Category Archives: Azure Site Recovery

OMS and System Center: What's New in February 2018

The month of February was full of news and there are different updates that affected Operations Management Suite (OMS) and System Center. This article summarizes in concise terms to have a global vision and it contains the necessary references to learn more about it.

Operations Management Suite (OMS)

Log Analytics

Everyone who uses Azure ExpressRoute will be glad to know that you can now monitor it by using the Network Performance Monitor (NPM). This feature has been in previews for a few months and has now passed in the state of general availability. Among the features of this monitor solution we find:

  • Ability to view interactively, using the topology view of NPM, the various components (network on-premises, circuit provider edge, circuit ExpressRoute, edge Microsoft, and the Azure VMs) and latency measured in each hop. This allows you to easily identify any performance issues in connectivity and quickly locate the problematic segment of communication.
  • Ability to view the bandwidth usage of primary and secondary ExpressRoute circuit . Thanks to drill-down is also possible to intercept the bandwidth usage for each vNet connected to the ExpressRoute circuit.
  • Ability to create queries and custom views thanks to the fact that all details of the solution are available in the repository of Log Analytics and therefore you can use the native search functionality and correlation to suit your needs.
  • Ability to diagnose various problems of connectivity present in ExpressRoute circuit .

Figure 1 – Azure ExpressRoute Monitoring

For more information about how to configure the ExpressRoute monitor with NPM please visit the Microsoft's official documentation.

Also in Network Performance Monitor (NPM) was introduced the Service Endpoint Monitor with the integration into the monitor and into the performance of your application also of the performance end-to-end of the network. This feature allows you to create different types of tests (HTTP, HTTPS, TCP and ICMP), that must be carried out in key points of the network infrastructure, so you can quickly identify whether the problem encountered is related to the network or is related to the application. Through the use of the network topology map the problem and its nature is easily locatable. This is a feature in public preview whose characteristics are described in detail in this article.

Agent

This month the new version ofOMS agent for Linux systems fixes some bugs and also introduces an updated version of the components SCX and OMI. To obtain the updated version of the OMS agent you can access to the official GitHub page OMS Agent for Linux Patch v 1.4.4-210.

Figure 2 – Bug fixes and what's new for the OMS agent for Linux

Azure Backup

In this article is described how to build the solution of monitor in Log Analytics for Azure Backup. With this monitor solution, you can control the main aspects of Azure Backup as the backup and restore jobs, backup alert and use of cloud storage. You can do all cross Recovery Service vault and cross subscription, being able to take advantage of the features built into Log Analytics, such as the automated opening of ticket via webhooks or through integration with ITSM. It is a community solution, and each contributed is obviously welcome.

For Azure Backup was announced (in general availability) the possibility of creating consistent backups at the application layer for Linux virtual machines running on Azure. On Windows systems this is done using the VSS component, while for Linux VM it is made available one scripting framework through which you can run the pre-scripts and post-scripts to control the backup execution.

Figure 3 – Mechanism for realization of backup application consistent in VMs Linux on Azure

For more details on this you can consult theofficial announcement, while for more information about Linux virtual machine protection in Microsoft Azure, using Azure Backup, you can view the article: Azure Backup: the protection of Linux on Azure.

Azure Backup introduces the ability to protect natively Azure File Shares. This feature is currently in Public Preview and the main features are:

  • Chance, accessing Recovery Service vault, to make the discovery of storage acccount and detect files shares unprotected.
  • Large-scale protection: there is the possibility to back up multiple file shares contained in a storage account and apply a common security policy.
  • Instant and granular restore. The protection is based on file share snapshots and this allows you to quickly restore files selectively.
  • From the Azure portal you can explore the different restore point available to easily identify which files to restore.

Figure 4 – Backup of Azure File Shares

For further information you can consult theofficial announcement.

This month has been released a Mandatory Update for the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services agent (MARS). For all those who use Azure Backup you must install this update as soon as possible to avoid failures in backup and recovery tasks.

Azure Site Recovery

In Azure Site Recovery was made available a wait functionality, that allows to protect virtual machines having managed disk, in the replication scenario between different Azure regions, allowing greater flexibility for Disaster Recovery scenarios with systems in Azure.

Figure 5 – Enabling replication of a VM with Managed Disks

System Center

As announced in the last few months and as is already the case for the operating system and Configuration Manager, also the others System Center products, in particular, Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager will follow a release of updated versions every 6 months (semi-annual channel). This month there was the first release with the version 1801 of System Center.

Figure 6 – Summary of what's new in version 1801 of System Center

To know the details of what is new in this release, please consult the official announcement. Please remember that for belonging to the semi-annual channel support is guaranteed 18 months.

System Center Configuration Manager

Released the version 1802 for the branch Technical Preview of System Center Configuration Manager: Update 1802 for Configuration Manager Technical Preview Branch.

This release introduces a considerable number of innovations on different areas, including: OSD, Cloud Management Gateway, features of Windows 10 and Office 365, Software Center and Site Server High Availability.

Please note that the releases in the Technical Preview Branch help you evaluate the new features of SCCM and it is recommended to apply these updates only in test environments.

System Center Operations Manager

The feature called "Updates and Recommendations", introduced in SCOM 2016 for Management Packs from Microsoft, is useful to facilitate the process of discovery of appropriate MPs to monitor different workloads present in your infrastructure and keep them updated. This feature is enabled by well over 110 Microsoft workloads. Microsoft announced that it is extending this feature also for MPs produced and offered by third parties. In release 1801 of Operations Manager are currently covered MPs of the following external partners:

Figure 7 – Feature Updates and Recommendations with MPs of partners

As a result of the release of version 1801 of System Center were also made available the following new SCOM Management Packs:

System Center Service Manager

Released a new version of Service Manager Authoring Tool.

