Archive for category Microsoft Hyper-V

BrightTALK Webinar: Windows Server Enterprise Storage and Networking Features

imageOn December 9th, 2014, I’ll be presenting a free online webinar titled, Windows Server Enterprise Storage and Networking Features.  Here’s a quick overview of the topic:

IT professionals face many challenges in their struggle to deliver the infrastructure, applications, and services that their organizations need. Common issues include limited budgets, datacenter infrastructure complexity, and technical expertise to support a wide variety of changing goals. The presentation will provide guidance and best practices for data center admins that are looking for cost-effective ways to increase automation, improve hardware resource utilization, and provide HA/DR features without having to make costly investments in third-party products.
This webinar will discuss:

  • Features that include support for iSCSI-based SANs,
  • SMB-based virtual disks
  • Management UI and automation improvements
  • The latest version of Hyper-V
  • Low-cost high-availability

Register online if you’d like to attend!

Transform the Datacenter MVP Roadshow (Houston, TX)

Transform the Datacenter MVP RoadshowI’m excited to be presenting a free session that’s focused on how IT pros can use Windows Server 2012 R2 to improve their datacenter operations. 

The event will take place on the morning of Friday, September 26th, 2014.  The scheduled presentation will start at 9:00am and conclude at 1:00pm, including breaks and meals.  For more details, and to register, please visit the Transform the Datacenter MVP Roadshow page for this event.  Registration is free, and breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Here’s an overview of the topics I’ll be covering:

Session I: Transforming Your Datacenter: Why and How

a. Common barriers to replacing current OS, applications, network, storage, and related infrastructure

b. Addressing datacenter management challenges

c. Understanding the role and benefits of public/private/hybrid cloud approaches

d. Planning for and Migrating from Windows Server 2003

Session II: New Features in Windows Server 2012 R2

a. Microsoft server and cloud platform overview

b. Windows Server 2012 R2 Storage and Networking Improvements

c. Virtualization with Hyper-V 4.0

d. Additional features and tools / Q & A

Session III: Transforming Your Datacenter: Infrastructure and Cloud Benefits of Windows Server 2012 R2

a. Comparing Public, Private, and Hybrid Cloud approaches

b. Understanding Microsoft Azure service offerings

c. Integrating cloud and local data-center infrastructure

d. Getting start with moving data, applications, and services to the cloud

One of the many benefits of being a Microsoft MVP is the opportunity to connect with IT professionals that are located in my area (Central Texas).  While there’s no shortage of online resources for technical content on this topic, sometimes an in-person, on-site session can help provide the much-needed opportunity to interact with peers outside your organization.  If you’re in the Houston or Central Texas area, please do try to attend!

Upcoming Cloud and Hyper-V Webcasts on BrightTALK

BrightTALK

I have a couple of upcoming presentations on the BrightTALK web site.  The presentations are free to attend are available online (registration is required).  Also, feel free to take a look at my previous BrightTALK presentations.

Designing Cloud Architectures with Hyper-V

August 8th, 2013 at 11:00am Pacific

Presentation Link

Designing Cloud Architectures with Hyper-VMany of the technical aspects of cloud-based solutions are a natural progression for those environments that want to expand upon their virtualization deployments. This webinar will provide technical details and best practices for deploying new features in the Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V 3.0 platforms. Topics will include reducing storage costs, implementing high-availability and disaster recovery, and improving automation to reduce data center costs and increase efficiency.

Streamlining IT Operations with Windows Azure

October 8th, 2013 at 3:00pm Pacific

Presentation Link

Streamlining IT Operations with Windows Azure

While few would call the use of cloud-based technologies a "quiet revolution", Microsoft’s Windows Azure platform has expanded into a wide range of different services that can be leveraged to reduce costs and increase IT efficiency. The challenge for IT professionals is to arrange the pieces of the puzzle into an optimal arrangement for many different types of workloads. This presentation will focus on practical advice for using SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS approaches to building private, public, and hybrid clouds. It will include examples of applications and workloads that could benefit from the use of cloud technology, and the benefits and drawbacks each approach.

MVP Blog Post: Hyper-V High-Availability Without a SAN

imageI have mentioned before that my favorite features in Windows Server 2012 are related to improvements in the storage stack.  While it might not seem as exciting as some of the many other new features, the number and types of scenarios that storage and networking improvements allow are tremendous.  Best of all, these features ship “in the box” (that is, as part of the product itself), so no third-party tools, utilities, or drivers are required. 

