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
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.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 16.04.2013 at 19:23
Windows Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering hit general availability worldwide today.
Furthermore, to eliminate price as a discussion when comparing to the competition, namely Amazon, we made a new pledge to our valued customers. Quite simply, we will match AWS prices for commodity services such as compute, storage and bandwidth. We may charge less, but never more.
“If you had concerns that Windows Azure was more expensive, we’re putting those concerns to rest today.”
Steven Martin, Operations GM – Azure
The reason is simple. We want to remove price as part of the equation. We’d rather compete on the services we provide and the complete vision of the Microsoft Cloud OS which provides rich:
- Infrastructure services
- Platform services
- Hybrid scenarios (move VMs from your datacenter to Windows Azure and back. Use common technologies across private & public clouds (Active Directory for identity, System Center for Management, Hyper-V for virtualization, .NET for development)
Furthermore, based on customer input, we are also announcing two new higher capacity virtual machines:
- A four virtual processor VM with 28 GB of memory
- An eight virtual processor VM with 56 gigabytes of memory!
These configurations enable workloads with increasing compute demands.
Oh, and BTW, yes, Azure IaaS runs 100% on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.
Finally, it should be noted just how fast Azure is growing. Bill Hilf is quoted as saying that Azure is growing at the rate of 1,000 customers A DAY and today supports over 200,000 active customers.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 09.04.2013 at 22:05
This is a continuation of my earlier post on Windows Azure Backup Preview.
In the previous post, we discussed how you can generate a self-signed certificate using makecert.exe on the server from which you intend to backup. If you want to backup from multiple servers, you need to export the certificate you generated on the first server along with the private key and import it into the Personal store of the other computers that you intend to backup from. Windows Azure identifies which online backup vault to upload to using this certificate. You can use the same certificate on computers in different networks, domains or workgroups.
- Upload the certificate by clicking Manage Certificateon the Windows Azure Management portal.
- Download and install the backup agent on your server. Currently, the agent supports Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Center 2012 SP1 Data Protection Manager. You will find the download link on the right pane.
- The Windows Azure Management portal gives you download links to agents for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Center Data Protection Manager. However, Scott Guthrie’s blog post mentions support for Windows Server 2008 R2, while a Microsoft employee suggests that WS2008R2 support might be added in coming months.
I have personally installed the Windows Azure backup agent on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and it worked flawlessly (although it will need installation of more prerequisites, like Windows Management Framework updates, PowerShell, etc)
- Installation is fairly straightforward. Having PowerShell installed is a prerequisite. The Windows Azure backup agent is updated via Windows Update.
- Open Windows Azure Backup using the icon placed on the desktop. On the right pane of the Windows Azure Backup console, click Register Server.
- Configure the proxy if needed.
- On the next screen browse for and select the self-signed certificate you created in Part 1of this post.
Click the Register button. The wizard will then proceed to fetch the backup vaults from Windows Azure.
- Select the Backup Vault you created.
- On the next screen, enter a passphrase to encrypt your backup with. This ensures confidentiality of the data you backup to Azure. Make sure you save the passphrase in a safe location.
- Click Register and you are now ready to configure backups for this server.
Scheduling a backup
- Click on Schedule Backup in the right pane of the MMC console.
- Select the items you need to backup.
- You can use Exclusion Settings to exclude certain file types from being backed up. Click Next.
- Set your backup frequency/schedule on the next screen. You can choose the days the backup should run and at what time. You can execute up to 3 scheduled backups per day.
- Click Change Propertiesif you wish to set network throttling settings, to optimize bandwidth usage during working hours.
Click OK and Next.
- On the next screen, choose your retention settings.
The more older backups you retain, the more storage you will consume on your Azure subscription.
- Click Next, review your configuration and click Finish to create the job.
The backup will start running according to the schedule.
On the Windows Azure Management Portal, you can see the servers you are backing up, the storage consumed and more information about your protected items.
Here’s a screenshot of Windows Azure backup agent running on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
If you want to backup beyond just files, and you want to use Windows Azure Backup with applications like SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, etc you need System Center 2012 SP1 Data Protection Manager. I will write a post on how to make this work as time permits.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 08.04.2013 at 23:59
Windows Azure Backup helps you protect important server data off-site with automated backup and restore.
What can you back up with Windows Azure Backup?
You can manage cloud backups from familiar backup tools in Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, or the Data Protection Manager component of Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1). Authorized users can easily recover backups to any server.
What other options are available?
For making cloud-based backups of enterprise data including application data, Hyper-V VMs and even VMware, you could consider the StorSimple solution, which is an snapshot-based cloud-integrated storage solution.
With incremental backups, only changes to files are transferred to the cloud. This helps ensure efficient use of storage, reduced bandwidth consumption, and point-in-time recovery of multiple versions of the data. Configurable data retention policies, data compression, and data transfer throttling offer you added flexibility and help boost efficiency. Backups are stored in Windows Azure and are “off-site”, reducing the need to secure and protect on-site backup media.
Windows Azure Backup is billed in units based on your average daily amount of compressed data stored over a monthly billing period, at a rate of $0.25 per gigabyte (GB) per month during preview. Once Backup is generally available, it will be billed at $0.50 per GB per month.
For more information on Windows Azure Backup, please visit the webpage. For more information on pricing, please visit the Pricing Details Webpage.
Activating the Preview
1. Open your Windows Azure Management Portal.
2. On the top bar, click Subscriptions and then choose Manage your subscriptions.
3. Choose Preview Features
4. Activate the Backup feature by clicking try it now.
5. If you go back to your Management Portal, you will now find Recovery on the left pane.
6. Create a new Backup Vault.
7. Once the vault is provisioned, start by clicking Manage Certificate.
To use your own self-signed certificate, follow these steps:
- Download Certificate Creation Tool (makecert.exe) from http://gallery.technet.microsoft.com/Certificate-Creation-tool-5b7c054d
- Open Command Prompt (cmd.exe) with Administrator privileges and run the following command, replacing <certName> with the name of your certificate : makecert.exe -r -pe -n CN=<certName> -ss my -sr localmachine -eku 188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.2 -e 12/12/2015 -len 2048 <CertName>.cer
I will publish another post soon, which details how you can deploy the backup agents on the server and configure the backups.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 30.03.2013 at 00:10
My WordPress site is hosted on Windows Azure and uses a MySQL database that was set up automatically on ClearDB.
For the past couple of days I have been getting warning emails from ClearDB, the provider of MySQL databases for Windows Azure customers that my database quota is almost full.
Tier size quota: 20 MB
Current database storage allocated: 98.28% (1.72% remaining)
Please note that the use of temporary tables as well as index sizes are included in our storage size calculations.
We suggest that you consider upgrading your database to the next service plan to ensure that it does not exceed our storage quota policy. Databases that exceed our service plan storage quotas are automatically locked to ensure the highest quality of service for all of our valued customers, and we don’t want you to experience an interruption of service.
If you’re getting these messages and you’re using the database to run a WordPress site, make sure you compact your database before going to pay for the next higher tier/plan on ClearDB. Chances are that you might not have to upgrade after all!
I simply used an Optimize Database wordpress plugin and it reduced the database size by 50% by removing revisions, trashed items, spammed items etc. Now I can continue using the free ClearDB database without incurring any additional costs.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 28.03.2013 at 19:35
A poster on “Scaling Apps for Windows Azure” is available for download based on Best Practices for the Design of Large-Scale Services on Windows Azure Cloud Services.
Download the poster here.
by Shijaz Abdulla
on 25.02.2013 at 23:03
You can access the Windows Azure blob storage using FTP. For this you will need to create a Windows Azure VM running Windows (or Linux for that matter) that will host the FTP service. Each VM gets its own public IP and DNS name on the internet which you can use to access your FTP service.
In this example, I will show you how you can create a Windows Server VM on Windows Azure and configure it as an FTP server.
Besides the method described above, there are also other options such as using open source software like FTP2Azure http://ftp2azure.codeplex.com/
1. First create a Windows Server VM on Windows Azure. I used Windows Server 2012.
2. Connect via RDP to the newly provisioned VM and install the Web Server (IIS) role. Make sure you enable the FTP Server role services for the IIS role. I am assuming you already know how to add roles to your Windows Server and use the Remote Desktop client on your computer.
3. Create FTP site on IIS: Open the IIS Manager console, right click on Sites, and choose Add FTP Site. Specify the FTP Site Name and Local Path for the FTP site. Click Next. Specify binding and SSL information. Hit Next. Specify authentication options, click Finish.
