Azure Site Recovery & InMage Scout – And Bad Decision Making

Microsoft announced last week that they had acquired InMage, a company that specialises in replication to the cloud. Microsoft is adding InMage to Azure Site Recovery (ASR) to enable replication to Azure. ASR enables you to use Hyper-V Replica (HVR) to replicate VMs to Azure IaaS. So what does InMage Scout (the product) add?

The key piece of the list of features is:

Support for major enterprise platforms, including Windows, AIX, Linux, VMware, Solaris, XenServer and Hyper-V

Imagine being able to replicate not just Hyper-V, but also vSphere and physical (Windows and Linux) workloads to Azure. Potentially, this is a much bigger solution. Potentially.

And potential is … lost opportunity.

That’s because the decision makers in ASR are, in my opinion, disconnected from reality living way too nicely in the Microsoft ivory tower. Why?

  • ASR can only be used by customers that manage Hyper-V using SCVMM. SCVMM can only be bought as a part of the System Center SML. The SML is cheap for larger businesses, but it’s way too expensive for most SMEs.
  • Only EA customers (large businesses) can get access to InMage:

The Azure Site Recovery subscription license will be available through the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement beginning August 1, 2014 and is the only offer through which InMage Scout usage may currently be purchased.

So, SME’s cannot use ASR or the cool new features that are coming. Large enterprises typically already own or want to own their own DR. And the sweet spot market for a hosted virtual DR (DRaaS) is the SME … the market that cannot afford or get access to ASR.

Oh, the madness continues.

Microsoft News Summary – 17 July 2014

This week’s Microsoft news has been dominated by the cryptic letter by Satya Nadella and the pending (and obviously required) layoffs after the completion Nokia acquisition. Let’s stick to the techie stuff:

The Pressure Builds On End Of Support For W2003/R2

The end of support for Windows Server 2003 (W2003) and Windows Server 2003 R2 (W2003 R2) is July 14, 2015. This includes Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 R2. That gives you one year to get off of these server operating systems before all security updates stop. This date will NOT be extended.


Why won’t it be extended? Microsoft wants you to do one of three things:

  • Upgrade to Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Upgrade via deploying Hyper-V
  • Upgrade/migrate to Microsoft Azure

And to be honest, you’re using a server operating system that is currently 11 years old. The features you’ve been asking for are probably in newer versions of Windows Server.

Upgrading will not be easy. You have AD’s to upgrade, LOB applications that are dependent on server resources. And most W2003 installs were 32-bit, there are no more 32-bit server operating systems, and you cannot upgrade x86 to x64. You will have to perform migrations.

So NOW is the time to start planning.

For Microsoft partners that are service providers:

  • We estimate that over 50% of servers in Ireland are of the W2003/R2 generation
  • 92% of Irish business are SME’s and a large percentage of those were SBS customers. Consider deploying Office 365 to replace SBS, and maybe put in Server Essentials if they still require a local server for bulk data/printer sharing.
  • Microsoft (WPC 2014) said that there are 22,000,000 W2003/R2 servers worldwide. That equates to an estimated $6,000,000,000 of business.

Start having the conversations now. Start planning now. Waiting until 2015 will be a fools errand. BTW, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people.

Microsoft News Summary – 14 July 2014

After a week’s break in Finland, I am back with news from the last 10 or so days. It was a busy period!

Creating a VNet-to-VNet VPN in Microsoft Azure

A while ago I read about how to connect VMs between two VNets and it was nasty: before we could create a VPN tunnel we had to open Endpoints (punch holes through firewalls) and hope for the best!

Since TechEd NA 2014, we have had new functionality where we can connect two VNets, in the same or different data centers, in the same or different regions, or in the same or different subscriptions, via an encrypted & secure VPN tunnel.

As usual, this stuff is announced normally via blogs (it was mentioned in the TechEd keynote I think) and finding instructions can be fun. The first few guides I found were messy, involving exporting VNet configs, editing XML files, and importing configs.

You do not need to do this to set up a simple configuration to connect two VNets. I looked at the instructions, used by experience from site-to-site VPNs with Azure, and tried out a method that uses a temporary local network to enable you to create the VPN gateway and gateway VIPs for each vNet – these are required to create a local network for each VNet. We use local networks to define the details (public VPN IP address and routable private network IP address) of the network that will connect to a VNet.

I tried my method and it worked. And then I found instructions on MSDN that are similar to the method that I used. My method:

  1. Create the two VNets
  2. Create a temporary local network with made up gateway IP address (public VPN IP) and address space (private network address that will route to the VNet subnets)
  3. Configure each VNet to allow site-to-site VPN connections from the temporary local network
  4. Enable the gateway with dynamic routing on each VNet. This can take 15-20+ minutes for Azure to do for you. Plan other work or a break for this step.
  5. Record the address space and gateway IP address of both VNets
  6. Create a local network for each VNet – use the Gateway IP Address and Address Space of the VNet for the details of its local network
  7. Modify the site-to-site VPN configuration of each VNet to dump the temporary local network and use the local network of the other VNet – you’re telling the VNet the details of the other VNet for connection and routing
  8. Use Azure PowerShell cmdlets to run Set-AzureVNetGatewayKey. This will be used to configure a common VPN shared key for both VNets.
  9. Wait … the VPN connection will start automatically … there might be a failure before or just after you st the shared key. Be patient, and one VNet might show a connected status before the other. Be patient!

And that’s it. There is a FAQ on this topic. I’ll be publishing some deeper articles on the subject on in the next few weeks.

Microsoft News Summary – 4 July 2014

Not much news for you to read today:

Microsoft News Summary – 3 July 2014

After a month of neglect, I have finally caught up with all of my feeds via various sources. Here are the latest bits of news, mixed up with other Microsoft happenings from the last month.

Microsoft News Summary-2 July 2014

It’s been a long times since I posted one of these! I’ve just trawled my feeds for interesting articles and came up with the following. I’ll be checking news and Twitter for more.

TechCamp 2014 Presentation – Hybrid Cloud Using Microsoft Azure

This presentation was an introduction for IT pros to deploying hybrid cloud solutions based on Microsoft Azure, in conjunction with on-premises Hyper-V / System Center deployments. Here’s the deck that I presented … and yes … there are LOTS of slides because there is constantly new stuff in Azure.


The Hyper-V Amigos Podcast – The Amigos Reunite

You might have heard of “The Hyper-V Amigos” podcast – this is something that has a history that runs back quite a while with a number of us European Hyper-V MVPs. Carsten (Rachfahl) and Didier (Van Hoye) asked myself and Hans Vredevoort to join them in their latest show to talk about TechEd North America 2014.