Tag Archives: azure

Azure Technical Fiction

Azure SQL PaaS version confusion

So, it seems that simply obtaining the version information for your SQL PaaS database server isn’t as straightforward as it seems, the official advice from Microsoft is that:

 

Azure SQL Database is always running on the latest stable version of SQL Server Database Engine and patched OS with 99.99% availability

 

{from https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/sql-database/sql-database-paas-index)

 

I was checking this yesterday (4th November 2019) and seeing as MS Ignite has just kicked off in Florida and that SQL Server 2019 is not yet generally available (announcement expected at Ignite) I was assuming that our SQL PaaS database servers would be running SQL Server 2017 patched to CU 17.

 

Off I go to SQL Management studio to verify, I connect to one of my SQL PaaS DB servers and I run:

 

@@version

 

The server happily responds with:

 

Microsoft SQL Azure (RTM) – 12.0.2000.8
Oct 12 2019 22:46:48
Copyright (C) 2019 Microsoft Corporation

 

Version 12.0.2000.8??? What on earth, that’s referring to SQL Server 2014 which was end of support literally a month or so ago.

Some quick research and it seems that the version reported using the @@version command isn’t correct. Next command to try:

 

SELECT SERVERPROPERTY(‘ProductVersion’);

 

Server response:

 

12.0.2000.8

 

Well that’s not right. Let’s try something else:

 

SELECT SERVERPROPERTY(‘ResourceVersion’);

 

Server response:

 

15.00.1900

 

Ahhhh that’s more like it, but what does version 15 correspond to? Well it seems it’s SQL Server 2019 – eh? How can that be if it’s not GA yet?

 

Well, it seems your SQL PaaS really is running on the latest, greatest release of SQL Server. Using the helpful info provided at https://sqlserverbuilds.blogspot.com/ it seems the .1900 refers to a very recent version of SQL Server 2019 which is probably an October 12th release as per the date given by @@version.

 

TLDR: Your SQL Server PaaS in Azure IS running the latest version of SQL, in fact currently one that isn’t available publicly. Wicked!

AWS Azure

Gap in the market for Recruitment Agencies

I think there’s a gap in the market which recruitment agents could potentially exploit. It’s been many years since I stopped contracting. Now back on the market little has changed in my communication with them.

Lots of roles, lots of JDs, lots on interest. The gap exists between what the JD says and what your CV/experience says. I really think Recruitment Agencies should start an element of providing Skills Training. No not for new up & coming agents to teach them sales techniques, pipeline management etc. No, I think they should offer courses in real world IT skills, if anyone knows where the real skills shortage is it’s recruitment agencies.

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Office365 Technical Fiction Virtualization

Office 365 and the backup/data loss conundrum

With GDPR on the horizon and many organisations rapidly moving to Office 365, Azure services, Skype for Business and SharePoint online it seems many are not 100% clear on the distinction of responsiblities between their organisation and Microsoft themselves.

The plain bare fact is that YOU and your organisation are responsible for your data. All of it. Not Microsoft, sure they provide the service and there are SLA’s associated with those services – but those SLA’s can still be met if even if all your data was maliciously or accidentally erased i.e. the service is still running (even though all your data is gone!).

Microsoft are not responsible for backup or restore of your data.

Again, you might say there is 30 days backup for Office365 and 14 days for SharePoint online – but this only provides a limited amount of protection against data loss. Believe it or not any restore requirements are on a best effort from Microsoft as oppsed to tied to a distinct SLA. As with all cloud services, functionality and features continually change and evolve, a good thing generally BUT when talking about backup/restore and data loss this uncertainty around continual change represents a significant risk to your critical data.

Granular restore of a specific document in SharePoint online? Forget it, it’s either the whole Site Collection (yes, everything!) or nothing.

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Active Directory Azure Technical Fiction

Azure VM, Active Directory and a Dedicated Disk

Installing the AD DS role onto a Azure virtual machine? Creating a Domain Controller in the cloud? Are you sure you want to do this?

For all Domain Controllers you create on an Azure virtual machine, in addition to the system OS disk (C:\) you MUST add a dedicated disk and ensure thatyour AD DS install wizard or script uses this dedicated disk as the location for both the Active Directory database (NTDS) and the replicated system volume (SYSVOL) during the Role installation.

IMPORTANT: For this dedicated disk ensure that the ‘Azure Disk Host Cache’ is set to NONE

Failure to do this risks the corruption of your Active Directory database.

