An Introduction to the Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Concept and Azure Stack

An Introduction to the Microsoft Hybrid Cloud Concept and Azure Stack

In the last years, so-called “cloud services” have become more and more interesting and some customers are already thinking of going 100% cloud. There are a lot of competing cloud products out there, but is there a universal description of a cloud service? This is what I will address here.

Let’s start with the basics. Since time began (by that I mean “IT history”) we have all been running our own servers in our own datacenters with our own IT employees. A result of this was that you had different servers for your company, all configured individually, and your IT guys had to deal with that high number of servers. This led to a heavy and increasing load on the IT administrators, no time for new services, often they even had no time to update the existing ones to mitigate the risk to be hacked. In parallel, the development teams and management expect IT to behave in an agile fashion which was impossible for them.

Defining Cloud Services

This is not a sustainable model and is where the cloud comes in. A cloud is a highly optimized standard service (out of the box) without any small changes in the configuration. Cloud Services provide a way to just use a service (compared to power from the power plug) with a predefined and guaranteed SLA (service level agreement). If the SLA breaks, you as the customer would even get money back. The issue with these services is that these servers need to run in a highly standardized setup, in highly standardized datacenters, which are geo-redundant around the world. When it comes to Azure, these datacenters are being run in so-called “regions” with a minimum of three datacenters per region.

In addition to this, Microsoft runs their own backbone (not the internet) to provide a high quality of services. Let’s say available bandwidth meets Quality of Services (QoS).

To say it in one sentence, a cloud service is a highly standardized IT service with guaranteed SLAs running in public datacenters available from everywhere around the world at high quality. In general, from the financial point of view, you pay it per user, services or other flexible unit and you could increase or decrease it, based on your current needs.

Cloud Services – your options

If you want to invest in cloud services, you will have to choose between:

  • A private Cloud
  • A public Cloud
  • A hybrid Cloud

A private cloud contains IT services provided by your internal IT team, but in a manner, you could even get as external service. It is being provided by your datacenter and only hosts services for your company or company group. This means you will have to provide the required SLA.

A public cloud describes IT services provided by a hosting service provider with a guaranteed SLA. The services are being provided by public datacenters and they are not being spun up individually just for you.

A hybrid cloud is a mixture between a public and a private cloud, or in other words “a hybrid cloud is an internet-connected private cloud with services that are being consumed as public cloud services”. Hybrid Cloud deployments can be especially useful if there is a reason not to move a service to a public cloud such as:

  • Intellectual property needs to be saved on company-owned dedicated services
  • Highly sensitive data (e.g. health care) is not allowed to be saved on public services
  • Lack of connectivity could break the public cloud if you are in a region with poor connectivity


Responsibility for Cloud Services

If you decide to go with public cloud services, the question is always how many of your network services are you willing to move to the public cloud?

The general answer should be the more services you can transfer to the cloud, the better your result. However, even the best-laid plans sometimes can be at the mercy of your internet connectivity as well, which can cut you off from these services if not planned for. Additionally, industry regulations have made a 100% cloud footprint difficult for some organizations. The hybrid solution is then the most practical option for the majority of business applications.

Hybrid Cloud Scenarios

These reasons drove the decision by Microsoft to provide Azure to you for your own datacenter in a packaged solution based on the same technology as within Azure. Azure itself has the main concept of working with REST-Endpoints and ARM templates (JSON files with declarative definitions for services). Additionally, Microsoft deemed that this on-premises Azure solution should not provide only IaaS, it should be able to run PaaS, too. Just like the public Azure cloud.

This basically means, that for a service to become available in this new on-prem “Azure Stack”, it must already be generally available (GA) in public Azure.

This solution is called “Azure Stack” and comes on certified hardware only. This makes sure, that you as the customer will get performance, reliability and scalability. That ones you expect from Azure will be with Azure Stack, too.

As of today, the following Hardware OEMs part of this initiative:

  • DELL
  • HPE
  • Lenovo
  • Cisco
  • Huawei
  • Intel/Wortmann
  • Fujitsu

The following services are available with Azure Stack today, but as it is an agile product from Microsoft, we will expect MANY interesting updates in the future.

