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Announcing the General Availability of System Center 2012 R2: Management Delivered

The Cloud OS vision combines Microsoft knowledge and experiences with today’s trends and technology innovations to deliver a modern platform of products and services that helps organizations transform their current server environment into a highly elastic, scalable, and reliable cloud infrastructure. Utilizing the software that powers the Cloud OS vision, organizations can quickly and flexibly build and manage modern applications across platforms, locations, and devices, unlock insights from volumes of existing and new data, and support end-user productivity wherever and on whatever device they choose. At the heart of Cloud OS is Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2.

Today, we are pleased to announce the general availability of System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2. 

System Center 2012 R2 effectively manages the scale and performance that Windows Server 2012 R2 offers.  Building on System Center 2012, this release enables at-scale management of major Windows Server 2012 R2 capabilities, including running VM snapshots, dynamic VHDX resize, and Storage Spaces.  

System Center 2012 R2 also extends software-defined networking in Windows Server 2012 R2 with provisioning and management support for a multitenant VPN gateway to enable seamless extension of datacenter capacity.  System Center 2012 R2 will continue to help you provision and manage a flexible hybrid IT environment that adapts dynamically to changing business needs, including migrating workloads to Windows Azure Virtual Machines and managing them consistently.

We’re very proud of the releases of Windows 8.1 and Window 8.1 RT, and the enhancements they bring.   System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager and Windows Intune fully support these new versions of Windows, and Windows Server 2012 R2 helps enable greater mobility and access through features including Workplace Join and Work Folders.

What to do next?

If you haven’t begun evaluating System Center 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2, and Windows Intune, it’s a great time to start. 

Let us know what you think – stay engaged in the communities, and share your success stories.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Better Together – The New Windows Server 2012 R2 Innovations – Download Now

There are quite a few products that make up the Microsoft Cloud OS vision. Windows Server 2012 R2 is in preview right now and ready for your evaluation.  We also have a strong management platform that make up the System Center family of products. They are designed to have tight integration with the core being Windows Server.

If you are looking for information on Windows Server 2012 R2, we have been rolling out detailed information though Brad Anderson’s What’s New in 2012 R2 blog series.  That will continue but we thought you would like a short consolidated list for consideration.  Here are some of the new innovations in Windows Server 2012 R2.

New Innovations in Windows Server 2012 R2Storage transformation – Delivers breakthrough performance at a fraction of the cost

  • The storage tiering feature of Storage Spaces in Windows Server 2012 R2 automatically tiers data across hard disks and solid state drives based on usage to dramatically increase storage performance and cost efficiency.

Software defined networking – Provides new levels of agility and flexibility

  • Network virtualization in Windows Server 2012 R2, along with the management capabilities in System Center 2012 R2 provides the flexibility to place any virtual machine on any node regardless of IP address with isolation. 
  • New in-box gateway in Windows Server 2012 R2 extends virtual networks to provide full connectivity to physical networks as well as access to virtual networks over the internet.

Virtualization and live migration – Provides an integrated and high-performance virtualization platform

  • Cross-version live migration enables virtual machines running on Windows Server 2012 to be migrated to Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts with no downtime.
  • Live migration compression provides dramatic time savings (approximately 50% or greater) by using spare CPU cycles to compress live migration traffic with no special hardware.
  • Live migration with RDMA enables offloading of the process to the NICs (if they support RDMA) for even faster live migrations.

Access & Information Protection – Empowering your users to be productive while maintaining control and security of corporate information with Windows Server 2012 R2

  • Enable users to work on the device of their choice (through BYOD programs or on personal devices) by providing a simple registration process to make the devices known to IT and be taken into account as part of your conditional access policies
  • Deliver policy-based access control to corporate applications and data with consistent experiences across devices
  • Protect corporate information and mitigate risk by managing a single identity for each user across both on-premises and cloud-based applications and enabling multi-factor authentication for additional user validation

Java application monitoring – Enables deep application insight into Java applications.

  • Provides performance and exception events as well as level alerting within Operations Manager for Java applications.
  • Supports Tomcat, Java JDK, and other Java web services frameworks.
  • Line-of-code level traceability with performance and exception metrics for .NET and Java application monitoring for more actionable, tool-driven dev-ops collaboration

This is by no means a comprehensive lists of new features and benefits, but we just wanted to give you some information on the key focus areas.  For those of you interested in downloading some of the products and trying them, here are some resources to help you:

System Center 2012 R2 Available October 18th

In important news today, we are extremely excited that on October 18th, eligible customers will able to download Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and use the latest update to Windows Intune. This is the same day that Windows 8.1 will be available to consumers and businesses worldwide. Microsoft Vice President Brad Anderson details this exciting news in his latest blog, Mark Your Calendars for October 18th, the R2 Wave is Coming.

Read the news and give these new products a try today! You can download the preview bits here, and learn more about all the new innovations in the R2 products by following Microsoft Vice President, Brad Anderson’s special blog series, “What’s New in 2012 R2”  now underway.

 Get more news on the R2 wave of products by following @System_Center and Brad Anderson @InTheCloudMSFT on Twitter!

How to Create a Basic Plan Using the Service Administration Portal

This post is a part of the nine-part “What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2” series that is featured on Brad Anderson’s In the Cloud blog.  Today’s blog post covers Service Administration and how it applies to the larger topic of “Transform the Datacenter.”  To read that post and see the other technologies discussed, read today’s post: “What’s New in 2012 R2: Service Provider & Tenant IaaS Experience.”

As described in that blog post, success for a service provider largely hinges on its ability to attract and retain tenants.  It therefore falls to the service provider to think about how to use service offerings to draw tenants in, to consider different tactics for differentiation, upsell, and maintain healthy tenant accounts.  To help service providers meet these challenges, we have invested in key enhancements to the service management experience targeting these specific areas: 

  • Using value based offers to attract tenants and drive new subscriptions
  • Use offer differentiation & upsell to drive more consumption 
  • Managing tenant accounts and subscriptions

A “service provider” here could be an IT organization within a company that is providing services such as IaaS to other business units in the organization. Thus, an IT organization that operates like a service provider to other business units must create compelling service offerings in much the same way as a service provider tries to attract customers. 

Overview of an IaaS Plan

Service providers can build bundles of service offerings that are termed “plans”. Plans include composable service offerings that can be assembled together in order target different types of prospective tenants.  Tenants consume these service offerings by subscribing to a plan.  In a very general sense, a cloud is nothing more to the tenant than a set of capabilities (“service offerings”) at some capacity (“quotas”).

To support this business model, we have designed a very easy-to-use experience for creating offers, selecting the kinds of service offerings to include and then setting the quotas to control how much can be consumed by any single subscription.  But, it goes beyond a simple set of compute, storage, and networking capabilities at some quota amount! 

One of the most important aspects of plan creation is the process of including library content to facilitate simplified application development.  For that reason, the plan creation experience also features a way to include templates for foundational VM configurations and workloads.

Plan Creation

In the Service Administration portal, the left side navigation has a entry called “Plans” which lists all the plans currently in the system. As you can see in the figure below, the administrators have created many different plans. When plans are created they are “Private” by default, meaning they are not yet visible to prospective tenants.

image

In a quick glance, the administrator can identify which Plans are accessible by the tenants, how many subscriptions they have along with other pertinent status.

Creating a new plan is very easy and is enabled by the Quick Create experience.

Scroll down and click on New, which takes you to the Plan creation experience.

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This experience enables plan creation and “plan add-ons”. We will be focusing on plan creation in this blog post. The plan creation experience is a simple wizard with just three screens. In the first screen, you give the plan a name, and in this case it is going to be called “BlogIaaSPlan” as shown in the figure below.

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As mentioned earlier, a plan is a container of service offerings that are available in the system. This system is configured to provide VMs, web sites, SQL Server databases, and service bus services. Therefore, the plan wizard allows all of these types of services to be offered in the plan.

We will focus only on virtual machines in this blog post. In this screenshot the ‘Virtual Machine Clouds’ service is selected and ‘Virtual Machine Clouds’ is chosen from the drop down.

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Skip the plan add-ons for now and click OK. That completes the plan Quick Create experience. As you can see, the BlogIaaSPlan is created and is private by default.  The plan is “not configured” yet and needs to be configured before it can be made public for tenants to be able to subscribe to the plan.

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Configuring the Plan

Clicking on the plan (BlogIaaSPlan) presents the plan dashboard page. This page shows the plan statistics at the top and a list of all the services that are available on the plan along with plan add-ons associated with the plan.

Since we are creating an VM only plan, we have not selected any other offer/services other than Virtual Machine Clouds.

 

image

 

As seen in the figure above, the Plan is not active nor configured for it to be used.

Click on ‘Virtual Machine Clouds’ to configure the plan.

Associating the Plan with a VMM Server and Cloud

A plan that offers VM clouds is associated with a specific Virtual Machine Manager server and a Virtual Machine Manager cloud within that VMM server. When the tenant subscribes to this plan and instantiates a virtual machine, the system will deploy that VM with the specified properties on the associated cloud via the associated VMM server.

imageAs shown in the figure to the left, the VMM server is a mandatory property that needs to be set for an IaaS plan.

As part of the service registration, the VMM server information is already available in the system. Therefore, selecting the correct VMM server is very easy.

Once a VMM server has been selected, the VMM cloud managed by that VMM server needs to be selected and bound to the plan.

image

As you can see in the figure, once a VMM server has been identified, the system queries the VMM server to list all the VMM clouds available on the VMM server.

We will choose the Gold Cloud to be associated with this plan.

A plan allows the administrator to bind the service to a specific cloud and controls on the upper limits on its usage.

Assigning Quota Limits to a Plan

The administrator will be able to set limits on the core compute attributes such as “the maximum number of VMs, logical cores, the max memory, storage and virtual networks each subscription can have.

image

As you can see in this figure, you can specify absolute limits by specifying a number against each compute property to leave it unlimited, in which case it will be limited by the underlying fabric constraints.

Adding Allowed Networks to the Plan

The plan allows various cloud resources to be made available to the subscriber in a controlled manner. In this section we will go through the networks that are made available to the plan.

When a plan is being configured for the first time, there are no cloud resources assigned to the plan. Therefore all the cloud resources will be empty. Click on ‘Add networks’ to add networks to the plan and add the Fabrikam External network to the plan.

imageimage

 

 

 

When a tenant subscribes to this plan, and creates a VM, the only networks available for that VM to use will be the only networks allowed by the plan and in this case, it will only be the Fabrikam External network.

Adding Other Resources

Following the same pattern as that of networks, we can specify which hardware profiles and virtual machine templates are accessible within the plan. In this plan, all the hardware profiles and only the Windows Server 2012 VM template are chosen resulting in the figures below.

image

 

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With these configurations complete, the plan is ready to be subscribed to by tenants. Advanced scenarios such as the gallery and other settings will be discussed in later blogs.

Next the plan needs to be made it public so that it can be discovered and subscribed to by tenants.

Plan Activation

Go back to the Plans List view to see all the plans. As you can see in the figure below, the plan is now configured, but still private. 

image

Select the BlogIaaSPlan and then make it public by changing its access privileges. As shown in the Figure below, you can see do it from the Change Access command

image

 

The plan status will change to reflect the fact it’s now a publicly accessible plan. You can see that in the Plans view as shown in the figure below.

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Once the plan is made public it can be subscribed to and tenants can start to deploy virtual machines against the subscription.

Conclusion

In subsequent blogs, we will provide more details of creating advanced plans.

To see all of the posts in this series, check out the What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2 archive.

Creating Usage Analytics Reports using Excel

This post is a part of the nine-part “What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2” series that is featured on Brad Anderson’s In the Cloud blog.  Today’s blog post covers Service Administration and how it applies to the larger topic of “Transform the Datacenter.”  To read that post and see the other technologies discussed, read today’s post: “What’s New in 2012 R2: Service Provider & Tenant IaaS Experience.”

As described in that blog post, enabling usage analytics scenarios for service providers is a key investment area for this release. Service providers cannot successfully monetize their services in the absence of a system that tracks and provides analytics on tenant resource usage.  

Overview of Service Reporting

The “How to Integrate Your Billing System with the Usage Metering System” blog post provided an overview of the Usage Metering System. This blog post will focus on how we extract the same data and provide analytics on tenant resource VM utilization and make them available in Excel pivot tables. (analysis via Performance Point is covered in a subsequent blog post). As shown in the figure below, the Service Reporting component extracts the data from the Usage REST API and transforms them into OLAP cubes for analytics, as shown in the picture below.

image

  

Service Reporting is a data warehousing solution developed on top of the Microsoft Business Intelligence (BI) stack.

In the 2012 R2 release, data is correlated from two sources

  1. Windows Azure Pack Usage (Tenant Resource Utilization data)
  2. Operations Manager (Fabric data such as Servers, VM Instances etc..)

Service Reporting is designed for the service administrator to create reports using Excel pivot tables to obtain the insights that help them in their capacity planning needs and show-back situations.

