Azure Scale Sets and Zerto

Zerto uses native Azure services to accelerate the move, failover and failover testing from on-premises to Azure. One of the ways Zerto achieves such short RTOs to public cloud is the use of Azure Scale Sets.

If you are not familiar with Azure Scale Sets, they are sets of VMs that power on automatically and perform a task and then deallocate automatically. Zerto uses them when a move, failover or failover test is performed.

In the following demo, you will see me initiate a failover from vSphere to Azure. Here’s what happens:

  • The scale set starts up 41 Linux worker VMs to process the replication data
  • I selected Reverse Replication in my Zerto failover. Once the VMs are running in Azure, the Scale Set works the delta sync from Azure to vSphere.
  • The Scale Set will process the Reverse Protection data until the Azure and vSphere sites are in sync.
  • Once the replication work is complete, the Scale Set will decommission all but one Scale Set VM that acts as the scheduler for the Scale Set.

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.

 

Microsoft Surface Go – One Year Update

Last year I purchased a Microsoft Surface Go and wrote this blog post. This is a quick one year review.

I use the Surface Go nearly daily and it performs like the day I bought it. Its been a reliable performer and the battery life is still excellent. I still really like it and recommend it all the time.

Azure Managed Disk Incremental Snapshots and Zerto

At Ignite, Microsoft announced they added managed disk incremental snapshots. Zerto leverages the managed disks incremental snapshot feature for replication from Azure.

I’m part of the Global Alliances team at Zerto. We are responsible for the Microsoft relationship and get to collaborate with the Zerto Product teams and Azure Product teams to bring new features to the market.

The Zerto product teams have been working hard for several months with Microsoft to get the incremental snapshot feature developed.  The Azure storage team is great to work with as a partner. They actually listen to partner needs and develop APIs and functionality to meet those needs. At Ignite, I did a presentation of how Zerto uses the Incremental Snapshot feature in Raman Kumar’s THR3114 Migrate and protect your production applications running on Azure Disks.

This is an important feature to Zerto because Zerto doesn’t have agents in the virtual machines so Zerto needs Azure storage and their APIs to act more like a enterprise storage in order to track changes.

I also did a short demo in the session and I protected three servers with multiple disks from vSphere to Azure using Premium Managed disks then failed them over to Azure. I also set up reverse protection from Azure back to vSphere.

3 VMs protected to Azure with Premium Managed Disks then failed over to run in Azure

Below, we see the VMs and the multiple Premium SSD Managed disks as well as the Snapshots. The way that the incremental snapshots work is they are constantly updating and snapshotting only the incremental data to be more efficient. For example, in the image below of the Azure Portal during the protection from Azure to vSphere, the older snapshot’s data has been deleted due to a newer snapshot tracking that data. Eventually the oldest snapshot will be deleted as the Zerto protection continues.

Azure incremental snapshots being created and deleted automatically by Zerto for change tracking

To move back to vSphere from Azure, we use the Move command.

Moving VMs from Azure back to vSphere

I select my VPG that is replicating from Azure to vSphere.

Selecting the Virtual Protection Group to move from Azure to vSphere

I keep the Reverse Protection on so once the VMs are back in vSphere, they automatically replicate back to Azure.

Reverse Protection selected so the VMs will replicate back to Azure once running in vSphere

Click Move.

Move the VMs

Acknowledge the Commit Policy Warning.

The Commit Policy allows you to automatically commit or roll back the Move in a specified period of time

And watch the move progress.

The move progress

The VMs automatically deallocate from Azure.

VMs automatically deallocated from Azure once moved to vSphere

The VMs are moved and running in vSphere with protection automatically set up to Azure.

The VMs back in vSphere being protected to Azure

The new incremental snapshot feature helps Zerto complete the move in and move out of Azure scenarios.

Azure VMware Solutions by CloudSimple

CloudSimple

CloudSimple and Microsoft provides the ability to run a complete VMware environment inside of Azure. Source: https://docs.azure.cloudsimple.com/cloudsimple-vmware-solutions-overview/

Why would anyone want to run VMware in Azure?

Some of the use cases could be:

  • The need to evacuate a VMware-based datacenter in a short timeframe. Your organization has a public cloud strategy, but there isn’t time to design and deploy a full Azure native environment before you need to be out of the datacenter.
  • Your company is full of VMware experts that don’t have Azure knowledge yet.
  • Some of your applications aren’t good candidates for public cloud environments, but the majority of the applications are. You will need to maintain a small VMware footprint.

What are the sizes of the environments available?

Cost

CloudSimple currently has to instance sizes available. The smaller one is CS28 and it has 28 Cores, 256GB Ram and over 5TB of flash storage. Source: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/azure-vmware-cloudsimple/

What does it Cost?

It is important to note that a basic deployment is billed a minimum of a month due to the fact that you are getting physical servers inside an Azure datacenter, so when you deploy, it’s going to be about $18,000/month for the CS28 Instance Size. Here are more details on the CloudSimple pricing https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/azure-vmware-cloudsimple/

How do I get started?

Very few products are named as accurately as CloudSimple. I went from zero to having a fully operational VMware datacenter in Azure in about 30 minutes. CloudSimple makes getting VMware inside of Azure really simple to do.

Portal1

To get your VMware datacenter installed, just search in the Azure Marketplace for CloudSimple. https://azuremarketplace.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/ 

Portal2

Once you have the CloudSimple Portal installed in Azure, then follow their intuitive steps. 

Note on the VPN

In order to connect to the Azure VPN in CloudSimple, you have to change the clamping to 1078.

How do I set up the VMware environment?

vmware setup

As a typical tech guy, I didn’t read any instructions and was able to get it installed just following their “Common Task” steps in the portal. You install the CloudSimple service, install the nodes and give it a few minutes and you have a VMware environment up and running in Azure. 

Operations

After the VMware environment running, it’s just like any other VMware datacenter. You use vCenter to manage it and provision VMs just like you normally do.

Adding Zerto

Of course the first thing we did was get a VM up and running in Azure and install Zerto. We created a VPN gateway in Azure and then connected our on-premises datacenter to it. The rest is normal Zerto on VMware operations. It really is that straightforward.

Microsoft Surface Go: I like it so far

I’ve been looking for a device that would fill the gap between a full-sized powerful notebook and my old iPad 2.

I looked at the Microsoft Surface before, but I thought they were trying too hard to be desktop replacements. Plus, I like the notebook form factor better than a tablet for regular daily work. I really didn’t want something as powerful and expensive as a Surface Pro.

Microsoft really hit it on target this time with exactly what I was looking for in a tablet with the Surface Go. I got the 8GB Ram/128GB HD version and the 10 inch screen is sharp and easy to read. The build quality seems good – it has the quality feel of my IPad 2. The Pentium CPU is slower than the Pro version and it comes in a smaller form factor. But it feels quick though and since I primarily work with Office 365 apps, it’s a good fit for me. At $549, it’s a good balance of performance and features for the money.

It comes with Windows 10 S. I think it’s interesting what Microsoft is doing by only allowing Microsoft Store applications in Windows 10 S. You can easily disable Windows 10 S and start using applications that are not in the Microsoft Store (like Chrome), but I think Microsoft is trying to provide similar stability and testing  that Apple does with their products and their Application store. I’ve been using Edge for quite a while along with Chrome, so just using Edge is ok with me too.

Is it a desktop replacement? No. It’s not meant to be that. Is it an iPad replacement. Absolutely. I will say my iPads have been really great, trouble free tablets, but they’re not the ideal machine for travel and working in Microsoft apps for me.  I love having native Windows 10 applications like RDP to manage the labs we have.

Time will tell, but I like the Surface Go so far. Yes, I wrote this post on the Surface Go. 🙂

 

Using Azure Quickstart to Deploy the Zerto Cloud Appliance with VPN

Overview

While deploying the Zerto Cloud Appliance (ZCA) in Azure is straightforward, it does require that a Resource Group, networking, VPN and network security groups (NSGs) exist in Azure already.

In another blog post, I show you how to deploy the Zerto Cloud Appliance from the Azure Marketplace using an Azure Quickstart template. For you to be able to connect to the on-premises Zerto site, you will need a VPN in place.

In order to eliminate the separate VPN pre-requisite build step, we’ve now added a new Azure Quickstart template. This Quickstart template deploys the Resource Group, Network, NSGs, plus the VPN and the ZCA. How cool is that?

Deployment Prerequisites

    1. An Azure Subscription.
    2. An account in Azure that has owner permissions to the subscription and the ability to add web apps in Azure.
    3. An operational IPSec VPN endpoint on-premises
    4. The pre-shared key for the VPN
    5. The IP Address of the Local VPN Gateway
    6. The IP subnet of the Local VPN in CIDR format
    7. The IP Addressing for the private Azure network where the failed over VMs will run. A default of 10.3.0.0/16 is available, but this can be changed to your specific network scheme.