With Azure Stack, Microsoft provides a simple way to spread services between on-premise and in the public cloud. Possible scenarios could be:

  • Disconnected scenarios (Azure Stack in planes or ships)
  • Azure Stack as your development environment for Azure
  • Low latency computing
  • Hosting Platform for MSPs
  • And many more

As we all know, IT is hybrid today in most of the industries all over the world. With the combination of Azure Stack and Azure, you will have the chance to fulfill the requirements and set up a unique cloud model for all of your company services.


As you have seen, Azure Stack brings public Azure to your datacenter with the same administration and configuration models you already know from public Azure. There is no need to learn twice. Training costs go down, the standardization gives more flexibility and puts fewer loads on the local IT Admins which gives them time to work on new solutions for better quality. Also, with cloud style licensing things becomes less complex, as things are simply based on a usage model. You could even link your Azure Stack licenses directly to an Azure Subscription.

As hybrid cloud services are the future for the next 10 years or even more, Azure and Azure Stack together can make your IT world the most successful that it ever was in the last 10 years and moving forward.

If you want to learn more about Azure stack, watch our webinar Future-proofing your Datacenter with Microsoft Azure Stack

How about you? Does your organization have interest in Azure Stack? Why or why not? We here on the Altaro Blog are interested! Let us know in the comments section below!

Thanks for reading!

13 Questions Answered on the Future of Hyper-V

13 Questions Answered on the Future of Hyper-V

What does the future hold for Hyper-V and its users? Technology moves fast so should Hyper-V admins be concerned about the future? Well, we don’t have a crystal ball to tell us what the future holds but we do have 3 industry experts and Microsoft MVPs to tell you what to expect. Following our hugely popular panel webinar 3 Emerging Technologies that will Change the Way you use Hyper-V we’ve decided to bring together all of the questions asked during both sessions (we hold 2 separate webinar sessions on the same topic to accommodate our European and American audiences) into one article with some extended answers to address the issue of what’s around the corner for Hyper-V and related technologies.

Let’s get started!

questions from the webinar 3 emerging technologies that will change the way you use hyper-v

The Questions

Question 1: Do you think IT Security is going to change as more and more workloads move into the cloud?

Answer: Absolutely! As long as we’re working with connected systems, no matter where they are located, we will always have to worry about security. 1 common misconception though is that just because a workload is housed inside of Microsoft Azure, doesn’t mean that it’s LESS secure. Public cloud platforms have been painstakingly setup from the ground up with the help of security experts in the industry. You’ll find that if best practices are followed, and rules of least access and just-in-time administration are followed, the public cloud is a highly secure platform.

Question 2: Do you see any movement to establish a global “law” of data security/restrictions that are not threatened by local laws (like the patriot act)?

Answer: Until all countries of the world are on the same page, I just don’t see this happening. The US treats data privacy in a very different way than the EU unfortunately. The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming in may of 2018 is a step in the right direction, but that only applies to the EU and data traversing the boundaries of the EU. It will certainly affect US companies and organizations, but nothing similar in nature is in the works there.

Question 3: In the SMB Space, where a customer may only have a single MS Essentials server and use Office 365, do you feel that this is still something that should move to the cloud?

Answer: I think the answer to that question depends greatly on the customer and the use case. As Didier, Thomas and I discussed in the webinar, the cloud is a tool, and you have to evaluate for each case, whether it makes sense or not to run that workload in the cloud. If for that particular customer, they could benefit from those services living in the cloud with little downside, then it may be a great fit. Again, it has to make sense, technically, fiscally, and operationally, before you can consider doing so.

Question 4: What exactly is a Container?

Answer: While not the same at all, it’s often easiest to see a container as a kind of ultra-stripped down VM. A container holds an ultra-slim OS image (In the case of Nano Server 50-60 MB), any supporting code framework, such as DotNet, and then whatever application you want to run within the container. They are not the same as a VM due to the fact that Windows containers all share the kernel of the underlying host OS. However, if you require further isolation, you can do so with Hyper-V containers, which allows you to run a container within an optimized VM so you can take advantage of Hyper-V’s isolation capabilities.