VM Usage Data Pipeline

In the figure below, the VM usage data source is VMM (Virtual Machine Manager). This data is periodically collected and stored in the OM (Operations Manager) database. This data is collected and stored in the WAP (Windows Azure Pack) Usage Database along with usage data of other resources. As mentioned earlier, the details of WAP Usage system was detailed in the blog How to Integrate Your Billing System with the Usage Metering System.

The Service Reporting component reads data from the Usage Database and then transforms the raw usage data into OLAP cubes for analytics. The data in these OLAP cubes are available for visualization and for drill down analytics using Excel and Performance Point.

 

image

 

Scenarios

For the 2012 R2 release we targeted the following usage analysis scenarios:

  1. Usage trends across different time dimensions (hourly, daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly) to provide critical trending patterns
  2. Pivoting by subscriptions to understand which subscribers are impacting the business
  3. Pivoting by clouds/plans to understand which plans are used the most
  4. Side-by-side comparison between allocated capacity for tenants and their usage to help understand utilization ratios

These scenarios can be visualized in Excel and in Performance Point. Excel is a very popular tool for most reporting needs, and has pivot table capabilities that come in very handy for ad-hoc analytics. Excel workbooks can contain data to be analyzed even when disconnected from the SQL Server Analysis Server.

Configuring Usage Reports

The prerequisites for Usage Reports to work are that the Service Reporting component must be working correctly and usage data must be flowing into the system. This blog does not address the installation and deployment of the Service Reporting component. The Excel Usage Reports shipped out of the box in 2012 R2 need to be connected to the Analysis Server that holds the Usage Data Cube. This can be easily done by opening the Usage Report from the Reports folder in the install directory of the Service Reporting component. Navigate to the Data->Connections menu in Excel and open up the default connection that is shipped out of the box and edit it. As you can see in the figure below, you can navigate to the Definition tab in the Connection properties.

The connection string to use here is highlighted below.

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Ensure you add the correct connection properties and save. The only property you should be changing is the source (highlighted in red) below.

Provider=MSOLAP.5;Integrated Security=SSPI;Persist Security Info=True;Initial Catalog=UsageAnalysisDB;Data Source=fab-servicereporting;MDX Compatibility=1;Safety Options=2;MDX Missing Member Mode=Error

Make sure, the command text has SRUsageCube in the text.

Once these connection properties are saved, the Excel report can now be populated with data from the Usage Data Cube and its capabilities.

To test it out, you can create a brand new worksheet and then create a pivot table using the connection you just created.

Step 1: Open a new worksheet

Step 2: Click on Insert->Pivot Table

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  • Step 3: Make sure you have External data source selected
  • Step 4: Click on Choose Connection and select the data connection configured in the previous step.

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  • Step 5: Save the changes and close the dialog to go back to the Excel worksheet.

If the data connection is configured correctly, you should be seeing this form on the right side of your worksheet.

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Click on “All” and you will see a drop down with the following items.

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Click on the Settings icon (the round sprocket) and collapse all the fields.

You will see all the 19 “measures” that are available out of the box for reporting different utilization data points.

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At this point, you are ready to create your own report that is provided in the sample Usage Report.

Explore the Pivot Table fields and try to compose the report similar to the one in the figure below by dragging and dropping the different fields to the appropriate areas (Filters, Columns, Rows, Values).

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As you add the rows and columns, you will start to see the report shape up to look like the figure below.

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Slicers

Once you have a report that looks like this you can augment this report by adding slicers to give you filtering options.

Go to Insert->Slicer and choose the same connection that the pivot table is using. This will provide you with options to choose the necessary filter. Select VMM User Role (which is the same as Subscriptions) and you can see list of subscribers in the system and selecting one gives you the ability to scope the results.

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In this instance, I have created a slicer with “VMM User Role” but changed the Display name to “Subscriptions” to make it more intuitive. All the available “Subscriptions” are shown in this list and all of them are in scope.

Now, if you select just one of them, say “Unknown User Role” you will see the report change to just display the records related to just that subscription as shown the table below.

As you can see, all the values, instantly change to the selected filter, thus giving the administrator great ability to look at subscribers and compare them side by side. One can multi-select within the same slicer and chain other slicers to provide richer analytics.

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Conclusion

While Excel is super powerful and ubiquitous, Performance Point allows greater collaboration by enabling dashboards . By connecting to the Analysis Server of Service Reporting, one can take advantage of all the key fields that are available in Service Reporting to create powerful dashboards that can help the service administrator see the key metrics of the business is a single location. 

Subsequent blog posts will go into the details of configuring Performance Point dashboards.

To see all of the posts in this series, check out the What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2 archive.

 

How to Integrate Your Billing System with the Usage Metering System

This post is a part of the nine-part “What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2” series that is featured on Brad Anderson’s In the Cloud blog.  Today’s blog post covers Service Provider experiences in enabling the billing and chargeback of Tenant Resource Utilization and how it applies to Brad’s larger topic of “Transform the Datacenter.”  To read that post and see the other technologies discussed, read today’s post:   What’s New in 2012 R2: Service Provider & Tenant IaaS Experience.

As described in that blog post, enabling billing scenarios for the service providers is a key investment area for this release. Service providers cannot successfully monetize their services in the absence of a system that tracks and reports on tenant resource utilization. These services are offered on a subscription basis and therefore it is critical that the resource utilization is reported at the subscription granularity to assist in billing scenarios. 

Overview of the Usage Metering System

The usage system is located alongside the Service Management API in the Windows Azure Pack (WAP) stack, enabling it to access tenant utilization data for all the services provided in the WAP stack and provide an REST API which is leveraged to integrate with the billing system of the provider, as illustrated in the figure below.

 

Usage Metering System Overview

Service providers have invested a lot in their own billing system and it was critical that the 2012 R2 release be able to integrate with the existing systems in place. Therefore, we targeted our investments to ensure that 2012 R2 integrates easily with various billing providers and ITFM (IT Financial Management) products that are in the market.

It is important to note that there is no billing system being shipped in 2012 R2 release. Service providers have to create the billing integration module (also referred as “billing adaptor”) to provide data to the billing system they are using.

Now, lets go a little deeper to look at the building blocks of the usage metering system and how its architected.

The Usage Metering System has four main components. Three of these components, the Data Generator, The Data Collector and the Usage Database are internal to the system and the fourth component the Usage API is an external facing API that the billing adapter will interface with to extract the tenant resource utilization data.

