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Integrating Active Directory into Windows Azure Virtual Machines
Active Directory Deployment Considerations and Implementation Steps in Windows Azure

Migrating traditional client/server applications to Windows Azure Virtual Machines is what Don Noonan does every day. The majority of these workloads use Active Directory Domain Services as their authentication provider, or in other words, classic Windows authentication. In this post Don walks us through the best practices high level architecture and the basic building blocks of creating a private forest within Windows Azure.

If Active directory is not available, you better be
As we all know, if AD is down so is your app. Imagine setting up a single domain controller responsible for both name resolution (DNS) and authentication. You just created another synonym for single-point-of-failure. At a minimum you should deploy two (2) domain controllers, and they should be created as part of an Availability Set. This will ensure that at least one (1) domain controller is always available for authentication and name resolution requests. If you’re considering saving a few bucks by deploying a single domain controller in non-production environments, let me save you a few more. The first call you get from development or QA will cost you at least 6 months of compute. Telling a dozen upset people on a conference call that you wanted to save the company $50/month will sound pretty bad…

A private forest for me? oh you shouldn’t have
There are currently two major scenarios for providing Windows authentication in Windows Azure Virtual Machines:

  • Deploy a new private forest
  • Extend an existing on-premise forest

In this blog we’ll cover deploying a new private forest. Here is a quick Visio of a classic 3-tier application (using Windows Azure features) to get us started:

As you can see, we have a management subnet that contains our domain controllers, as well as separate database and application “tiers”.

Stop Talking and Start Deploying
As with any new deployment to Windows Azure Virtual Machines, you will perform the following high-level steps:

  1. Create an affinity group (See Bob Hunt’s Article in the Series)
  2. Create a virtual network (See Bob Hunt’s Article in the Series)
  3. Create a storage account (See Kevin Remde’s Article in the Series)
  4. Create virtual machines (See Tommy Patterson’s Article in the Series)

While creating the virtual network, you will need to specify that the domain controllers will also be providing name resolution for all of the servers in your deployment. You can do this in the Windows Azure management portal as well as through the management web service. Here is how you do this via PowerShell:

Specifying custom DNS servers using PowerShell

Example command line:

Set-AzureVNetConfig –ConfigurationPath “C:\networkConfiguration.xml”

Contents of C:\networkConfiguration.xml:

<NetworkConfiguration>
<VirtualNetworkConfiguration>
<Dns>
<DnsServers>
<DnsServer name="skydc01" IPAddress="10.1.1.4" />
<DnsServer name="skydc02" IPAddress="10.1.1.5" />
</DnsServers>
</Dns>
<VirtualNetworkSites>
<VirtualNetworkSite name="skyvn" AffinityGroup="skyag">
<AddressSpace>
<AddressPrefix>10.1.0.0/16</AddressPrefix>
</AddressSpace>
<Subnets>
<Subnet name="Management">
<AddressPrefix>10.1.1.0/24</AddressPrefix>
</Subnet>
<Subnet name="Database">
<AddressPrefix>10.1.2.0/24</AddressPrefix>
</Subnet>
<Subnet name="Middleware">
<AddressPrefix>10.1.3.0/24</AddressPrefix>
</Subnet>
<Subnet name="Application">
<AddressPrefix>10.1.4.0/24</AddressPrefix>
</Subnet>
</Subnets>
<DnsServersRef>
<DnsServerRef name="skydc01" />
<DnsServerRef name="skydc02" />
</DnsServersRef>
</VirtualNetworkSite>
</VirtualNetworkSites>
</VirtualNetworkConfiguration>
</NetworkConfiguration>

In the example above, the IP addresses used assume the domain controllers are the first virtual machines created on the Management subnet. Let’s make sure that’s true by creating them now:

Creating Highly Available Domain Controllers using PowerShell

Relevant excerpts from createService.ps1:

$instanceSize = 'Small'
$imageName = 'MSFT__Win2K8R2SP1-Datacenter-201210.01-en.us-30GB.vhd'
$subnetName = 'Management'
$availabilitySetName = 'skydc'

$password = '@skyDc01'
$vmName = 'skydc01'
$skydc01 = New-AzureVMConfig -Name $vmName -AvailabilitySetName $availabilitySetName -ImageName $imageName -InstanceSize $instanceSize |
Add-AzureProvisioningConfig -Windows -Password $password |
Set-AzureSubnet $subnetName

$password = '@skyDc02'
$vmName = 'skydc02'
$skydc02 = New-AzureVMConfig -Name $vmName -AvailabilitySetName $availabilitySetName -ImageName $imageName -InstanceSize $instanceSize |
Add-AzureProvisioningConfig -Windows -Password $password |
Set-AzureSubnet $subnetName

Once you’ve created the servers, you will need to make them domain controllers, also known as promotion.