I recently wrote an article for the Microsoft MVP Award Program blog that covers some ways in which IT pros can use these features to implement high-availability and other Enterprise-level features using Windows Server 2012.  Here’s a brief excerpt from the post:

Enter Windows Server 2012: A server product that ships with all of the required ingredients to brew your own highly-available storage environment. In this post, I’ll focus on the storage and high-availability-related features that ship as part of Windows Server 2012. Specifically, I’ll discuss what’s required to build and deploy a fault-tolerant Hyper-V deployment using only in-box features. I’ll start with the configuration basics and then list higher-end features that are available for production environments.

For the complete post, please see Windows Server 2012: Hyper-V High-Availability without a SAN, and feel free to post questions or comments there!

VKernel Podcast: Top New Features in Hyper-V 3.0 and Windows Server 2012

files/podcasts/TEC_hyper-v_windows_mattias_hans_anil.pngA few weeks ago, during the TEC 2012 Conference, I had the opportunity to record a brief podcast that provides an overview of the new features in Microsoft’s upcoming server update.  In this brief interview, fellow Virtualization MVP Hans Vredevoort and I discuss some of the features we’re most looking forward to.  You can access the audio-only podcast on YouTube, and you can download an MP3 version.

Here’s a brief overview of the topic:

VKernel’s Mattias Sundling discusses The Expert Conference event with MVPs Hans Vredevoort and Anil Desai. Topics include highlights of the technical sessions presented by Microsoft, Quest and industry experts as well as updates and highlights of Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V3 advances.

Both Hans and I gave presentations at the conference and focused on storage-related improvements.  Hans’s presentation was an excellent demonstration of how quickly and easily administrators can setup the new Scale-Out File Server role in Windows Server 2012, using nothing but a single laptop (that is, no shared storage and no third-party products and tools).  The best part was the conclusion: Hans setup a highly-available Hyper-V cluster configuration and did a live migration of a VM using only his laptop (and several virtual machines). 

Thanks to Mattias Sundling, Evangelist & vExpert at VKernel for arranging, recording, and posting the podcast!

Windows Server 2012 / Hyper-V 3.0 Component Architecture Poster

imageOK, perhaps it doesn’t get much geekier than decorating your office with large, complicated posters of technical knowledge.  But I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft’s Component Architecture Posters (though I rarely have the opportunity to actually print and display them).  These posters are designed to convey an large volume of information in a way that is easy for readers/viewers to consume and understand.  They’re somewhat like the “infographics” many sites and publishers use to convey information in an easier-to-consume way. 

To download your copy of the posted in PDF format, just visit the Microsoft Download Center page: Windows Server “8” Beta Hyper-V Component Architecture Poster (published March 2012).  The screenshot is a very small screenshot of just one tiny portion of the overall poster.  Just a couple of notes on terminology changes:

  • Windows Server “8” Beta is now officially named Windows Server 2012
  • SMB 2.2 is now officially known as SMB 3.0
  • All information is current as of the “beta” version, and some relatively minor details (like VM CPU and memory limits) might change prior to the official release.

Thanks to John Howard’s post on the Windows Virtualization Team Blog for the information.  I think we can look forward to an updated poster sometime prior to or soon after the general availability of Windows Server 2012.  I’ll update this post if/when that happens.

Virtualization and Storage Presentations at TEC 2012

It’s still a few months away, but I’ll be presenting at two storage-related presentations in the Virtualization and Cloud track at The Experts Conference (TEC) 2012 in San Diego, CA.  Below are the abstracts.  For more information about the conference, please visit the TEC 2012 Conference web site.

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Storage Improvements in Windows Server 8 / Hyper-V 3.0

Virtualization architects and administrators have long sought quicker, simpler and more cost effective ways to scale and manage storage in their data centers. Microsoft has made many significant improvements in the architecture and storage features of Hyper-V 3.0 and the Windows Server 8 platform. Examples include support for SMB-based virtual disks, management UI improvements, network stack improvements, Hyper-V Replicas, NTFS reliability improvements, incremental VHD backups, storage de-duplication, offloaded data transfer, SMB protocol improvements, and Storage Spaces. These features can help improve storage management for many different types of virtualization deployments and can help bring the idea of cloud-based automation closer to reality.

