Monthly Archives: November 2014

Exploring Microsoft Azure: Operational Insights Preview

In my previous post I created a small test lab environment. Now it would be nice if we can gather some knowledge and determine if some recommendations can be made to have a optimum Azure experience.

The first thing that comes to mind is building a System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager infrastructure. The problem for me here is that my lab running at the Azure infrastructure. For a few servers I consider this a bit overkill.

As an alternative, I’ve decided to have a look at System Center Advisor’s successor: Microsoft Azure Operational Insights

Operational Insights is currently in Preview, it functionality is rather limited but I expect this to grow very soon.


You can create your Operation Insights subscription at


After completing the subscription some Agents need to be installed on the VMs. Here’s how to do it

After logging on the Overview page is displayed.

Select Server and Usage.

Select Configure.

On this pane you have all the information you need to deploy the Microsoft Monitoring Agent. Yes, it’s the same one used by System Center 2012 R2 Operations Manager. It allows you to report to an OpsMgr Management Group and to Operational Insights.

Since Microsoft has documented the configuration very well, I recommend using their instruction pages to have the Agent Installed and configured.

After a while the Agents start reporting to Operational Insights and some data comes in. As you may have noticed in the Overview pane, I’ve got some work to do 😉

You can add some Intelligence Packs as well to get more information about your VMs.


After running it for a while, I must admit that I like this functionality very much. Operational Insights is already subject of debate if this is a ‘OpsMgr killer’. In my hunble opinion it isn’t, but I expect it to become one eventually once on-premises environments start to shrink.

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Posted by on 22/11/2014 in Azure, Windows Server


Exploring Microsoft Azure: build your own test lab…

It has become very clear now that Microsoft has redefined its strategy and focus in the IT landscape, this is especially true since Satya Nadella took the role of CEO earlier this year. It too a little while for this to become clear but at this time the signals have become more and more clear that the ‘Cloud first, Mobile first’ approach has materialized that Microsoft focuses on their cloud proposition: Microsoft Azure.

Microsoft has put great effort in providing a large amount of services (or building blocks) in Azure. The worlds of infrastructure and development have come together. Because of this, it has become quite a bit overwhelming to determine what you would like to use and where to start. I’ve been asking myself this question as well.

So I started looking at it and asked myself if it would be nice to have all my research, development and testing could be done there as well. After sitting on my hands for a moment, I’ve decided to set my own requirements:

  • Having a small infrastructure that would normally exist on-premises and losing the dependency of running it locally
  • Use the small infrastructure as the foundation of using more building blocks
  • Familiarizing myself with the basics to build this infrastructure

I concluded that I needed a small test lab running on Microsoft Azure.

Before starting a clicking frenzy I started looking around if a comprehensive guide is available to familiarize myself to build it.

Fortunately, I found the guide to get me started at the following location:

I followed the steps and after a while (and a few retries) I got my test lab up and running.

While I was doing it I noticed a few things:

  • If you follow a guide, then stick to it
  • There’s no need to set static IP addresses
  • I can’t use any deployment I’m familiar with (MDT or ConfigMgr), however I don’t need to
  • I can’t setup a site-to-site VPN since I have nothing on-premises running, I have no need for that either

I did a few things differently compared to the guide:

  • I chose different names for a some components
  • I built a RDS server instead of a webserver
  • I use the current Windows 10 Technical Preview as a client

I consider building a small test lab a good place to start.

My final conclusion is: I like it J




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