Promoting a Server to a Domain Controller using DCPROMO or PowerShell

Depending on what operating system you have chosen, you can automate forest creation via command line. In the following examples, be sure to replace DOMAIN_HERE with the desired domain name, and replace passwords with those corresponding to temporary password you assigned to the local administrator account on the first (primary) server.

Windows Server 2008 R2 – Create a new forest using DCPROMO

dcpromo.exe /unattend:C:\primaryDomainController.txt

Contents of C:\primaryDomainController.txt:

[DCInstall]
; New forest promotion
ReplicaOrNewDomain=Domain
NewDomain=Forest
NewDomainDNSName=[DOMAIN_HERE].com
ForestLevel=4
DomainNetbiosName=DOMAIN_HERE
DomainLevel=4
InstallDNS=Yes
ConfirmGc=Yes
CreateDNSDelegation=No
DatabasePath="C:\Windows\NTDS"
LogPath="C:\Windows\NTDS"
SYSVOLPath="C:\Windows\SYSVOL"
SafeModeAdminPassword=@skyDc01
RebootOnCompletion=Yes

Windows Server 2012 – Create a new forest using PowerShell

C:\primaryDomainController.ps1

Contents of C:\primaryDomainController.ps1:

Import-Module ADDSDeployment
Install-ADDSForest `
-CreateDnsDelegation:$false `
-DatabasePath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
-DomainMode "Win2012" `
-DomainName "[DOMAIN_HERE].com" `
-DomainNetbiosName "DOMAIN_HERE" `
-ForestMode "Win2012" `
-InstallDns:$true `
-LogPath "C:\Windows\NTDS" `
-NoRebootOnCompletion:$false `
-SysvolPath "C:\Windows\SYSVOL" `
-Force:$true

Part of your homework will be to create the second domain controller in the new forest. There will need to be slight changes made to the answer files above.

What's Next?

Creating the rest of servers required by your application seems like the logical next step. However, there are a handful of important tasks I like to do prior to creating ANY additional virtual machines:

Create domain user accounts that will be used for future system administration.

Create containers for major objects such as server computer accounts.

Create core group policies for significant items such as:

  • Remote Desktop Services – Enable Keep-Alives (article posted previously at Skylera)
  • User Account Control
  • Windows Firewall
  • Windows Update

Important Considerations

When creating a private forest, consider the amount of administrative overhead involved vs. level of isolation. For example, you may want to have a single forest for all pre-production environments so that you only need to perform user account tasks in one place. This is easy to do in Windows Azure.

Written by Don Noonan (Don's Blog at Skylera)

Edited by Tommy Patterson (Tommy's Blog on Virtuallycloud9.com)

Be Sure to Read Up on the Rest of the Series for 31 Days of Servers in the Cloud!

http://virtuallycloud9.com/index.php/31-days-of-servers-in-the-cloud-series/

About Tommy Patterson
Tommy Patterson began his virtualization adventure during the launch of VMware's ESX Server's initial release. At a time when most admins were only adopting virtualization as a lab-only solution, he pushed through the performance hurdles to quickly bring production applications into virtualization. Since the early 2000s, Tommy has spent most of his career in a consulting role providing assessments, engineering, planning, and implementation assistance to many members of the Fortune 500. Troubleshooting complicated scenarios, and incorporating best practices into customer's production virtualization systems has been his passion for many years. Now he share his knowledge of virtualization and cloud computing as a Technology Evangelist in the Microsoft US Developer and Platform Evangelism team.

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Cloud Expo - Cloud Looms Large on SYS-CON.TV


Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
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Top Stories for Cloud Expo 2012 East