Evaluation of OMS and System Center

Please remember that in order to test and evaluate for free Operations Management Suite (OMS) you can access this page and select the mode that is most appropriate for your needs.

To test the various components of System Center 2016 you can access theEvaluation Center and, after registering, you can start the trial period.

Using Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner in VMware environments

When you have the need to implement Disaster Recovery scenarios towards Azure particularly in complex environments, through the solution Azure Site Recovery (ASR), you can use the Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner, recently released by Microsoft, to make a detailed assessment of the on-premises environment. The tool is designed to cover both Hyper-V and VMware environments . In this article, we will detail the use of the tool when you are trying to activate a Disaster Recovery plan with replication of VMware virtual machines to Azure.

What is the use of this tool?

ASR Deployment Planner performs a detailed assessment of the on-premises environment, aimed at using the solution Azure Site Recovery (ASR), and provides elements to consider in order to contemplate the various operations needed to effectively implement the plan of DR: replica, virtual machine failover and DR-Drill. The tool also performs an estimate of Azure resources required for the protection of on-premises virtual machines, reporting information about costs for the use of ASR.

In the presence of VMware environments if you have the need to address real migration scenarios towards Azure, the most appropriate tool to use to carry out the assessment of the environment is Azure Migrate.

How to use the tool?

The use of ASR Deployment Planner involves two main stages. The first of profiling, during which the necessary information is collected from the environment VMware, and the second of report generation to perform the analysis.

ASR Deployment Planner can be downloaded at this address. This is a compressed folder whose contents should be copied on the system on which you intend to run the tool. ASRDeploymentPlanner.exe is the command line tool that must be executed with the appropriate parameters, there is no required installation.

Profiling and measurement of throughput

The machine on which you intend to make the profiling or calculating the throughput must meet the following requirements:

  • Operating System: Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Hardware requirements: 8 vCPUs, 16 GB RAM and 300 GB HDD.
  • Software Requirements: .Net Framework 4.5, VMware vSphere PowerCLI 6.0 R3, Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012.
  • Internet access to Azure.

In addition the following conditions are required:

  • Presence of an Azure storage account (only if you want to calculate the throughput).
  • VMware vCenter statistics level set at level 2 or higher.
  • Ability to connect to vCenter server/ESXi host on port 443.
  • User with at least Read-only permission to access the VMware vCenter server/VMware vSphere ESXi.

In general it is a good idea to perform the profiling and the calculation of throughput on the Configuration Server you intend to use, or on a system with similar characteristics.

The tool is able to perform the profiling only for virtual machines with RDM and VMDK disks. There is no collection of information of VMs with iSCSI or NFS disks; in this regard it should be noted that Azure Site Recovery does not support virtual machines with these types of disks in a VMware environment.

During the profiling activity the tool connects to the vCenter Server or vSphere ESXi host to collect performance data for virtual machines. This implies that the data collection activities has no impact on the performance of virtual machines because there is no direct connection. The profiling is done once every 15 minutes as not to impact on VMware systems, but the query that is performed, however, collects performance data for all the time interval.

The profiling activity requires the presence of a text file containing the list of virtual machines (a name or an IP address for each row) you intend to examine. This file you can create it manually or, with the following commands, performed from the VMware vSphere PowerCLI console, you can extrapolate the list of all virtual machines on the vCenter or on vSphere ESXi host.

Figure 1 - Extrapolation of VMs from the vCenter

Figure 2 – Example of the file containing the list of VMs

At this point you can begin the profiling process. For production environments it is recommended to run it for at least a week, so you have a sufficiently long period of observation to achieve accurate profiling. To get the complete list of required and optional parameters, you can run the following command: ASRDeploymentPlanner.exe-Operation StartProfiling /?.

Among the optional parameters you can also specify an Azure Storage Account with its key to calculate the throughput that Site Recovery can reach during the replication process to Azure.

Figure 3 -Example of running the profiling

If the server, on which profiling process starts, be rebooted or goes in crash, the data collected would remain and you can simply restart the tool.

The tool can also be used for throughput calculation.

Figure 4 - Example of throughput measurement

The process of measuring the throughput will upload files with extension .VHD on the storage account specified. Upon completion of the upload these files are removed automatically from the storage account.

Report Generation

The machine on which you want to generate the report must have installed Excel 2013 or a higher version.

After the profiling process you can generate the report containing the output of the assessment. When you create the report, you must run the tool in report-generation mode. In this case to consult all the possible parameters you should run the command ASRDeploymentPlanner.exe -Operation GenerateReport /?.

Figure 5 - Example of the command for the report generation

The report generated is called DeploymentPlannerReport_xxx.xlsm within which you can see different information, including:

  • An estimate of the network bandwidth required for the initial replication process (initial replication) and for delta replication.
  • The type of Storage (standard or premium) required for each VM.
  • The total number of storage accounts (standard and premium) required.
  • The number of Configuration Server and Process Server you need to implement on-premises.
  • The number of VMs that can be protected in parallel to complete the initial replication at any given time.
  • Estimating the throughput attainable by ASR (on-premises to Azure).
  • An assessment of the supported virtual machines, providing details about the disks (number, its size and IOPS) and the type of the OS.
  • Estimation of DR costs, for use it in a specific region of Azure.

Figure 6 - Home page of the generated report

To obtain detailed information concerning the analysis of the report please visit the Microsoft's official documentation.

In addition to being present in the home page of the report a summary of the estimated costs, there is also a specific tab containing the details of the cost analysis.

