Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Advanced Azure Cloud Computing Series - Part 1

When it comes to advanced workloads in Azure like CAx engineering or cloud based gaming some people are not really convinced about the overal performance. Some meaning that the performance cant reach the end user. To show you that this is not the case here a few examples in my series about advanced Azure cloud computing performance.

This is a high performance benchmark example. You will see at the end a demo video based on a rendering benchmark and also a demo video with a CAD program (Demo version of Autodesk Inventor 2019).

For a better understanding you see below also an illustration about the setup used for this demonstration. When you do your own tests and you are working with "RDP only" then the the performance on the WAN will be very poor for this benchmark.

Therefore I added a Citrix Netscaler and optimized the HDX protocol (Kudos to my colleague Dennis Reimer!)

To get a great performance for heavy graphic workloads (e.g. CAD) or cloud gaming you would need the Microsoft Azure NV-series machines. The server running the VMs have additional NVIDIA graphic cards and their performance is directly accessible from the VM itself. More information you will find here.

To get a real world impression from what you get - see here a locally captured video from the benchmark which was running in the cloud!

(These videos are uploaded to Youtube. So please ensure you have setup in Youtube fix resolution with HD1080p60 and a good internet connection!)

And to see the real world behaviour of a CAD program running in the cloud - see here also a locally captured video from Autodesk Inventor 2019. To ensure you that this is no fake have a clooser look to the RDP Connection Analyzer in the beginning which reveals that this is truely a remote computer using HDX (Thinwire) protocol for optimal graphics. In the middle of the video you can see also shiny metal surfaces with realtime reflection rendering.

(These videos are uploaded to Youtube. So please ensure you have setup in Youtube fix resolution with HD1080p60 and a good internet connection!)

As you can see you can benefit from high performance machines without having huge investments under your own desk. (And no I get not paid by MS for this. I am an Azure fan and want to make you frenetic as I am :-) )

PS: In one of my next blogs I plan to write about cloud gaming with Azure. There are different free tools available to make this working with DirectX as well.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Bad web server performance in Azure - dont forget the right view for diagnostics

Recently I had an issue with bad performance of a webservice in Azure.

First look you typically take is to check the main metrics for the webservice like CPU and RAM. But CPU was always around 10%-15% and RAM was around 60% - 70%. So no big deal.

But the time to answer requests was very bad. (Left side without modification. Right side with modification).

Then I checked the database and it looked fine on the first place. When you see this you would never mind that this is still an issue! But when you look deeper into it you will find that Azure starts to show this with aggregation type  "AVG"= Average values. (You will find the dropdown in the right upper corner of the graph) So what you see is just a cummulation over time. And this can be really misleading!  (Left side still the bad situation before modification, right side with modification)

After changing the aggregation to the aggregation type "MAX" you will see this. And this makes really much more sense now. So in my situation very often the SQL server in Azure hits its limits. But not for a long time as my requests are from hundreds of users but not permanently.  (Left side still the bad situation before modification, right side with modification)

But now the big question - how to fix this?

The cool thing in Azure is that nearly all ressources scale in the one or other way. And the scaling is incredible. In my situation I have initially operated the website with the smallest production SQL server instance in Azure with 10 DTUs. (For DTU definition checkout here).

To finally improve my website application performance the simple change was from 10 DTU to 20 DTU (in S1 Standard Tier). This cost me actually 12€ more per month and all users are happy again.

To do this simply move the slider in the "Configure" section of your Azure DB.

And thats it!

Windows 10 - 1909 whats new

Windows 10 - Version 1909 (aka 19H2)
Build 10.0.18363.476

Windows 19H2 is considered to be more a quality update than a major feature upgrade. But this is part of Microsofts product politics right now. So each H1 version will come now with new features for home and business users. The support is currently limited to 18 months for this versions. 

The H2 releases where 1909 is the one we are talking about is supported for 30 months so far. This is the one where businesses looking for to have the upgrades out in the field as long as possible.

The following new features are being introduced as part of this update.

