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.

Preparing Azure for a Zerto Cloud Appliance Installation – Part 3: Network Security Groups

In the previous post in this series, we created Resource Groups and Networks and Subnets. In this post we continue to create what we need in the Azure environment for our Zerto Cloud Appliance installation.

Network Security Groups

Using similar steps as the creation of Resource Group and Networks,   from the main menu, go to Network Security Groups (NSGs) so we can create the Network Security Groups for the subnets.  Click +Add and give the Network Security Group a name. I used ms-ignite-demo-subnet-nsg and use the ms-ignite-rg Resource Group.

Once it’s created, open the Network Security Group so you can add some firewall rules. I’m going to show you how to create the rules using RDP and these rules could actually be assigned at different levels like individual NICs, but for the purpose of showing how to put inbound and outbound firewall rules, we’ll apply them to the subnets. For more on the design and usage of NSGs, read this post.

Additionally, since you most likely have a commercial firewall on-premises, there are commercial offerings in the Azure marketplace that allows your network and security teams to use the platform that they are accustomed to using. For example, if you use Cisco ASA, there is an Azure marketplace appliance available to use.

In the Resource Group, go down to Inbound Rules.

We want to use the drop-down selector for the Service. Choose RDP to allow Remote Desktop connections.

Once you click OK, it shows the firewall rules in the main table.

In this menu, select Subnets to associate the firewall rules to the subnets. Click the +Associate and select the virtual network you created and associate the subnets.

Once you have associated all the subnets you need, then you can close the blade.

Navigate over to the Resource Group you created. You will see the network and subnets in the Resource Group.

At this point, you actually have what you need to install Zerto Virtual Replication. During the Zerto Cloud Appliance installation, it will create a storage account. However, in version 5.5U1 Zerto added the ability to use an existing storage account. In the next post, we’ll create a storage account.

Preparing Azure for a Zerto Cloud Appliance Installation – Part 2: Networks and Subnets

This is the second post in the “Preparing Azure for a Zerto Cloud Appliance” series.  In the first post in this series, we created a Resource Group.  In this post, we’ll add a network and some subnets.

Networks and Subnets

Back at the main menu on the left, go to Virtual networks. You will be creating a Virtual network much like the way you created the Resource Group.

Click +Add to add a new network. Give your network a name. I used ms-ignite-net and add the Address space. I changed the IP address to 10.2.0.0/16 from /24 because I want to create some subnets.

Be sure to select Use existing Resource group and add in the Resource Group you created. I’m using ms-ignite-rg. Use an Azure Region that is closest to your data center that will be connecting to Azure to improve performance.

In the Subnet, I changed it to 10.2.1.0/24 and named it Demo1 Subnet.

Click Create to create the network. When it is complete, click on Subnets to open up the Subnets configuration menu.  I’m going to add 4 Subnets.

To add the Subnets, you click the +Subnet button. I wanted to use a series of /24 subnets in this network.

You don’t have to associate Network Security Groups or Route Tables in this step; however, you have NSGs or routes created already, you can can do it now. You also can add them later.

Now we have the network and subnets we need. In the next post in this series, we create some Network Security Groups and associate them to the subnets.

 

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.