The relevant Microsoft documentation can be found here https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/azure/jj156090.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396

I’ve extracted the exact section below, saves you going through the whole web page above:

“Data disk drives do not cache writes by default. Data disk drives that are attached to a VM use write-through caching. Write-through caching makes sure the write is committed to durable Azure storage before the transaction is complete from the perspective of the VM’s operating system. It provides durability, at the expense of slightly slower writes.

This is important for Windows Server AD DS because write-behind disk-caching invalidates assumptions made by the DC. Windows Server AD DS attempts to disable write caching but it is up to the disk IO system to honor it. Failure to disable write caching may, under certain circumstances, introduce USN rollback resulting in lingering objects and other problems.

As a best practice for virtual DCs, do the following:

  • Set the Host Cache Preference setting on the Azure data disk for NONE. This prevents issues with write caching for AD DS operations.
  • Store the database, logs, and SYSVOL on the either same data disk or separate data disks. Typically, this is a separate disk from the disk used for the operating system itself. The key takeaway is that the Windows Server AD DS database and SYSVOL must not be stored on an Azure Operating System disk type. By default, the AD DS installation process installs these components in %systemroot% folder, which is NOT recommended for Azure.”
SharePoint stash Technical Fiction Virtualization

Did Microsoft Decode the Future in 2016? Not really

Microsoft Future Encoded
Microsoft Future Encoded

Billed as an event where the future direction of Microsoft (and its partner network) would head in the next 3-5 years I thought it worth heading to London for the ‘Technical’ Day. It was a 2 day event but day 1 on Tue 1st November 2016 was billed as ‘Business Day’, so of course I booked in for the geek chic on the 2nd Nov.

It was a well organised event at the Excel centre, smooth check-in & badge print out and well staffed. A little crowded outside the single escalator everyone was trying to use straight after lunch to get up to Levels 1 through to 3, which is where the breakout session were held in various meeting/seminar rooms. You are suposed to use the ‘Future Encoded’ app to set a schedule and browse the timetable/sessions – the app was pretty rubbish, it kept showing me day 1 (no way to change it) and didn’t work properly until day 2 actually arrived. Without the app you are stuck – no printed copies just dashboard screens outside each meeting/seminar room with the schedule for the remainder of that day for that room only. read more »

Active Directory

DirSync, Azure AD Sync – Support Ends April 13, 2017

Official Microsoft support for DirSync (x64, single forest) and Azure AD sync (multiple forests) ends within a year on April 13th 2017.

The information was only sent by email last week and not everyone will be aware and the only official Microsoft statement I can find is linked below:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/documentatioADn/articles/active-directory-aadconnect-dirsync-deprecated/

Of course end of support does not mean your sync tool of choice will stop functioning – it will happily continue to function, but an upgrade will be needed to ensure it remains in support from next year onward.

So get your upgrade boots on and get Azure AD Connect working which is the replacement for any of the previous sync tools and was released in 2015, the link above has further links for an in-place or swing upgrade – whatever floats your boat (in reality choose the method that suits your organisation, also test it first in non-Production!!!)

Azure AD Connect
Azure AD Connect

Azure AD Connect essentially replaces any of the following you might still be running:

  • Dirsync
  • Azure AD Sync
  • Azure AD Connector
  • FIM 2012 R2

 

So seriously consider upgrading this side of Christmas, and not next Easter. You have been informed!

End of Support for legacy Azure sync products
End of Support for legacy Azure sync products
Active Directory Technical Fiction Virtualization

Free MS Books for Kindle or Kindle App

Whether you have a Kindle, or a smartphone/tablet with the Kindle App installed you can download the following Microsoft related technical books for free. Right now from Amazon. They are:

Introducing Windows 8.1 for IT Professionals – Ed Bott DOWNLOAD

Introducing Windows Server 2012 R2 – Mitch Tulloch DOWNLOAD

Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 – Mitch Tulloch, Symon Perriman, Microsoft System Center Team DOWNLOAD

Office 365: Migrating and Managing Your Business in the Cloud – Matt Katzer, Don Crawford DOWNLOAD

Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals – Mitch Tulloch DOWNLOAD

Microsoft System Center Troubleshooting Configuration Manager  – Rushi Faldu, Manoj Pal, Andre Monica, Kaushal Pandey, Mitch Tulloch DOWNLOAD

Microsoft System Center Building a Virtualized Network Solution – Nigel Cain, Alvin Morales, Michel Luescher, Damian Flynn DOWNLOAD

Microsoft System Center Integrated Cloud Platform (Introducing) – David Ziembicki, Mitch Tulloch DOWNLOAD

Remmeber, you DO NOT need a Kindle to access these books. Use the App. Enjoy!

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