Figure 7 – Section on cost estimates in the report generated

For more details on the information and its interpretation, you can check the official documentation.

Conclusions

Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner is a very useful tool that, making a detailed assessment of the on-premises environment, allows not to omit any aspect to achieve in the best way a Disaster Recovery plan towards Azure, using Azure Site Recovery (ASR). This tool also allows you to have with great precision an estimate of the costs that you need support for the disaster recovery plan, so you can make the necessary evaluations.

OMS and System Center: What's New in January 2018

The new year has begun with different ads from Microsoft regarding what's new in Operations Management Suite (OMS) and System Center. This article summarizes briefly with the necessary references in order to learn more about.

Operations Management Suite (OMS)

Log Analytics

The release of theIT Service Management Connector (ITSMC) for Azure provides a bi-directional integration between Azure monitoring tools and ITSMC solutions such as: ServiceNow, Provance, Cherwell, and System Center Service Manager. With this integration you can:

  • Create or update work-items (event, alert, incident) in ITSM solutions on the basis of alerts present in Azure (Activity Log Alerts, Near real-time metric alerts and Log Analytics alerts).
  • Consolidate in Azure Log Analytics data related to Incident and Change Request.

To configure this integration you can consult the Microsoft's official documentation.

Figure 1 – ITSM Connector dashboard of the Log Analytics solution

Agent

This month the new version ofOMS agent for Linux systems fixes important bugs also introducing an updated version of the components SCX and OMI. Given the large number of bug fixes included in this release the advice is to consider the adoption of this upgrade. To obtain the updated version of the OMS agent you can access to the official GitHub page OMS Agent for Linux Patch v 1.4.3-174.

Figure 2 – Bug fixes and what's new for the OMS agent for Linux

Azure Backup

During the process of creating virtual machines from Azure portal now there is the ability to enable the protection via Azure Backup:

Figure 3 – Enabling backup while creating a VM

This ability improves in a considerable way the experience of creation of the virtual machine from the Azure Portal.

Azure Site Recovery

Azure Site Recovery allows you to handle different scenarios to implement Disaster Recovery plans, including replication of VMware virtual machines to Azure. In this context the following important changes have been introduced:

  • Release of a template in the format Open Virtualization Format (OVF) to deploy the Configuration Server. This allows you to deploy the template in your virtualization infrastructure and have a system with all the necessary software already preinstalled, with the exception of MySQL Server 5.7.20 and VMware PowerCLI 6.0, to speed up the deployment and the registration to Recovery Service Vault of the Configuration Server.
  • Introduced in Configuration Server a web portal to drive the main configuration actions necessary such as proxy server settings, details and credentials to access the vCenter server and the management of the credentials to install or update the Mobility Service on virtual machines involved in the replication process.
  • Improved the experience for deploying the Mobility Service on virtual machines. Since the 9.13.xxxx.x version of the Configuration Server would be used VMware tools to install and update the Mobility Service on all VMware virtual machines protected. This means that you no longer need to open firewall ports for WMI and for File and Printer Sharing services on Windows systems, previously used to perform the push installation of the Mobility Service.

The monitoring features included natively in Azure Site Recovery have been greatly enriched for having a complete and immediate visibility. The Panel Overview of Recovery Service Vault is now structured, for the section Site Recovery, as follows:

Figure 4 – Azure Site Recovery dashboard

These the various sections, which are updated automatically every 10 minutes:

  1. Switch between Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery dashboards
  2. Replicated Items
  3. Failover test success
  4. Configuration issues
  5. Error Summary
  6. Infrastructure view
  7. Recovery Plans
  8. Jobs

For more details on the various sections you can see the official documentation or view this short video.

Known Issues

Please note the following possible problem in the execution of backup of Linux VMs on Azure. The error code returned is UserErrorGuestAgentStatusUnavailable and you can follow this workaround to resolve the error condition.

System Center

System Center Configuration Manager

Released the version 1801 for the branch Technical Preview of System Center Configuration Manager: Update 1801 for Configuration Manager Technical Preview Branch.

Among the new features in this release there are:

  • Ability to import and run signed scripts and monitor the execution result.
  • The distribution point can be moved between different primary sites and from a secondary site to a primary site.
  • Improvement in the client settings for the Software Center, with the ability to view a preview before the deployment.
  • New settings for Windows Defender Application Guard (starting with Windows 10 version 1709).
  • Ability to view a dashboard with information about the co-management.
  • Phased Deployments.
  • Support for hardware inventory string longer than 255 characters.
  • Improvements in the scheduling of Automatic Deployment Rule.

Please note that the releases in the Technical Preview Branch help you evaluate the new features of SCCM and it is recommended to apply these updates only in test environments.

In addition to System Center Configuration Manager current branch, version 1710 was issued an update rollup that contains a large number of bug fixes.

Evaluation of OMS and System Center

Please remember that in order to test and evaluate for free Operations Management Suite (OMS) you can access this page and select the mode that is most appropriate for your needs.

To test the various components of System Center 2016 you can access to the’Evaluation Center and after the registration you can start the trial period.

OMS and System Center: What's New in December 2017

Compared to what we were used to seeing in recent months, during the month of December, also because of the holiday period, have been announced by Microsoft a few news about Operations Management Suite (OMS) and System Center. This article will be made a summary accompanied by references required for further study.

Operations Management Suite (OMS)

Log Analytics

In Azure Monitor was including the ability to view and define alert of Log Analytics. This is a feature in preview that allows you to use Azure Monitor as a centralized point of management and visualization of alerts.