Question 5: On-Premises Computing is Considered to be a “cloud” now too correct?

Answer: That is correct! In my view, the term cloud doesn’t refer to a particular place, but to the new technologies and software-defined methods that are taking over datacenters today. So you can refer to your infrastructure on-prem as “private cloud”, and anything like Azure or AWS as “Public Cloud”. Then on top of that anything that uses both is referred to as “Hybrid Cloud”.

Question 6: What happens when my client goes to the cloud and they lose their internet service for 2 weeks?

Answer: The cloud, just like any technology solution, has its shortcomings that can be overcome if planned for properly. If you have mission critical service you’d like to host in the cloud, then you’ll want to research ways for the workload to be highly available. That would include a secondary internet connection from a different provider or some way to make that workload accessible from the on-prem location if needed. Regardless of where the workload is, you need to plan for eventualities like this.

Question 7: What Happened to Azure Pack?

Answer: Azure Pack is still around and usable, it will just be replaced by Azure stack at some point. In the meantime, there are integrations available that allow you to manage both solutions from your Azure Stack management utility.

Question 8: What about the cost of Azure Stack? What’s the entry point?

Answer: This is something of a difficult question. Ranges that I’ve heard range from 75k to 250k, depending on the vendor and the load-out. You’ll want to contact your preferred hardware vendor for more information on this question.

Question 9: We’re a hosting company, is it possible to achieve high levels of availability with Azure Stack?

Answer: Just like any technology solution, you can achieve the coveted 4 9s of availability. The question is how much money do you want to spend? You could do so with Azure stack and the correct supporting infrastructure. However, one other thing to keep in mind, your SLA is only as good as your supporting vendors as well. For example, if you sell 4 9s as an SLA, and the internet provider for your datacenter can only provide 99%, then you’ve already broken your SLA, so something to keep in mind there.

Question 10: For Smaller businesses running Azure Stack, should software vendors assume these businesses will look to purchase traditionally on-prem software solutions that are compatible with this? My company’s solution does not completely make sense for the public cloud, but this could bridge the gap. 

Answer: I think for most SMBs, Azure Stack will be fiscally out of reach. In Azure Stack you’re really paying for a “Cloud Platform”, and for most SMBs it will make more sense to take advantage of public Azure if those types of features are needed. that said, to answer your question, there are already vendors doing this. Anything that will deploy on public Azure using ARM will also deploy easily on Azure Stack.

Question 11: In Azure Stack, can I use any backup software and backup the VM to remote NAS storage or to AWS?

Answer: At release, there is no support for 3rd party backup solutions in Azure Stack. Right now there is a built-in flat file backup and that is it. I suspect that it will be opened up to third-party vendors at some point in time and it will likely be protected in much the same way as public Azure resources.

Question 12: How would a lot of these [Azure Stack] services be applied to the K-12 education market? There are lots of laws that require data to be stored in the same country. Yet providers often host in a different country. 

Answer: If you wanted to leverage a providers Azure stack somewhere, you would likely have to find one that actually hosts it in the geographical region you’re required to operate in. Many hosters will provide written proof of where the workload is hosted for these types of situations.

Question 13: I’m planning to move to public Azure, how many Azure cloud Instances would I need?

Answer: There is no hard set answer for this. It depends on the number of VMs/Applications and whether you run them in Azure as VMs or in Azure’s PaaS fabric. The Azure Pricing Calculator will give you an idea of VM sizes and what services are available.

Watch the webinar

Watch the altaro webinar now

Did you miss the webinar when it first went out? Has this blog post instilled a desire for you to rewatch the session again? Have no fear, we have set up an on-demand version for you to watch right now! Simply click on the link below to go the on-demand webinar page where you can watch a live recording of the webinar free.

WATCH NOW: 3 Emerging Technologies that will Change the Way you Use Hyper-V – Altaro On-demand Webinar

Join the Discussion: #FutureOfHyperV

Follow the hashtag #FutureOfHyperV on twitter and join the discussion about the impact of the emerging technologies discussed in our webinar along with other things that will shape the future of Hyper-V for years to come.

Did we miss something?