This session will focus on technical details and demonstrations of new features in the Windows Server 8 platform and in Hyper-V 3.0. The focus will be on practical suggestions for how and when the new features should be used to reduce costs, simplify administration, and increase performance.

Designing Storage for Virtual Environments

One of the most common issues related to virtual infrastructure design is related to planning for and managing the storage environment. Successful SAN, NAS, and local storage deployments require the provisioning of highly-reliable, high-performance, cost-effective solutions to meet business and technical needs. The challenge for IT is in consolidating and optimizing infrastructures while staying within budgets. The primary concerns – including storage capacity, performance, and reliability – can drive the success or failure of virtualized deployments.

This presentation begins with recommendations for designing a storage environment based on requirements, starting with a solid understanding of application workload characteristics. Strategies for collecting storage statistics through historical and real-time performance monitoring can provide valuable insight into real requirements. Based on this data, IT departments can compare different storage approaches, including centralized network-based storage, and cloud-based options. Important features to consider include file- and block-level de-duplication, thin provisioning, high-availability, clustering, and disaster recovery. Attendees will learn methods by which they can best plan for, implement, manage, and monitor storage for virtualization in their own environments.

TechNet Radio Community Corner: Virtualization with Microsoft MVP Anil Desai

I often enjoy talking with other technical professionals about the path of IT (in general) and about new or upcoming technology (the geeky details).  I’m happy to have had the opportunity to appear as a guest on a recent TechNet Radio Community Corner.  In the ~15-minute conversation, we discussed information about supporting the IT community, the current and future state of virtualization (including directions of Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM)). 

Here’s some brief information about this episode, titled TechNet Radio Community Corner: Virtualization with Microsoft MVP Anil Desai:

In today’s Community Corner, Sr. IT Pro Evangelist John Weston interviews Microsoft Virtualization MVP, Anil Desai to the show. Tune in as they discuss cloud computing’s impact to IT, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, as well as the relationship between Virtualization and Private Cloud solutions.

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Special thanks to Chris Caldwell and John Weston for inviting me and for a fun conversation!  For more shows and episodes of related shows, visit the TechNet Edge web site.

Windows 8 Developer Preview: Virtualization Options (VMware Workstation)

imageFor those of us developers that are itching to get our hands (and fingers) on the recently release Windows 8 Developer Preview, you might hit an unexpected snag.  If you’re like me, the first thing you tried after downloading the bits was to create a new virtual machine in your favorite desktop virtualization platform (most likely Microsoft Windows Virtual PC or VMware Workstation).  However, after creating and booting the VM and attaching an ISO, I encountered the following error:

VMware Workstation internal monitor error

vcpu-O:NOT_IMPLEMENTED vmcore/vmm/intr/apic.c:1903

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Unfortunately, it looks like VMware Workstation 7.x platform (and, reportedly, VirtualPC, though I haven’t tested it myself), does not yet support Windows 8.  Perhaps I should have realized that a lot of the undercover boot and CPU optimizations would require an architectural shift to support the required CPU commands.

Options That Should Work

Though this might not be ideal for all users, there are several options to get the Developer Preview of Windows 8 running in a virtual machine:

  • Use Microsoft’s Hyper-V: If you have a Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 installation (or the stand-alone Hyper-V Server), you should be able to spin up a new Windows 8 VM quickly and easily.  It’s not desktop virtualization, but if you have a spare machine that supports Hyper-V’s CPU requirements, you should be all set.
  • Wait for the release of VMware Workstation 8.  While I haven’t yet tried it myself, there are reports of people having success with the beta of the upcoming release of VMware’s Workstation production.  A beta virtualization stack with a Developer Preview OS – How’s that for living on the edge?  It looks like the product is officially available from VMware now and you can request a VMware Workstation 8 Evaluation online (registration required).
    • Update: I downloaded a 30-day evaluation version of VMware Workstation 8, and the Windows 8 Developer Preview installed without one minor catch: Don’t use the VMware "Easy Install" option, as it’s based on the automatic install procedures for Windows 7.  Other than that, I’m up and running!
  • VirtualBox apparently supports the WIndows 8 Developer Preview (again, I haven’t yet tried it myself).  The application is available for free download.  The Windows 7 Hacker site has a walkthrough titled Install Windows 8 Developer Preview on VirtualBox.

