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Microsoft Azure Stack Deployment Experience : Part 1

Microsoft has released their long awaited Hybrid Cloud offering – Azure Stack and the early adopting customers should now be expecting deliveries of their hardware kits. As Microsoft describes it, Azure Stack is an extension of Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud, within customer’s own data center. It promises to offer consistent management and user interface (Azure Resource Manager – ARM) between Public and Hybrid Cloud offering. Azure Stack can prove to be a game changer for customers who can’t use Public Cloud due to regulatory requirements or due to network latency.

As of today, Microsoft has offered Azure Stack in 2 different options:

Option 1: The fully integrated appliance, offered by Microsoft’s hardware partners as a “turn key” solution. This is intended for Production workload and fully supported by the hardware vendors and Microsoft. At the time of writing, this option is available for purchase from below 6 different vendors, with a possibility of more in the future.
Dell EMC
Cisco
Lenovo
HPE
Avanade (ETA 2018)
Huawei (ETA 2018)
These vendors offer appliances in a minimum of 4 node configuration which can be scaled up to 12 nodes to make up a single Azure Stack region. The maximum number of scaled nodes is expected to be increased to 16 nodes by the end of CY-2017. As of now, there is no option to be able to run Production Azure Stack on a non-certified hardware

Option 2: This is what I have been playing around lately – the Azure Stack Development Kit (or ASDK). This is aimed at customers who want to “kick the tyres“, so to speak, and can only run on a single node. Ideal for Dev/Test environments and to get a feeling for “Azure” within their data centers, Azure Stack is not meant to be running any production workloads. In this multi-part series, I will be taking you through my experiences in deploying Azure Stack in my lab.
Before we dive into ASDK deployment, let’s first have a look on some of the limitations and important information to help you prepare for installation.

Hardware requirements: Azure Stack gives us the opportunity to run real “Cloud” within our data centers. Goes without saying, running a Cloud is expected to have some substantial requirements (hardware and Software) to be able to operate smoothly. Yes, I have seen some blog posts that tell you how to tweak the install scripts to be able to run ASDK on lower hardware specs, however, this is recommended for obvious reasons. Below is the list of minimum hardware required for ASDK:

I will be running ASDK on my Dell R430 server which meets all the requirements. Personally, I will be using Windows Server 2016 instead of minimum recommended Server 2012 R2. You can choose to run either.

Requirements:
Internet access: ASDK will require you to have a active internet connection, either directly or via a proxy server.
ASDK will need to connect on Ports 80 and 443 to domains graph.windows.net and login.microsoftonline.com
Avoid:
Do not connect AS to the networks in below subnets. These subnets are reserved for internal use:
192.168.200.0/24
192.168.100.0/27
192.168.101.0/26
192.168.102.0/24
192.168.103.0/25
192.168.104.0/25
Limitations:
Currently, only IPv4 is supported in Azure Stack – no support for IPv6
Downloads:
Azure Stack Development Kit software: Before you begin you will need to download the ASDK install files from the Microsoft website. Sitting at about 10 GB in size, this is not a small setup and hence I recommend downloading this in advance. Optionally, you can also download Windows Server 2016 ISO within the same download, which will further increase the size. Download Link
Azure Stack Deployment Checker: Download Link
Azure Active Directory: Unless you have a ready-to-go Active Directory Federation Service (ADFS) setup in place, you will need to have a Azure AD (or AAD) account during the deployment phase. Signup for Azure at this Link
Warning:
By default, Microsoft will collect a limited number of Telemetry data on your usage of Azure Stack. However, this can be turned-off if this is going to be a concern. Link
In the next part we will be looking at preparing our server for Azure Stack deployment.

Stay tuned

#IWork4Dell

Microsoft has released their long-awaited Hybrid Cloud offering – Azure Stack and the early adopting customers should now be expecting deliveries of their hardware kits. As Microsoft describes it, Azure Stack is an extension of Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud, within customer’s own data centre. It promises to offer consistent management and user interface (Azure Resource Manager – ARM) between Public and Hybrid Cloud offering. Azure Stack can prove to be a game changer for customers who can’t use Public Cloud due to regulatory requirements or due to network latency.

As of today, Microsoft has offered Azure Stack in 2 different options:

  • Option 1: The fully integrated appliance, offered by Microsoft’s hardware partners as a “turn key” solution. This is intended for Production workload and fully supported by the hardware vendors and Microsoft. At the time of writing, this option is available for purchase from below 6 different vendors, with a possibility of more in the future.
    1. Dell EMC
    2. Cisco
    3. Lenovo
    4. HPE
    5. Avanade (ETA 2018)
    6. Huawei (ETA 2018)

These vendors offer appliances in a minimum of 4 node configuration which can be scaled up to 12 nodes to make up a single Azure Stack region. The maximum number of scaled nodes is expected to be increased to 16 nodes by the end of CY-2017. As of now, there is no option to be able to run Production Azure Stack on a non-certified hardware

  • Option 2: This is what I have been playing around lately – the Azure Stack Development Kit (or ASDK). This is aimed at customers who want to “kick the tyres“, so to speak, and can only run on a single node. Ideal for Dev/Test environments and to get a feeling for “Azure” within their data centers, Azure Stack is not meant to be running any production workloads. In this multi-part series, I will be taking you through my experiences in deploying Azure Stack in my lab.

Before we dive into ASDK deployment, let’s first have a look on some of the limitations and important information to help you prepare for installation.

  • Hardware requirements: Azure Stack gives us the opportunity to run real “Cloud” within our data centers. Goes without saying, running a Cloud is expected to have some substantial requirements (hardware and Software) to be able to operate smoothly. Yes, I have seen some blog posts that tell you how to tweak the install scripts to be able to run ASDK on lower hardware specs, however, this is recommended for obvious reasons. Below is the list of minimum hardware required for ASDK:

I will be running ASDK on my Dell R430 server which meets all the requirements. Personally, I will be using Windows Server 2016 instead of minimum recommended Server 2012 R2. You can choose to run either.

  • Requirements:
    • Internet access: ASDK will require you to have a active internet connection, either directly or via a proxy server.
    • ASDK will need to connect on Ports 80 and 443 to domains graph.windows.net and login.microsoftonline.com
  • Avoid:
    • Do not connect AS to the networks in below subnets. These subnets are reserved for internal use:

      • 192.168.200.0/24
      • 192.168.100.0/27
      • 192.168.101.0/26
      • 192.168.102.0/24
      • 192.168.103.0/25
      • 192.168.104.0/25
  • Limitations:
    • Currently, only IPv4 is supported in Azure Stack – no support for IPv6
  • Downloads:
    • Azure Stack Development Kit software: Before you begin you will need to download the ASDK install files from the Microsoft website. Sitting at about 10 GB in size, this is not a small setup and hence I recommend downloading this in advance. Optionally, you can also download Windows Server 2016 ISO within the same download, which will further increase the size. Download Link
    • Azure Stack Deployment Checker: Download Link
    • Azure Active Directory: Unless you have a ready-to-go Active Directory Federation Service (ADFS) setup in place, you will need to have a Azure AD (or AAD) account during the deployment phase. Signup for Azure at this Link
  • Warning:
    • By default, Microsoft will collect a limited number of Telemetry data on your usage of Azure Stack. However, this can be turned-off if this is going to be a concern. Link

In the next part we will be looking at preparing our server for Azure Stack deployment.

Stay tuned 🙂

#IWork4Dell

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