Azure Backup OOTB with VM Creation

OOTB stands for Out-of-the-Box. What does Azure Backup has to do with it? Well this blogpost explains how you can protect your VM with Azure Backup at the time of its creation.

Previously when you wanted to add an Azure VM to be protected by Azure Backup, you had to created a recovery services vault and  select the desired VM or you had to allow backup through the VM Management blade. The catch here is both these options are post creation activities. In my opinion, administrators often forget to protect their Azure VMs  post creation. With this new update, we can protect our Azure VMs during it’s creation.

When you create a VM in the portal under Settings  > Configure Optional Features blade you can find the backup option now.

Here you can create a new recovery services vault or select an existing one and then create or choose an existing backup policy to backup your Azure VM.

 

 

Azure Site Recovery | New Onboarding Experience for VMWare to Azure Workloads

Microsoft has introduced a new onboarding experience with the latest update to Azure Site Recovery service for VMware to Azure  workloads. In this blogpost we are going to explore how this new experience save time when you setup your ASR infrastructure on-premises.

Open Virtualization Format (OVF) template-based configuration server deployment

Previously you had to download and install the ASR configuration server package in to a VMWare VM running a supported OS which you have created earlier. With this update you will be using a OVF template, which you can directly import in a VMWare host as a guest VM that functions as the configuration server for your ASR setup. All the necessary software, except MySQL Server 5.7.20 and VMware PowerCLI 6.0, is pre-installed in this VM template.

Below video from Microsoft ASR product team explains how you can leverage the new OVF template setup.

Web Portal for Configuration Management

With this update, Microsoft has introduced a new web portal in the configuration server. All configuration servers deployed using the OVF template will use this portal modify the following settings.

New Mobility Service Deployment model

If you are familiar with VMWare to Azure scenario in ASR, then you know the difficulties of the mobility service push deployment method for your VMware VMs. Previously this required you to open firewall rules for WMI and File and Printer Sharing services in Windows for the protected VMs. The reason being that WMI and File and Printer Sharing services were used by ASR service to push install the mobility service on the protected VMs. Not every organization allows this firewall exception in production environments.

In the latest ASR release, VMware tools will be install/update mobility services on all protected VMware VMs replacing the need to open above mentioned services in firewall rules. One thing to keep in mind is that VMware tools based mobility service installation is available only if you update your configuration servers to version 9.13. xxxx.x.

Azure Site Recovery Comprehensive Monitoring

One of the challenges I had with Azure Site Recovery is to provide a Business Continuity Dashboard experience for the IT administrators in my customer organizations. Previously I was able to achieve somewhat of this task by creating Azure Dashboards that showcase the components of the ASR environment. However Microsoft has recently introduced an out-of-the-box comprehensive monitoring dashboard experience for Azure Site Recovery. This gives full visibility into whether business continuity objectives are being met for organizations and also a failover readiness model that monitors resource availability and suggests configurations based on best practices.

What’s new in Azure Site Recovery Monitoring

Below is the new dashboard you see when you navigate to the Overview section of your recovery services vault in Azure.

  • Enhanced vault overview page – The new vault overview page features a dashboard that presents everything you need to know to understand if your business continuity objectives are being met. In addition to the information needed to understand the current health of your business continuity plan, the dashboard features recommendations based on best practices, and in-built tooling for troubleshooting issues that you may be facing.
  • Replication health model – Continuous, real time monitoring of replication health of servers based on an assessment of a wide range of replication parameters.
  • Failover readiness model – A failover readiness model based on a comprehensive checklist of configuration and disaster recovery best practices, and resource availability monitoring, to help gauge your level of disaster preparedness.
  • Simplified troubleshooting experience – Start at the vault dashboard and dive deeper using an intuitive navigational experience to get in depth visibility into individual components, and additional troubleshooting tools including a brand new dashboard for replicated machines.
  • In-depth anomaly detection tooling to detect error symptoms, and offer prescriptive guidance for remediation.