Dual-Boot / Clean Install

Of course, you could skip virtualization altogether and install Windows 8 directly on your hardware.  That would give the best overall performance and the best experience with the new Metro UI.  You could install The Windows 8 Dev Preview alongside your current OS (though you might need to repartition), or you can just pop a spare hard drive in your computer to avoid any messy boot complications.  In general, this approach has worked great for me in the past.

Another option is to Boot to VHD.  That’s a significantly more complicated process, but the blog post Installing Windows 8 on Bare Metal with VHD-Boot should help.

A Note About the Developer Preview

While we’re all itching to try the new UI and functionality in Windows 8, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  First, this version is not yet a “beta”.  It’s an earlier release that is designed to get developers up and running.  The official build number is Build 8102 M3.  Even if you’re like me and you’re willing to live on the bleeding edge with software, you probably don’t want to install this build as your primary OS.  Furthermore, Microsoft has mentioned that several features are not included in this build (though I haven’t yet run into anything that’s a showstopper for me).

On the brighter side, this build does not require product activation.  Coupled with the easy accessibility of the download from the Windows 8 Developer Preview site, that effectively means everyone will have easy access to this preview release.  Downloads are also available for MSDN Subscribers.

For More Information…

In case you missed it, Microsoft’s BUILD Conference keynotes are available at the BUILD Conference Web Site.  The Day 1 Keynote covered dozens of really exciting features, presented by Steven Sinofsky and several other Microsoft Program Managers.  I’m just getting started with my testing/development, and I’ll try to post more here once I have something of value.

Update (09/19/2011)

Based on the numbers of hits to this article, I thought this would be a fairly important topic.  On the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft has recently published a post titled, Running Windows 8 Developer Preview in a virtual environment.  It includes more details on the pros and cons of running Windows 8 using virtualization and provides the following summary:

Functional:

  • Hyper-V in Windows 8 Developer Preview
  • Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2
  • VMware Workstation 8.0 for Windows
  • VirtualBox 4.1.2 for Windows

Non-functional:

  • Microsoft Virtual PC (all versions)
  • Microsoft Virtual Server (all versions)
  • Windows 7 XP Mode
  • VMWare Workstation 7.x or older

For now, I’m happily running Windows 8 test VMs on an evaluation version of VMware Workstation 8.0 and in Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.  Next stop: Running on some fairly recent hardware.

Talk TechNet Webcast: Virtualization Q & A

imageI was recently invited to be a guest in a TechNet Webcast.  The Webcast is scheduled for Friday, June 10th at 11:00am Central time.  You can see more details and register to attend at the following page:

TechNet Webcast: Talk TechNet with Keith Combs and Matt Hester – Episode 36: Virtualization with Anil Desai (Level 200)

Here’s a brief overview of the topic description:

Want to talk about Virtualization?  This is the show for you.  Anil Desai is a Microsoft Windows Server Virtualization MVP so bring your Hyper-V questions. I’m sure Anil will be happy to takes questions on some of the other products like System Center Virtual Machine manager.  Tune in and listen, call in, or send us questions on the web via Live Meeting.  Take advantage of this great opportunity to get your questions answered.

Presenters:
Keith Combs, Sr. Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation, Matt Hester, Sr. IT Pro Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation, and Anil Desai, Independent Consultant, Microsoft Windows Server Virtualization MVP

I look forward to answering questions from attendees!

Webcast: What is Microsoft Hyper-V?

I recently recorded a free podcast that introduces listeners to Hyper-V: What it is, why it matters, and how it works (without getting into a lot of technical details).  It’s titled (appropriately enough), What is Microsoft Hyper-V?.  Here’s the abstract:

In this podcast, virtualization expert Anil Desai talks with WhatIs.com’s Alex Howard about Microsoft’s Hyper-V, a new virtualization platform from the Redmond-based software giant. Listen to this podcast and learn:

  • Exactly what Hyper-V is, how it works, how it fits in with other virtualization products and how you can use it.
  • The advantages and limitations of Hyper-V, its system requirements and an overview of the installation process.
  • How to create virtual machines (VMs) and use Hyper-V’s integrated features to address VM sprawl.

The podcast was sponsored by Dell and is available for free (registration is required).

