Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany 2018

Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany 2018

The Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany 2018 is a shining beacon of light in a sea of marketing driven IT events. It is organized by Carsten Rachfahl via his company Rachfahl IT Solutions. Carsten is a Microsoft MVP and Regional Director whose commitment to excellence has show for many years in his community engagements. I think his integrity and style is a driving force behind this conferences ability to attract the quality of attendees, speakers and sponsors.


Cloud & Datacenter welcomes top expert speakers from the community and the industry. They deliver high quality sessions and share their combined experience and knowledge with attendees that are truly interested in working with those technologies. That combination delivers high value interactions and knowledge sharing. The sessions in combination with the interaction between everyone there is works very well due to the size of the conference. Its big enough to have the breath of topics needed I todays IT landscape while it is small enough to allow people to dive in deeper and discuss architecture, design, implementation and visions.

Some extra information

The Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany 2018 is being held on May 15-16 2018 in the Congress Park Hanau, Scholes Plats 1, Hanau, 63450 Germany. That’s close to Frankfurt and as such has good travel accommodations. Topics of interest will be Azure, Azure Stack, Hybrid Cloud, Private Cloud, Software Defined Datacenter, System Center & O365. The conference is a real-life technology event so no one is pretending that the esoteric future is already here. We are working on that future by building it in our daily job and helping organizations move forward in an efficient and effective manner.

This is a great conference by technologists, for technologists. The opportunities to learn, network and exchange information are great. The speakers are approachable and all of them together are there both share and learn themselves. From my past experiences the organization outstanding and the feedback from attendees was outstanding.

I’ll be speaking on RDMA to give a roadmap on this ever more important technology. On top of that I’ll be around to discuss high availability, clustering, data protection both on premises as in (hybrid) cloud scenarios.

Do your self a favor and register for the Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany in 2018.

All I can say is that you should really consider attending. It’s most definitely worthwhile. The quality of the attendees, the speakers and the absolute top-notch organization of the conference have been proven in the previous years. The Cloud & Datacenter Conference is a testimony to the professionalism, integrity and quality my fellow MVP and friend Carsten Rachfahl delivers with his company Rachfahl IT solution on a daily basis to his customers. So, help yourself out in your career and register right here. I hope to see you there.

Note: The CDC is German spoken conference but as some speakers are from around the globe you’ll have to listen to some of them speaking in English. If you’ve ever heard my German, I’m sure you’ll prefer me speaking English anyway.

Set the preferred site for a CSV in a site-aware stretched failover cluster


I have presented many time over the past tears on the new and enhanced capabilities of Microsoft Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2016 (Experts Live, Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany, MicroWarehouse’s Windows Server 2016 Launch Event etc.) Feedback has shown me that there is still a lot of need for good failover cluster design and implementation guidance.

One area of enhancement is that you now have site-aware failover clusters in Windows Server 2016. That helps optimize the, availability, behavior and performance of the workload. It leveraged cluster fault domains and in this case those fault domains are the sites where the cluster nodes reside.


Set the preferred site for a CSV in a site-aware stretched failover cluster

You can leverage the site awareness to do all kind of configuration optimizations. You can set a preferred site creating a primary and a DRC site. The cluster behavior will optimize for that scenario. It will also help with situation like quorum split more easily and elegantly. You can create an “Active-Active” site configuration because a cluster groups, such as virtual machines can have their own preferred site.

As you can see in the picture above there is a thing called Storage Affinity. That means that VMs follow storage and are placed in same site where their associated storage resides. As such VMs will begin live migrating to the same site as their associated CSV after 1 minute. The CSV load balancer will distribute within the preferred site. That’s cool. But when setting a preferred site at the cluster group level like for virtual machines, how does one do this for a CSV?

It’s actually quite simple. A CSV is a cluster group, just like a VM is. So, for every CSV you can set that preferred site. You just grab the cluster group a bit differently. Let’s look at an example.

