Microsoft & Cisco extend cloud partnership

by Shijaz Abdulla on 09.11.2013 at 15:41

Microsoft and Cisco have announced their extended partnership at the Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) event in New York on Wednesday.

This is a great example of how a prominent hardware manufacturer like Cisco can take advantage of Microsoft’s proven track record and experience in building and managing some of the largest clouds on the planet and bring the best solutions to our customers.

Through this expanded partnership, we will bring together Microsoft’s Cloud OS and Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure to deliver new integrated solutions that help customers take the next step on their cloud computing journey. These new solutions are designed to improve business agility and reduce cost by driving infrastructure automation in support of core business processes and applications. This next-generation infrastructure will deliver increased application performance, resource pooling, visibility, automation and mobility through:

  • Converged ACI stacks that include fully integrated versions of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, System Center 2012 R2, SQL Server, Exchange and SharePoint
  • Optimized application and workload performance through dynamic network policies that automate and simplify deployment
  • Comprehensive management, infrastructure programmability and deep visibility and automation across Cisco UCS/ACI, System Center and Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual and non-virtual environments
  • Complete support for workload mobility using gateway solutions delivered by both companies – delivering on the promise of hybrid clouds

Please read the below post by Satya Nadella, Executive Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise – Microsoft.

Agentless Antivirus protection for Hyper-V

by Shijaz Abdulla on 02.11.2013 at 23:11

5nine last month presented their Hyper-V security and management products at the Microsoft Cloud OS Launch event in Singapore.

At the time of this writing, 5nine software reportedly is the only vendor that delivers agentless/host-based security and management products for Windows Server and Hyper-V.

5nine Security for Hyper-V delivers a strong virtual machine separation and segmentation solution together with secure, multi-tenancy, agentless antivirus and antimalware technologies including an intrusion detection system. The complete product description is available on the company website at


The Beta version of NEW 5nine Cloud Security v4.0 provides full multi-tenant security, advanced user- and roles-based access, new LWF Hyper-V Switch extension, secure network virtualization/VM Security Groups, support of multiple antivirus engines and full use of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 SP1/R2 features. 5nine Cloud Security exists in both System Center VMM plug-in version and as a standalone application.

Read the whitepaper.

Free StorSimple 7020 storage appliance with Windows Azure

by Shijaz Abdulla on 02.11.2013 at 22:52

With the recent acquisition of StorSimple, we have an interesting offer for Windows Azure customers.

Till December 31, 2013, customers who sign up for Windows Azure with an annual minimum commitment of US$ 50,000 of Windows Azure credit will receive a StorSimple 7020 appliance that supports up to 200 TB of storage on the cloud. We will also throw in free gold support for the appliance for the first year.


The StorSimple is a unique, cloud-integrated storage solution, that works differently from conventional storage.

To know how cloud storage works, watch this video:

An overview of hybrid Cloud Storage

If you are in Qatar and would like to take advantage of this opportunity, contact me.


Hosting your public DNS servers on Windows Azure

by Shijaz Abdulla on 03.10.2013 at 00:35

Here’s how you can host your public (internet) DNS servers on Windows Azure.

In this example I will be building two public DNS servers (name servers) running Windows Server 2012 on Windows Azure. These name servers will be used to resolve names for internet domain names such as those used for public websites and email.

For those of you who want to run non-Microsoft DNS for your public domains, you can also run Linux versions of DNS software on Windows Azure, as it also supports a host of Linux OS platforms such as Ubuntu, SUSE and CentOS.

Benefits of hosting your DNS servers on Windows Azure:

  1. Secure: Moving your public DNS server on to the cloud gives you the security assurance that can only be found in the datacenters of a large-scale cloud storage vendor such as Microsoft. In fact it is a best practice, to host your DNS outside your environment.
  2. Handle demands: You can easily scale up resources or hardware configuration of your servers any time on a pay as you grow model, or even temporarily when you anticipate a large number of DNS requests.
  3. Hybrid, distributed model: You can even have a few name servers on premises and a few on the cloud to spread them in to hybrid model. It is a best practice to geographically distribute your DNS.
  4. Increase Uptime: Remove hardware downtime, hardware maintenance contracts, and hardware refresh from the equation.

Major Considerations:

However, at the time of writing this blog post, there are still major considerations that need to be taken before you decide to move your DNS servers to Windows Azure, owing to the nature of the service.