Figure 1- Defining a Log Analytics alert in Azure Monitor (preview)

This month the new version of the’OMS agent for Linux systems fixes in particular a major bug concerning the DSC package (omsconfig) that due to a possible hang prevents sending data to the OMS workspace. In this release, there are not new features. To obtain the updated version you can access to the official GitHub page OMS Agent for Linux Patch v 1.4.2-125.

Figure 2 – Bug Fix list for the new OMS agent for Linux

Azure Automation

In Azure Monitor, within Action Groups was introduced the possibility to define a Azure Automation Runbook as action type. It is a further integration that enables you to have an effective alerting platform to take action not only for workloads running on Azure, but independently from their location.

Figure 3 – Defining an action based on Automation Runbook

Protection and Disaster Recovery

Azure Backup introduced support for the protection of Azure virtual machines with discs, managed or unmanaged, encrypted using Bitlocker Encryption Key (BEK). This feature extends the possibilities of protection of encrypted virtual machines, already supported previously in the Bitlocker Encryption Key scenario (BEK) and Key Encryption Key (KEK), allowing to obtain with ease a high level of security in these protection scenarios. For further information you can consult theofficial announcement.

Figure 4 – Protection of VM encrypted using Bitlocker Encryption Key (BEK)

Microsoft has released Azure Site Recovery Deployment Planner a very useful tool that can be used when you plan to implement a disaster recovery plan through to Azure Azure Site Recovery (ASR). ASR Deployment Planner is able to make a detailed assessment of the on-premises environment, targeted use of ASR, and provides the necessary elements to be taken into consideration in order to contemplate effectively the various operations required by the DR plan (replica, virtual machine failover and DR-Drill). The tool works in VMware and Hyper-V also includes a cost estimate for the use of ASR and resources necessary for the protection of Azure virtual machines on-premises. This tool currently can also be useful to make the necessary assessments when you have the need to address real migration scenarios from Hyper-V to Azure. This is because the instrument Azure Migrate, designed specifically to assess migration scenarios, allows you to present to the assessment only of VMware environments. The support for Hyper-V in Azure Migrate will be introduced in the coming months. ASR Deployment Planner can be downloaded at this address and includes the following features:

  • Estimates of the network bandwidth required for the initial replication process (initial replication) and for delta replication.
  • Indicates the type of Storage (standard or premium) required for each VM.
  • Indicates the total number of storage accounts (standard and premium) required.
  • For VMware environments, indicates the number of Configuration Server and Process Server you need to implement on-premises.
  • For Hyper-V environments, provides guidance on additional storage needed on-premises.
  • For Hyper-V environments, indicates the number of VMs that can be protected in parallel (through batch) and the order to be followed in order to successfully activate the initial replication.
  • For VMware environments, specifies the number of VMs that can be protected in parallel to complete the initial replication at any given time.
  • Estimate the throughput attainable by ASR (on-premises to Azure).
  • Perform an assessment, of the supported virtual machines, providing details about the disks (number, its size and IOPS) and the type of the OS.
  • Estimate the costs of DR, for use it in a specific region of Azure.

For detailed information about using the tool you can consult the official documentation relating to the specific scenario:

Figure 5 – Sample reports generated by ASR Deployment Planner

System Center

System Center Configuration Manager

Released the version 1712 for the branch Technical Preview of System Center Configuration Manager. The new features in this update are:

  • Improvements on the Surface Device dashboard, that allows you to view the firmware version of Surface devices, as well as the version of the operating system.
  • Dashboard improvements in Office 365 client management.
  • Multiple installation of applications by accessing the Software Center.
  • Client can be configured to respond to PXE requests without adding a distribution point role (Client-based PXE).

Please note that the releases in the Technical Preview Branch help you evaluate the new features of SCCM and it is recommended to apply these updates only in test environments.

Microsoft allows you to test and evaluate for free Operations Management Suite (OMS) by accessing this page and selecting the mode you find most suitable for your needs.

Azure Site Recovery: disaster recovery of VMware virtual machines

The solution Azure Site Recovery (ASR) protects virtual or physical systems, hosted both Hyper-V environment that VMware, automating the replication process to a secondary data center or to Microsoft Azure. With a single solution you can implement Disaster Recovery plans for heterogeneous environments orchestrating the replication process and actions needed for the successful recovery. Thanks to this solution, the DR plan will be easily available in any eventuality, even the most remote, to ensure business continuity. Recently, the solution has been expanded while also providing the ability to implement a disaster recovery strategy for Azure virtual machines, allowing you to enable replication between different regions.

In this article I'll show you how ASR can be used to replicate virtual machines in VMware environment to Azure (scenario 6 in the following figure), examining the characteristics and technical procedure to be followed. The following illustration shows all the scenarios currently covered by ASR solution:

Figure 1 – Scenarios covered by Azure Site Recovery

The replication scenario of VMware virtual machines to Azure requires the presence of the following architecture:

Figure 2 - Architecture in the replication scenario VMware to Azure

In order to activate the replication process is required the presence of at least one on-premises server on which you install the following roles:

  • Configuration Server: coordinates communications between the on-premises world and Azure, and manages the data replication.
  • Process Server: This role is installed by default with the Configuration Server, but may be provided more Process Server based on the volume of data to be replicated. It acts as a replication gateway, then receives replication data, performs an optimization through caching and compression mechanisms, provides encryption and sends them to the storage in the Azure environment. This role is also responsible to make the discovery of virtual machines on VMware systems.
  • Master target server: even this role is installed by default with the Configuration Server, but for deployment with a large number of systems can be more servers with this role. Take action during the failback process of resources from Azure by managing replication data.