If you have a question on the future of Hyper-v or any of the 3 emerging technologies that were discussed in the webinar just post in the comments below and we will get straight back to you. Furthermore, if you asked a question during the webinar that you don’t see here, by all means, let us know in the comments section below and we will be sure to answer it here. Any follow-up questions are also very welcome – to feel free to let us know about that as well!

As always – thanks for reading!

3 Emerging Technologies that Will Change the Way You Use Hyper-V

3 Emerging Technologies that Will Change the Way You Use Hyper-V

Hello once again everyone!

The I.T. landscape changes incredibly quickly (if you know a faster changing industry, I’d love to know!) I.T. professionals need to know what’s coming round the corner to stay ahead of the game or risk being left behind. Well, we don’t want that to happen to you, so we’ve run down what we feel are the three most important emerging technologies that will drastically change the Hyper-V landscape.

  1. Continued Adoption of Public Cloud Platforms – It’s becoming clear that the public cloud is continuing to gain steam. It’s not just one vendor, but several, and it continues to pull workloads from on-premise to the cloud. Many people were keen to wait out this “cloud thing”, but it has become quite clear that it’s here to stay. Capabilities in online platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS, have increasingly made it easier, more cost-effective, and desirable to put workloads in the public cloud. These cloud platforms can often provide services that most customers don’t have available on-premise, and this paired with several other things that we’ll talk about in the webinar are leading to increased adoption of these platforms over on-premise installations.
  2. Azure Stack and the Complete Abstraction of Hyper-V under-the-hood – With some of the latest news and release information out of Microsoft regarding their new Microsoft Azure Stack (MAS), things have taken an interesting turn for Hyper-V. As on-premise administrators have always been used to having direct access to the hypervisor, they may be surprised to learn that Hyper-V is so far under the hood in MAS that you can’t even access it. That’s right. The Hypervisor has become so simplified and automated, that there is no need to directly access it in MAS, but this is primarily because MAS follows the same usage and management guidelines as Microsoft Azure. This will bother a lot of administrators but it’s becoming the world we live in. As such, we’ll be talking about this extensively during the webinar.
  3. Containers and Microservices and why they are a game-changer – Containers has become one of the new buzz-words in the industry. If you’re not aware, you can think of containers as similar to a VM, but fundamentally different. Whereas in a VM you’re virtualizing the OS, and everything on top of it, with containers you’re only virtualizing the application. Much of the underlying support functions are handled by the container host, as opposed to an OS built into a VM. For a long time it seemed that containers were going to primarily be a developer thing, but as the line between IT Pro and Dev continues to blur, Containers can no longer be ignored by IT Pros, and we’ll be talking about that revelation extensively during our panel discussion.

As you can see there is much to talk about, and many will be wondering how this affects them. You’re probably asking yourself questions like: “What new skills should IT Pros be learning to stay relevant?”, “Are hypervisors becoming irrelevant?”, “Will containers replace virtual machines?”, “Is the Cloud here to stay?”, “Is there still a place for Windows Server in the world?”, “What can I do now to stay relevant and what skills do I need to learn to future-proof my career?” Yep, these developments certainly raise a lot of issues which is why we decided to take this topic further.

Curious to know more? Join our Live Webinar!

As you know we love to put on webinars here at Altaro as we find them a critical tool for getting information about new technologies and features to our viewership. We’ve always stuck to the same basic educational format and it’s worked well over the years. However, we’ve always wanted to try something a bit different. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with an educational format, but with some topics, it’s often best to just have a conversation. This idea is at the core of our next webinar along with some critical changes that are occurring within our industry.

For the first time ever, Altaro will be putting on a panel-style webinar with not 1 or 2, but with 3 Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter MVPs. Andy Syrewicze, Didier Van Hoye, and Thomas Maurer will all be hosting this webinar as they talk about some major changes and take your questions/feedback regarding things that are occurring in the industry today. These are things that will affect the way you use and consume Hyper-V.