1. All Windows Azure VMs have dynamic IP addresses with an infinite lease (in other words, no expiry date). Which means the IP addresses will be dynamic but will not change even if you reboot your VM. However, if you redeploy or stop the VM, the IP address will change and your old IP address may be re-assigned, requiring you to update your NS IP address records. I recommend you use availability sets and when you have to restart the VM, use the ‘restart’ option instead of ‘Stop’ followed by ‘Start’.

2. Regardless of whether you host in your DMZ or Windows Azure, make sure you secure your DNS installation. Follow this guide and checklist on TechNet.

Part 1: Build your VMs

1. Choose the appropriate OS image from the Gallery and build your VMs. I chose Windows Server 2012.


2.  Choose a hostname, VM size, local administrator username and password. (No, you can’t use “P@ssw0rd”. Smile)


3. Choose to create a new cloud service for your first name server. Choose a location, and a storage account (or choose to create a new one). For production servers, I recommend you use Availability Sets to protect against downtime when Microsoft does hardware maintenance.


4. Add the DNS Endpoint to the list of default endpoints. This will allow DNS requests to pass to the VM. The default endpoint in the list only creates a TCP endpoint on Port 53.


5. Important: However, DNS also needs a UDP endpoint on port 53. This is not in the list as of writing this blog entry. So you will need to create it manually. Let’s call this custom endpoint “DNS-U”. Without the UDP endpoint, NSLOOKUP will fail and names cannot be resolved, although a telnet on port 53 will work.


6. Virtual machine will now be created. Create a second virtual machine with similar parameters. This is because most domain name providers will require you to register two name servers if you are using your own custom name server.

What you have now is two VMs, both with private IP addresses behind a NAT, exposed to the internet via public IP addresses.

Part 2: Configure DNS

1. Install DNS role on the servers. Self explanatory. For more information, see TechNet. You might get a warning that the machine doesn’t have a static IP address. You can ignore this for now because Windows Azure DHCP leases are forever (unless you rebuild your VM). Alternately you can change the IP to static and apply exactly same IP that was leased.

2. Make it an authoritative DNS server.

a) Disable Recursion: Right click on the server, choose Properties. Go to the Advanced tab and choose Disable Recursion (also disables forwarders).



b) Create a Forward Lookup Zone named “.” (dot). See steps below.








3. Create the Forward Lookup Zone(s) for your domain(s). Create some records – for example A, MX, CNAME records. In my example, the domain name is

a) Create the forward lookup zone named, following the instructions in step 2(c)

b) Right click on the NS (name server) record that was created in the new forward lookup zone for your domain and choose Properties.


Make sure the internet FQDN of the name server is correct and manually change the IP address so that the public IP is listed. This should not have the local (private) IP address of the VM or the local FQDN/hostname. This step is important. If you have two name servers you can add them both.


c) Click on the Start of Authority (SOA) tab. Under primary server put the internet FQDN of your name server. Under Responsible person put your email address but substitute the @ sign with a dot (.)


Click OK. You will notice that the system automatically creates A records for your name servers, pointing to the public internet IP address of your name servers.

d) Create all the DNS records you need for the zone. This could be A records, CNAME records, SRV records, etc.


Part 3: Register your name servers with your domain name provider

The steps for registering your own custom name servers varies from provider to provider. For, see this article. This is a required step, otherwise DNS queries for your domain name will not be forwarded to your name servers. For assistance, contact your domain name provider.

GoDaddy steps shown below.



These changes will take a few hours to propagate. You may not see results immediately.

Part 4: Test your servers

When you’re done use a tool like or to run a DNS test. You should get something like this:


On a machine connected to the internet, run NSLOOKUP against the name server you just created.


Websites like will help you check if your DNS has propagated throughout the world.


Attention VMware customers

by Shijaz Abdulla on 02.10.2013 at 21:20

If you run Microsoft software on VMware, I care about you. Which is why I have dedicated this post for this very important public service announcement.

Issued in public interest by yours truly.

Multifactor Authentication with Windows Azure: Simple & Easy

by Shijaz Abdulla on 25.09.2013 at 19:34

Windows Azure Multifactor Authentication (previously known as PhoneFactor) is now generally available.

The services helps you implement second factor authentication for your users using nothing but their cellphones. There are three possible scenarios. No tokens, no certificates, no hassle!

Watch this video to learn more!