Data Generator

The Data Generator tier represents the services (resource providers) registered as part of the system. They collect information specific to a subscription and expose it to the Usage Collector. The Usage Collector expects information to be made available following a specific data contract. This contract is the same across all the providers. All providers in the system adhere to this contract to provide information. IaaS metrics in Windows Azure Pack are provided by VM Clouds resource provider.

Data Collector

The Data Collector is an internal component that periodically collects usage information from all the registered Data Generators and stores it in the Usage Database.

Usage Database

The Usage Database is a transient store, which stores all the data from the various Data Generators for a period of 30-40 days. The expectation is that during this time, the billing system would have extracted the data from this database for billing purposes.

Usage API

This is a RESTful API and is the only way to extract the data from the Usage Database. Since Service Providers typically have a billing system which allows them to generate monthly bills to their subscribers. Customers can easily create an integration to their billing system by extracting data from the Usage Database through the Usage API. The component that customers develop to integrate with their billing system is called a “Billing Adapter”, which serves as a bridge between the Usage Metering system and the customer billing system.

 

In the figure below, in the red circles, you can see the VM Clouds resource provider, alongside other resource providers such as Service Bus, generating the IaaS resource utilization data, which is collected and stored in the Usage Database and made available through the Usage API.

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The Usage API can be leveraged to create the billing adaptor and interface with the billing system within the provider data center. In the figure below, you can see that the role of the “billing adaptor” serving to integrate the Usage Metering System and the billing provider within the provider datacenter.

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The “Service Reporting” component and the analytics it provides is discussed in the blog post titled “Creating Usage Analytics Reports using Excel and Performance Point” while this blog post details on how to create a “Billing Adaptor”.

Interacting with the Usage System

This section explains the ways an external system can interact with the Usage Metering System. Two different types of information are available through the Usage API:

  1. Tenant resource utilization for all subscriptions
  2. Plan, add-on, subscription, and account information

The information is presented via two channels:

  1. Usage API that queries all the historical data
  2. Real time CRUD events via the Event Notification System.

The billing adaptor uses both these channels to be able to effectively create a billing reports while being able to respond in real time as plans, subscriptions and accounts get created and managed in the environment.

Usage API (Exposed on the Usage Endpoint)

Usage Data

The Usage endpoint exposes an API to return tenant resource utilization data pertaining to every subscription across services. The caller (“Billing Adapter”) needs to provide the “startid”. This parameter informs the Usage Metering System to return usage data, starting from that ID. The Billing Adapter advances the “startid” based on the number of records returned for the subsequent call.

 

Method Name

API

Response

GET

/usage?startId={startId}&batchSize={batchSize}

UsageRecordList<UsageRecord>

Plans\Addon\Subscription Data

The Usage endpoint also exposes APIs to return data on existing plans, addons, subscriptions, etc

Method Name

API

Response

GET

billing/plans?startId={startId}&batchSize={batchSize}

UsageEventList<Plan>

GET

billing/addons?startId={startId}&batchSize={batchSize}

UsageEventList<AddOn>

GET

billing/subscriptions?startId={startId}&batchSize={batchSize}

UsageEventList<Subscription>

GET

billing/planServices?startId={startId}&batchSize={batchSize}

UsageEventList<ResourceProviderReference>

GET

billing/planAddons?startId={startId}&batchSize={batchSize}

UsageEventList<AddOnReference>

GET

billing/subscriptionAddons?startId={startId}&batchSize={batchSize}

UsageEventList<AddOnReference>

Notes:

STARTID is the record id of the first record you want to fetch in a particular cycle.

BATCHSIZE is the maximum number of records you want to fetch.

USAGE-RESTAPI-ENDPOINT can be found at https://<Admin-API-Machine-Name>:30022

Configuration

The administrator needs to ensure that the Usage Metering Service is configured correctly to authenticate the Billing Adaptor. That can be done by ensuring that the service is capable of accepting the correct credentials that will be used to authenticate. The steps below describe how to ensure that the credentials are set properly. Note: During the installation process, the password used is a random sequence and hence this step is necessary to establish connectivity.

On the WAP deployment launch the Management Service PowerShell Module on the Admin API server.

Then, run the commands below:

· Set-MgmtSvcSetting -Namespace UsageService -Name Username -Value ‘<EnterUserName>’

· Set-MgmtSvcSetting -Namespace UsageService -Name Password -Value ‘<EnterPassword>’ –Encode

Once the username and password are set to known values, these values can be used by the Billing Adaptor to authenticate.

Consuming the Usage REST API

The following steps are required to consume the Usage REST API:

  • Define an httpClient
    • Define the base address (https://<Admin-API-Machine-Name>:30022 )
    • Define the request header
      • Set the media type (application/json or application/xml)
      • Authorization Type (basic)
      • Username and Password
  • Construct a URI to query the Usage Metering Service
  • StartID is the record id of the first record you want to fetch and BatchSize is the maximum number of records you want to fetch.
  • Execute the API call and read Usage Data
  • Data Contracts can be used to de-serialize the response returned (as in Sample below)

Usage Data Model

The Usage Data Model is shown in the figure below and can be used to associate the data returned by the Usage API.

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Event Notification System

The Service Management API keeps track of events within the Usage Metering System and sends notifications to any registered subscriber (e.g. a Billing Adaptor). Examples of the events are plan, addon, subscription creation\updates and account creation.

Notifications are sent as a Post call to an endpoint registered with the Usage Metering System. The Management Service PowerShell Module should be used to define the required notification end point. Note that the notificationEndPoint must end with a trailing slash.

Description:

Subscribing for plan, add-on and account changes.

Verb

Command Parameters

Set

MgmtSvcNotificationSubscriber

-NotificationSubscriber

-Name

-Enabled

-SubscriberType

-Endpoint

-AuthenticationMode

-AuthenticationUsername

-AuthenticationPassword

-EncryptionKey

-EncryptionAlgorithm

-ConnectionString

-Server

-Database

-UserName

-Password

SubscriberType:

  • BillingService
  • MandatoryService
  • OptionalService

Example:

Set-MgmtSvcNotificationSubscriber -Name Billing –SubscriberType BillingService -Enabled $false -Endpoint https://localhost/ -AuthenticationMode Basic

The Billing Adaptor can be set up to handle the event in a blocking or a non-blocking manner. The SubscriberType BillingService & MandatoryService are both blocking. The only nonblocking option is OptionalService. If the Billing Adaptor is set up to be blocking, a plan creation event in the service management API should trigger a corresponding plan to be created in the billing system. If this operation is not successful, the plan creation at the service management API will fail. This enables consistency between the platform and the billing system.

Notification Data Contracts

Notifications sent to the billing adapter adhere to type – NotificationEvent<T> type. T could be replaced by the below objects.