Webinar Registration

New Altaro Webinar - 3 Emerging Technologies that will Change the Way you use Hyper-V

EU Webinar (2pm CEST) Begins in








US Webinar (10amPDT/1pmEDT) Begins in








As always we will be hosting the webinar twice to accommodate those on both sides of the Atlantic. Both live sessions will have the same content but the respective audiences may have region-specific questions so it is recommended to stick to your regional time slot but feel free to join the other session if you can’t make your one.

Also remember, that this panel webinar isn’t just for our 3 speakers to share their opinions! This is a perfect chance to make your voice and opinions heard as well. We’ll be sure to provide every opportunity for you to ask questions and weigh in on the discussion as well, so bring your questions and comments!

Additionally, if there are any questions you’d like to address ahead of time, be sure to use the comments below to do so!

We look forward to seeing you at the webinar!

Webinar Follow-up Q&A: Future-Proofing your Datacenter with Microsoft Azure Stack

Webinar Follow-up Q&A: Future-Proofing your Datacenter with Microsoft Azure Stack

Hello once again everyone! Back on August 28th, Thomas Maurer and I put on a webinar centered around the topic of Microsoft Azure Stack. The webinar served as an introduction to the topic and spoke to how Azure stack will integrate into your existing datacenter.

As is our norm after putting on a big webinar, we always like to do a follow-up blog post, that includes several things:

  • A full recording of the webinar
  • A copy of the slide deck for download
  • Full list of the questions and their associated answers.

Let’s get started with the list!

Revisit the Webinar

Download a Copy of the Slide Deck

The Slide Deck can be downloaded HERE

Q&A from the Webinar

Q. If you’re new to Azure Stack, what are some good resources for learning more about it (Other than this webinar)

A. If you’re looking to learn more about Azure Stack, it would be best if you start by learning more about Azure. This is because managing Azure Stack is so similar to Azure, learning how to handle Azure, will help you with Azure Stack when you’re ready to deploy it. If you’re looking to focus on individual features, it is recommended that you focus on ARM (Azure Resource Manager) before focusing on other items. With that said, Microsoft has a lot of training materials about Azure and ARM, and even has an online virtual academy with some resources HERE

Q. Microsoft has already talked about scaling the solution up from the existing planned deployments, are there any mentioned plans to scale the solution down?

A. The smallest that Azure Stack scales down too is 4 nodes, with no mentioned plans to go below that. Due to the nature of the solution and what it’s capable of delivering, if 4 nodes is not small enough, it’s recommended to host the workloads directly in Azure instead.

Q. Will it be more resource efficient to host PaaS workloads of IaaS workloads in Azure Stack?

A. While the final numbers and pricing would tell you for sure, at this point it looks like PaaS will be the more efficient route (Like Public Azure). This is because PaaS services are inherently more efficient than IaaS as you’re not having to support an individual underlying OS for each workload.

Q. What are the differences between the different switch types in Azure Stack.

A. The Aggregate switch acts as an aggregation layer for all the different TOP switches to connect to. The TOR Switch is a top-of-rack switch that the physical hosts connect to, and the BMC switch is a switch that is used by the baseboard management controllers in the hosts for things like auto-power-on and power off, and patching.

Q. Can I use Altaro VM Backup to protect workloads running on Azure Stack?

A. At release Microsoft is not opening APIs or providing a way for 3rd party vendors to provide backup services inside of the stack. However, it is suspected (but not confirmed) that they will open a marketplace for MAS, much like they have for Azure. Through this backup vendors could deploy methods for protecting Azure Stack based workloads. We will be watching this closely and will be sure to notify you via the Altaro blog of any major product enhancements centered around this.

Q. Am I able to use an Azure Stack based storage account for hosting offsite backups with Altaro VM Backup?

A. Yes! You can connect to an Azure Stack based storage account just as you would connect to a storage account hosted in public Azure. All you need to do is follow the instructions posted in the offsite backup location section of the application and cut and paste in your connection string for the storage account.


Well that wraps up things for August’s webinar! Be sure to keep an eye out on this space, as we’ll be posting more information about Azure Stack as our authors find it interesting and of use to you!

As always, if there was a question you have that wasn’t answered, or you thought of a follow-up question, be sure to use the comments section below and we’ll be sure to get you your answer ASAP.

Thanks for attending, and we hope to see you for the next one!