This is just a test environment, so I’m just going to use the local administrator account for FTP login. Of course, in production you wouldn’t want to do that for security purposes.
4. Open a Command Prompt, use the ftp command to see if you can connect locally on port 21. (You could also use telnet)
You should get something like this:
Connected to 127.0.0.1
220 Microsoft FTP Service
5. Set External IP address on your IIS FTP server. This should be the public IP of your Azure VM service. You will find this IP listed on the right side of the VM service page on the Windows Azure Management Portal.
6. Enabling ports for FTP access on Windows Azure:
For Active FTP, you only need ports 21 and 20 to be opened. However for Passive FTP you will need to define a range of ports on the IIS FTP server and open them in Windows Azure, by defining them as “endpoints”.
a) First, define the port range on IIS using an elevated Command line using APPCMD utility, located at the System32\inetsrv in the Windows folder.
appcmd set config /section:system.ftpServer/firewallSupport /lowDataChannelPort:7000 /highDataChannelPort:7014
Then restart the IIS service.
In this example, we are defining the port range as 7000-7014.
b) Now you need to define these port numbers as endpoints on Windows Azure. You could do it manually in the Windows Azure management portal, one by one. You do this by going to Virtual Machines > [Your VM] > Endpoints. However, defining 15 points manually is rather tedious, so you can leverage PowerShell commands.
To use PowerShell, you need to make sure you download and install Windows Azure PowerShell on your computer. Before you can use PowerShell cmdlets on Azure, you need to publish the settings file for your Azure account. You can use the Get-AzurePublishSettingsFile cmdlet, which will help you download the actual settings file that corresponds to your Windows Live ID associated with your Azure account.
After you download this settings file, you can import it to PowerShell by using the Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile cmdlet and you’re good to go.
To create the endpoints, use the command:
Get-AzureVM -ServiceName ‘ServiceName’ -Name ‘FTPPortalName’ | Add-AzureEndpoint -Name ‘FTP00′ -Protocol ‘TCP’ -LocalPort 7000 -PublicPort 7000 | Update-AzureVM
Get-AzureVM -ServiceName ‘ServiceName’ -Name ‘FTPPortalName’ | Add-AzureEndpoint -Name ‘FTP01′ -Protocol ‘TCP’ -LocalPort 7001 -PublicPort 7001 | Update-AzureVM
…and so on till you’re done with the 15 endpoints…
Get-AzureVM -ServiceName ‘ServiceName’ -Name ‘FTPPortalName’ | Add-AzureEndpoint -Name ‘FTP14′ -Protocol ‘TCP’ -LocalPort 7014 -PublicPort 7014 | Update-AzureVM
Once the commands are done executing, here is what you will have in the portal now that all endpoints have been defined:
7. Configure Windows Firewall to allow FTP traffic
Open an elevated command prompt on your server and issue the following command:
netsh AdvFirewall set global StatefulFTP enable
Then, restart the FTP service.
net stop FTPsvc
net start FTPsvc
8. Test externally
From your PC, open a command prompt and attempt to connect via FTP on the your VM’s public DNS name or public IP address (details will be on the Azure portal VM service details on the right side)
If you are successfully able to connect, you are all set! Fire up your favorite FTP client and you can now use FTP to upload and download files from new VM hosted on Windows Azure.
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by Shijaz Abdulla
on 25.02.2013 at 21:58
I read with interest an article on Forbes.com by Louis Columbus, titled Demystifying Cloud Vendors.
Louis shares his observations from a recent Gartner webinar titled How Cloud Computing changes the Vendor Landscape by David Mitchell, VP and Gartner Fellow.
Microsoft has the most ambitious cloud strategy of the nine companies profiled, and their cloud-first design initiative shows they have faith in Azure performing in the enterprise. Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 will first be released on Azure, then on-premise is a case in point. Microsoft is impatient to move into a subscription model with its evolving cloud platform.
Gartner’s analysis of Microsoft’s cloud strategy is shown in the following graphic.
Here is a summary chart showing Microsoft as having perfect balance between enabling technology and packaged cloud. Other major vendors on the list are Amazon, Google, Salesforce.com, IBM, VMware, HP, and Oracle among others.
For more information on how you can benefit from our cloud solutions, reach out to me or speak to your Microsoft account manager.