     

  1. For complete prerequisite requirements, see the Zerto Virtual Replication for Azure Guidelines.

Installation Steps

  1. Go to: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/resources/templates/?term=zerto

2. Click on the “Zerto Cloud Appliance with Site-to-Site VPN Connection” template in the gallery, and it takes you to the details page of the Quickstart template.

3. Click “Deploy to Azure” 

4. This page provides a complete list of parameter definitions for the deployment in Azure.

5. Fill in Custom Deployment parameters page. Each setting has an information bubble that has a detailed explanation of what to enter in the field Many of the settings have default parameters filled in already.

6. Agree to the terms and conditions and click purchase.

7. The installation process takes about 30 minutes to deploy.

8. The deployment process is shown in the Azure portal.

 

  1. Once the deployment completes, the message “Deployment succeeded” has a link to the resource group.
  2. In the resource group, review all the Azure resources automatically created by the Quickstart template. If the VPN is online at the on-premises location, you should now have site-to-site connectivity. Try pinging from ZCA to ZVM, make sure your Windows firewall are properly configured for ICMP.

  1. The next step is to RDP to the Zerto Cloud Appliance by clicking on the Virtual Machine object in the Resource Group and complete the ZCA installation. For detailed steps on how to configure the ZCA, see this blog post with video steps: http://virtualizationinformation.com/zerto-quick-tip-installing-zerto-virtual-replication-appliance-5-5-update-1-in-azure/

Links

 

 

 

 

Using Azure Quickstart to Deploy the Zerto Cloud Appliance

Overview

While deploying the Zerto Cloud Appliance (ZCA) in Azure is straightforward, it does require that a Resource Group, networking, and network security groups (NSGs) exist in Azure already.

We wanted to eliminate the separate pre-requisite build steps and have the Resource Group, Network, NSGs, and storage all deploy along with the ZCA. Fortunately, Microsoft made that possible with Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates. ARM templates house all the settings necessary to fully deploy a simple or complex solution in Azure.

Deployment

Prerequisites

  1. An Azure Subscription.
  2. An account in Azure that has owner permissions to the subscription and the ability to add web apps in Azure.
  3. An operational site-to-site connection between on-premises and Azure. For proofs of concept and testing, a software VPN like SoftEther can be used. For production deployments you can use a hardware VPN or ExpressRoute.
  4. For complete prerequisite requirements, see the Zerto Virtual Replication Azure Guidelines https://zerto.io/2BMLkPY

Installation Steps

  1. Go to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/resources/templates/?term=zerto
  2. Select the “Create a Zerto Cloud Appliance”.

3. Click on the Deploy to Azure button. It will launch the Azure portal and begin the installation. This page provides the link and a complete list of parameter definitions for the deployment in Azure.

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/resources/templates/201-zerto-zca/

  1. The Zerto Cloud Appliance Marketplace VM, along with the networking and NSG’s, will begin to deploy. It takes about 15 minutes to complete the ZCA deployment.
  2. The deployment process is shown in the Azure portal.

  1. The next step is to RDP to the Zerto Cloud Appliance by clicking on the Virtual Machine object in the Resource Group and complete the ZCA installation. For detailed steps on how to configure the ZCA, see this blog post with video steps: http://virtualizationinformation.com/zerto-quick-tip-installing-zerto-virtual-replication-appliance-5-5-update-1-in-azure/

Links

 

 

 

 

Preparing Azure for a Zerto Cloud Appliance Installation – Part 4: Storage Accounts

Storage Accounts

Creating a new Storage Account like we will do in this step isn’t required to do a ZCA installation because the ZCA installer will create it automatically. However, as part of the installation, you can also select existing storage accounts so this post shows you if you have storage accounts already existing, you can use them.

From the main menu, select Storage accounts and create a new storage Account.

In the create storage account, give it a name that makes it easy to locate. I’m using msignitesa, the Resource Manager deployment model, General purpose, Premium (you can use standard), LRS and Disabled for secure transfer required. Be sure to use the Resource Group you created.

Go to the Resource Group you created and you will see the network, network security group and the storage account in the Resource Group.

This is the final post in this series. You now have everything you need to start the ZCA installation.