The summary of Day 4, it seems like the announcement train is slowly coming to a stop..
Since the Azure Stack Architecture blog became rather long, this blog will cover the second part. You can find part one here.
Initial Azure Stack VM sizes
In Azure Stack TP2 there are only a handful VM sizes, but at GA a lot more VM sizes will be supported, although not all VM sizes can be accommodated yet because they require specific hardware configuration.
Azure Stack Compute Requirements
The minimum Azure Stack configuration requires at least four compute nodes. These servers are hyper-converged meaning they combine the Hyper-V and Storage roles of Windows Server 2016. A compute node consists of a dual socket processor with a minimum of 8 cores per socket. With multi-threading enabled this will offer 32 logical processors. A server should have a minimum of 256GB of memory and each server in a hyper-converged cluster should be identical in terms of cpu, storage and network.
Software Defined Network Capabilities Windows Server 2016
Azure Stack greatly benefits from a large number of software defined networking capabilities in Windows Server 2016:
- Network Controller
- Central control plane
- Fault tolerant
- Virtual Networking
- BYO address space
- Multiple subnets
- Distributed router
- Network Security
- Distributed firewall
- Network Security Groups
- BYO Virtual Appliances
- Robust Gateways
- Robust availability model
- Multi-tenancy for all modes of operation
- Software Load Balancing
- L4 load balancing
- NAT for tenants and Azure Stack infrastructure
- Data Plane Improvements
- Performance: 10Gb, 40Gb and higher
- RDMA over Virtual Switch
Hall C1 can take 2,000 people and every one of them was present for Spencer Shepler’s Dive into Microsoft Azure Stack Architecture session.
Azure Stack Integrated Systems
First picture Spencer showed was of the three Azure Stack integrated systems by HPE, Dell EMC and Lenovo. A must see on the booth of Ignite 2016.
A quick look at the timelines schedule shows that Azure Stack TP2 is now available for a 1-node proof of concept. The multi-node will remain private previews for a limited audience and both the 1-node and multi-node are expected to arrive mid calendar year 2017.
Azure Stack: What is it?
At high level, we are bringing the Azure services into your datacenter on your hardware. We’re trying to provide consistency so you can take your workloads, deploy them in Azure or deploy them onprem to Azure Stack. You can move them back and forth for dev/test for regulatory reasons. There is a variety of reasons why you want the full ecosystem in place for Azure Stack. Read More »
My first session on day 3 of Ignite was Vijay Tewari, Group Product Manager of Azure Stack. An excellent overview was given on how to operate and manage an Azure Stack environment, showing how this works at a much smaller scale than public Azure. Clusters in Azure are not based on Failover Clustering but are close to 1000 nodes in size. So management and operations at the much smaller scale of Azure Stack requires some adaptation.
Cloud Operating Model
In Azure, Microsoft is the cloud provider, offering services to tenants and has a large number of engineers to operate that cloud. In Azure Stack this is exactly the opposite because the service provider/enterprise is the cloud provider, and is responsible for the infrastructure. The customers of Azure Stack are your tenants who consume the services that you are offering.
Key design decisions
Microsoft looked at System Center, as well as the tools that are currently used in Azure. Microsoft decided that the tools in Azure were preferred because that is how MS operates their cloud. It would have been difficult to mold System Center to manage Azure Stack. Nevertheless, Microsoft has taken learnings from both sides, Azure and System Center.
Hyper-converged or Converged?
Microsoft gained a lot of insight in industry trends and with Windows Server 2016 they built great technology which follows along those trends. Microsoft decided to choose hyper-converged with Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) over converged with SOFS for Azure Stack. Combining storage and hypervisor is now supported in Windows Server 2016. Read More »
As a Hyper-V MVP, I definitely had to visit Ben Armstrong’s presentation on the novelties of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016. I already had the pleasure of having dinner with Ben on Monday night, so I had every opportunity to discuss Hyper-V related things.
I quickly discovered that Ben had crammed in a truckload of interesting new features directly or indirectly related to Hyper-V. Because of the amount of topics, the pace was high and could not go deeper than level 200, which is about right for the majority of attendees I suppose.
Here is a list of topics that were discussed.
Shielded Virtual Machines
The end to end solution comprises three things:
- Virtual TPM in a Generation 2 VM to support BitLocker
- Shielding a VM, take and make it so that the host admin cannot access it
- Host Guardian Service, an external service to guarantee that a host is safe and not tampered with before a shielded VM is placed on that host.
Key Storage Drive is an alternative for Generation 1 VM.
Guest Virtual Secure Mode
Allows Credential Guard and Device Guard to work in a virtual machine. It is very easy to turn on and everyone interested in a secure platform should turn it on. Read More »
The second day of Ignite 2016 was a very interesting one and quite diverse. I had selected several sessions on Azure Stack but also Software Defined Networking and Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V.
I started with Explore Microsoft Azure Stack “State of the Union” – Foundation 1 by Natalia Mackevicius and ‘actors’ Rupi Sureshkumar and Shriram Natarajan.
Natalia started with a flashback to the history of IT, showing how each IT transition brought more speed, greater scalability and better economics. We are now seeing solutions we couldn’t even think of before.
According to IDC, 82% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy, up from 74% a year ago. Reasons for hybrid when workloads require:
- Sensitive data
- Legacy support
We think that cloud is a model, not a place and combining public, private and hosted cloud is an enabler for application development, services and new technologies.
Shri showed how easy it is to populate the Azure Pack marketplace with images from the Azure marketplace. Select an image such as SQL Server 2016 and just click download and wait for it to show up in the Azure Stack market place. You can then deploy that image with the exact same settings and methods as in Azure.
Monitoring with OMS
Of course you could install an OMS agent using an ARM template. Even better, make sure the OMS agent is already part of the template. Then use Operations Management Suite to monitor the VMs deployed in Azure Stack.
Microsoft Azure Stack brings the power of Azure to your datacenter and offers hybrid capabilities with consistency between different locations: public, private and hosted cloud. Azure services are deployable using the portal, PowerShell and via DevOp tools such as Visual Studio.
Azure Resource Manager
Azure Resource Manager is the management plane and API of both Azure and Azure Stack. As long as ARM in both of these clouds are kept identical, VMs, applications and services can be equally deployed to either of them.
You can start your development for Azure Stack in Azure and use the following two new tools:
- Available today: Azure Resource Manager Template Validator for Azure Stack
- Available later: Azure Resource Manager Policy for Azure Stack, providing guardrails to check your ARM template for resource dependencies that may not be in Azure Stack. This tool can conveniently be used offline
Azure Stack Roadmap
This shows the timeline for both the 1-node proof of concept version of Azure Stack, as well as the multi-node integrated systems version that are being based (for now) on HPE, Dell and Lenovo hardware.
In this daily blog series we try to keep you posted on the latest and all interesting announcements of Microsoft Ignite.Our very own, Hans Vredevoort, is on-site in Atlanta at Microsoft Ignite and is visiting deep dive sessions on Compute, Network, Storage and Azure Stack so expect some in-depth content.
Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 GA
Scott Guthrie announced as from 9/26 that Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 is Generally Available. Big thing: Microsoft is adding the commercial version of the Docker Engine into Windows Server 2016.
When creating the S2D cluster and using the Enable-ClusterS2D cmdlet you can disable caching in the cluster by specifying the “-CacheMode Disabled”
Enable-ClusterS2D -CacheMode Disabled
After creating the cluster with caching enabled you can disable the cache by using the following powershell command:
(Get-Cluster).S2DCacheDesiredState = 0