WAC: Hyperconverged Hyper-V Cluster with S2D

Creating a new cluster made easy (ish) with Windows Admin Centre

Last year I replaced a 3 node VMWare+SAN cluster with a 2 node hyperconverged Hyper-V cluster. I’ve been quite impressed with it so far so thought I’d write how I did it – especially considering I did the bulk of the work through Windows Admin Centre.

Before you decide to sit down and do this, be warned it’s not a quick process. If you’re in any doubt you should probably consult a vendor who has the Microsoft certified hardware and expertise available before putting this into production – if you’re fine with setting up complicated things yourself, or it’s for testing, then you’re welcome to come along for the ride. You’ll no doubt waste countless hours trying to get Windows to play with the disk adapters and get the disks into the right mode for S2D, especially if you’re using older hardware, so I’d set aside at least a full day or two.

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WAC: Azure Backup

If you’ve connected Windows Admin Centre to Azure you’ll find a section called Azure Backup. This will allow you to back up your on-site workloads to Azure using the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services agent. It’s ideal for backing up physical servers or individual virtual machines, however if you’re after backing up all the guests on your Hyper-V host you’re better off looking into Azure Backup Server, which runs on the host rather than the guest.

In this post I’m going to look at configuring and backing up a server through Windows Admin Centre, and then at how to recover the data – both for a partial failure (such as some files being deleted but the server still boots) and a total failure.

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Windows Admin Centre

Stop using Server Manager and get WAC!

Windows Admin Centre is a web based server (and desktop) administration package which, eventually, should replace the majority of the work currently done through MMC consoles and snap-ins. If you’ve ever opened Server Manager on a Windows 2019 machine you’ll have seen the popup telling you to “Go get Windows Admin Centre!”. Whilst it’s not there yet, it is constantly being updated and improved and I find it really useful.

It’s a lot more than just managing a couple of systems – when I set up our hyperconverged Hyper-V cluster I primarily did this from within WAC (post to follow on this if I get chance to write it up) – and it integrates nicely with a lot of Azure services (including any Azure VMs you might have)

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Universal Print

Universal Print is a new feature which is currently in preview – so you’ll need to have an eligible subscription already. At the moment that includes Microsoft 365 subscriptions (E3/A3 and E5/A5), Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, and Windows 10 Education A3/A5. It replaces Hybrid Cloud Print and is a lot easier to set up and manage. You’ll need your devices to be connected to Azure AD (either domain joined or hybrid joined, or registered).

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Hybrid Cloud Print

Hybrid Cloud Print is a solution to allow users to print to on-premise printers from their devices without needing to be on site or even have VPN connectivity – they just need Internet access. It is however fairly complicated to set up and requires multiple app registrations in Azure, and an Application Proxy server setting up. In this post I go through the steps on how to set it up and print from an Intune managed device.

Hybrid Cloud Print is being replaced with Universal Print, which is a lot easier to set up and manage – no messing with SQLite and it has a portal in Azure, however it’s only currently available in preview to people with specific existing subscriptions. I’ve also gone through setting up Universal Print.

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Intune Part 2 – Autopilot/Win10 – Applications

Today I’m going to look at deploying applications to devices managed by Intune. Back in part 1 I looked at enrolling devices, setting up Autopilot, some basic configuration policies and also created a few Azure AD groups containing the devices.

There’s quite a lot of different application types in Intune, covering iOS, Android and Windows devices. As this series is focussed on Windows I’m not going to look at the iOS or Android ones at this time.

This post will go through the steps for installing/deploying the following:

  • Microsoft 365 Apps – Hassle free Office 365 deployment,
  • Microsoft Store Apps – primarily Store for Business/Education apps, including linking Intune to the Store for Business/Education,  but you can also deploy without setting up the Business/Education store.
  • Web Apps – essentially shortcuts to a website
  • Windows Applications (Win32) – your traditional Windows apps which come with a setup.exe or setup.msi.

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Intune Part 1 – Autopilot/Win10

As we plan to move towards 1:1 mobile device deployment I decided to take a look at how this would actually work – I don’t want to be unboxing devices and having my team run each one through an OS Deploy task sequence. Pretty much all our services have moved to the cloud (“My Documents” are in OneDrive, “Shared drives” are in Teams) I thought it’d be a good idea to look at Intune and Autopilot, with the devices being Azure AD domain joined, rather than local AD or hybrid. In this post I’ll go through what I’ve done and how far I’ve got things set up.

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FTTC VDSL on a Cisco 897VA

I’ve recently changed broadband to Fibre-to-the-cab (FTTC) VDSL connection. As I have a small data cab in the house I wanted a rack mount router instead of the ISP provided one, and I had a spare Cisco 897VA hanging around which is perfect for the job.

Unfortunately there isn’t a web based config on this router so I’ve had to configure via terminal/SSH but it’s not too difficult to get running on your VDSL connection.

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