On all virtual machines subject to the replication process is required the presence of Mobility Service, that is installed by Process Server. It is a special agent in charge of replicating the data in the virtual machine.

Following describes the process to follow to make the deployment of on-premises and Azure components required to enable replication of VMware virtual machines to Microsoft's public cloud.

The core component required on Azure side is the Recovery Service Vault within which, in the section Site Recovery, you can start the configuration process controlled by the chosen scenario.

Figure 3 – Choice of replication scenario of VMware virtual machines within the Recovery Service Vault

Then you must install on the on-premises machine the Configuration Server by following the steps listed:

Figure 4 – Steps to follow to add the Configuration Server

In this section of the Azure portal it is possible to download the Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Unified Setup and the key required for the registration of the server to the vault. Before starting the installation make sure that the machine on which you intend to install the Configuration Server be able to access the public URLs of the Azure service and that is enabled during the setup the web traffic on port 80 needed to download the MySQL component used by the solution.

The setup prompts you for the following information:

Figure 5 – Choice of roles to install

Select the first option for installing the roles Configuration Server and Process Server. The second option is useful if you need to install additional Process Server to enable a scale out deployment.

Figure 6 - Accept the license agreement by MySQL Community Server

Figure 7 - Key selection required for the registration to the Site Recovery Vault

Figure 8 - Choice of the methodology to access the Azure Services (direct or via proxy)

Figure 9 – Check to verify prerequisites

Figure 10 – Setting passwords for MySQL

Figure 11 – Further check on the presence of the required components to protect VMware VMs

Figure 12 – Choice of the installation path

Installation requires approximately 5 GB of available space, but are recommend at least 600 GB for the cache.

Figure 13 — Select the network interface and the port to use for replication traffic

Figure 14 – Summary of installation choices

Figure 15 - Setup of the different roles and components successfully completed

At the end, the setup shows the connection passphrase which is used by the Configuration Server, that is good to save with care.

Then you must configure the credentials that will be used by Azure Site Recovery to discover virtual machines in the VMware environment and for the installation of the Mobility Service on virtual machines.

Figure 16 - Definition of the credentials used by the service

After complete these steps you can select the Configuration Server from the Azure portal and then define VMware system data (vcenter or vSphere) with which to interface.

Figure 17 - Select the Configuration Server and add vCenter / vSphere host

On completion of this configuration it is necessary to wait few minutes to allow the Process Server to perform the discovery of VMware virtual machine on the specified environment.

Then you need to define the settings for the target of the replica:

  • On which subscription and what recovery model (ASM or ARM).
  • Which storage account use to host the replicated data.
  • vNet on which attest the replicated systems.

Figure 18 – Target replication settings

The next step involves defining the replication policy in terms of RPO (in minutes), retention of the recovery points (expressed in hours) and how often make consistent snapshot at the application level.

Figure 19 – Creation of the replication policy

Upon completion of this task is proposed to carry out the analysis of your environment using the tool Deployment Planner (available directly through the link in the Azure Portal) in order to ensure that the requirements, network resources and storage resources are sufficient to ensure the proper operation of the solution.

Figure 20 - Steps of infrastructure preparation completed successfully

After completing the infrastructure preparation steps you can activate the replication process:

Figure 21 - Source and Replica Target

Figure 22 - Selection of the virtual machines and of the related discs to be replicated

This section also specifies which account the Process Server will use to install the Mobility Service on each VMware virtual machine (account configured previously as documented in Figure 16).

Figure 23 - Replication policies selection and optionally enable Multi-VM consistency

If the "Multi-VM consistency" option will be selected it will create a Replication Group within which will be included the VMs that you want to replicate together for using shared recovery point. This option is recommended only when you need a consistency during the fail over to multiple virtual machines that deliver the same workload. Furthermore, by activating this option you should keep in mind that to activate the system failover process is necessary to set up a specific Recovery Plan and you can not enable failover for a single virtual machine.

At the end of these configurations you can activate the replication process

Figure 24 – Activation of the replication process and its result

Figure 25 - State of the replica for the VMware virtual machine

One of the biggest challenges when implementing a Disaster Recovery scenario is to have a chance to test its functionality without impacting production systems and its replication process. Equally true is that do not test properly the DR process is almost equivalent to not having it. Azure Site Recovery allow you to tests in a very simple way the Disaster Recovery procedure to assess the effectiveness:

Figure 26 – Testing the Failover procedure

Figure 27 - Outcome of the Test Failover process

Conclusions

Being able to rely on a single solution as Azure Site Recovery that lets you enable and test procedures for business continuity in heterogeneous infrastructures, contemplating even virtual machines in VMware environment, certainly has many advantages in terms of flexibility and effectiveness. ASR makes it possible to deal with the typical obstacles encountered during the implementation of Disaster Recovery plans reducing the cost and complexity and increasing the levels of compliance. The same solution can also be used to deal with the actual migration to Azure with minimal impact on end users thanks to nearly zero application downtime.

OMS and System Center: What's New in November 2017

In November there have been several announcements from Microsoft concerning Operations Management Suite (OMS) and System Center. This article will summarize briefly with the necessary references to be able to conduct further studies.

Operations Management Suite (OMS)

Log Analytics

As already announced since 30 October 2017 Microsoft has launched the upgrade process of the OMS workspaces not yet updated manually. In this regard has been released this useful document that shows the differences between a legacy OMS workspace and a updated OMS workspace, with references for further details.

Solutions

Those that use circuit ExpressRoute will be glad to know that Microsoft announced the ability to monitor it through Network Performance Monitor (NPM). This is a feature currently in preview that allows you to monitor connectivity and performance between the on-premises environment and vNet in Azure in the presence of ExpressRoute circuit. For more details about the features announced you can consult theofficial article.