  • Plan
  • PlanAddOn
  • AdminSubscription
  • ResourceProviderReference
  • PlanAddOnReference
  • PlanAddOnReference

When you download the WAP (Windows Azure Pack) the data contracts can be found under:

· \SampleBillingAdapter\DataContracts\*

Following are the two important properties of NotificationEvent

1. NotificationEvent Method could have following values:

1. Post to create a new account/subscription/addon/plan

2. Delete to delete an account/subscription/addon/plan

3. Post an update to a plan

2. NotificationEvent Entity sends an event when any of the above objects are created\updated\deleted.

Pricing APIs

The Pricing API is designed for billing system in the Service Provider data center to specify prices for Plans and Add-ons to flow into the 2012 R2 system. The billing adaptor can choose provide prices for each Plan, or Plan add-on in real-time. As part of implementing the notification subscriber, we have specifications for the below APIs that the billing service can implement to enable pricing data to flow back into the system. The implementation of these APIs is optional. If the below APIs are enabled the price values for the plans and add-ons will be visible in the WAP Tenant site at the time of addition of the Plan\Add-On.

Method Name

API

RESPONSE

GET

/planPrice?id={id}&region={region}&username={username}

String

GET

/addonPrice?id={id}&region={region}&username={username}&subscriptionId={subscriptionId}

String

 

Notes:

  • This API is expected to return a string with pricing information. The 2012 R2 system will display this information alongside plans for the subscriber, but these are textual and not typed.

Detailed Description of the Sample Adapter Project Files

This section explains the content of the sample billing adapter (SampleBillingAdapter.sln). At a high level the billing adapter consists of the below parts:

1. SampleBillingAdapter.cs provides an example of the different calls to the Usage REST API

2. The set of Data Contracts that can be used to deserialize the API responses

SampleBillingAdapter.cs

This is the entry point for the application. The file contains the below:

1. Instantiation of a UserServiceHttpClient with the required configuration data.

2. This UsageServiceHttpClient is then used to query the usage service. There are seven types of calls that can be made for the Billing data. This data is deserialized into instances of the data contracts that are included in the DataContracts directory

3. The data is then printed to the console.

Example:

using Microsoft.WindowsAzurePack.Usage.DataContracts;
using System;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.Globalization;
using System.Linq;
using System.Net.Http;
using System.Net.Http.Headers;
using System.Text;
using System.Threading.Tasks;

static void Main(string[] args)
{
    // create a WAP usage service http client (this data can be read from a config file)
    string mediaType = “application/json”; // application/json or application/xml
    string authenticationType = “basic”;
    string Username = “UsageClient”;
    string Password = “specify the correct pwd”;
    string Machine = “specify the machine where the usage service is running”;
    string Port = “30022”;
    string BaseAddress = String.Format(“
https://{0}:{1}/”, Machine, Port);
    var usageService = new WAPUsageServiceHttpClient(Username, Password, authenticationType, BaseAddress, mediaType);

    // gather usage and billing data asynchronously using the Usage API
    var usage = usageService.GetDataAsync<UsageRecordList>(“usage”, 0, 50);
    var plans = usageService.GetDataAsync<UsageEventList<Plan>>(“billing/plans”, 0, 50);
    var subscriptions = usageService.GetDataAsync<UsageEventList<Subscription>>(“billing/subscriptions”, 0, 50);
    var addOns = usageService.GetDataAsync<UsageEventList<AddOn>>(“billing/addons”, 0, 50);
    var planAddOns = usageService.GetDataAsync<UsageEventList<AddOnReference>>(“billing/planAddons”, 0, 50);
    var subscriptionAddOns = usageService.GetDataAsync<UsageEventList<AddOnReference>>(“billing/subscriptionAddons”, 0, 50);
    var planServices = usageService.GetDataAsync<UsageEventList<ResourceProviderReference>>(“billing/planServices”, 0, 50);

    #region Print the usage and billing data to the console …
    Console.WriteLine(“Printing Usage Data – Press Enter to Proceed…”);
    Console.ReadLine();
    usageService.PrintUsageData(usage.Result);
    usageService.PrintPlanData(plans.Result);
    usageService.PrintSubscriptionData(subscriptions.Result);
    usageService.PrintAddOnsData(addOns.Result);
    usageService.PrintPlanAddOnsData(planAddOns.Result);
    usageService.PrintSubscriptionAddOnsData(subscriptionAddOns.Result);
    usageService.PrintPlanServicesData(planServices.Result);
    #endregion
}

Data Contracts

The DataContracts directory contains all the required Data Contracts to interact effectively with the Usage API.

VM Data Gathered from the Usage API

VM Provider

Measure

Unit

Description

 

MemoryAllocated-Min

MB

Lowest allocated memory size for a VM within an hour timespan

 

MemoryAllocated-Max

MB

Highest allocated memory size for a VM within an hour timespan

 

MemoryConsumed-Min

MB

Lowest consumed memory size for a VM within an hour timespan

 

MemoryConsumed-Max

MB

Highest consumed memory size for a VM within an hour timespan

 

MemoryConsumed-Median

MB

Median average consumed memory size for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CPUAllocationCount-Min

Each

Lowest number of CPU core allocated for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CPUAllocationCount-Max

Each

Highest number of CPU core allocated for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CPUPercentUtilization-Median

%

Median average in percentage of CPU consumption for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CrossDiskIOPerSecond-Min

MB

Lowest input/output per second (IOPS) across all attached disk for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CrossDiskIOPerSecond-Max

MB

Highest input/output per second (IOPS) across all attached disk for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CrossDiskIOPerSecond-Median

MB

Median average input/output per second (IOPS) across all attached disk for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CrossDiskSizeAllocated-Min

MB

Lowest allocated disk size across all attached disk for a VM within an hour timespan

 

CrossDiskSizeAllocated-Max

MB

Highest allocated disk size across all attached disk for a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBSentPerSecond-Min

MB

Lowest bytes sent per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBSentPerSecond-Max

MB

Highest bytes sent per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBSentPerSecond-Median

MB

Median average bytes sent per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBSentPerSecond-Average

MB

Straight average bytes sent per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBReceivedPerSecond-Min

MB

Lowest bytes received per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBReceivedPerSecond-Max

MB

Highest bytes received per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBReceivedPerSecond-Median

MB

Median average bytes received per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

 

PerNICKBReceivedPerSecond-Average

MB

Straight average bytes received per second on a network adapter attached to a VM within an hour timespan

       

As you can see, this is a powerful API that allows bi-directional data flow. The usage data from the 2012 R2 stack to the billing adaptor and the pricing data (business logic decides the prices) and that data flows from the billing system into the 2012 R2 stack.