For a VM you’d do this: (Get-ClusterGroup -Name DidierTest01).PreferredSite = ‘Dublin’

Now for a CSV we go about it as follows:

Get-ClusterSharedVolume “Cluster Disk 1” | Get-ClusterGroup | Fl *


The preferred site has not been set yet. To set the preferred site for a CSV you can do the following:

$NTFS01 = Get-ClusterSharedVolume “Cluster Disk 1” | Get-ClusterGroup $NTFS01.PreferredSite = “Dublin” $NTFS01.PreferredSite


You can remove a preferred site by setting it to $Null:

$NTFS01.PreferredSite = $Null

That was not to hard was it? There is one other thing to keep in mind. Do not forget to set up your site fault domains first and set the site for your cluster nodes before you start configuring preferred sites at the cluster group level or it will throw an error. That’s the minimal setup of a site-aware cluster you need to have in place before you can do more fine-grained configurations.

New-ClusterFaultDomain –Name Dublin –Type Site –Description “Primary” –Location “Dublin DC1”
New-ClusterFaultDomain –Name Cork –Type Site –Description “Secondary” –Location “Cork DC2″
Set-ClusterFaultDomain –Name Node-A –Parent Dublin
Set-ClusterFaultDomain –Name Node-B –Parent Dublin
Set-ClusterFaultDomain –Name Node-C –Parent Cork
Set-ClusterFaultDomain –Name Node-D –Parent Cork


If you don’t do this and try to set preferred sites at the cluster group level you’ll get an error like:

Exception setting “PreferredSite”: “Unable to save property changes for ‘e95ad724-97d3-4848-91db-198ab8312737’.
The parameter is incorrect”
At line:1 char:1
+ $NTFS01.PreferredSite = “Dublin”
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : NotSpecified: (:) [], SetValueInvocationException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : ExceptionWhenSetting

There is a lot more to say about site-aware stretched clusters but how to deal with setting a preferred site for a CSV must be the most common question I get on this subject. Well, now it’s published to help you all out. I hope it helps.

Set-AdfsSllCertificate: PS0159: the operation is not supported at the current Farm Behavior Level ‘1’. Raise the farm to at least version ‘2’ before retrying.


A Windows Server 2016 Farm running had its service communication certificate about to expire so it was time to renew it. Easy you think, get a new cert, get it up and running on all farm member and configure your ADFS farm to use it. Easy enough running  Set-AdfsSllCertificate until you get an error.


Set-AdfsSllCertificate: PS0159: the operation is not supported at the current Farm Behavior Level ‘1’. Raise the farm to at least version ‘2’ before retrying.

The cause

At first I was a bit surprised. This is by design and it is mentioned in Managing SSL Certificates in AD FS and WAP in Windows Server 2016. This is typically one of those statement you don’t pay attention to too much until you have the issue.

It only occurs with upgraded ADFS Farms (Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016) that have not been raised to the Farm Behavior Level 3. This was the case as the domain was still running Windows Server 2012 R2 DCs and the forest and domain schema updates had not been run yet at the time the ADFS Farm was upgrade from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016. See Migrate a Windows Server 2012 R2 AD FS farm to a Windows Server 2016 AD FS farm Hence no upgrade was done as without the schema updates you can’t do this and the new functionality this exposes was not available yet anyway. This didn’t cause any issue as the certificate was valid and all operations worked.

Now, when you install a ADFS farm from scratch on Windows Server 2016 the Farm Behavior Level will read as “3” even it if the domain does not have the forest and domain schemas yet. Basically it sort of lies. But in such an event you won’t have the issue renewing the service communication certificate.

The fix

By now the Windows Server 2016 Active Directory schema updates have been run and 80% of all domain controllers are already running Windows Server 2016 at the moment the service communication certificate expired. To be able to replace it we need to do as the error message says: raise the Farm Behavior Level which is now possible as the schema updates are in place.

We check it is indeed still at “1”. clip_image004

We raise the level. by running Invoke-AdfsFarmBehaviorLevelRaise


As you cans see it ran successfully. We can check the Farm Behavior Level


Running Set-AdfsSslCertificate now does work and all is well again.


There you go, no more errors.

In-place upgrade of an Azure virtual machine


In the cloud it’s all about economies of scale, automation, wipe and (redeploy). Servers are cattle to be destroyed and rebuild when needed. And “needed” here is not like in the past. It has become the default way. But not every one or every workload can achieve that operational level.