Figure 1 – Network map showing details of ExpressRoute connectivity

Agent

As usual it was released a new version of the OMS Agent for Linux systems that now takes place on a monthly basis. This release fixes bugs related diagnostics during agents onboarding. Are not being introduced new features. To obtain the updated version please visit the official GitHub page OMS Agent for Linux Patch v 1.4.2-124.

Protection and Disaster Recovery

Azure Backup always protected backups from on-premises world toward Azure using encryption that takes place using the passphrase defined during the configuration of the solution. To protect VMs in Azure the recommendation for greater security in the backup was to use VMs with disk-encrypted. Now Azure Backup uses Storage Service Encryption (SSE) to do the encryption of backups of virtual machines on Azure, allowing to obtain in an integrated manner in the solution a mechanism for the implementation of the backup security. This also will happen to existing backup automatically and through a background task.

Microsoft, in order to bring more clarity with regard to pricing and licensing of Azure Site Recovery, updated the FAQ which you can see in the official page of pricing of the solution.

System Center

As is already the case for the operating system and System Center Configuration Manager, the other System Center products, in particular, Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, and Data Protection Manager will follow a release of updated versions every 6 months (semi-annual channel). The goal is to rapidly deliver new capabilities and to ensure a speedy integration with the cloud world, which is essential given the speed with which it evolves. In November was announced the System Center preview version 1711 which you can download at this address.

Figure 2 – Summary of what's new in System Center preview version 1711

To know the details of the new features in this release, please consult theofficial announcement.

System Center Configuration Manager

For System Center Configuration Manager current branch version 1706 was issued an important update rollup you should apply as it solves a lot of problems.

Released the version 1710 for the Current Branch (CB) of System Center Configuration Manager that introduces new features and major improvements in the product. Among the main innovations of this update definitely emerge the possibilities offered by the Co-management that expand the possibilities for device management using either System Center Configuration Manager and Microsoft Intune.

Figure 3 – Features and benefits of Co-management

For a complete list of new features introduced in this version of Configuration Manager, you can consult theofficial announcement.

Released the version 1711 for the Technical Preview branch of System Center Configuration Manager. The new features in this update are:

  • Improvements in the new Run Task Sequence step.
  • User interaction when installing applications in the System context even when running a task sequence.
  • New options, in the scenario of using Configuration Manager associated with Microsoft Intune, to manage compliance policy for devices Windows 10 related to Firewall, User Account Control, Windows Defender Antivirus, and OS build versioning.

I remind you that the releases in the Technical Preview Branch allows you to evaluate in preview new SCCM functionality and is recommended to apply these updates only in test environments.

Released a updated version of the Configuration Manager Client Messaging SDK.

System Center Operations Manager

Released the new wave of the SQL Server Management Packs (version 7.0.0.0):

The Management Packs for SQL Server 2017 can be used for the monitor of SQL Server 2017 and subsequent releases (version agnostic), this allows you to avoid having to manage different MPs for each version of SQL Server. The controls for versions of SQL Server earlier than 2014 are included in the generic MP "Microsoft System Center Management Pack for SQL Server".

System Center Service Manager

Microsoft has published a series of tips and best practices to be followed during Authoring Management Pack of System Center Service Manager (SCSM).

Please remember that in order to test and evaluate for free Operations Management Suite (OMS) you can access this page and select the mode that is most appropriate for your needs.

Azure Site Recovery: disaster recovery of Virtual Machines in Azure

In azure, there is the possibility of using Azure Site Recovery (ASR) to implement easily an efficient disaster recovery strategy by enabling replication of virtual machines among different regions of Azure. Although in Azure are present integrated mechanisms to deal with localized hardware failures, it may be appropriate to implement a solution that can ensure applications compliance , performed on virtual machines in Azure, against both catastrophic events, such as earthquakes or hurricanes, that software issues that may impact on the functioning of an entire region of Azure. This article will show you how to configure a virtual machine replication and how to enable a disaster recovery scenario.

This feature has been defined one-click replication because of its simplicity, it is currently in public preview and it is usable in all the Azure regions where ASR is available.

Before you enable this functionality is essential to ensure that the necessary requirements are met and to do that you can see the compatibility matrix for the replication scenario of virtual machines among different regions.

By accessing the Azure Portal it is possible to select the virtual machine that you intend to replicate and perform the configuration in the section Disaster recovery:

Figure 1 – Disaster Recovery Section of the VM

Selecting Disaster Recovery shows the following configuration panel:

Figure 2 – VM replication configuration panel

The first required parameter is the target region where you want to replicate the virtual machine. The replication activation process also create the necessary Azure artifacts (Resource Group, Availability Set if used by the selected VM, Virtual Network and Storage accounts) or you can select them at will if they were created earlier.

Figure 3 – The resources needed in the region target

The replication process also requires the presence of a Cache Storage Accounts in the source region that is used as a temporary repository to store changes before they are reported in the storage account defined in the target region. This is done to minimize the impact on production applications that reside on the replicated VM.

Figure 4 - Cache Storage Account in the replication process

Always in the configuration panel is required which is proposed Vault Recovery Services use creating a replication policy that defines the recovery point retention and the rate at which consistent snapshots are made at the application level.

By selecting Enable Replication will begin the creation process of Azure resources required, the VM is registered in the selected Recovery Services Vault and replication process is activated.

The Disaster Recovery section lists details about the replication and it is possible to perform a failover or a test failover:

Figure 5 - Details relating to the replication process of the VM and activation of the failover process

The procedure Test Failover Specifies which recovery point using between: latest, latest processed, latest app-consistent or custom. In addition it is possible to select in which virtual network attest the virtual machine during the test failover in order to perform the test without generating any impact on the production systems.

