Azure, Azure Stack
Leave a comment

Microsoft #AzureStack is here! #AzureStackOperational – Getting Started

I am sure you must have seen the news already. It has been all over Twitter that Microsoft Azure Stack Technical Preview 1 (TP1) was released on Friday. MAS is undoubtedly the best thing that is happening to Microsoft Private / Hybrid Cloud stack essentially because it brings in the “real” cloud-consistency. MAS release takes Microsoft to a different playing field leaving the competition far behind in the Hybrid cloud story. While TP1 is just proof-of-concept (POC) release, it is good enough to deploy and play with different aspects of MAS architecture, and of course understand how organizations can benefit from this.

azure-stack-architecture

MAS Architecture (Image Source: Microsoft)

This post is just an introductory and the first one in a series of many articles I intend to write as I start playing with the POC deployment. I will list out mostly what is already known to everyone out there but I will keep updating as we progress towards the general availability of MAS. I will also post some useful links in this post that you can use to get started with MAS or dive deep into MAS.

Deployment Requirements

Since this is a POC deployment, you need to make sure you follow the deployment requirements. There is a good chance of deployment failure, otherwise. The deployment scripts have pre-checks to verify if your needs this minimum requirements or not. There is a script called Invoke-AzureStackDeploymentPreCheck.ps1 inside MicrosoftAzureStackPOC.vhdx. You can use this before even invoking the actual deployment to see if you have all needed infrastructure. This, of course, gets invoked before starting the actual deployment.

Hardware

MAS TP1 has certain minimum and recommended hardware requirements. At the moment, this supports only a single node deployment and all required services are installed on this node.

The following table gives you the minimum and recommended hardware for this POC deployment. [Source: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/azure-stack-deploy/]

Component Minimum Recommended
Compute: CPU Dual-Socket: 12 Physical Cores Dual-Socket: 16 Physical Cores
Compute: Memory 96 GB RAM 128 GB RAM
Compute: BIOS Hyper-V Enabled (with SLAT support) Hyper-V Enabled (with SLAT support)
Network: NIC Windows Server 2012 R2 Certification required for NIC; no specialized features required Windows Server 2012 R2 Certification required for NIC; no specialized features required
Disk drives: Operating System 1 OS disk with minimum of 200 GB available for system partition (SSD or HDD) 1 OS disk with minimum of 200 GB available for system partition (SSD or HDD)
Disk drives: General Azure Stack POC Data 4 disks. Each disk provides a minimum of 140 GB of capacity (SSD or HDD). 4 disks. Each disk provides a minimum of 250 GB of capacity.
HW logo certification Certified for Windows Server 2012 R2 Certified for Windows Server 2012 R2

There are a few posts around how you can deploy Azure Stack on lower hardware specification than what is minimum required. While Microsoft does not recommend this, there is technically nothing stopping you from this. In fact, you should be able to deploy Azure Stack in a virtual machine running on Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V.

Environmental Requirements

There is a specific environmental configuration that is needed for Azure Stack POC to get deployed and function as expected. Please read the following list completely and make sure your environment complies with the requirements.

  • To start Azure Stack POC deployment script, you must login as local administrator.
  • The system where you plan to deploy Azure Stack POC should not be a part of any domain.
  • The system where you plan to deploy should not be named (computer name) as AzureStack. This will conflict with the domain NETBIOS name which is always AzureStack.local.
  •  Azure Stack POC system should have Internet access and port 443 should be open. This works behind a proxy too. So, ensure you collect this information prior to starting the deployment.
  • Azure Stack POC system should have at least four additional disks that can be used for data. If you are using RAID HBA, the disks must be either in pass-through mode or RAID-0 configuration.. These disks have to be initialized and in online (RAW) state not formatted. Refer to the hardware requirements table for free disk capacity requirements.
  • You must have an Azure AD account (service administrator role) created for starting POC deployment. The only way to authenticate to POC deployment is using Azure AD. This includes tenant logins.
  •  On the POC system, you should have virtualization support enabled in the processor BIOS settings.
  • You should not have more than one NIC connected. POC deployment supports only one connected NIC.
  • If you are using VLANs on your physical switch where the POC system is connected, the port where the POC system is connected should be either in access or trunk mode. You should not have any pre-existing VM switches or networking teams on the POC system.
  • The timezone settings on the physical host where Azure Stack POC is getting deployed must be same as the local time zone.

Once you verify all this, you can invoke DeployAzureStack.ps1 as described in the documentation. This script results in a couple of reboots and you must login interactively for the scheduled task to kick in and continue with the deployment.

More Resources

Apart from the documentation that is available online, there is a huge community around Azure Stack. There are several individuals and groups that are actively blogging about Azure Stack. I will list a few that I have been following here and expect updates as I find more. Please mention others, I might have missed, in the comments.

Charles Joy [MSFT] demonstrated Azure Stack TP1 features in a Technet Radio video.

There is a webcast by Jeffrey Snover and Mark Russinovich. These two visionaries talk about Azure Stack and the features that are important to IT professionals.

Filed under: Azure, Azure Stack

by

Ravikanth is a principal engineer and the lead architect for Microsoft and VMware virtualized and hybrid cloud solutions within the Infrastructure Solutions Group at Dell EMC. He is a multi-year recipient of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in Windows PowerShell (CDM) and Microsoft Azure. Ravikanth is the author of Windows PowerShell Desired State Configuration Revealed (Apress) and leads Bangalore PowerShell and Bangalore IT Pro user groups. He can be seen speaking regularly at local user group events and conferences in India and abroad.