Keep your files and volumes available with Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft Azure

Hi Community,

after having a great time at the MVP Summit and finishing chapter six of my first book. I wanted to turn some more effort into my blog again. The first thing I wanted to talk about is a scenario to expand your Windows Server 2016 Storage into the cloud and keep it available over branches.

The Scenario and use cases

Sometimes I have customers who need to have caches for fileservers and storage within their branch offices. In the past I needed expensive storage devices, complex software or I used DFS-R to transfer files.

With Windows Server 2016 we got Storage Replication, which gave me new opportunities to think about.

First Scenario I tried and built was with Windows Server 2016 based fileservers to replace DFS-R and establish asynchrony replication based on byte and not file level to reduce traffic etc.

You can use this kind of replication to move for file or backup data into the cloud.

The Technologies

What technologies did I use.

Windows Server 2016 Storage replication:

You can use Storage Replica to configure two servers to sync data so that each has an identical copy of the same volume. This topic provides some background of this server-to-server replication configuration, as well as how to set it up and manage the environment.

Source: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-docs/storage/storage-replica/server-to-server-storage-replication

Microsoft Azure VMs https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/virtual-machines/windows/ 

The Infrastructure Architecture

In the first place you need a fileserver as source and fileserver as target. You need also to ensure that the data you want to replicate are on a different volume than the data that stays onsite.

1

The source can either run on Hardware or which would be the most cost efficient way on Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Cluster together with other virtual machines like Domain Controller, Backupserver, Webserver or Database. With this kind of cluster you would also save the license costs for the Fileserver Datacenter License because you can use the Host License with AVMA and you can leverage the Windows Server 2016 License Mobility to Azure. Which enables you to use your Windows Server License for Azure virtual machines.

2

 

The Azure virtual machine should be a DS3 or above, because you need at least two disks. If you want to replicate more disks, you should be able to add more disks.

3

 

From the Network Site you need to implement VPN Site to Site Connection between your offices and Azure. You need a performance gateway to get the necessary throughput and latency. I would recommend to use Microsoft ExpressRoute and MPLS.

4

Scenarios how to use those fileserver Volumes

The first scenario I tested so far, was to get a geo redundant standby system for a fileserver with profile data and shares. Both Servers do not run in a cluster (didn’t try that yet). Both servers are part of an DFS-N. The on premises server is the primary DFS-N target for the clients. The fileserver in Azure is the secondary target. The secondary fileserver is disabled as target for Clients in DFS-N. The  access will be on the primary fileserver and the storage information will be replicated to secondary fileserver.

5

 

As long as everything went fine, you have only incoming traffic to Azure with no costs for traffic. If the primary volume or fileserver went offline you switch to the secondary fileserver by enabling the secondary fileserver in DFS-N and swapping the target volume to active. You can either do this manually or trigger it via automation services and monitoring e.g. Azure Automation and Operations Management Suite or System Center Operations Manager.

6

You can also use the fileserver as target for different fileservers.

7

 

A different approached could be achieved when using this scenario for backup. First you backup your data to the primary fileshare or volume and replicate it to the cloud.

8

After you finished the backup you switch the volume and transfer the backup to a cheaper location e.g. Azure Cold Storage Accounts.

9

The Pro’s and Con’s

Pro Con
Easy to use ExpressRoute needed for best performance
Azure License for Azure VM might be covered by your on premises license Not documented yet and only Proof of concept
No need for expensive Storage Systems
Great to replicate File Data and Backups into the cloud

 

Book Review – Packt Publishing | Mastering Windows Server 2016

Hi everyone,

today I want to give you an intro to another book I had the chance to review. 🙂

A few month ago I had the chance to review another book from packt. This time Mastering Windows Server 2016 written by Jordan Krause.

 

You can order the book here: https://www.packtpub.com/networking-and-servers/mastering-windows-server-2016

Book Description

Windows Server 2016 is an upcoming server operating system developed by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems, developed concurrently with Windows 10. With Windows Server 2016, Microsoft has gotten us thinking outside of the box for what it means to be a server, and comes with some interesting new capabilities. These are exciting times to be or to become a server administrator!

This book covers all aspects of administration level tasks and activities required to gain expertise in Microsoft Windows Server 2016. You will begin by getting familiar and comfortable navigating around in the interface. Next, you will learn to install and manage Windows Server 2016 and discover some tips for adapting to the new server management ideology that is all about centralized monitoring and configuration.

You will deep dive into core Microsoft infrastructure technologies that the majority of companies are going to run on Server 2016. Core technologies such as Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, Certificate Services, File Services, and more. We will talk about networking in this new operating system, giving you a networking toolset that is useful for everyday troubleshooting and maintenance. Also discussed is the idea of Software Defined Networking. You will later walk through different aspects of certificate administration in Windows Server 2016. Three important and crucial areas to cover in the Remote Access role — DirectAccess, VPN, and the Web Application Proxy — are also covered.

You will then move into security functions and benefits that are available in Windows Server 2016. Also covered is the brand new and all-important Nano Server!

We will incorporate PowerShell as a central platform for performing many of the functions that are discussed in this book, including a chapter dedicated to the new PowerShell 5.0. Additionally, you will learn about the new built-in integration for Docker with this latest release of Windows Server 2016. The book ends with a discussion and information on virtualizing your datacenter with Hyper-V.

By the end of this book, you will have all the ammunition required to start planning for and implementing Windows Server 2016.

VMQ Example Script for Intel E5-2680v3 & two vSwitch

Following configuration is for an Intel Xeon E5-2680v3 and Intel X520 NICs.

The Script will disable VMQ on iSCSI and enable and configure VMQ on converged VM and Fabric.

CPU distribution:

2016-04-21_19-42-29

 

Script:

VMQ Example Script for Intel E5-2690v3 & two vSwitch

Following configuration is for an Intel Xeon E5-2650 and Intel X520 NICs.

The Script will disable VMQ on iSCSI and enable and configure VMQ on converged VM and Fabric.

CPU distribution:

Script:

VMQ Example Script for Intel E5-2650v0 & two vSwitch

Following configuration is for an Intel Xeon E5-2650 and Intel X520 NICs.

The Script will disable VMQ on iSCSI and enable and configure VMQ on converged VM and Fabric.

CPU distribution:

Script: