Preparing Azure for a Zerto Cloud Appliance Installation – Part 1: Resource Groups

In this series of blog posts, we will create the elements needed to get the Zerto Cloud Appliance (ZCA) installed and ready to connect to an on-premises site.

The four components Zerto needs in order for you to use Azure are:

  1. Resource Groups
  2. Networks
  3. Firewalls
  4. Storage

You can see how Zerto consumes the Azure components in this quick tip post. We will start logged into the Azure portal. Then we will create the components needed to get the ZCA installed.

Before we start with the Resource Group creation, be sure the Azure account you use has Owner permissions for the Azure subscription you will be using. While the default owner permissions will allow the ZCA to be successfully installed, I have seen in some environments where the Azure Active Directory administrator removes adding Azure application permissions for infrastructure administrators. The Zerto Cloud Appliance registers as a Web/API application in Azure during the installation so the account you use should have these Azure AD permissions.

Resource Groups

The first thing we want to do is create a Resource Group.  Resource Groups are like virtual datacenters in Azure. You can create as many Resource Groups as you need and then place networks, subnets, storage and firewalls in the Resource Group. For more on what Resource Groups are, see this article.

From the Azure Portal navigation menu on the left, go to Resource Groups and create a Resource Group by clicking +Add.

I’m calling mine ms-ignite-rg since I’ll use this as a demo environment during Microsoft Ignite. For more than you want to know about naming conventions for Azure resources, see this article.

Once the Resource Group is created, you can find it on the Dashboard or you can go back to the Resource Group blade and search for it.

Click on the Resource Group to go into it. It will be empty and ready for you to add networks, subnets, network security groups (firewalls) and virtual machines.

Azure is really good at training you along the way. In the Resource Group menu, go down to Quickstart under Settings to learn more about Resource Groups and even watch a video. When you are done. Click the X to close the Resource Group blade.

In the next post in this series, we’ll create the Networks and Subnets.

 

Azure Quick Tip: Log into Azure from Powershell

If you don’t have Azure Powershell installed, here is how to do it:

From Powershell, enter Login-AzureRMAccount and hit Enter.

A Microsoft Azure login screen will pop up.

Log in with your Azure credentials. Now you’re ready to start working with Azure from the Powershell.

 

Let’s go Wayback

I’ve had this site a long time. I was trying to remember when I started it the other day and I figured it was late 2007 or early 2008.

Fortunately, there is the Wayback Machine internet archive. The first time it scanned my site was January 9, 2008, and it had quite a few blog posts by then. So, it looks like late 2007 was when VirtualizationInformation came online. The WordPress template didn’t make it in the wayback machine though.

It’s also quite a bit of fun to spend some time in the Wayback Machine looking at the evolution of the internet and the companies that we work with frequently. I did a search for VMware.com and found this one from 1999.

How about this one from zerto.com in February 2011 (note the funky green color):

Then, by September 2011, this is the zerto.com site. Talk about going 0-60 in a hurry!

Time just flies right by doesn’t it?

Upgrading Zerto Virtual Replication on vSphere to ZVR 5.5 Update 1

Whenever an upgrade is necessary with key infrastructure components such as your disaster recovery solution, you want it to be as painless as possible.

One of the big benefits of having Zerto Virtual Replication (ZVR) is its an all software solution and it has no agents in VMs, so upgrading your enterprise sites can be much easier than if you have hardware dependencies and if you have agents deployed in virtual machines.

In this post, we’ll do a quick walk-through of the upgrade process. The first thing to do is go to http://zerto.com/myzerto.

  1. Log in and download the latest version of Zerto Virtual Replication for vSphere.

2. Once it downloads, launch the installer.

3. Proceed with the installation wizard.

A great feature ZVR has is it will not only upgrade the ZVM, but it will also upgrade all of the Virtual Replication Appliances (VRAs) as well. The installation wizard allows you to select whether you want to automatically upgrade the VRAs.

Unless you have compelling reasons, leave the checkbox checked to automatically upgrade the VRAs.

4. The wizard checks all the existing services to ensure the upgrade will succeed.

5. The installer proceeds with the upgrade.

6. Once the ZVM is upgraded, the installer tells you that it will now upgrade the VRAs and you can track the progress in the upgraded ZVM Dashboard.

7. When you get logged in, you can go over to the Setup tab to check progress. Once the VRAs are upgraded, you will see the VRA Version column showing as “Latest”.

In typical Zerto fashion, upgrading other platforms like Azure and AWS have very similar steps.

For example, I created a video of how to upgrade an Azure Zerto Cloud Appliance.

Time for Microsoft Ignite

Next week is Microsoft Ignite. I’ll be there and if you are there, come by my theater session Monday at 4:35pm at OCCC South – Expo Theater #3.

I’ll also be in the Zerto booth. We’re booth number 833. We have live demo labs and we can show you failover and failback between vSphere and Azure and Hyper-V and Azure.

Running WordPress on AWS Lightsail: Part 3 – Cloudflare Setup.

This is the 3rd and final post in the Running WordPress on AWS Lightsail series. In this post, we’ll set up Cloudflare DNS, Web Application Firewall (WAF) and Content Delivery Network (CDN).

The first step of course, is to get a Cloudflare account. Once you sign in, go to the +Add Site menu selection in the upper right-hand side of the screen.

Next, you’ll add the website the “Add Websites” and let Cloudflare scan it.

It will scan the site and it will display the scanning process.

When completed, it shows “Scan Complete” status and then you click “Continue Setup”.

It shows the DNS configuration settings. Verify everything looks correct. You can make changes on this page.

At the bottom of the DNS settings list, click Continue. Select the Cloudflare Plan.

Hit Continue to the DNS Name Servers screen. These are the servers you updated your DNS settings to in AWS Route 53.

Hit Continue.

It shows the status of Cloudflare. Until the Name Server are updated and replicated out to the other DNS servers, it will show a status of “Not Active”. Once it updated, the status turns green and you can configure the firewall and caching.

Running WordPress on AWS Lightsail: Part 2- The Installation.

This post is the second in the Running WordPress on AWS Lightsail series.

I already had an AWS account for lab testing and demos with my work at Zerto. So if you don’t have one, you’ll need one. I logged in and went to Lightsail.

The rest was really easy. Push the “Create Instance” button, choose the type of instance you want and it spins up in a couple minutes. I picked WordPress.

The AWS Lightsail WordPress instance gets up and running very quickly.

AWS also provides DNS hosting as well. Just click “Create DNS Zone and associate it to IP address shown on the WordPress instance. I didn’t use this because I’m using Cloudflare firewall and CDN.

Instead, I went to AWS’s Route 53 to change to the Cloudflare Name Servers in it. To do that, click on the AWS menu selection on the upper right next to the Billing menu choice.

 

The AWS button takes you to the AWS console.

Scroll down to the Networking & Content Delivery section.

Click on Route 53. It takes you to the AWS DNS Management console.

Click on the Hosted zones.

Here is where you change the Name Servers to the Cloudflare Name Servers.

In the next post in this series, we’ll set up Cloudflare.

Zerto Quick Tip: Upgrading Azure or AWS ZCA to ZVR 5.5 Update 1

Zerto has many customers already protecting virtual machines from vSphere and Hyper-V to AWS and Azure.

With the recent release, Zerto added several new features and fixes that make it worthwhile to upgrade the AWS or Azure Zerto Cloud Appliance (ZCA). See the release notes here.

The upgrade is really straightforward. Log into your ZCA, download the upgrade from MyZerto and then do the install. To demonstrate how easy it is, I created this video.

Zerto Quick Tip: Installing Zerto Virtual Replication Appliance 5.5 Update 1 in Azure

This week Zerto released version 5.5 Update 1. It has several features for different platforms, but 3 Azure related improvements.

• Azure China now supported
• Azure 4TB disk size for replicated VM
• Azure Storage Account support for pre-existing standard storage account

The last bullet is interesting.  Being able to choose an existing Azure storage account is the one I will show in this video along with a full installation of the ZCA.

Running WordPress on AWS Lightsail: Part 1- The Reason (hint: Godaddy FAIL)

A few years ago, I moved over to Godaddy for blog hosting. Yes, I know now that Godaddy WordPress hosting is not good. Keep in mind, I’ve had this blog for 10 years with several different providers and when I moved it to Godaddy, they actually had a better service offering for the money. The operative word here is “had”. Not anymore.

Now that I’ve started blogging again, I quickly discovered that the Godaddy experience for WordPress hosting, well, it’s abysmal. I kept getting hosting timeouts when trying to create a post or just hitting the site. Over the last week, I saw this screen nearly more than any other screen.

The middle part of “Godaddy Firewall”  in the screen shot above originally said “Cloudflare Firewall” because I had Cloudflare set up as a firewall and CDN. I was getting the hosting timeouts and contacted Godaddy support.

Godaddy support immediately pointed the finger to Cloudflare when Cloudflare was clearly showing that it was the WordPress server not responding in a timely manner. So, I decided to eliminate Cloudflare and move everything over to Godaddy firewall/CDN so it would be all Godaddy top to bottom and eliminate the finger pointing.

Of course, this changed nothing. I spent my evenings after work on many support calls or chats last week with Godaddy.  We exhausted all their troubleshooting steps including me allowing them to blow the WordPress installation away and build it completely new.  I had the exact same timeout problems. To my amazement, with a completely new installation of WordPress hosting on Godaddy top to bottom not working any better than before we started, the support guy tried selling me cPanel as a solution. In fact, he was pushy about it. “Can I add this to your account? Can we proceed with adding cPanel?” Unbelievable.

I was clearly demonstrating that WordPress and specifically the wp-admin functionality (the admin screens in WordPress) literally wouldn’t allow me to create blog posts because it was so slow and timing out on a brand new installation. To get the support salesman to move on from sales mode, I questioned him if he thought that creating a blog post was considered basic or optional functionality of the Godaddy WordPress hosting or did they require you to purchase cPanel to do create a simple blog post?

To be fair, not all of the Godaddy support people were like this. I talked to 6 of them over the course of a week and most of them tried to help and were friendly and their response time was good. Note: I talked to 6 different Godaddy support people over the week for a basic WordPress hosting site.

So after a week of constant troubleshooting a simple Godaddy WordPress Hosting installation, I woke up on Sunday morning and decided to fix it. I moved it all over to WordPress on AWS Lightsail. It was done in 5 minutes and was the easiest server deployment I’ve done. Note: I had to talk to 0 support people for AWS install.

If anyone at Godaddy reads this, take this advice please. Tell your support people to never try to sell more services when the service the customer purchased already isn’t working and tell your WordPress team to do installations and eat their own dog food.  They’ll find its unacceptable.

Also, you will be put out of business by AWS or Azure if you don’t provide a better technical experience because AWS is providing a much better technical experience.  Customers will move off your platform very quickly. I did it on a Sunday morning while having my coffee. For example, I also run our church’s WordPress site on Godaddy and I’m moving it too.

In the next post in this series, I show how I deployed WordPress on AWS Lightsail.