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This is part 1 of a series of blog posts that covers everything you need to know about Server Management Automation (SMA) and bring you from “Noob” Level, to SMA expert in just 5 days!

I will post a blog post everday for the next 5 days in order to try to teach you everything I know concerning SMA and Windows Azure Pack.

 

Here is how our week is going to look like:

  1. SMA Day1: Learning the basics of SMA: Introduction to SMA and Windows Azure pack –> Basic knowledge, vocabulary, installation and configuration of Windows Azure Pack (This post)
  2. SMA Day2: Preparing your environment for SMA–>How to install and configure SMA on Windows Azure Pack.
  3. SMA Day3: Your first Runbook, basic SMA vocabulary.
  4. SMA Day4:  SMA possibilities.
  5. SMA Day5: A concrete example on how to manage Sharepoint Lists using a PowerShell Workflow.

Windows Azure is one of this new tools that really is a life changer! The Azure platform reduces company’s costs tremendously! and For automation fans just like us, it offers us a whole new set of possibilities and extends our playground even more, and brings us to the cloud!

Ok, but the title says “The Windows Azure Pack“, you talked about “SMA“,  am I in the wrong blog post here? absolutley not!
A lot of us, are still ‘afraid‘ of the cloud (for good reasons specifically when you watch these real time cyber attacks here …)

What is SMA (Server Management Automation)?

In the Microsoft’s System Center family products there is a tool called “System Center Orchestrator” or “SCORCH“. This tool is an orchestration tool (like his name indicates us) and actually helps IT pros to automate tasks in their infrastructure.

[stextbox id=”note”]Hey! But isn’t PowerShell there for that?[/stextbox]

Indeed! But Orchestrator goes a bit ‘deeper’ in the automation by providing actually a graphical tool that will help us automate things.

What this tools accomplishes is actually great! (How to do so is a total other story….) It is persistent to reboots, connection loses and much more! A lot can be accomplished with it. For each new automation task, a “runbook” would be created within Orchestrator. Runbooks could be called one from another, and we could push the scenarios quite far. Especially when it is combined with PowerShell scripts.

 

[stextbox id=”custom”]For instance, we have implemented a solution at a client of ours, that would make a copy of an entire SCCM infrastructure from production to a lab environment on a weekly basis. The object was to have a LAB environment that would reflect at 100% the production environement, avoiding the normal “Configuration drift” that can appear through time. (This saves a LOT of time because the operations done in production do not need to be redone in the Lab environment).[/stextbox]

System Center Orchestrator 2012 R2 comes with a small optional add-on feature called “Service Management Automation“. It is available as an .MSI file on the SCORCH 2012 R2 installation CD/ISO (should we still talk about CD’s in 2014 by the way? o_O..). Once SMA is installed and properly configured, it will allow us to orchestrate tasks programatically just like through the graphical interface from Scorch using the well knowed PowerShell syntax.

SMA is actually nothing else then PowerShell Workflows

 

Windows Azure Pack can benefit from these amazing automation capabilities and help us manage our datacenters in a whole new fashion.

 

What is Windows Azure Pack?

 

What is windows azure pack? It is actually EXACTLY like Windows Azure, but there is just one (slight?) difference: It works locally!

This actually means that you can have EXACTLY the same functionality as in Windows Azure (cloud version) but locally on premises. Windows Azure Pack allows you to have the same look and feel, the same features, the same automation possibilities, and the same infrastructure enhancements as in the ‘regular’ Windows Azure, but with the option of being able to isolate it totally from the cloud, and keep all your data, on premises.

[stextbox id=”note”]The migration scenarios from Windows Azure pack to the Windows Azure (cloud platform) are also made easier. This could be a first step towards the cloud, without really embracing it (And yet having the possibility access these new technical possibilities).[/stextbox]

Azure pack will give you the look and feel from Azure, but on premisses. Windows Azure Pack (also knowned as WAP) offers you  the possibility to orchestate tasks from a central management point, it will let you provision for instance Virtual machines, Databases, entier labs, automate various infrastructure related tasks, all from a single and same management portal.

 

How to install Windows Azure Pack?

So, now that you have learned a bit more about Windows Azure Pack and SMA, and that you know which direction we are heading, I will walk you through on how to install the Windows Azure Pack in a LAB. This Lab will be later on used as a base in order to write our different SMA runbooks.

Prerequisites:

These are the recommended prerequisites from Technet (with my personal notes).

Hardware:

  • 8 Go RAM (Non dynamic!!)
  • 40 go of Free space (I created a D:\ drive of 60Go)

Software:

Windows Server 2012:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Microsoft Web Platform Installer 4.6
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack (SP) 1
  • Internet Information Services (IIS) 8
  • .NET Framework 4.5 étendu avec ASP.NET pour Windows 8

Windows Server 2012 R2:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Microsoft Web Platform Installer 4.6
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack (SP) 1
  • Internet Information Services (IIS) 8.5
  • .NET Framework 4.5 extended with ASP.NET for Windows 8

SQL Server:

The following SQL versions are supported for the installation:

  • SQL Server 2014
  • SQL Server 2012 Service Pack 1
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 2
  • SQL Server 2008 Service Pack 3

There are two ways of installing the WAP, either with an express setup, or a full setup. The express setup  will install all the different components  on the same box.

