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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Create Windows Server 2016 Base Image Using Convert-WindowsImage

We are trying to create a base image running Windows Server 2016 TP4. Tested download Convert-WindowsImage.ps1 from

However encountered an error message "Convert-WindowsImage only supports Windows 7 and Windows 8 Wim files"

which prevents us from proceed further.


Then we get Convert-WindowsImage.ps1 from Windows Server 2016 TP4 iso files. Mount the iso and copy Convert-Windows.ps1 from NanoServer folder. It consists of 3954 code of line only.

Execute below command to create a base image with the following details:
  • Windows Server Standard Edition
  • 60GB size
  • Dynamic Disk
  • VHDX
  • VHD Partition Style -MBR

Convert-WindowsImage -SourcePath F:\iso\en_windows_server_2016_technical_preview_4_x64_dvd_7258292.iso -VHDFormat VHDX -Edition ServerStandard -VHDType Dynamic -SizeBytes 60GB -VHDPartitionStyle MBR -Verbose

Friday, February 19, 2016

Compute Red Hat Enterprise Linux VM Available on Microsoft Azure

Microsoft has finally released Red Hat Enterprise Linux Compute VM on Microsoft Azure. Now you can provision a RHEL VM from Azure MarketPlace.

To deploy, access Azure Portal (

Two version RHEL VM Images available:

  • RHEL 7.2
  • RHEL 6.7

Both images are available as "Pay as you Go Premium Image". Once deployed, it carries a separate hourly charge that is in additional to Microsoft Linux VM rates.

You can refer to Microsoft Linux VM rates here.

RHEL images charges based on number of cores

a) Virtual machine with up to 4 cores - $0.06/hr
b) Virtual machine with more than 4 cores - $0.13/hr

You can refer to latest RHEL rates here

Besides that, you also can "Bring Your Own License" by use Red Hat Cloud Access to move their Red Hat subscription to Microsoft Azure.

Follow our previous guide here on how to create RHEL Base Images and upload to Microsoft Azure.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Free Vmware ESXi 5.5 and ESXi 6.0 Backup

If you’re running free ESXi 5.5 and ESXi 6.0 hypervisor and would like to backup Vmware virtual machine, please feel free to check out

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Using StorSimple Virtual Array as File Server

We have covered using Storsimple Virtual Array as iSCSI Server in previous post. Next we are going to use it as File Server. You can use Storsimple Virtual Array (VSA) for file server or iSCSI Server to store files and small database. Native protocol is using SMB or iSCSI. It provides tiering to cloud, cloud backup, fast restore, item level recovery and disaster recovery features

[ Disclamer ]

No distribution of Storsimple Virtual Array as it is tie to our Azure Subscription ID. At this moment, it is still under preview version and intended for evaluation. It is subject to change when General Availability (GA).

[Storsimple Virtual Array Configuration]
To begin with Storsimple Virtual Array will available to customers with an Enterprise Agreement for Microsoft Azure. This version of the Storsimple solution in a virtual machine form can installed on your existing hypervisors:

  • Hyper-V 2008 R2 and above
  • Vmware ESXi 5.5 and above

It is an integrated storage solution that manage storage tasks between on-premise virtual device running in a hypervisor and Microsoft Azure Storage.

Minimum virtual array configuration is
  • 4 cores
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 1 virtual NIC
  • virtual appliance OS disk - 80GB
  • virtual appliance data disk - 500 GB
Storsimple Virtual Array must configure with minimum spec as listed above, else it won't allow you to proceed further.

After download the virtual images and boot up. You can configure VSA initial setup by using browser.

Features that you might interested:
  • automatic data tiering to cloud
  • deduplication and compression for data tiered to the cloud
  • locally pinned shares and volumes
  • item level recovery. This features available when configure VSA as File Server.
  • centralize management in the cloud
  • data mobility - data tiered to cloud can access from remote site for recovery and migration. You can recover entire virtual array to another virtual array in case primary virtual array failed.
  • restore metadata immediately and store data as it needed. Normal operation can continue with minimal disruption.
  • scheduled and on-demand backup

The Virtual Storage Array has a maximum capacity of 6.4 TB on the device (with the underlying hardware has requirement of  8TB) and 64TB including cloud.

This round we are configure it as File Server and virtual array must join to domain.

There are two types of volumes that you can create
a) Locally pinned share
- Suitable when workload data is available locally on Virtual Array.
- volume capacity between 50 GB and 2 TB

b) Tiered share
-Use when other data and 10% of the provisioned volume size is available on the Virtual Array and remaining % is on cloud.
- volume capacity between 500 GB and 20 TB

Select usage type, size and permission on the share folder.

On the on-premise server, map the share folder as start to use as File Server.

The remaining shares permission can modify from Windows Explorer. Here is the screenshot of the folder that map to Storsimpe Virtual Array.

Some file shares is local share and some tier to Azure.

To protect the data on Storsimple Virtual Array, you can configure schedule and on-demand backup to Microsoft Azure.

Restore Active Directory Objects and Container Using Veeam Backup and Replication v9

The most common way to backup Active Directory is backup system state by using Windows Backup [build in on operating services], System Center Data Protection Manager or other 3rd party backup solution that you can think of.

Backup is easy! However, what happen when disaster occur which require you to restore Active Directory database?

Well, normal IT System Administrator,will just perform recovery of Active Directory database by performing non-authoritative restore or authoritative restore. Refer to

Next, do you really want to restore entire Active Directory database and how easy to recover just a ...
  • Active directory object or container (users, groups, computers, OU, mail enabled user & group
  • Group Policy Object (GPO) [ New in v9 ]
  • AD integrated DNS records [New in v9 ]
  • Password
  • Configuration Partition Object [New in v9 ]

To perform above recovery, you will use
  • Windows Backup - backup Active Directory database
  • GPMC - backup group policy object
  • dnscmd - backup AD Integrated DNS records
Wow! Not easy with so many tools to use. Why not look into the below solution that we are going to talk about?

To make your life easy, you can use Veeam Backup and Replication v9 to backup entire Domain Controller Virtual Machine, perform restore an objects and container with Veeam Explorer for Active Directory.

Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Active Directory is a free tool installed with Veeam Backup and Replication (VBR). Active Directory database will be extracted by VBR from the backup or replica file. For Veeam Explorer to work, you need to use credential that has permission to access Active Directory domain.

Veeam Explorer for AD work on AD 2003, 2008, 2008 R2, 2012 and 2012 R2 VM backup.

Let have a quick look on what we can recover by using Veeam solution.

[Restore Object]
You can recover user account, group, password, mailbox enabled account,etc

Note: You can view attributes and make comparison on value on the backup and production value.

Besides, you can define new password and other setting on object before recover.

[ Restore Container]
Entire Organizational Unit (OU) restore with deleted user account/group.

[Restore Group Policy Object]

Restore deleted group policy object.

Note:- Must has Enterprise or Enterprise Plus license to restore this item

[Restore AD integrated DNS record]
Restore a DNS record or DNS zones

Note:- After restoration, you must restart DNS Server service in order to see the changes.

[Restore Configuration Partition Object]

Note:- Must has Enterprise or Enterprise Plus license to restore this item

That's all for today. We have talked about using Veeam Explorer for Active Directory to recover an objects and container. Please feel free to check out Veeam Availability Suite:-