Figure 6 – Test Failover of a VM

Similar the Failover panel that allows you to specify only which recovery point to use as the network on which attest the machine has already been defined in the configuration phase.

Figure 7 – Failover of a VM

Only when you start the Failover process affected virtual machines are created on the target resource group, attested to the target vNet and configured in the availability set appropriate when used.

Figure 8 – Failover process

Conclusions

Thanks to this new feature introduced in Azure Site Recovery it is possible to activate with ease replication of virtual machines in different Azure regions, without the necessity of having expensive secondary infrastructure to activate a disaster recovery plan.

OMS and System Center: What's New in July 2017

We inaugurate a new series of articles that will be published on a monthly basis and that will reflect the main changes, updates and information released within the last month about System Center and Operations Management Suite (OMS). It will be a summary accompanied by references for any insights.

Operations Management Suite (OMS)

Agent

  • Released the updated version of the OMS agent for Linux systems that solved some bugs and introduced some new features useful to extend the capabilities of OMS: OMS Agent for Linux GA v 1.4.0-12.

Figure 1 – Bug fixes and what's new for the OMS agent for Linux

 

Protection and Disaster Recovery

  • In Azure Backup introduced the ability to instant recovery of files and folders using the VM backup Azure. This feature is available for both Windows and Linux virtual machines and allows you to act quickly without having to restore the entire VM to retrieve only certain items: Instant File Recovery from Azure VM backups is now generally available.

Figure 2 – Instant File Recovery

 

System Center

System Center Configuration Manager

  • Released the version 1706 for the Current Branch (CB) of System Center Configuration Manager that introduces new features and major improvements in the product.

Among the various new products made by this update mainly these issues emerge:

  • Ability to manage driver updates for Microsoft Surface.
  • Improving the user experience for Office updates 365.
  • Added the ability in hardware inventory to collect information about how to enable the SecureBoot and ownership of the TPM.
  • Important new capabilities in mobile device management in SCCM architectures associated with Microsoft Intune.

For more details about it you can see the article: Now Available: Update 1706 for System Center Configuration Manager.

The update will be available starting from the coming weeks and it will appear a notification on node "Updates and Servicing" the SCCM console when it was performed on automatic download. To force the update you can use this PowerShell script.

  • If you try to install a new Cloud Management Gateway (CMG) in Configuration Manager current branch version 1702 You may not be able to complete provisioning. In this regard has been released the hotfix described in KB 403015 (Provisioning not completed when creating a Cloud Management Gateway in System Center Configuration Manager version 1702).

 

System Center Operations Manager

Several SCOM Management Pack 2016 We released a new updated version:

How to migrate to Microsoft Azure systems using OMS Azure Site Recovery

In the article OMS Azure Site Recovery: solution overview Azure Site Recovery characteristics were presented and examined aspects that make it an effective and flexible solution for creating business continuity and disaster recovery strategies for your data center. In this article we will see how to use Azure Site Recovery to migrate even potentially heterogeneous environments to Microsoft Azure. Increasingly we are opposite the ’ need not only to create new virtual machines in Microsoft public cloud, but also to migrate existing systems. To perform these migrations you can adopt different strategies, including also appears Azure Site Recovery (ASR) that allows us to easily migrate virtual machines on Hyper-V, VMware, physical systems and workloads of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to Microsoft Azure.

The following table shows what is possible migration scenarios deal with ASR:

Source Destination Supported Guest OS type
Hyper-V 2012 R2 Microsoft Azure All supported guest OSS in Azure
Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1 and 2012 Microsoft Azure Windows and Linux *
VMware and physical servers Microsoft Azure Windows and Linux *
Amazon Web Services (Windows AMIs) Microsoft Azure Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 +

* Limited support to Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 +, CentOS 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, Oracle Enterprise Linux 6.4, 6.5, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3

When you need to perform migration task is usually critically important respect the following points:

  • Minimize downtime of production workloads during the migration process.
  • Have the opportunity to test and validate the solution works in the target environment (Azure in the specific case) before the migration.
  • Make a single migration of data useful to the validation process for the actual migration.

With ASR this is possible by following this simple flow of operations:

Figure 1 – Migration flow with ASR

 

Let us now see in detail what are the operations to be carried out in a migration scenario of virtual machines on a Hyper-V host 2012 R2 to Microsoft Azure.

First, since you have to create an Azure Portal Recovery Service Vault in the subscription to which you want to migrate virtual machines:

Figure 2 – Creating Recovery Service Vault

Afterwards you must prepare l ’ order to use Azure infrastructure Site Recovery. All you can do so by following the wizard proposal from the Azure Portal:

Figure 3 – Infrastructure preparation

After declaring your migration scenario (virtual machines on Hyper-V is not managed by SCVMM to Azure), assign a name to the site Hyper-V and agree to it l ’ Hyper-V host that holds the virtual machines:

Figure 4 – Preparing Source: step 1.1

Figure 5 – Preparing Source: step 1.2

At this point you need to install on ’ Hyper-V hosts the Microsoft Azure Site Recovery. During the installation ’ you can specify a proxy server and your registration key to the vault, which you need to download it directly from the Azure Portal:

Figure 6 – Provider installation ASR

Figure 7 – Configuring access to the vault

Figure 8 – Proxy settings

Figure 9 – Registration vault ASR

After waiting a few moments on the Hyper-V server registered at Azure vault Site Recovery will appear on the Azure Portal:

