Friday, November 29, 2013

Deploying an Internal PKI for Azure Recovery Services Prerequisite

Azure Recovery Services uses certificates to authenticate and encrypt connections to and from the Azure Platform. In the training video - Configuring Azure Backup In Windows Server 2012 the PKI environment was already setup and configured. This blog entry is the prerequisite to that configuration.

In our lab we have a Domain Controller where Active Directory Certificate Services will be installed and a File Server both using the Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 Operating Systems. Below is a picture of lab in HYPER-V.


Let's get our PKI installed. On DC-1 we will add a role and select Active Directory Certificate Services.

 Next we will take the default selection of a certificate authority and select next.

Once installation is completed our next step is to configure Certificate Authority for Certificate distribution.

 When the specify credentials screen appears we will take the defaults and select next.

Select Certificate Authority and select next.

 Select Enterprise CA and select next.

 Select Root CA and select next.

We will create a new private key and click next.

 In the Cryptography for the CA we will select 4096 for the key length SHA256 for the hash algorithm and RSA#Microsoft Software Key Storage Provider for the Cryptographic Provider and click next.
 We will use the default for the CA name.

 The validity period we will use the length of 3 years.

 We will take the database defaults and click next.

 Confirm our configuration and then click configure.

 We have successfully configured an Internal PKI environment.

 Our Certificate Services is now ready to distribute certificates on the network and to Azure!

Next we will head to our File Server and select run then enter mmc for the Microsoft Management Console.

 In the console we will select file then Add-Remove Snap-in.

 In the Snap-in select Certificates then the add button.

 Select the Computer Account then click next.

 Leave the default selection for the Local Computer then select Finish.

 Note that the Certificates on the Local Computer is selected for management. Click ok.

 Expand Certificates, then Personal and then Certificates.

Right click an empty spot in the right pane for the menu to appear. Select All tasks then Request a New Certificate.
 The Enrollment wizard will kick off the click next.

 Select computer then Enroll.

 The certificate request for enrollment is successful! Click Finish to close out.

Our next step is to export the certificate. Make sure that the certificate you are exporting is the Client Authenticated one. Select your certificate right click, select all task then export.

 Do not export the private key as it is not needed for Azure Recovery Services. Click next.

 We will take the default of the DER encoded binary X.509 cert.

 I will place the certificate on the desktop for easy access.

 The export of our certificate is successful!

 You now have a certificate for your Azure Recovery Services Vault in the Azure platform!


To get a free 30 day trial to Azure -
To download Windows Server 2012 R2 -

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Managing Azure from the Xbox 360

It is funny how we come across new ways of managing different platforms of technology. Azure is no different. Yesterday I had the pleasure and opportunity to present Azure Services at Hodges University in Fort Myers. There I met a young enthusiastic young man named Jacob who become very engage in the session and which started the gears in head to turn. We covered of course what platforms can you manage the Azure platform on. Laptops. Desktops and Servers were among the first to be identified.

Then came the tablets like IPads and the Microsoft Surface. One caught my eye that I never thought about. The Xbox 360! Can you manage Azure from your Xbox 360? We left it unanswered with a possible no until today

Thoroughly tested and tried you can connect, manage and create items in the Azure platform see pictures below.

Figure 1 shows initial connection.

 Figure 2 shows the selection of Images from the Virtual Machine Gallery.

Figure 3 shows the configuration of the Virtual Machine.


Unfortunately you cannot connect to the Virtual Machine from your Xbox 360. That would have been awesome! Figure 4 shows this below.
Now you can play Call of Duty and deploy to the Azure platform from your Xbox 360!

You can always sign for a 30 day trial with a $200 spending limit at

By: Adnan Cartwright

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Windows Server 2012 R2 WSUS Post-Installation Task Fails

Windows Server Update Services has been improved in Windows Server 2012 R2 by adding SHA256 hash capability for additional security SSL Certificates for secure Deployment on Microsoft Security Updates.

Windows Server Update Services is a built-in server role that includes the following enhancements:

  • Can be added and removed by using the Server Manager
  • Includes Windows PowerShell cmdlets to manage the ten most important administrative tasks in WSUS
  • Adds SHA256 hash capability for additional security
  • Provides client and server separation: Versions of the Windows Update Agent (WUA) can ship independently of WSUS

Configuring the Windows Server 2012 R2 WSUS role with the Windows Internal Database (WID) brings back an error within the Post-Installation Task as seen below.

The reason for this error is that in my case a SCSI Hard Drive is configured instead of a local attached disk. As seen below.
WSUS in this case needs a locally attached Drive which is shown below.

After the changes have been made let's open WSUS again to re-run the Post-Installation Task again. 

Now you can finish off the WSUS Configuration and Deployment!!!
Happy Administrating!!!!
To Download a free trial of Windows Server 2012 R2 visit
For a 30 day trial of Azure visit


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mounting an Image to Convert Windows Server 2012 R2 Core to Full Installation

PowerShell is proving more and more to be an Administrators right hand in handling many task. Converting a Core Installation to a GUI Installation in Windows Server 2012 R2 is one of those task. Many times I have come across a File Server that is running on Core and more roles such as Windows Deployment Services needs to be installed but is not supported. Here starts the story of either backing up the data or migrating the data off to another File Server or Storage resource.

In a Full Install of Windows Server 2012 R2 that has been turned into Core running the PowerShell command
Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell –Restart –Source
will install the Gui back on the server.

However, if you run that same command on a Core Install you will get an error message as the screen below shows.

In a Core R2 Install to convert from the CUI to GUI we will have to mount an image of Server 2012 R2. To do this we will need the installation media on which we installed Server 2012 Core R2. Next we will have to make a Directory for our image to be mounted in.

On our Server Core Server we will make a directory called mount-image on the root of C:\ as shown below.

Next we will mount the image to the mount-image folder. Our install media is in the D:\ drive. We will need to see what version of Server we do need to mount. To do this we need to type the PowerShell command Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath D:\Sources\Install.wim as seen below. We installed Server 2012 Standard Core so we will mount Index Image 2 for the Full Server GUI.

To mount the image type the PowerShell Command

Mount-WindowsImage -ImagePath D:\sources\install.wim -Path C:\mount-Image –Index:2 -readonly

This process can take a while as seen below.

The next step is install the image we just mounted by running the below cmdlet.

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra, Server-Gui-Shell –Restart –Source C:\Mount-Image\Windows\WINSXS


Now the Full Installation of Server 2012 R2 is installed!!!!

Happy Server Administrating. If you need to download Server resources or if you would like to try this lab in Azure visit:

For Server Downloads -

For a free trial of Windows Azure -

Adnan Cartwright