Nested Virtualization in Azure

Microsoft
Today Microsoft announced that you can now enable nested virtualisation using the Dv3 and Ev3 VM sizes. Microsoft will continue to expand support to more VM sizes in the coming months. For software and hardware prerequisites, configuration steps and limitations for nested virtualisation please see the document here. In this blog Microsoft discuss a couple of interesting use cases and provide a short video demo for enabling a nested VM. Now not only you can create a Hyper-V container with Docker (see instructions here), but also by running nested virtualisation, you can create a VM inside a VM. Such nested environment provides great flexibility in supporting your needs in various areas such as development, testing, customer training, demo, etc. For example, suppose you have a testing team using Hyper-V hosts on-prem today.…
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Azure ASR for IaaS virtual machines

Microsoft
Microsoft this week announced the public preview of disaster recovery for Azure IaaS virtual machines (VMs) using Azure Site Recovery (ASR). You can now easily replicate and protect IaaS based applications running on Azure to a different Azure region of your choice within a geographical cluster without deploying any additional infrastructure components or software appliances in your subscription. This new capability, along with Azure Backup for IaaS virtual machines, allows you to create a comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery strategy for all your IaaS based applications running on Azure. As you move production applications to the cloud, Azure natively provides you the high availability and reliability that your mission critical workloads need. However, compliance requirements such as ISO 27001 still require that you have a provable disaster recovery solution…
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Azure IaaS Virtual Machines Temporary Drives

Microsoft
I’ve seen many posts on forums asking for more detail on the temporary disks assigned to Azure IaaS Windows and Linux VMs so here is a quick post explaining what they are. When you create a VM either in the portal or command line utilities (i.e. PowerShell) you automatically receive an additional drive or mount point which is available for you to use at no additional cost for storage or transactions.  The primarily use case is to provide faster storage (IOPS and Latency) but although this sounds great it isn’t to be used for any data that you wish to keep. You typically store temporary data on these drives like Windows page files and Linux Swap files or even SQL TempDBs.  As you can see from the images below it…
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Azure IP address 168.63.129.16

Microsoft
Have you ever wondered what this IP address is?  Well 168.63.129.16 is a virtual public IP address that is used to facilitate a communication channel to internal platform resources for the bring-your-own IP Virtual Network scenario.  Because the Azure platform allow customers to define any private or customer address space, this resource must be a unique public IP address.  It cannot be a private IP address as the address cannot be a duplicate of address space the customer defines.  This virtual public IP address facilitates the following things: Enables the VM Agent to communicating with the platform to signal it is in a “Ready” state Enables communication with the DNS virtual server to provide filtered name resolution to customers that do not define custom DNS servers.  This filtering ensures that…
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Microsoft Azure Security

Microsoft
As we all know in this day and age our workloads are more likely to migrate to the cloud which I'm sure you all know has it's benefits and it's inherent downsides.  One discussion point on everyone's mind is always security (so it should be), just how secure is the cloud. One thing to bear in mind is that your time and approach to defining security principles should be no different to that of on-premises.  Having worked with Azure for a number years I just wanted to share some pertinent information around the security model specifically with Azure. The following diagram shows various layers of security Azure provides to customers both native in the Azure platform itself and through customer defined features Before Internet traffic can get to the Azure…
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Microsoft Azure Backup Certificate Not Available

Microsoft
If you are running your server backups using Microsoft Azure Backup you may now receive the following error message in Azure Backup since 21st August:- Following error occurred during Microsoft Azure Backup SnapIn Operation. Error Details: A server registration certificate was not available to authenticate this server with the backup service. Ensure that you signed in with an administrator account and try again. If the issue persists, register the server again. The reason for this issue is Microsoft have recently released a new Azure Backup agent which is a mandatory update. Download the Azure Backup agent update now The version number of this update is 2.0.8719.0 If you are using System Center 2012 R2 Data Protection Manager (DPM) you must apply the Update Rollup 6 for System Center R2 Data…
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The DRA server is already registered” ERROR of Azure Site Recovery Provider Setup

Microsoft
I have recently been running a POC of Hyper-V 2012 R2 experimenting replicating several VM's to Windows Azure (Site Replication) in the East Asia region. During the POC I was receiving connection issues from the Hyper-V host so I decided to remove the Azure Site Recovery Provider agent from the Hyper-V host and the configuration settings from within Azure so that I could start again. Once I configured the Azure settings I then re-installed the agent but on this occasion I received the following error which I'd not seen before Upon going through various troubleshooting steps I found that the uninstall had not completely removed the previous registry settings for the site replication vault which was causing me the problem. This is the process I followed:- 1) Uninstall the existing Azure Site Recovery Provider…
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Using an Azure VM as a DAG Witness Server

Microsoft
I’m happy to announce support for use of an Azure virtual machine as an Exchange 2013 Database Availability Group witness server. Automatic datacenter failover in Exchange 2013 requires three physical sites, but many of our customers with stretched DAGs only have two physical sites deployed today. By enabling the use of Azure as a third physical site, this provides many of our customers with a cost-effective method for improving the overall availability and resiliency of their Exchange deployment. You can learn more about the deployment and configuration process, as well as learn about our best practices in the TechNet Library article. It’s important to remember that deployment of production Exchange servers is still unsupported on Azure virtual machines, so it’s not yet possible to stretch a DAG into Azure. This…
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Static IP address assignment in Windows Azure

Microsoft
Have you ever wondered how to set a Static IP address on a VM in Windows Azure especially when deploying a domain controller?  Well up to recently the only way of possibly achieving this was to  create different virtual subnets for different groups of VMs to try and control the IP address the VM would be given from Windows Azure - I must admit this was a clunky way of doing this but was the only way recommended by Microsoft Support. Now things have just got better with the introduction of Windows Azure PowerShell 0.7.3.1 (or Later) you can now do this. By using PowerShell you can now assign a static IP to a VM that will persist with the VM, even if it's deprovisioned. The VM must be within a virtual network to have a static…
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Taking the best out of Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Microsoft
Now that Windows Azure IaaS offerings are out and made GA a lot of new workloads can be enabled with Windows Azure. Workloads like, SQL Server, SharePoint, System Center 2012, Server Roles like AD, ADFS DNS and so on, and even Team Foundation Server. More of the supported list of server software that is currently supported in Windows Azure Virtual Machines can be found here. But knowing what we can leverage in the Cloud isn’t enough, every features has its tricks in order to take the best out of it. In this case in order to take the best performance out of the Windows Azure Virtual Machines, I’ll provide you with a list of things you should always do, and so making your life easier and the performance a lot…
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