Since the announcements and public previews of Microsoft Azure Stack (MAS), everybody including myself is talking about and testing with MAS. But the reality is that a lot of companies have invested in Windows Azure Pack and were a little surprised that Microsoft announced before this summer that Windows Azure Pack on Windows Server 2012 R2 is supported until July 2017.
Several weeks ago Microsoft made another announcement that they are continue to invest and support in Windows Azure Pack (WAP) next to Azure Stack for 11 years! But to use the extended support you need to bring your Azure Pack environment to Windows Server 2016. MAS release is aimed for the summer of 2017 so very likely there will be a gab between end of support of WAP on Server 2012 R2 and any public available MAS appliances from HP, Dell or Lenovo…
From several customers i received questions about the support statement and what needs to be updated. Turns out it’s not that well documented and known. As you can see in the screenshot above, it states Windows Azure Pack (on Windows Server 2012 R2) and Windows Azure Pack (on Windows Server 2016). But as we all know, Windows Azure Pack is a solution based on lots of components from the Windows and the System Center family.
What to upgrade
As i said before Windows Azure Pack leans on a lot of Windows features like a Active Directory domain, IIS and Hyper-V but also on System Center components like VMM and SPF. So I started to break down the pieces for a reasonable default setup:
- Domain Controllers
- SMA WebService
- SMA Runbook Worker
- Windows Azure Pack components (API’s, Tenant, Admin, Configsite and so on)
- RD Gateway for Console Connect
- ADFS Proxy
Now the question was, do all these components need to be on Windows Server 2016 and/or System Center 2016 or some? During my journey to find some answers I looked at the Windows Server 2012 R2 support statement which is valid till 2018.
The System Center 2012 R2 family support stops at July 2017..
That is the exact same date as the support for Azure Pack on Windows Server 2012 R2 stops. Azure Pack support is equal to the support lifecycle of the products it depends on. And since System Center 2012 R2 stops at July 2017, also the Azure Pack Support stops because it depends on System Center 2012 R2.
So if you have an environment running Windows Azure Pack on System Center 2012 R2 on Windows Server 2012 R2 what components do we need to upgrade to get our Azure Pack environment on the Windows Azure Pack (on Windows Server 2016) support level to get support till 2027? From a technical perspective, Azure Pack only talks to SPF, VMM and SMA. So the VMM, SPF and SMA components need to be updated to System Center 2016. But System Center requires the same level on all products if they should work together. So that means that SCOM should also be upgraded to.
Then we have the minimum OS requirements for System Center 2016 VMM and SPF server. These two products require at lease the Windows Server 2016 Operating system.
So for the quick win you should upgrade the following components:
- To VMM 2016 on Windows Server 2016
- to SPF 2016 on Windows Server 2016
- to SMA 2016 which does not require Windows Server 2016 so you could run this on Windows Server 2012 R2.
- If SCOM is involved for Monitoring and/or Usage you should upgrade SCOM to 2016 to. The OS can remain on 2012 R2.
More then a quick win
Now if you upgrade the above components we extended the support to 2018. Because Azure Pack also depends on Windows Server 2012 R2. And the support of Windows Server 2012 R2 stops at January 2018 as we can see at the beginning of this blog. So the quick win is to gain 6 months of support. That could be just enough to start with Azure Stack..
Also in the quick win scenario you won’t be able to leverage the new Windows Server 2016 features like SDN v2, Encryption Supported VMs, Shielded VM’s and much much more! Windows Azure Pack already supports these features since UR9 and UR10. To leverage these features you need to bring your hypervisors to Windows Server 2016. Luckily we have the new Windows Server 2016 feature Rolling cluster upgrades for that to make it more easy. You can upgrade host by host (be sure to do a clean install of the host and not an OS upgrade) without have to shutdown the cluster or setup a new cluster and migrate everything to the 2016 cluster.
Full support and all the new stuff
Now if you are in the long term relationship with Azure Pack and want to get the support to somewhere around 2027. And you have read about all the new features on the various roles and features of Windows Server 2016 you will need to upgrade the entire environment to Windows Server 2016. That could take some time and a fair amount of work, but if you start with the quick win and slowly move forward you should be able to get it done before 2018 and can have a lot of good nights sleep knowing your environment is supported 🙂