In subsequent blogs, we will provide more details as we hear more from our customers.

To see all of the posts in this series, check out the What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2 archive.

Microsoft Presents “Enabling Consumerization without Compromising Compliance” at BriForum this Week

BriForum kicks off today in Chicago. BriForum 2013 is the only technical virtualization conference that is 100% dedicated to desktop virtualization, VDI, application virtualization, Remote Desktop Services, and the consumerization of IT.

Later this week Microsoft Product Director Jason Leznek will present, “Enabling Consumerization Without Compromising Compliance”.  Jason’s session is on Thursday morning and will cover Microsoft’s approach to delivering people-centric IT is helping customers enable users to work on devices of their choosing with consistent experiences, and providing IT a unified infrastructure for managing and delivering applications and other resources, all while helping organizations protect what is important to them.  See how innovations in System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager, Windows Intune, and Windows Server 2012 R2 helps organizations enable Consumerization without compromising compliance, with a special focus on the technologies which help reduce VDI storage costs and improve the end user and administrator experience to both session and VM based VDI.

If you can’t wait until Thursday to be there live or wait for a recorded replay, be sure and checkout “What’s New in Remote Desktop Services for Windows Server 2012 R2” on the Remote Desktop Services Blog, or “What’s New in 2012 R2: Making Device Users Productive and Protecting Corporate Information” on Brad Andersons blog.  Both blog posts are lengthy but have a ton of good information we think you’ll find interesting.  You might want to view the six minute video below, “Empowering People-centric IT in the age of Consumerization” to learn more about the topic and where we are headed with personal device management.

And for those of you interested in downloading some of the products and trying them, here are some resources to help you:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview download
  • System Center 2012 R2 Preview download
  • SQL Server 2014 Community Technology Preview 1 (CTP1) download

As always, follow us on Twitter via @WindowsServer

Written by Keith Combs, Microsoft Server and Tools

Enabling Management of Open Source Software in System Center Using Standards

July 24th, 2013 No comments

This post is a part of the nine-part “What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2” series that is featured on Brad Anderson’s In the Cloud blog.  Today’s blog post covers standards-based management of open source software with System Center and how it applies to Brad’s larger topic of “Transforming the Datacenter.”  To read that post and see the other technologies discussed, read today’s post:  “What’s New in 2012 R2:  Enabling Open Source Software.”

Whether in the public cloud with Windows Azure, the private cloud with Windows Server and System Center, or a hybrid of both, running and managing open source workloads (such as Linux and JEE applications) is a key tenant of Microsoft cloud solutions. In this post, we will review the standards-based management approach used in System Center to manage open source software, take a detailed look at the management implementation in the UNIX/Linux agents for Operations Manager and Configuration Manager, and introduce System Center 2012 R2 improvements to these agents.

System Center 2012 R2 and Management of Open Source Software

System Center 2012 R2 is a great solution for management of the heterogeneous private cloud with Windows, Linux and UNIX workloads running side by side. With System Center 2012 R2, the portfolio of heterogeneous management capabilities has been substantially expanded and now encompasses:

  • Inventorying and deploying software to Linux and UNIX with Configuration Manager
  • Monitoring UNIX and Linux computers and services with Operations Manager
  • Monitoring JEE Application Servers on Linux, UNIX, and Windows with Operations Manager
  • Deploying Linux virtual machines and services with Virtual Machine Manager (and Windows Server Hyper-V)
  • Backing up Linux virtual machines with Data Protection manager

In enabling the heterogeneous management features of System Center, our focus is on standards-based management. Open standards such as Common Information Model (CIM) and WS-Management play a key role in many of the heterogeneous management capabilities of System Center.

One of the primary benefits of a standards-based approach is that different implementations of similar technologies can be uniformly presented and managed. For example, a Linux server, AIX server, and Windows server may have very different implementations for identifying and reporting on operating system resources and performance (such as processor inventory and utilization), but by managing each of these servers through a management implementation based on CIM, the administrator or management software does not need to understand the specific architectures, APIs, and all details of each operating system’s conventions and implementations. Rather, a common interface and model is used to uniformly present key performance indicators and inventory. In turn, this allows management software, such as System Center, to tightly integrate management for a variety of platforms, with consistent presentation and experience throughout.

OperationsManagerLinuxDiagramView

Figure 1 – A Linux Server Monitored in System Center 2012 R2 – Operations Manager

Implementing the Standards-Based Approach

In System Center 2012 R2, we continue our commitment to standards-based management of open source workloads, and have made a significant improvement in this regard by implementing a common CIM server in both the Operations Manager and Configuration Manager agents for UNIX and Linux.

In the Windows realm, a consistent CIM implementation has been available since the introduction of WMI (as far back as NT 4.0). Likewise, WS-Management (or WS-Man) has been available for Windows in Windows Server 2003 and beyond. However, expanding common management capabilities to a broad array of UNIX and Linux operating systems (and architectures) with these standards required new implementations.

The UNIX and Linux agents for Operations Manager consist of a CIM Object Manager (i.e. CIM Server), and a set of CIM Providers. The CIM Object Manager is the “server” component that implements the WS-Management communication, authentication, authorization and dispatch of requests to the providers. The providers are the key to the CIM implementation in the agent, defining the CIM classes and properties, interfacing with the kernel APIs to retrieve raw data, formatting the data (e.g. calculating deltas and averages), and servicing the requests dispatched from the CIM Object Manager. From System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 through System Center 2012 SP1, the CIM Object Manager used in the Operations Manager UNIX and Linux agents is the OpenPegasus server. The providers used to collect and report monitoring data are developed by Microsoft, and open-sourced at CodePlex.com.

OperationsManagerUNIXLinuxAgentArchitecture

Figure 2- Software Architecture of the Operations Manager UNIX/Linux Agent

This CIM/WS-Man standards-based approach also brings benefits to the agent implementation itself. The resulting management agent is lightweight, with a small footprint and low impact to the monitored host. Additionally, such a CIM server and provider implementation is quite portable, allowing it to be consistently implemented across a broad matrix of UNIX and Linux operating system distros, versions, and architectures – while returning monitoring data with a uniform presentation. Lastly, the standards-based approach enables the Operations Manager server to UNIX/Linux agent communication with well-defined protocols (WS-Man over HTTPS) and established interfaces (WinRM).