  • This update will be published to WSUS so that customers can deploy and manage Insider Preview builds alongside their standard ConfigMan/WSUS approach. See this blog post for details.
  • We are offering pre-release support for 19H2 offered to Windows Insider Program for Business (WIP4Biz) customers who face blocking issues that prevent them from feature evaluation or device use. See this article for details.
  • Windows containers require matched host and container version. This restricts customers and limits Windows containers from supporting mixed-version container pod scenarios This update includes 5 fixes to address this and allow the host to run down-level containers on up-level for process (Argon) isolation.
  • A fix to allow OEMs to reduce the inking latency based on the hardware capabilities of their devices rather than being stuck with latency selected on typical hardware configuration by the OS.
  • Key-rolling or Key-rotation feature enables secure rolling of Recovery passwords on MDM managed AAD devices upon on demand request from Microsoft Intune/MDM tools or upon every time recovery password is used to unlock the BitLocker protected drive. This feature will help prevent accidental recovery password disclosure as part of manual BitLocker drive unlock by users.
  • A change to enable third-party digital assistants to voice activate above the Lock screen.
  • You can now quickly create an event straight from the Calendar flyout on the Taskbar. Just select the date and time at the lower right corner of the Taskbar to open the Calendar flyout and pick your desired date and start typing in the text box–you’ll now see inline options to set a time and location.
  • The navigation pane on the Start menu now expands when you hover over it with your mouse to better inform where clicking goes.
  • We have added friendly images to show what is meant by “banner” and “Action Center” when adjusting the notifications on apps in order to make these settings more approachable and understandable.
  • Notifications settings under Settings > System > Notifications will now default to sorting notification senders by most recently shown notification, rather than sender name. This makes it easier to find and configure frequent and recent senders. We have also added a setting to turn off playing sound when notifications appear.
  • We now show the options to configure and turn off notifications from an app/website right on the notification, both as a banner and in Action Center.
  • We have added a “Manage notifications” button to the top of Action Center that launches the main “Notifications & actions” Settings page.
  • We have added additional debugging capabilities for newer Intel processors. This is only relevant for hardware manufacturers.
  • We have made general battery life and power efficiency improvements for PCs with certain processors.
  • A CPU may have multiple “favored” cores (logical processors of the highest available scheduling class). To provide better performance and reliability, we have implemented a rotation policy that distributes work more fairly among these favored cores.
  • We have enabled Windows Defender Credential Guard for ARM64 devices for additional protection against credential theft for enterprises deploying ARM64 devices in their organizations.
  • We have enabled the ability for enterprises to supplement the Windows 10 in S Mode policy to allow traditional Win32 (desktop) apps from Microsoft Intune.
  • We’re updating the search box in File Explorer to now be powered by Windows Search. This change will help integrate your OneDrive content online with the traditional indexed results. More details here.
  • We have added the ability for Narrator and other assistive technologies to read and learn where the FN key is located on keyboards and what state it is in (locked versus unlocked).

And here you will find the bugfixing and stabilization done sofar for this release:
  • Some older devices may experience loss of Wi-Fi connectivity due to an outdated Qualcomm driver. An updated Wi-Fi driver should be available from your device manufacturer (OEM).
    To safeguard your upgrade experience, we have applied a hold on devices with affected Qualcomm driver from being offered Windows 10, version 1903 or Windows 10, version 1909, until the updated driver is installed.
  • Microsoft has identified compatibility issues with some driver versions for Bluetooth radios made by Realtek. To safeguard your update experience, we have applied a compatibility hold on devices with affected driver versions for Realtek Bluetooth radios from being offered Windows 10, version 1903 or Windows Server, version 1903 until the driver has been updated.Resolution: This issue was resolved with an updated driver for the affected Realtek Bluetooth radio and the safeguard hold has been removed. Please note, it can take up to 48 hours before you can update to offered Windows 10, version 1909 or Windows 10, version 1903.
And here are some known issues:
  • Issues with some older versions of Avast and AVG anti-virus products:
    Microsoft and Avast has identified compatibility issues with some older versions of Avast Antivirus and AVG Antivirus that might still be installed by a small number of users. Any application from Avast or AVG that contains Antivirus version 19.5.4444.567 or earlier is affected.

    To safeguard your upgrade experience, we have applied a hold on devices with affected Avast and AVG Antivirus from being offered or installing Windows 10, version 1903 or Windows 10, version 1909, until the application is updated.

    Before updating to Windows 10, version 1903 or Windows 10, version 1909, you will need to download and install an updated version of your Avast or AVG application.
  • Unable to create local users in Chinese, Japanese and Korean during device setup
    When setting up a new Windows device using the Out of Box Experience (OOBE), you might be unable to create a local user when using Input Method Editor (IME). This issue might affect you if you are using the IME for Chinese, Japanese, or Korean languages.

    Note This issue does not affect using a Microsoft Account during OOBE.

    : To mitigate this issue, set the keyboard language to English during user creation or use a Microsoft Account to complete OOBE. You can set the keyboard language back to your preferred language after user creation. Once the OOBE is done and you are at the desktop, you can rename the current user using these instructions. If you prefer to create a new local user, see KB4026923.