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With our launch at Cloud Expo, we successfully transformed the company from a relatively unknown European player into the dominant player in the market. Our competitors were taken by surprise and just blown away. We got a huge number of really high quality leads..."
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@CloudExpo Blogs
It is not often that movies and television shows give viewers the opportunity to explore the world of hacking and digital security in a realistic manner. After two seasons, "Mr. Robot" has attracted its share of IT professionals as well as average citizens. The show has offered numerous depictions that are of particular interest to those who make their living by protecting their organizations. The critically acclaimed television series offers fictional situations rather than documentary evidence. However, the plots and actions of both the security engineers and hackers are realistic enough th...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and on the other side, organizations that will find themselves as roadkill on the technology highway.
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resources of one or more underlying hosts. It's not uncommon for Docker servers to run thousands of short-te...
Nerdio is an IT-as-a-service platform with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology at its core. It is designed for IT departments that need a way to easily manage their ever-increasing workloads. Nerdio allows users to efficiently manage their complete IT environments by giving them full visibility and control of users’ desktops. In addition to virtual desktops, the platform includes unlimited virtual servers, Microsoft Office 365 security, and disaster recovery and 24/7/365 support.
There’s a funny thing about digital transformation: we are simultaneously over-hyping it and understating it. On the one hand, every tech company in the world is talking about it. It doesn’t matter how mundane the technology; every company is somehow relating their products to digital transformation. On the other, many people are failing to grasp the import and impact of what digital transformation really means. In far too many cases, business and IT leaders are dismissing it as nothing more than a marketing ploy. The unfortunate result is that the over-hypedness of digital transformation i...
For large enterprise organizations, it can be next-to-impossible to identify attacks and act to mitigate them in good time. That’s one of the reasons executives often discover security breaches when an external researcher — or worse, a journalist — gets in touch to ask why hundreds of millions of logins for their company’s services are freely available on hacker forums. The huge volume of incoming connections, the heterogeneity of services, and the desire to avoid false positives leave enterprise security teams in a difficult spot. Finding potential security breaches is like finding a tiny ne...
As cloud computing simultaneously transforms multiple industries many have wondered about how this trend will affect manufacturing. Often characterized as “staid”, this vertical is not often cited when leading edge technological change is the topic. This view, however, fails to address the revolutionary nexus of cloud computing and the manufacturing industry. Referred to as Digital Thread and Digital Twin; these cloud driven concepts are now driving this vertical’s future.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at Dice, he takes a metrics-driven approach to management. His experience in building and managing high ...
This is a guest post from Cloudinary, a cloud-based image and video management solution. We are always looking for ways to help companies deliver digital experiences that will meet customers expectations in terms of content and performance. Tackling these 5 challenges is a good step towards delivering a top-notch digital experience. We are in the midst of a great evolution when it comes to website design. Formerly text-heavy sites now rely on eye-catching images and video to draw in visitors, improve engagement rates and drive readership. These results are proven. Articles with relevant ima...
2016 brought about more cyberattacks than we thought possible, especially involving ransomware, and we definitely won't see that trend breaking stride in 2017. By next year, we expect every single adult in the US will know a blood relative that has had their identity stolen - the Internal Revenue Service reported that 2.7 million people had their identities stolen in 2014 and according to TransUnion, 19 people fall victim to identity theft every minute.
Almost a year ago, I wrote these words, "Technology has reached the tipping point for me, it moved from a help to a hindrance." The plethora of adrenaline- and endorphin-inducing mobile apps, 24x7 news, notifications, alerts and updates, drip fed my brain and hindered my "deep work and deep thoughts." In Cal Newport's new book titled, Deep Work he posits that most knowledge workers need concentration and substantial time, dedicated and uninterrupted, to produce their best work. He argues that a lot of technologies and open office layouts today inhibit creativity, "deep work" and "deep thoughts...
The IoT continued its toddler-like growth and stumbles in 2016. Here are five trends to look for in 2017 as the IoT enters its adolescence and how to benefit from them. 1. Ecosystems begin to determine winners and losers Previously these were nice in-the-future concerns; now they will really count. Filling out a whole product value proposition through partnerships has repeatedly proven its importance across B2B and enterprise software sectors. In the IoT, they will be even more critical.
Modern organizations typically use several IT tools to monitor their applications, networks and other IT components in real time. Unfortunately, this leads to independent data islands, which creates a one-dimensional view of IT. In order to make strategic decisions, organizations need an IT operational analytics tool to analyze data from multiple sources, spot trends and make better decisions.
Cyberattacks are relentless. The pace of attacks shows no sign of slowing, and organizations understand that 100 percent prevention of attacks is not possible. Traditional prevention and detection techniques are falling short, and security professionals are scrambling for new paradigms that can more effectively detect attacks and mitigate the growing levels of damage. In this climate of confusion, deception-based solutions offer a viable and proven way to stop attackers in their tracks. Why? Because instead of sitting back and waiting to be the victim, detection technologies let organizations...
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Past SYS-CON Events
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2011west.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcexpo
2011east.sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2010west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualization
2010west.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2010.
sys-con.com

 
    Cloud Expo East
cloudcomputingexpo
2010east.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo East
virtualizationconference
2010east.sys-con.com
    Cloud Expo West
cloudcomputingexpo
2009west.sys-con.com

 
    Virtualization Expo West
virtualizationconference
2009west.sys-con.com
    GovIT Expo
govitexpo.com
 
    Cloud Expo Europe
cloudexpoeurope2009.sys-con.com
 

Cloud Expo 2011 Allstar Conference Faculty

S.F.S.
Dell

Singer
NRO

Pereyra
Oracle

Ryan
OpSource

Butte
PwC

Leone
Oracle

Riley
AWS

Varia
AWS

Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group