A very similar agent software architecture is employed in the UNIX and Linux agents for Configuration Manager, first available in the System Center 2012 SP1 product. Like the Operations Manager UNIX and Linux agents, the Configuration Manager UNIX and Linux agents implement a lightweight CIM Object Manager and set of providers. While the Operations Manager agent providers are focused on system monitoring metrics, the Configuration Manager agent providers enable scenarios such as hardware inventory.

By adopting a standards-based approach to enabling and managing open source software, System Center 2012 R2 is able to deliver consistency in the standards, protocols, and management interfaces that are employed in managing Windows Server workloads and open source software.

Introducing Open Management Infrastructure in System Center

With System Center 2012 R2, UNIX/Linux agents for both Configuration Manager and Operations Manager are now based on a fully consistent implementation of Open Management Infrastructure (OMI) as their CIM Object Manager. In the case of the Operations Manager UNIX/Linux agents, OMI is replacing OpenPegasus. Like OpenPegasus, OMI is an open-source, lightweight, and portable CIM Object Manager implementation – though it is certainly lighter in weight and more portable than OpenPegasus.

An excellent introduction to OMI can be found on the Windows Server Blog, but some of the key features of OMI include:

  • Very small footprint (the package size for Operations Manager UNIX/Linux agents has been reduced by half)
  • Highly portable
  • Simple provider extensibility

While these are immediately realized benefits in the System Center 2012 R2 UNIX and Linux agents, perhaps the most significant and exciting benefit of OMI can be found in the promise of real and broad cross-platform and standards-based management. OMI has been designed not just to be portable between UNIX, Linux and Windows, but also for devices and embedded systems. As an example, both Cisco and Arista are working on WS-Man/CIM implementations for network device management with OMI. Given the possibility of using a single protocol or mechanism to manage network and storage devices, baseboard management controllers and Windows, UNIX, and Linux servers, one can quickly imagine the scenarios this could unlock in the automation-centric cloud world we now live in. OMI’s portability and standards-based implementation open this management opportunity to a potentially incredible array of managed devices and entities and management platforms and tools with streamlined interoperability. Thusly, it is easy to see why OMI is a foundational implementation element of the Datacenter Abstraction Layer (DAL) concept.

Further discussion of some of the management scenarios that OMI, and a link to a great demo, can be found the PowerShell Team Blog.

Summary

As we continue to broaden the portfolio of management capabilities for open source software in System Center 2012 R2, we are reaffirming our commitment to open standards-based management, and aligning with exciting new models developing in the cloud era. The availability of OMI, and its adoption into the System Center agents for UNIX and Linux is another step forward in the realm of standards-based management. Now, a CIM and WS-Man based implementation used for management of Windows and Linux/UNIX can extend even broader to devices, embedded systems, and applications. This benefits the System Center user, as we continue to provide consistent experiences regardless of the managed platform, and this benefits the management ecosystem – as additional management providers and management tools can more fully and capably interoperate.

To see all of the posts in this series, check out the What’s New in Windows Server & System Center 2012 R2 archive

People-Centric IT with the System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview

Hello from the System Center team and all of you participating in TechEd Europe 2013.  We wanted to take this opportunity to provide more technical details on System Center 2012 R2, Intune and Windows Server 2012 R2 so you’ll see some new blog posts today and later this week.  Let’s start first with Windows Server 2012 R2.

Windows Server is the foundation OS for many of our products and it is important to know what we are delivering with the next release. The file system and storage capabilities have been an important role for any server operating system, and that continues today with virtualization and cloud services.  See the Windows Server teams blog post, “Storage Transformation for Your Datacenter” for information on SMB Direct, SMB Multichannel and other storage improvements.

Storage is an integral part of many applications or services and System Center obviously needs to store information about devices it manages in your environment.  This device landscape is vast and includes operating systems other than Windows. Jason Leznek wrote, “Preview New People-centric IT Products Now!” to expand on these capabilities. In that post you will get information on the device operating systems we support, what you can test today, and what is coming in the next release of Windows Intune (not yet available for testing).

Content and Downloads

If the information in the blog posts seems foreign and you want to learn more, be sure to check out all of the sessions in the TechEd Europe 2013 course catalog.  You can watch the sessions live or on-demand.  The sessions are organized by tracks and you can filter in a variety of ways to find a particular topic.

Ready to try the previews for yourself?  Go get the Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 or SQL Server 2014 R2 previews at the download center.  Enjoy!

 

 

Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Preview is Now Available for Download

Today at TechEd Europe 2013 we announced availability of the System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 previews.  You can download these products right now from the evaluation center

Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 provide a wealth of new advancements to help IT organizations build and deliver private and hybrid cloud infrastructure for their businesses.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Download System Center 2012 R2 PreviewEnabling hybrid cloud – Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center enable virtual machine portability across customer, service provider and Windows Azure clouds, while a new System Center Management Pack for Windows Azure enhances cross-cloud management of virtual machine and storage resources.  Windows Azure Backup and Hyper-V Recovery Manager provide offsite backup and disaster recovery options.
  • Windows Azure Pack provides Windows Azure technology that enterprises and services providers can run on their Windows Server infrastructure for multi-tenant web and virtual machine cloud services. 
  • Built-in software-defined networking – Site-to-Site VPN Gateway helps customers seamlessly bridge physical and virtual networks and extend them from their datacenter to service provider datacenters. 
  • High performance, cost effective storage Features such as Storage Spaces Tiering, VHDX resizing and de-duplication for virtual desktop infrastructure provide high performance for critical on-premises workloads (like SQL and Hyper-V) using lower-cost, industry-standard hardware.
  • Empowering employee productivity – Windows Server Work Folders, Web App Proxy, improvements to Active Directory Federation Services and other technologies will help companies give their employees consistent access to company resources on the device of their choice.

This and a number of other announcements are highlighted on the Server and Cloud Blog post, “TechEd Europe Launches with CloudOS Product Previews, Partner Announcements and Customer Case Studies”.  Be sure to take a look at it.  There is a wealth of information on the products, Brad Anderson’s keynote and blog post links, press release links and more!

For those of you interested in the TechEd sessions for System Center, be sure and review the Modern Datacenter track in the catalog. Additional filtering can be applied with the tagging to get right at the System Center sessions you are looking for.

Transforming your Datacenter with Software-Defined Networking (SDN): Part I

With server virtualization, you are able to decouple a compute instance from the underlying hardware.  That enables you to pool compute resources for greater flexibility. However, to truly transform your datacenter, you’ve also got to deliver your storage, compute, and networking resources as a shared, elastic resource pool for on-demand delivery of datacenter capacity. Indeed, this datacenter-level abstraction is a critical part of Microsoft’s Cloud OS vision.    