Basically, when the Windows Azure pack installation is launched in “Express” mode, whe can use a SQL Server Express version. For any of the distributed deployment options, the Express version of SQL is NOT supported. (Just remember –> Express = Express)

[stextbox id=”warning”]Have your SQL server ready prior to the Windows Azure pack Installation(Or prepare an instance if you already have one available). The Express installation does not offer’s the possibility to install an SQL DB.[/stextbox]
[stextbox id=”info”]As soon as the installation is done in a “distributed manner”, the SQL server should be a dedicated machine.[/stextbox]

Also, the SQL authentication on the SQL Server needs to be enabled prior the installation of the Windows Azure Pack.

The installation account needs to be local administrator on the SQL box for the installation.

 

How to install Windows Azure Pack?

 

first things first, you need to use the “Microsoft Web Platform Installer 5.0

[stextbox id=”download”]You can get the Microsoft Web Platform Installer –> here  [/stextbox]

The installation is not that complicated and pretty straight forward I think. The most important part is to choose correctly what you want to really install, since everything actually has a bit the same name (there are lots of different “Azure thingies” there).

Launch the Microsoft Web Platform Installer by double clicking on it, and the following screen will pop up.

installation001

Click on Products then on Windows Azure search for Windows Azure Pack Portal and API Express highlight it and then click Add and finally click install

 

installation03

Simply click I Accept.

installation04

 

Scroll down, choose how you want to manage your updates, and click Continue.

The installation will then start and you got your self some coffee time here.

[stextbox id=”note”]The installation took me around 15/20 minutes on my lab platform so you definitely have some time grab a good Cappuccino :)[/stextbox]

installation05

 

By Clicking Continue, you will automatically prompted for two windows:

  • The confirmation of the end of installation.
  • An internet explorer Window will open automatically in order to start the Windows Azure Pack Configuration.(See in next chapter).
    installation06

Post configuration of Windows Azure Pack:

 

Once the installation is finished, an Internet explorer window will pop open and offer you a short post configuration menu to prepare your environment to kick ass!

installation07

Click Continue to this website (Not recommended) and the Windows Azure Pack screen will appear.

Configuration001

 

Input the elements as asked, and click next (or that little arrow on the right lower corner).

If you have the following message : A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server. The server was not found or was not accessible –> try adding the port number after your server name like this “ServerName:xxxxx

 

From now on, it is very “Windows style” (A very good friend of mine who happens to be a linux specialst would say) and “next, next, next finish style”.

Configuration02

Next

Configuration03

Next.Configuration04

 

And after a short while, the configuration will be finished.

 

Where do I start with Windows Azure Pack?

 

I hear this quite often actually. The Azure environment is a new set of infrastructure, architecture, language to learn (or improve ;)). One important part to know in Azure (Pack or not) is that there are two ways of using it, thus two portals to manage azure it:

  • Tenant portal
  • Admin portal

What is the Windows Azure Admin portal?

 

The windows Azure Admin portal is actually the interface through which system engineers (like you and me) will go and configure an environment for our clients, thus our tenants.

It is possible to tune this up quite a lot like automating the creation of a VM based on a service requests, automatically calling a Runbook that will provision the the AD accounts in the correct OU’s, provide the adequate rights etc…

All of this will be subject to other blog posts so keep tuned.

What is the windows Azure tenant portal?

 

The tenant portal is the portal through which our clients (thus tenants) will access their resources that we have been creating / developing for them (Did somebody said Devops ?) .Thus how to provide them access to their VM’s, etc…

This is about all you need to know about now, because there is nothing more to know about it (for now!). But stay tuned, because I will elaborate this in future blog posts.

Let’s rock!

 

So, knowing that, if you search for the keyword “Azure” in your start folder, you will see the following icons:

start01

 

You might be asking yourselfs: Which one do use? Yep well, that is EXACTLY why I explained shortly the Admin and Tenant meanings so that you are ready to rock!. You now know now that you will first have to configure the tenant site(s) (There is actually a lot more then that, but let’s pretend for now I never said that). Thus chose the Windows Azure Pack Administration Site. One clicked, Internet explorer will popup, and will show you a nice little window like this one below.
start02

You will then have a small tour on how to go around in Azure, when to click to create something, where you will see information, how to login/out etc…(I spear you a few screenshots here…)

start03

 

And finally \o/ EUREKA! \o/ you have access to your Windows Azure Pack portal.

Ok, we are not finished yet. The next post talks about how to add the SMA functionality to our Windows Azure Pack environement so that we can start and write some code!

See you there!

Stéphane

Digg more into it!

 

SQL Requirements official page –> http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn469343.aspx

Automating WAP service management –> http://blogs.technet.com/b/orchestrator/archive/2014/08/28/automating-wap-service-management-with-service-management-automation.aspx

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Follow me on twitter at @stephanevg

By | 2016-10-19T21:00:14+00:00 December 4th, 2014|PowerShell, sma, Windows Azure Pack|0 Comments

About the Author:

Stéphane is a dynamic and passionate Cloud and datacenter Microsoft MVP since. He is the founder of the Basel PowerShell user Group (BPUG), the co-founder of the French Speaking PowerShell UserGroup (FRPSUG), author, blogger, and received the community award "PowerShell Hero" from PowerShell.org. Stéphane has implemented microsoft infrastructure solutions in various countries of Europe and is currently working in Basel / Switzerland. Stéphane help his clients to reduce their global infrastructure costs by implementing Microsft infrastructure solutions by combining great products such as System Center, Windows Server, with heavy automation using Windows PowerShell. Stéphane loves languages, Belgium beer, French cheese and French Wine. If any of these topics are of your interest, don't hesitate to come and say hi.

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