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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


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There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Get a jump on that rapidly evolving trend at Big Data Expo, which we are introducing in June at
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@CloudExpo Blogs
In their 2014 CIO Agenda report Gartner describe how ‘Taming the Digital Dragon‘ is key to Digital Transformation strategies, with the Hybrid Cloud Platform model as the enabling technology blueprint AND business model. As their ‘We are here' arrow describes Gartner propose we are at the transition point from a second to a third generation of IT, the shift from IT industrialization to Digitization, where the key skills of a CIO are business models and digital leadership, rather than just IT service management aka a shift from the CIO to the CDO - Chief Digital Officer.
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Too many myths and hypes create the confusion around digital transformation. Digital transformation isn't a technology change matter, it's primarily about transforming business models: infrastructure and operating model. Digital transformation when tackled with proven methodologies and approaches isn't as complex as it seems, they provide the step-by-step guide, the logic, and the tools to make it easy.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, which can process our conversational commands and orchestrate the outcomes we request across our perso...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Kubernetes and Google Container Engine Workshop, being held November 3, 2016, in conjunction with @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This workshop led by Sebastian Scheele introduces participants to Kubernetes and Google Container Engine (GKE). Through a combination of instructor-led presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on labs, students learn the key concepts and practices for deploying and maintaining applications using Kubernetes.
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. You will get a thorough overview of enterprise cloud technologies such as AWS IoT, Azure IoT Suite, a...
Internet of Things (IoT) is the in thing that no sane company would neglect. BlackBerry after its recent smart phone is also into IoT and has a complete platform. Main vertical applications targeted are automotive and asset tracking for now. Here is about the platform in Blackberry's own words. "The BlackBerry® IoT Platform is here to give you that control, providing a cloud-based solution that lets you build and manage IoT applications and devices in a secure, efficient, and scalable way."
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, Inc., put cognitive computing into perspective with its value to the business. The sessi...
Just as writing has come to mean texting, blogging or any form of digital writing, the cloud today means one or all of the three Cs: computing, connectivity and communication. And just as nearly all thought to putting pen to paper has disappeared, all reference to the natural cloud is long forgotten. The three Cs have altered the way we consume services. The adage, “change is the only constant,” holds true in the IT landscape like no other, forcing IT admins to constantly learn new skills and make strategic decisions.
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
When scaling agile / Scrum, we invariable run into the alignment vs autonomy problem. In short: you cannot have autonomous self directing teams if they have no clue in what direction they should go, or even shorter: Alignment breeds autonomy. But how do we create alignment? and what tools can we use to quickly evaluate if what we want to do is part of the mission or better left out? Niel Nickolaisen created the Purpose Alignment model and I use it with innovation labs in large enterprises to decide what should be part of our innovation and what should be left to others.
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior to VenueNext, he spent over 35 years as a founder, CEO or executive leader of product and engineerin...
Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS - software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
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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