual cores for higher compute power, larger amounts of memory. These instances include an additional 40Gbit/s InfiniBand network that provides remote direct memory access (RDMA) technology for maximum efficiency of parallel MPI applications. This combination of features make these instances optimal for running compute and network intensive applications such as high performance cluster applications, applications using modeling, simulation and analysis, video encoding etc. Detailed configurations of these instances are available. 

A8 has 8 virtual cores and 56 GB of virtual memory

A9 has 16 virtual cores and 112 GB of virtual memory.

Both are available immediately. However A8 and A9 Vm’s can only be created using PowerShell at the moment. Creation using the Azure Management Portal will be available in the coming weeks.

More info here.

azure-a8a9

Microsoft announces Microsoft Azure Site Recovery

The number 1 most requested feature for Microsoft Azure is disaster recovery. The keynote speech mentioned some details. Also breakout session DCIM-B322 revealed some details.

At TechEd 2014 in Houston Microsoft announced a new service running on Microsoft Azure. Azure Site Recovery enables failover of Hyper-V virtual machines running on-premise using Microsoft Azure as a target.

Azure Site Recovery will be the new name for the current Azure service named ‘Hyper-V Recovery Manager’. Recovery Manager is able to orchestrate a failover and failback of System Center Virtual Machine Manager managed virtual machines. Required however is having two sites managed by the customer. Azure cannot be used to run virtual machines in a failover scenario. Azure just has meta data and runs the orchestration logic.

Azure Site Recovery will go in preview in June 2014. It will allow data replication set at a schedule of every 30 seconds, 5 or 15 minutes. It has a maximum of 15 recovery points and supports VSS snapshots for application consistency. Customers can select to  encrypt data at rest.

Customers will only be charged for the consumption of storage. During normal replication no virtual machines will be running. Only during failover or failover test compute resources will be charged.

Azure does not provide tailor made virtual machine sizes. This means customers has to select from a number of fixed configured virtual machines (small, large, A6, A8 etc). Azure Site Recovery will automatically adjust the Azure VM to have a best match with the failover VM which run on-premises.

Virtual disk format VHDX is supported but Generation 2 virtual machines are not supported.

Like for Hyper-v Recovery Manager, Virtual Machine Manager is required for Site Recovery

The service allows to map on-premise networks to Azure networks. It also has recovery plans. This enables administrators to control the sequence in which virtual machines are started in case of a failover to Microsoft Azure.

A failover can be tested while the production site running on-premises is operational and not disturbed.

The Azure management console which is used to manage Site Recovery supports any HTML5 compliant browser. This means failover can be performed from any device and from any location.

Site Recovery does not support seeding. Seeding is shipping a complete virtual disk on removeable media or a NAS to a datacenter to prevent tranfering data of an initial replication over the WAN. Which is remarkable because Azure does have such an import feature for virtual machines. I guess the challenge with Site Recovery is that no virtual machine is created. Only at a failover (test) a virtual machine is provisioned using replicated data. ExpressRoute (a private WAN connection between an on-premise datacenter and Microsoft Azure datacenter) can be used for replication traffic.

Site Recovery supports a failback in which virtual machines are replicated back to the on-premise datacenter. This is done by only sending the delta or change data. So only the data which has been changed during the failover is sent back to the original VM.

The session on Site Recovery is available for viewing here. 

Site Recovery will be available in 6 different regions at Preview. Two  in the US, two in the UK (this is what one of Microsoft staff told in an interview)  and two in Asia. The UK is  Dublin and Amsterdam by the way, both not located in the UK.

Microsoft did not publish the pricing of this new service.

Channel 9 did a live interview by Symon Perriman with Vishal Mehrotra and Manoj K Jain titled ‘Enterprise-Scale Disaster Recovery’  It was at May 14 from 11:30AM to 12:15PM and was recorded. It is now shown on https://channel9.msdn.com/ but later I will add the direct URL of the recording

Some nice new information was revealed.

Ofcourse this new feature will be described in my to be released book on Microsoft Cloud OS.

Microsoft announces Microsoft Azure Files

At TechEd 2014 in Houston Microsoft announced a new service named  ‘Azure Files’. The service is now in preview. The reason for this feature is to allow to migration of traditional applications requiring a SMB fileshare to Microsoft Azure. 

Azure Files allows VMs in an Azure Data Center to mount a shared file system using the SMB protocol. These VMs will then be able to access the file system using standard Windows file APIs (CreateFile, ReadFile, WriteFile, etc). Many VMs (or PaaS roles) can attach to these file systems concurrently, allowing you to share persistent data easily between various roles and instances. In addition to accessing your files through the Windows file APIs, you can access your data using the file REST API, which is similar to the familiar blob interface.

Basically blob storage can now be accessed over SMB just like being served from a Windows VM. With Azure files no requirement for a VM to serve files. Untill now files stored in Azure Storage could only be accessed using REST API over http.

It can be compared to a traditional storage array being able to present files using SMB.

Files served out by Azure files seem to be only accesible from VM’s running in Azure.

much more information here. 

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