New Webinar: Future-Proofing your Datacenter with Microsoft Azure Stack

New Webinar: Future-Proofing your Datacenter with Microsoft Azure Stack

If you’ve been working in IT for the last year or two, you’ve surely heard of Microsoft Azure Stack in some manner. Many an IT Pro who isn’t familiar with it will likely hear it and make the assumption that it’s just another Azure component considering Azure’s rather fast development cycle. If you’re one of those people though, what if I told you Microsoft Azure Stack (or MAS) allows you to bring the power of Azure to your very own datacenter? Imagine being able to host workloads seamlessly in the public cloud and on-premise and have one unified management methodology for each. This is just a taste of the power of Azure Stack inside of your datacenter.

If this sounds compelling, then we’ve got just the webinar for you!

Join Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management MVPs Thomas Maurer and Andy Syrewicze in our latest Altaro educational webinar. They will be providing you with the information, tools, and skills you need to prepare for the arrival of this new datacenter technology and prepare your organization for the age of private hosted clouds on MAS.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • What is Microsoft Azure Stack
  • Exactly how it will change your datacenter
  • How to start testing it in your own business today

At the end of the session, we’ll also run a Q&A on the topic, as always, during which you can ask Thomas and Andy your questions!

Future-proofing your Datacenter with Microsoft Azure Stack Webinar

Interested? Register here – limited seats available!

New Altaro Hyper-V webinar Microsoft Azure Stack

Date: Monday, August 28th, 2017
Time: For US: 10am PT / 1pm ET. For RoW: 4pm CET.

Azure Stack Webinar Registration

Do you already have questions about Microsoft Azure Stack?

Andy and Thomas will be taking your questions and tackling as many as they can during the Q&A part of our Azure Stack webinar.

If you have any questions on the topic that you’d like to get answered, leave a comment below or ask your questions during the webinar!

Hot Hyper-V Topics – February 2016

Hot Hyper-V Topics – February 2016

It’s time for our monthly deep-dive into the cool links and Hot Hyper-V Topics from the last month! With the new year out of the way, businesses and bloggers are back to full speed with new features and new articles. So, we have a number of items to cover for this month’s article. Let’s dive in!

 1. Azure Stack Preview Is Public

I’m not going to wait until later in the post to discuss this juicy announcement. Microsoft’s Azure stack is now in public preview. Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter MVP Aiden Finn, has posted a quick announcement on his blog regarding this with a link to download the relevant bits for installation. For those that are not aware, Microsoft’s Azure Stack brings the power of Microsoft Azure, including Hyper-V, to your datacenter. Microsoft has packaged up all the innovation, flexibility, and features of Azure and have made them deployable on-premises. Currently in this technical preview, the hardware requirements are quite high due to the installation needing to occur on a single box, but as we get closer to the official release, this is likely to change. While this announcement is most suited to MSPs and Hosters, organizations of all sizes may one day be leveraging Azure Stack in some way, shape, or form.

2. Exploring Nano Server for Windows Server 2016

Of all the new features coming in Windows Server 2016, Nano Server is perhaps, one of the most game-changing. This takes the idea of JEA (Just Enough Admin) and applies it to the entire server operating system. Once released, this flavor of the Windows Server OS, should be your preferred method of Hyper-V host deployment. It includes many benefits, not the least of which are added security and fewer reboots. While the idea of a nearly headless OS scares some administrators away, there are a number of resources available to start learning more about it. The above link talks about the future of the datacenter with Nano Server, and features a video with Jeffery Snover and Matt McSpirit. If your simply interested in the video without reading the article, we’ve embedded it below for your viewing pleasure.


3. Manage Nano Server and Windows Server from Azure using Remote Server Management Tools

While we’re still on the topic of Nano Server, management  questions will often come to mind. With a headless server, many IT Pros are left wondering how they would manage such a solution. To handle this, Microsoft has provided a new solution for this, and it’s amazing. Back on February 9th, new cloud based management tools were announced. With these new web based utilities you’ll be able to do a number of different administrative tasks such as changing system configuration, view event logs, managed attached devices, and much more! The setup of this management solution consists of the installation of an on-premises gateway server, then the remove tools can be launched from the Microsoft Azure portal. Check out the link for more information if this sounds interesting to you!

