Deploying Windows Azure Pack (Part 4)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Deployment scenario

For this proof of concept (PoC) walkthrough of deploying Windows Azure Pack, we’re going to use a simple lab setup that consists of two physical servers running Windows Server 2012 R2. These two servers are on the same subnet, have Internet connectivity, both have the Hyper-V role installed on them, and are named HOST30 and HOST40 as shown in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1: PoC lab setup for VMM 2012 R2.

Physical server HOST30 will be used to host our System Center infrastructure, which must be in place before we can begin deploying Windows Azure Pack in our environment. Our infrastructure consists of three virtual machines as follows:

  • DC-150  This virtual machine is the domain controller for the domain and has 2 GB of RAM allocated to it.
  • SCVMM01  This virtual machine is a member server that has System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 installed on it and has 4 GB of RAM allocated to it. This server will host the VMM management server and VMM console.
  • DB01  This virtual machine is a member server that has Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 installed on it and has 4 GB of RAM allocated to it. This SQL server will host the database that stores the information you can see in the VMM console, for example virtual machine libraries, virtual machine hosts, virtual machines, jobs, and so on.

Deploying VMM 2012 R2

The high-level steps for preparing our System Center test environment begin with installing Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 on virtual machine DB01 and VMM 2012 R2 on virtual machine SCVMM01.

  1. Create the necessary service accounts and security groups for VMM and SQL Server.
  2. Make sure all the servers have received all the latest updates from Windows Update.
  3. Install SQL Server 2012 SP1 on virtual machine DB01, selecting the Database Engine Services and configuring the service accounts appropriately.
  4. Download and install the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 8.1 on virtual machine SCVMM01 selecting only the “Deployment Tools” and “Windows Preinstallation Environment” options. You can download the ADK for Windows 8.1 from the Microsoft Download Center.
  5. Install VMM 2012 R2 on virtual machine SCVMM01 selecting only the VMM Management Server and VMM Console components and configuring the database connection settings appropriately so virtual machine SCVMM01 can access the database on virtual machine DB01.
  6. Deploy the VMM agent to the two Hyper-V hosts named HOST30 and HOST40.

The above is only a bare outline of the steps you need to perform. For the detailed steps you can refer to one of the resources that John McCabe referred to in the previous article in this series. This resource is a post on Kevin Holman’s System Center Blog, the post is called “SCVMM 2012 R2 – QuickStart deployment guide” and is a very helpful step-by-step description of how to perform a basic install of VMM 2012 R2 for PoC testing purposes. Kevin’s post on this topic can be found here.

Configuring VMM 2012 R2

At this point you now have VMM deployed in your test, but it still needs to be configured before you can deploy Windows Azure Pack in your test environment. The task of configuring your VMM environment after deploying VMM is often called “preparing the fabric”. In VMM terminology, the term “fabric” refers to the infrastructure resources used to create and deploy virtual machines and services to your private cloud. These infrastructure resources include such things as virtual machine hosts (for example, HOST30 and HOST40 in our deployment scenario), networking (both physical and logical networks), and storage (both local and remote storage).

There are a number of different ways you can proceed at this point depending on the specific configuration choices you decide to make, but the four configuration tasks outlined by John McCabe in the previous article in this series are the bare minimum of what you need to consider doing in order to prepare your VMM fabric to ensure the successful deployment of Windows Azure Pack in your environment. Let’s examine these four configuration tasks briefly in more detail.

Creating Host Groups and Clouds

Host groups in VMM terminology are custom groups of virtual machine hosts you can create to make monitoring and managing your virtual machine hosts easier by grouping hosts together. For example, you could begin by creating host groups named for the different geographical locations for your organization:

  • Vancouver
  • Toronto

You can then add virtualization hosts to your host groups as shown in Figure 2 below:

Figure 2: Using host groups to organize your virtualization hosts for easier management.

You could then create host groups within these host groups for the different tiers (capability levels) of the hosts in these locations. For example, Tier1 hosts might be clustered hosts with SAN storage while Tier2 hosts are standalone hosts with DAS storage. Your resulting host group structure might then look like this:

  • Vancouver
    • Tier1_VAN
    • Tier2_VAN
  • Toronto
    • Tier1_TOR
    • Tier2_TOR

As an alternative, you could use host groups to differentiate between hosts running different virtualization platforms like this:

  • HyperV
    • Tier1_HyperV
    • Tier2_HyperV
  • ESX
    • Tier1_ESX
    • Tier2_ESX
  • XenServer
    • Tier1_XenServer
    • Tier2_XenServer

For more information on host groups, see this link.

Once you’ve defined your host groups, you can then use VMM to create private clouds from specific types of hosts in your environment. For more information on how to create private clouds from host groups, see this link.

Creating logical networks in VMM

Logical networks in VMM terminology are user-defined named grouping of IP subnets and virtual local area networks (VLANs) used to organize the network assignments in your environment. Logical networks are typically used in VMM to connect virtual machines associated with a specific function to a network that these virtual machines can use so they can fulfill this function. For example, let’s say that you have two virtual machines that will be used as front-end web servers for your multi-tier application. You could create a logical network named FrontEnd, associate the appropriate IP subnet with this logical network, and then connect the two virtual machines to it. You can also create IP and MAC address pools for logical networks to simplify the assignment of these addresses to virtual machines connected to the logical network. And you can use load balancers, either Microsoft Network Load Balancing (NLB) or a third-party hardware load balancer, to balance the load for the virtual machines attached to the logical network. For more information on configuring logical networks, see this link.

Configuring the VMM library

The VMM library is basically a catalog of all the resources you can use for provisioning and managing virtual machines and private clouds. Examples of these resources can include ISO images, virtual hard disks, application packages, drivers, scripts, profiles, service templates, and so on. Some of these resources are file-based while others reside in the VMM database on your SQL server. As the figure below illustrates, the default library share on your VMM management server already contains some blank virtual hard disks you can use to create new virtual machines

Figure 3: Creating a new virtual machine from a blank virtual hard disk in the VMM library.

For more information on how to configure the VMM library, see this link.

Configuring STORAGE in VMM

VMM can utilize both local and remote storage solutions for storing virtual machines and other VMM library resources. These storage solutions can be either block-based (e.g. Fibre Channel SANs, iSCSI SANs, SAS storage) or file-based (e.g NAS storage that supports SMB 3.0). Using the VMM console you can discover and classify storage resources in your environment that can be utilized by VMM, provision new LUNs, allocate storage to host groups, and assign storage to hosts and clusters. For more information on how to perform this configuration task, see this link.


Once we’ve configured our VMM environment, we will be ready to begin deploying Windows Azure Pack. The next few articles in this series will cover this.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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