Windows Azure integration with Microsoft System Center and private cloud

Microsoft has a strong focus on cloud computing. Lots of innovation on Microsoft’s public cloud platform Azure is developed. For private cloud Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V combined with System Center 2012 offers lots of capabilities.

One of Microsoft strategies on cloud computing is a strong believe that initially a hybrid cloud will be used by organizations. Hybrid cloud computing means some services are consumed on a private cloud (or hosted platform) and some services are running in a public cloud.

With System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SC2o12 SP1) a lot of integration between private (Windows Server 2012) and public cloud (Azure) will be possible.

Microsoft names this Cloud OS, an integration between Azure and Windows Server 2012 and adding System Center 2012 for its automation, orchestration and management capabilities. The cloud OS would end up integrated across a company’s datacenter (on-premises), a service provider’s datacenter and the Windows Azure public cloud.

To connect private and public clouds Microsoft has several solutions available, either in beta or general available. This posting will give an overview of solutions.

  • System Center App Controller
    This software component of System Center 2012 enables management of virtual machines running in your Microsoft private cloud and Azure from a single console. Added in System Center 2012 SP1 is the ability to  integrate and manage VMs running on a wide range of  cloud service providers. VHD files can be uploaded to Azure. It is not yet possible to Live Migrate a VM from on-premises to Azure.
  • Windows Azure Services for Windows Server
    This software which is currently in preview allows Service Providers to deliver Azure services on a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V platform. Windows Azure Services for Windows Servers brings the Azure Management Portal interface to Windows Server 2012. Providers will be able to provide initially two Azure capabilities: high density Web Sites as well as Virtual Machine provisioning and management, also known as “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS).
    Read more here . Instructions on how to setup the software at
  • Global Service Monitor
  • Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 – Cloud Distribution Point
  • High Performance Compute Pack for Windows
  • Orchestrator Windows Azure Integration Pack
  • System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Application
  • Data Protection Manager cloud-based backup

Continue below for a more detailed description of the mentioned solutions.


Orchestrator Windows Azure Integration Pack
This software enables System Center Orchestrator to perform certain action on Azure like creating virtual machines, perform tasks on Azure storage.

The Integration Pack includes the following activities:

  • Azure Certificates– the Azure Certificates activity is used in a runbook to add, delete, and list management and service certificates
  • Azure Deployments– the Azure Deployments activity is used in a runbook to create, delete, get, and swap deployments, change deployment configurations, update deployment statuses, rollback an update or upgrade, get and change deployment operating systems, upgrade deployments, walk upgrade domains, and reboot and reimage role instances
  • Azure Cloud Services– the Azure Cloud Services activity is used in a runbook to create, delete, and get cloud services, check cloud service name availability, and create affinity groups
  • Azure Storage– The Azure Storage activity is used in a runbook to create, delete, update, and list storage accounts, get storage account properties, get and regenerate storage account keys, create, list, and delete containers, and put, copy, delete, list, snapshot, and download blobs
  • Azure Virtual Machine Disks– the Azure Virtual Machine Disks activity is used in a runbook to add, delete, update, and list virtual machine disks and virtual machine data disks
  • Azure Virtual Machine Images– the Azure Virtual Machine Images activity is used in a runbook to add, delete, update, and list virtual machine operating system images
  • Azure Virtual Machines– the Azure Virtual Machines activity is used in a runbook to create virtual machine deployments, download virtual machine remote desktop files, as well as get, delete, start, restart, shutdown, capture, and update virtual machine roles

The integration pack is currently in Beta. More information here.

Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 – Cloud Distribution Point
Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) 2012 SP1 offers the ability to deploy and use Distribution Points in a Public Cloud environment; I am talking about Windows Azure. If you owned an Azure subscription or if you get one, then thanks to the SP1 upgrade,
ConfigMgr is able to utilize a standard Distribution Point provisioned inside the Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud Computing space. ConfigMgr clients can use the Cloud Distribution Point (CDP) just as if they were using a standard Distribution Point.

The CDP adds a new way to rapidly provision DPs, especially in situation you do not have the ability to scale out the current environment or can’t provide new server workloads. CDPs also allow you to service internet-clients without having to set up an internet facing ConfigMgr server role.
Read more here.

High Performance Compute Pack
The Microsoft HPC Pack 2012 (a free download that will be available from the Microsoft Download Center later this year) makes it very easy to manage compute resources and schedule your jobs in Windows Azure. You take the proven cluster management tool from Windows Server, connect it to Windows Azure, and then let it do the work. All you need to get started is a Windows Azure account. A set-up wizard takes care of the preparation, and the job scheduler runs your computations.
More information here.

System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Application
The Windows Azure Monitoring Management Pack enables you to monitor the availability and performance of applications that are running on Windows Azure. Download here. The software is targeting SCOM 2007 but it works with the 2012 release. Information on installing the software here. and here

Global Service Monitor
Global Service Monitor is an Azure-based service that extends SCOM 2012 capabilities into the cloud. It allows you to schedule synthetic transactions from geo-distributed locations to monitor availability, performance and reliability
of your externally facing web applications.

You can think of Global Service Monitor as providing “agents in the cloud” (managed by Microsoft) that you can use to test your applications. These agents return the same kind of data to your Management Group as your on-premise agents, i.e. alerts, performance data and state data, and you can use this data in the same way in notifications, reports, views etc.

GSM extends the application monitoring capabilities in System Center 2012 SP1 using Windows Azure points of presence around the globe, giving a true reflection of end-user experience of your application. Synthetic transactions are defined and scheduled using your on-premises System Center 2012 SP1 Operations Manager console; the GSM service executes the transactions against your web-facing application and GSM reports back the results (availability, performance, functionality) to your on-premises System Center dashboard. You can integrate this perspective with other monitoring data from the same application, taking action as soon as any issues are detected in order to achieve your SLA. To evaluate System Center 2012 SP1 with GSM, sign up for a customer preview of GSM.
More information here.

Data Protection Manager cloud-based backup
With the System Center 2012 SP1 release, the Data Protection Manager (DPM) component enables cloud-based backup of datacenter server data to Windows Azure storage.  System Center 2012 SP1 administrators use the downloadable Windows Azure Online Backup agent to leverage their existing protection, recovery and monitoring workflows to seamlessly integrate cloud-based backups alongside their disk/tape based backups. DPM’s short term, local backup continues to offer quicker disk–based point recoveries when business demands it, while the Windows Azure backup provides the peace of mind & reduction in TCO that comes with offsite backups. In addition to files and folders, DPM also enables Virtual Machine backups to be stored in the cloud.

Future integration:
DPM with Azure using Storesimple devices. Microsoft took over StoreSimple. This device can integrate local storage with cloud storage provide by services like Azure but also other cloud storage vendors.
Read more on Windows Azure online backup here.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current ye@r *