There are use cases where I do use in place upgrades for my own infrastructure or for very well known environments where I know the history and health of the services. An example of this is my blog virtual machine. Currently that is running on Azure IAAS, Windows Server 2016, WordPress 4.9.1, MySQL 5.7.20, PHP. It has never been reinstalled.

I upgraded my WordPress versions many times for both small incremental as major releases. I did the same for my MySQL instance used for my blog. The same goes for PHP etc. The principal here is the same. Avoid risk of tech debt, security risks and major maintenance outages by maintaining a modern platform that is patched and up to date. That’s the basis of a well running and secure environment.

In-place upgrade of an Azure virtual machine

In this approach updating the operating system needs to be done as well so my blog went from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016. That was also an in place upgrade. The normal way of doing in place upgrades, from inside the virtual machine is actually not supported by Azure and you can shoot yourself in the foot by doing so.

The reason for this is the risk. You do not have console access to an Azure IAAS virtual machine. This means that when things go wrong you cannot fix it. You will have to resort to restoring a backup or other means of disaster recovery. There is also no quick way of applying a checkpoint to the VM to return to a well known situation. Even when all goes well you might lose RDP access (didn’t have it happen yet). But even if all goes well and that normally is the case, you’ll be stuck at the normal OOBE screen where you need to accept the license terms that you get after and upgrade to Windows Server 2016.


The default upgrade will boot to that screen and you cannot confirm it as you have no console access. If you have boot diagnostics enabled for the VM you can see the screen but you cannot get console access. Bummer. So what can you do?

Supported way of doing an in-place upgrade of an Azure virtual machine

Microsoft gives you two supported options to upgrade an Azure IAAS virtual machine in

An in-place system upgrade is not supported on Windows-based Azure VMs. These approaches mitigate the risk. The first is actually a migration to a new virtual machine. The second one is doing the upgrade locally on the VHD disk you download from Azure and then upload to create a new IAAS virtual machine. All this avoids messing up the original virtual machine and VHD.

Unsupported way of doing an in-place upgrade of an Azure virtual machine

There is one  way to do it, but if it goes wrong you’ll have to consider the VM as lost. I have tested this approach in a restored backup of the real virtual machine to confirm it works. But, it’s not supported and you assume all risks when you try this.

Mount your Windows Server 2016 ISO in the Windows Server 2012 R2 IAAS virtual machine. Open an administrative command prompt and navigate to the drive letter (mine was ESmile of the mounted ISO. From there you launch the upgrade as follows:

E:\setup.exe /auto upgrade /DynamicUpdate enable /pkey CB7KF-BWN84-R7R2Y-793K2-8XDDG /showoobe none

The key is the client KMS key so it can activate and the /showoobe none parameter is where the “magic” is at. This will let you manually navigate through the wizard and the upgrade process will look very familiar (and manual). But the big thing here is that you told the upgrade not to show the OOBE screen where you accept the license terms and as such you won’t get stuck there. So fare I have done this about 5 times and I have never lost RDP access due to the in-place upgrade. So this worked for me. But whatever you do, make sure you have a backup, a  way out, ideally multiple ways out!

Note that you can use  /Quiet to automate things completely. See  Windows Setup Command-Line Options

Nested virtualization can give us console access

Since we now have nested virtualization you have an option to fix a broken in-^lace upgrade but by getting console access to a nested VM using the VHD of the VM which upgrade failed. See:


If Microsoft would give us virtual machine console access or  DRAC or ILO capabilities that would take care of this issue. Having said all that, I known that in place upgrades of applications, services or operating systems isn’t the cloud way. I also realize that dogmatic purism doesn’t help in a lot of scenarios so if I can help people leverage Azure even when they have “pre cloud” needs, I will as long as it doesn’t expose them to unmanaged risk. So while I don’t recommend this, you can try it if that’s the only option you have available for your situation. Make sure you have a way out.

IAAS has progressed a tremendous amount over the last couple of years. It still has to get on par with capabilities we have not only become accustomed to but learned to appreciate over over the years. But it’s moving in the right direction making it a valid choice for more use cases. As always when doing cloud, don’t do copy paste, but seek the best way to handle your needs.