Introducing PowerShell Core 6.0

Few Days back Microsoft has announced the general availability of PowerShell Core 6.0. It is a new edition of PowerShell that enables you to work with PowerShell regardless of your operating system, be it Windows, MacOS or Linux. It’s runtime is built on top of .NET Core 2.0 and it also exposes the APIs offered by .NET Core 2.0, so that you can use the same APIs in your PowerShell scripts, cmdlets etc…

PowerShell vs. PowerShell Core

 

Below are the key differences between the two editions of PowerShell.

 

Windows PowerShell

PowerShell Core

It is the edition of PowerShell built on top of .NET Framework

(sometimes referred to as “FullCLR”):

It is the edition of PowerShell built on top of .NET Core

(sometimes simplified to “CoreCLR”).

Because of its dependency on the .NET Framework, Windows PowerShell is only available on Windows (hence the name).

PowerShell Core is launched as pwsh.exe on Windows and pwsh on macOS and Linux

The released versions of Windows PowerShell include 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, and 5.1.

On PowerShell Core, $PSVersionTable.PSEdition is set to Core.

Windows PowerShell is available as a built-in component in Windows client and Windows Server.

Although PowerShell Core 6.0 is cross-platform, there is also a PowerShell Core 5.0/5.1 released exclusively as part of Microsoft Nano Server.

Windows PowerShell is launched as powershell.exe.

Any usage of .NET-based functionality (e.g. C# cmdlets, Add-Type, and the invocation of static .NET Methods), relies on the .NET Core runtime. This means PowerShell Core is limited to the functionality exposed by .NET Core and .NET Standard.

On Windows PowerShell 5.0/5.1, $PSVersionTable.PSEdition is set to Desktop.

 

Any usage of .NET-based functionality (e.g. C# cmdlets, Add-Type, and the invocation of static .NET Methods), relies on the .NET Framework runtime. This means Windows PowerShell’s .NET usage is limited to the functionality exposed by the .NET Framework and .NET Standard.

 

Continues to be supported via critical bug fixes in the newest releases of Windows and Windows Server

 

 

You can Download PowerShell Core depending on your OS platform using below links.

 

PowerShell Core on Windows https://aka.ms/getps6-windows

PowerShell Core on macOS and Linux https://aka.ms/getps6-linux

Azure Stack Policy Module for Azure

When you want to deploy your services across both Azure & Azure Stack, you need to make sure that both environments has the same resources and services available. Also the resources should be compatible with each other. The Azure Stack Policy module enables the same versioning and services that Azure Stack has in your Azure subscription. This will allow you to create a new Azure Policy that limits the available resources in your Azure environment to that of Azure Stack.

Let’s see how we can achieve this with PowerShell.

Installing the Policy Module

Apply the Policy

If you want to apply the default Azure Stack policy to your Azure subscription itself, you can use the below example.

Login-AzureRmAccount
$s = Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionName "<Azure Subscription Name>"
$policy = New-AzureRmPolicyDefinition -Name AzureStackPolicyDefinition -Policy (Get-AzsPolicy)
$subscriptionID = $s.Subscription.SubscriptionId
New-AzureRmPolicyAssignment -Name AzureStack -PolicyDefinition $policy -Scope /subscriptions/$subscriptionID

If you want to apply the policy into a particular resource group, you can execute the below snippet. This is useful when you have other Azure services running in the same Azure subscription which are not compatible with Azure Stack. Targeting a specific resource group to deploy the default Azure Stack policy will allow you to test apps that are developed for Azure Stack.

Login-AzureRmAccount
$rgName = '<resource group name>'
$s = Select-AzureRmSubscription -SubscriptionName "<Azure Subscription Name>"
$policy = New-AzureRmPolicyDefinition -Name AzureStackPolicyDefinition -Policy (Get-AzsPolicy)
New-AzureRmPolicyAssignment -Name AzureStack -PolicyDefinition $policy -Scope /subscriptions/$subscriptionID/resourceGroups/$rgName