Part of the challenge in holistically abstracting your datacenter resources is that the network hasn’t kept up with the advances in compute innovation. Today’s networks can be rigid due to tight coupling between your workloads and the underlying physical network hardware such as ports, switches, and routers. Network operations are overly complex since the management interfaces to configure and provision network devices tend to be proprietary; in many cases, network configuration needs to happen on a per-device basis, making it difficult to maintain an end-to-end operational view of your network. And if you’ve ever tried to move an application from one datacenter to another, you know how cumbersome it is to reconfigure the underlying IP addresses in the process.     

Defining SDN

Software-defined networking is about enabling software – rather than the hardware – to dynamically manage the network in a way that helps you better meet the requirements of your applications and workloads. This involves:

  • The ability to abstract your apps and workloads from the underlying physical network, which can be accomplished by virtualizing the network. Analogous to server virtualization, you need consistent abstractions that will work with your applications and workloads in a non-disruptive manner. For instance, you would need virtual abstractions for your physical network elements, such as IP addresses, switches, and load balancers. 
  • The ability to centrally define and control policies that govern both physical and virtual networks, including traffic flow between them. 
  • The ability to implement these network policies in a consistent manner at-scale, even as new workloads are deployed or moved around across virtualized or physical networks.

Delivering SDN

Microsoft’s approach to SDN is grounded in our experiences designing, building, and operating global-scale datacenter networks for services like Windows Azure. We’re adding over a thousand customers per day to Windows Azure. Enterprises trust Microsoft to enable them to deliver on-demand capacity to their business while ensuring secure isolation of their infrastructure and data. Multi-tenancy is built into Windows Azure, after all. To enable easy onboarding and workload portability, Windows Azure enables customers to bring their own IP address to our network. Also our global datacenters have to deal with tens of thousands of network changes every day – it would be impossible to manage such scale without software-enabled automation and control. 

Plus, Windows Azure runs on the same Windows Server and Hyper-V platform that we provide to our customers. The exact same. Windows Server and System Center bring our learnings and best practices from operating global scale datacenter networks to you so that you can realize the SDN promise of flexibility, automation and control.  

Let’s now click-down on the key aspects of Microsoft’s SDN solution to help you assess what this means for your organization.  

Built-in and production ready

Windows Server 2012 delivered Hyper-V Network Virtualization that helps you abstract your apps and workloads from the physical network using virtual networks. Virtual networks provide the necessary multitenant isolation while running on a shared physical network fabric, thereby driving up resource utilization. To ensure that you can carry forward your existing investments, virtual networks can be set up on existing networking gear and are compatible with VLANs. It is also worth noting that virtual networks can scale much better than VLANs for your private and hybrid cloud environments. Check out how EmpireCLS is virtualizing network traffic on top of their physical infrastructure using Hyper-V Network Virtualization.

With System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager, you can provision and manage virtual networks at-scale. You can define and control virtual network policies centrally and link them to your apps or workloads. When your workload is deployed or moved, the network configuration adjusts itself automatically. This is important because it removes the need for manual reconfiguration of network hardware, thereby reducing operational complexity while saving your valuable resources for higher-impact work. Virtual Machine Manager also helps you to control traffic flow between virtual networks, including the ability to define guaranteed bandwidth for your critical apps and workloads.

To seamlessly help you move your workloads within and across datacenters and clouds, we’re delivering a software edge gateway in Windows Server 2012 R2 that can be managed by System Center 2012 R2. If you’re in enterprise IT, this gateway will help you easily extend your datacenter boundaries to a service provider or Windows Azure, so that you can deliver hybrid infrastructure on-demand. If you’re a hosting service provider, this means much greater operational efficiency, since this virtual gateway is multitenant-aware and can support multiple customers on a single instance while meeting their throughput and availability needs. 

Open, extensible and standards-based

We want to ensure that customers have the choice of solutions that best support their existing investments and roadmap. We also want to help our partner ecosystem build value-added solutions and extensions on top of Windows Server and System Center. As a testament to our open, extensible and standards-based approach, we have great partner ecosystem momentum for our networking solutions.     

We’re committed to standards-based management to reduce datacenter complexity. This will help us enable datacenter plug-n-play so that devices “just work”. Specifically, we will simplify provisioning and configuration of top-of-rack switches using Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. As a great example of ecosystem support, Arista Networks announced full support for the Open Management Infrastructure (OMI) technology across all Arista platforms through the Arista EOS (Extensible Operating System) software.

Many customers asked us for the ability to deeply integrate Hyper-V virtual networking into their existing network infrastructure, such as their existing monitoring and security tools. To meet that need,   Windows Server 2012 introduced the Hyper-V Extensible Switch, which enables easy extensions of our hypervisor platform. The Hyper-V Extensible Switch also enables partners to build security and manageability extensions. Cisco announced general availability of their Nexus 1000V extension to the Hyper-V Extensible Switch, including integration with System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager.  Check out this datasheet, whitepaper, and webcast if you’d like to know more about this joint Microsoft/ Cisco solution.  NEC announced System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager based support for their OpenFlow-based Hyper-V switch extension. Additionally, 5NINE and inMon have in-market offerings based on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V switch extensions. 

To provide additional flexibility and choice for customers, partners are building gateway appliances to bridge physical and virtual networks. F5 announced an appliance-based gateway that will support Hyper-V Network Virtualization environments, including integration with System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager. Huawei announced Hyper-V Network Virtualization gateway support in their core switches for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Finally, Iron Networks announced support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 in an update to their in-market network gateway appliance. 

Microsoft is actively participating in industry consortiums like Open Daylight to promote industry standards and customer choice.

Hardware and software innovation

We believe that both hardware and software innovations are required to make these SDN promises real.   This is important for applications that might need direct visibility into the physical network to meet their performance needs, for instance. We continue to work with our network adapter and merchant silicon partners to deliver native hardware performance by ensuring that our platform takes full advantage of their unique hardware capabilities. Mellanox technologies and Emulex announced NVGRE task offload capability in their NICs to optimize network performance. We’re also working with Intel and Broadcom to support Hyper-V Network Virtualization in their chipsets.

Next steps

  • Learn more by viewing our TechEd North America session on SDN
  • Check out Microsoft’s perspective on SDN from the Interop keynote panel last month
  • Register to be notified once the Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 product evaluation bits become available

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be diving much deeper into the Windows Server and System Center networking technologies that can help you eliminate the seams in your network and transform your datacenter. So make sure you’ll check back on this site frequently!  

As always, we’d really like to hear from you, so please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.