Figure 10 – Preparing Source: step 2

The next step requires you to specify on which subscription Azure will create virtual machines and the deployment model (Azure Resource Manager – ARM in the following case). At this point it is important to verify that a storage account and a virtual network that attest to the virtual machines:

Figure 11 – Target Preparation

The next step is where you specify which replication policy associate with the site. If there are no previously created policy you should configure a new policy by setting the following parameters, best suited to your environment:

Figure 12 – Setting replication policy

Figure 13 – Replication policy Association

L ’ last ’ ’ steps of preparation of infrastructure require the implementation of the Capacity Planner, very useful tool to estimate bandwidth usage and storage l ’. It also allows you to evaluate a series of other aspects that you need to take well into account replication scenarios to avoid problems. The tool can be downloaded directly from the Azure Portal:

Figure 14 – Capacity planning

At this point you have completed all the configuration and preparation of ’ infrastructure and you can continue selecting which machines you want to replicate from site previously configured:

Figure 15 – Enabling replication

In the next step you can select the replicated machine configurations in terms of Resource Group, Storage Account and Virtual Network – Subnet:

Figure 16 – Target recovery settings

Between all the machines that are hosted on the ’ Hyper-V you should select to whom you want to enable replication to Azure:

Figure 17 – VMs selection to be replicated

For each selected virtual machine, you must specify the guest operating system (Windows or Linux), What ’ is the disk that holds the operating system and what data disks you want to replicate:

Figure 18 – Properties of VMs in replica

After completing the configuration of all steps will begin the replication process according to the settings configured in the policy specifies:

Figure 19 – Replication steps

After the initial replication is recommended to verify that the virtual machine still works correctly in Microsoft Azure environment by placing an “Test Failover” (point 1 Dell ’ image below) and after appropriate checks should be “Planned Failover” (point 2) to have the virtual machine available and ready to be used in production environment. When this is done can be considered completed the migration to Azure of your system and you can remove the replication configuration all ’ within the Recovery Service Vault (point 3).

Figure 20 – Finalization of the migration process

Conclusions

Azure Site Recovery with simple guided steps allows us to easily migrate, safely and with minimum downtime systems that are located in our datacenter or workloads found in Amazon Web Services (AWS) to Microsoft Azure. I remind you that the functionality of Azure Site Recovery can be tested by activating a trial of environment Operations Management Suite or of Microsoft Azure.

OMS Azure Site Recovery: solution overview

To have an adequate business continuity and disaster recovery strategy that helps keep running applications and restore normal working conditions when it is necessary to perform maintenance activities planned or unplanned stoppages is crucial.

Azure Site Recovery promotes l ’ implementation of these strategies by orchestrating the replicas of virtual machines and physical servers present in your data center. You have the option of replicating servers and virtual machines that reside on a local primary data center to the cloud (Microsoft Azure) or to a secondary data center.

If you experience interruptions in the primary data center you can initiate a failover process to keep workloads accessible and available. When will it be possible to use the resources in the primary data center will handle the failback process.

Replication scenarios

The following scenarios are covered in Azure replication Site Recovery:

  • Hyper-V virtual machine replication

In this scenario if Hyper-V virtual machines are managed by System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) You can expect the replica to a secondary data center and Microsoft Azure. If the virtual machines are managed through VMM, the replica will be possible only to Microsoft Azure.

  • Replication of VMware virtual machines

The virtual machines on VMware can be replicated to a secondary data center using a data channel of InMage Scout to Microsoft Azure.

  • Replication of physical servers Windows and Linux

The physical servers can be replicated to a secondary data center (using InMage Scout data channel) that to Microsoft Azure.

Figure 1 – Replication scenarios of ASR

Azure configuration Site Recovery

The following table lists the documents with the specifications that you must follow to configure Azure Site Recovery in different scenarios:

Typology of the systems to be replicated Replication target
VMware virtual machines Microsoft Azure

Secondary data center

Managed Hyper-V virtual machines in VMM clouds Microsoft Azure

Secondary data center

Managed Hyper-V virtual machines in VMM clouds, with storage on SAN Secondary data center
Hyper-V virtual machines without VMM Microsoft Azure
Local Windows/Linux physical servers Microsoft Azure

Secondary data center

 

The main advantages in adopting Azure Site Recovery

After reviewing what can I do with Azure Site Recovery and what steps to follow to implement recovery plans are those that are some of the major benefits that you may have with the adoption of this solution:

  • Using the tools of Azure Site Recovery it simplifies the process of creating business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Recovery plans and runbooks can include scripts present in Azure Automation so you can shape and customize your application with DR procedures for complex architectures.
  • You can have a high degree of flexibility thanks to the potential of the solution that enables you to orchestrate replicas of physical servers and virtual machines running on Hyper-V and VMware.
  • With the ability to replicate the work loads directly on Azure in some cases you may want to completely delete a secondary data center made just for business continuity and disaster recovery.
  • You have the option to periodically perform failover test to validate the effectiveness of the recovery plans implemented, without giving any impact to production application environment.
  • It is possible to integrate with other technologies existing company ASR BCDR (such as Sql Server AlwaysOn or SAN replication).

 

Types of Failover on Azure Site Recovery

After creating a plan of recovery you can perform different types of failover. The following table lists the various types of failover and for each is specified its purpose and what action causes the execution process.

Conclusions

Azure Site Recovery is a powerful and flexible solution for creating business continuity and disaster recovery strategies for your data center, able to orchestrate and manage complex and heterogeneous infrastructures. All this makes ASR an appropriate tool for most environments. For those wishing to explore the field of Azure Site Recovery features can activate a trial of environment Operations Management Suite or of Microsoft Azure.