4. Basic Networking PowerShell Cmdlets Cheatsheet to Replace netsh, ipconfig, nslookup and More

And, we have another featured post by a Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP, Thomas Maurer. Thomas has provided several great posts and links in the past month or two and this is one of my favorite. We’ve all been using the older CLI tools like netsh, ipconfig, and nslookup for many, many, MANY years. With PowerShell becoming the new norm for CLI and management in the industry isn’t it about time we start using the modern day PowerShell equivalent of these tools? Thomas has put together a get resource here to do just that. Using the more modern CLI tools will make troublshooting your Hyper-V deployments much easier. Bookmark away my friends!

5. Shared VHDX in Windows 2016: VHDS and the Backing Storage File

Didier Van Hoye, also a Microsoft MVP in the Cloud and Datacenter Management group, always does a great job in keeping the community educated about some of the finer points in regards to storage with Hyper-V. Shared VHDX in Hyper-V provides many benefits, especially in clustering scenarios, but there are always a number of questions focused on how shared VHDXs function and operate. Didier elaborates a bit on that subject in this post.

6. Switch a Windows Server Container to a Hyper-V Container

Another fantastic post by Thomas Maurer here. As we know Containers are a HUGE topic in the industry right now, and that includes the Microsoft world as well. For those that haven’t been keeping up to date on this, Microsoft provides two different kinds of containers. Windows Containers, and Hyper-V Containers. While both of them provide container functionality, the Hyper-V container type provides a much higher layer of isolation by adding in a Hyper-V virtual machine layer. I could see some situations where you’ve got an already deployed container image that you’d like to convert to a Hyper-V container. Thomas discusses how complete that task in this post.

 7. Changes to Remote Management using Hyper-V Manager

Not a Major announcement by any means on this one, but still important. So, I wanted to make sure it got mentioned. There have been some subtle changes being made to remote management operations in Hyper-V in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 and Ben Armstrong from the Hyper-V product groups goes into much more detail in this post. Just something to be aware of.

8. Building Your Hybrid Cloud – Nested Virtualization in Windows Server 2016

We’ll wrap up our post with Nested virtualization! Nested virtualization has been a very hot topic ever since it was announced that it would be a supported feature in Windows Server 2016. With that in mind, I wanted to make sure that this made it into today’s post as well. Posted on Feb 17th, Keith Mayer and I did a vodcast discussing nested virtualization in Windows Server 2016. We discussed the use cases, requirements and limitations. Then we followed up our discussion with exactly how to go about enabling it and using it within your test lab. You can click the link above for the official Channel 9 page containing the video, or if you’d like to just view the video, it is embedded below. Enjoy!

Wrap Up

That conclude our hot topic list for the month! We hope you enjoyed today’s links, and be sure to keep an eye out next month when we put together our next Hot Hyper-V Topics List! Also, if there was a hot topic that you didn’t see us discuss today, be sure to let us know in the comments below! Happy Reading!  

5 Virtualization Highlights from Microsoft Ignite 2015

5 Virtualization Highlights from Microsoft Ignite 2015

Several weeks ago, you may have followed the Altaro Webinar on “What’s new with Microsoft Virtualization in Server vNext”. While a lot of good information was provided at said webinar, we weren’t able to divulge all of the upcoming capabilities due to some of the material being covered under Microsoft NDA at the time.

Well, the wait is over!

This week I’m in the midst of the Microsoft Ignite conference here in Chicago, and I’d like to share with you a couple of great innovations and new products and features that are coming with the release of Server 2016 and the next generation of the Microsoft Ecosystem.

While I’ll be covering each of the below items in more detail in later segments, today’s post will serve as list of the newly announced products in the virtualization space specifically, with more details focused on enhancements to Hyper-V coming in a later post.

So let’s get on with it.

1. Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016

Formerly known as Server vNext, the true name of the next generation of Windows Server made its debut on Monday morning during the Microsoft Ignite Keynote. Many people have been concerned over the last year due to the fact that at TechEd 2014, the focus was largely on Microsoft Azure, and there was little to no mention of another on-premise server product. Those concerns can be put to rest. The upcoming Windows Server 2016 is a cloud-ready server OS for the next generation of applications and workloads in our now cloud focused industry. The new capabilities will allow us to provide enhanced scalability and reliability to end users and businesses, while providing the ability to host any workload, anywhere, at any time.

Also announced was the next generation of System Center with the announcement of System Center 2016, which contains additional enhancement for those in the enterprise space and for those looking to host hybrid clouds and services.

Much of the functionality and Innovation of Microsoft Azure has been pulled down, and packaged into Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 for use in your on-premise Data Centers.

Microsoft has essentially taken all that they’ve learned with Azure and baked it into these on-premise products for the world to use. They don’t see workloads residing solely in Azure, but on on-premise servers and in service provider datacenters as well, and the next generation of these products is aimed at making that goal a reality.

By the way – If you’re interested in trying out the preview release of Windows Server 2016 you can get a copy here.

The System Center 2016 preview release has also been made available and can be found here.

2. Containers

When we’re talking about virtualization there has perhaps been no bigger change or innovation than what was announced with Containers. While I won’t get into the specifics too much now (since there’s enough material to cover multiple posts on the topic), Containers are indeed a game changer.

Containers will allow us to provide further application isolation between the running host and other virtual entities in the environment by placing an application inside a contained environment and not allowing the code to co-mingle. Think of them as virtual machines, but without the additional overhead of an OS running inside of a VM. Microsoft accomplishes this by allowing the containerized application to share the kernel of the running host, while still maintaining separation.

There are two different flavors of Containers, Windows Server Containers, and Hyper-V Containers. Both have close tie-ins with Docker and I’ll be providing more detail in an upcoming post.

Containers will provide increased flexibility and a higher level of saturation of workloads inside of our virtualized environments.

More on this great technology coming up in future posts!

3. Nano Server

For the past several years, we’ve had Windows Server Core available to us, and while very feature rich, Microsoft felt that is was still too bloated for the needs of a Hypervisor and the Cloud OS. The key roles and features provided by Nano Server are simply Hyper-V, Clustering and Storage. Essentially everything you need to run virtualized environments.

*Update*: Other roles/features are being looked at for Nano Server by Microsoft and may be announced at a later date. If this is the case, I’ll be sure to update this post at that time.

An interesting quote by Jeffery Snover, who is a Distinguished Engineer with Microsoft, stated that “Nano Server is the most important, most significant change that we’ve made since Windows NT”. This type of statement shows you the backing and trust that Microsoft is putting behind Nano Server, so expect to see much more to come, including an upcoming post right here, specifically about Nano server and its benefits.

4. Azure Stack

As mentioned briefly earlier in this post, Microsoft has learned much during their time with Azure in the last 6 or 7 years. They are now ready to share that knowledge and innovation with those of us who could benefit from it in our on-premise datacenters.

For some time, we’ve had the Windows Azure Pack available to us, but the Microsoft Azure Stack certainly surpasses it in capabilities. The Windows Azure Pack only provided a subset of the functions of Microsoft Azure, while the Microsoft Azure Stack will provide a true Azure experience in our On-Premise Datacenters, with all the enhancements and capabilities that come with it.

5. Operations Management Suite

Now that we have all these different clouds residing in the public space, or the private datacenter, or maybe even hosted with a service provider, it can become difficult to manage them across so many different platforms. Microsoft has come up with an answer to this with the Operations Management Suite that was announced during the Ignite Keynote.

Operations Management Suite will allow administrators to manage all cloud resources from a single pane of glass. This includes, Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Rackspace, Hyper-V, VMware and more. This solution is really going to become the one stop shop for all hybrid cloud management and will really enhance the industries’ management capabilities of the cloud.

Wrap Up

While I covered the high-level enhancements and products announced at Ignite 2015 around virtualization and the cloud, be on the lookout in the coming days for another post detailing some of the new enhancements being rolled out for Hyper-V itself. Lots of exciting stuff to share!

After that we’ll really start doing some deep dives into what these new technologies and enhancements mean for you and your organization.

Thanks for reading!