Cloud Storage demystified in 6 minutes

by Shijaz Abdulla on 23.09.2013 at 15:51

This is by far one of the best cloud storage videos I have seen. Take a look:

An overview of the Microsoft hybrid cloud storage

Lync Ignite | 19-21 November | Dubai

by Shijaz Abdulla on 17.09.2013 at 13:06


Microsoft is conducting the Ignite Summit Dubai, 19-21 November 2013.  This summit will be held at the Conrad Dubai. 



The Ignite Summits are a series of limited invitation 3 day workshops for Microsoft’s most valued customers and partners providing deep-dive technical readiness on all productivity workloads from Microsoft product experts.  Ignite Summit Dubai will feature over 70 breakout session titles for the Office 365, Developer, Exchange, Project, SharePoint, Visio/Visio Services, and Yammer tracks. 

For partners in pre-sales technical roles, we are also running an exclusive partner-only Drumbeat Sales Readiness day one day prior to the Ignite Summit on 18 November.  The Drumbeat Sales readiness day provides partners with best practice sales training for Office 365.  The Drumbeat Sales day is at the same venue and you are welcome to attend both. 

During both of these events, you will also have the opportunity to interact and learn from your industry peers and representatives from Microsoft.

  • Please note that accommodations for the Ignite Summit and Drumbeat Sales day are not included, however there are discounted rooms available at the Conrad Dubai on a first come first serve basis.  Details are posted to the registration site.
  • There is no charge for this exclusive training, however we will be imposing a no-show fee of $600 (USD) if you register, but do not cancel your registration within ten (10) business days before the start of the first event.

Space is limited. RSVP today!

We look forward to having you participate in this exciting event! If you have questions, please contact the Microsoft Ignite Registration Desk.

Build a Windows Azure portal on-premises with the Windows Azure Pack!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 05.09.2013 at 20:31

Have you used Windows Azure’s clean and simple management portal and wished you could build the same kind of portal for your Private Cloud?

Well, now you can – with Windows Azure Pack.

Releasing soon, Windows Azure Pack for Windows Server is a collection of Windows Azure technologies, available to Microsoft customers at no additional cost for installation into your data center.


It runs on top of Windows Server 2012/Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 and, through the use of the Windows Azure technologies, enables you to offer a rich, self-service, multi-tenant cloud, consistent with the public Windows Azure experience.

This can make your Private Cloud interface look like one from a real service provider.

Windows Azure Pack Management Portal

Windows Azure Pack includes the following capabilities:

  • Management portal for tenants – a customizable self-service portal for provisioning, monitoring, and managing services such as Web Sites, Virtual Machines, and Service Bus.
  • Management portal for administrators – a portal for administrators to configure and manage resource clouds, user accounts, and tenant offers, quotas, and pricing.
  • Service management API – a RESTful API that helps enable a range of integration scenarios including custom portal and billing systems.
  • Web Sites – a service that helps provide a high-density, scalable shared web hosting platform for ASP.NET, PHP, and Node.js web applications. The Web Sites service includes a customizable web application gallery of open source web applications and integration with source control systems for custom-developed web sites and applications.
  • Virtual Machines – a service that provides infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capabilities for Windows and Linux virtual machines. The Virtual Machines service includes a VM template gallery, scaling options, and virtual networking capabilities.
  • Service Bus – a service that provides reliable messaging services between distributed applications. The Service Bus service includes queued and topic-based publish/subscribe capabilities.
  • Automation and Extensibility – the capability to automate and integrate additional custom services into the services framework, including a runbook editor and execution environment.

At the moment, the Windows Azure Pack is in “Preview”. Subscribe to this blog to be alerted when Windows Azure Pack becomes available!

Citrix announces VDI support on Windows Azure

by Shijaz Abdulla on 16.07.2013 at 10:30

You can now run VDI on Windows Azure with Citrix. Think of all the possibilities – Desktop-as-a-Service, your personal desktop on the cloud, accessible anytime, anywhere.

Citrix has announced that version 7 of its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) product XenDesktop can now be deployed on a Windows Azure virtual machine. This is now possible because Microsoft has made Remote Desktop Services (RDS) Subscriber Access Licensing (SAL) available on Azure, paving the way to install XenDesktop on a VM running on Azure.

In order to support this announcement, Citrix published two new Design Guides detailing how to design a VDI environment running on Windows Azure.

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