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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Increase Uptime: Remove hardware downtime, hardware maintenance contracts, and hardware refresh from the equation.
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”. )
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 iloveazure.net
a) Create the forward lookup zone named yourdomain.com, 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 godaddy.com, 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 dnsstuff.com or mxtoolbox.com 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 WhatsmyDNS.net will help you check if your DNS has propagated throughout the world.
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!
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
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 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!
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.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 25.06.2013 at 08:07
This has to be the biggest Oracle announcement of the year!
Oracle and Microsoft are announcing a partnership today where our joint customers will have increased choice and flexibility for deploying Oracle workloads in Windows Server private clouds, Windows Azure, or a hybrid of both. Just as enterprises have depended on Windows Server for years to run Oracle workloads on premises, they now will be able to run those workloads in Hyper-V virtualized environments or Windows Azure, with full certification and support from Oracle.
What this means:
- Our customers can run Oracle software on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and in Windows Azure with full support from Oracle.
- Oracle provides license mobility for customers who want to use their existing Oracle licenses to run Oracle software on Windows Azure.
- This makes Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V the only non-Oracle hypervisor that Oracle supports.
- This also makes Windows Azure the only properly licensed and fully supported public cloud option for Oracle customers.
- This will give us a huge boost in accelerating the momentum we are already seeing in Hyper-V and Azure, and should be positioned as a significant vote of confidence in our Cloud OS vision of providing a consistent platform across private and public clouds.
For additional information:
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 03.06.2013 at 22:07
Here are some interesting changes to the Windows Azure services as of June 3, 2013:
- The following services to be billed by the minute versus being billed by the hour:
a. VMs, Web Roles and Worker Roles
b. SQL Server and BizTalk Server running in Virtual Machines (no longer rounding to the nearest hour and no minimums).
Windows Azure is the only cloud provider today that bills you by the minute!
- The billing will stop for stopped VMs. No need to delete instances to manage and reduce compute costs.
- Reduced rates for MSDN subscribers when they use Windows Azure VMs.
- Public Endpoint Access Control Lists (ACLs) for VMs
- More Gateway Device Options when setting up Windows Azure Virtual Network: Citrix, F5 and WatchGuard.
- Windows Server 2012 R2 will be available after preview (also to be added to Virtual Machines Image Gallery, as a pre-built image).
- SQL Server AlwaysOn will be demo’ed during TechEd- to be generally available later this year for Virtual Machines.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 14.05.2013 at 20:57
Below is an invitation to a joint event between Qatar Datamation Systems, Microsoft, Commvault and HP focusing on Data Availability in the Hybrid Cloud.
It is time to re-think your IT investment and infrastructure to address the exponential growth and availability of data, there is a compelling need for a strategic alignment of the backup recovery, archiving and disaster recovery.
See beyond today and focus on sustained business operations that can withstand threats and pitfalls that befall today’s business establishment.
We are honored to invite you in collaboration with Commvault, Microsoft, and HP to demonstrate the approach for the unified Data Protection & Availability across the software, hardware and cloud stack. We will share our thoughts on what are ahead and compelling insights into investing in the business outcomes and the concept of the Hybrid Cloud Data Protection.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
8:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Sharq Village & SPA
08:45 – 09:30 Registrations & Welcome Refreshments
09:30 – 09:45 Keynote
09:45 – 10:45 Commvault: The exponential way forward in Data
10:45 – 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 – 12:00 Microsoft: Realizing the Hybrid Cloud With Windows
Azure & SQL
12:00 – 13:00 HP: The Converged Storage Approach
< Previous posts
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 12.05.2013 at 16:48
With the announcement of the Windows Azure Recovery Services Preview, you can now backup data to Windows Azure using the Windows Backup Agent or from DPM 2012 using the DPM Backup Agent.
We explored how to backup data using the Windows Agent in a previous post.
Now, let’s see how we can use System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 (DPM 2012) to backup data to Windows Azure.
1. Install System Center Data Protection Manager 2012 Service Pack 1 with all latest updates.
2. IMPORTANT: Follow part 1 if this post to create a backup vault on Windows Azure, and to create a self-signed certificate from the computer that you installed DPM on.
1. From the computer running DPM, open your Windows Azure Management Portal. Go to Recovery Services and click on the vault you created in part 1.
2. On the right, click Download Agent.
3. Choose the agent that works with DPM and install it on your DPM server.
4. Open the System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 DPM Administrator Console. Click Management in the left pane. Click on Online in the left pane.
5. Click Register.
6. Select the certificate that you created in part 1. Then select the corresponding vault on Windows Azure. Click Next.
7. Choose an internet proxy if needed. Click Next.
8. If you are running Windows Server 2012, you have the option of setting internet bandwidth throttling. This option is unavailable in Windows Server 2008 R2. Click Next.
9. Choose a folder for temporarily holding recoverable items during a recovery. This is more like a staging area and you need enough space as the size of data that you anticipate recovering in parallel. Click Next.
10. Choose a passphrase for encrypting your data. Make sure you save your passphrase in a safe place or you will not be able to restore your data. Click Register.
Your DPM server is now registered with Windows Azure.
You can now configure backup jobs to backup to cloud. The steps to configure these jobs are similar to normal backup jobs, except that you choose Windows Azure as your backup destination.