The State of Microsoft Virtual Server (MSVS)

When new technology comes out, IT people often tend to discard the old (or, sometimes, begrudgingly live with it).  Sometimes, however, older solutions are perfectly useful for certain purposes.  I recently wrote an article for TechTarget’s SearchServerVirtualization.com web site that focuses on the superceded-but-still-relevant Microsoft Virtual Server.  From the article’s introduction:

We techies tend to look forward to new technology with good reason. In most cases, new products and services improve upon old technology. But migration in production environments can be slow. So what about existing technology? A good case in point is Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (MSVS). MSVS is available for free and is a perfectly viable option for many environments. In this tip, I’ll look at when, where and why you might want to use MSVS rather than its newer replacement, Hyper-V.

You can read the entire article for free: See Microsoft Virtual Server still viable management option.

Managing Hyper-V Security

I still remember some of my first questions when working with an early test version of Hyper-V (previously known under a wide variety of different names).  OK, I admit that it wasn’t all that long ago.  One of my main questions was related to managing permissions for virtual machines.  After all, not every user (or administrator) should have full permissions on each VM.  Well, Hyper-V does provide flexible and manageable methods for setting up roles and permissions. 

My recently SearchServerVirtualization.com article, Managing Hyper-V’s Security Permissions, describes the details.  From the introduction:

The burdens of managing security permissions are rarely seen as exciting, but they’re an essential duty to which we systems administrators are sworn to carry out. In this tip, I’ll talk about how you can configure and manage permissions for your Hyper-V host servers.

We all rely on a variety of different security methods to ensure that only authorized users can access data center resources. Specific components of overall security range from physical access limitations to network authentication and permissions management. Virtualization brings with it some new requirements, namely the ability to specify which types of actions users can take on host systems.

It’s certainly possible for administrators to manage virtual machines when they don’t have access to the guest OSes themselves. The ability to granularly define authorization rules is essential for production servers. Fortunately, Hyper-V provides methods for defining and maintaining these permissions. But, as you’ll soon see, it’s not an entirely intuitive approach.

The article provides details, steps, and screenshots that help describe the use of the powerful (but unfortunately nick-named) AzMan.

Hyper-V in Review: Strengths and Drawbacks

It has been several months since Microsoft’s Hyper-V has become officially available.  Since then, there have been some twists and variations, including a dedicated Hyper-V Server product that doesn’t require any Windows Server licenses (I’ll write about that sometime in the future).  It seemed like a good time to take a small step back and re-assess the state of Hyper-V.  In the early days, there was no shortage of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) being cast at the product.  Just a few months later, most experts seem to agree that Hyper-V is ready for the Enterprise and is a perfectly-viable option for data center deployments.

My recent SearchServerVirtualization.com article, Assessing Hyper-V’s Benefits, limitations looks at some of the details.  From the article’s introduction:

Earlier this year, the letters "ESX" were synonymous with server virtualization and VMware seemed to be the only practical game in town. It has now been a few months since a stealthy little software behemoth from the Pacific Northwest released its serious virtualization contender. And in that time, things have changed. In this tip, I’ll highlight some of the post-release considerations for Hyper-V.

Hyper-V’s strengths and weaknesses
Hyper-V’s primary strength is probably its ready availability in the data center. If you’re running Windows Server 2008 on 64-bit hardware, you’re just minutes away from enabling an industrial-strength Hypervisor. Hyper-V’s management tools should be familiar to anyone who manages Windows systems, and the last few months have shown that it is a stable and reliable option for the data center.

Of course, Hyper-V is not without its limitations. Virtualization experts are quick to point out that it doesn’t support live migration of VMs between servers and doesn’t allow administrators to over-commit memory (VMware provides both features). But, Hyper-V provides numerous options based on clustering, so building highly-available Hyper-V deployments is possible and supported. Users of this new product on the enterprise virtualization scene will need some time before completely trusting this candidate over the incumbents.

The full article is available for free and provides details related to support policies, and technical pros and cons of Microsoft’s latest virtualization product.

Optimizing Hyper-V Performance

If you’re in touch with your geeky side, there’s a good chance that you’re always looking for ways to squeeze more performance out of your IT investments.  This is especially true for situations that involve virtualization, where some of the primary motivation is reducing costs through server consolidation. 

I have recently written two articles for SearchServerVirtualization.com that cover the  topic of monitoring and optimizing your VMs that are hosted on Microsoft Hyper-V.  Some might be obvious, but others are somewhat cleverly-disguised.  The first article, Optimizing Hyper-V performance: Monitoring tips focuses on ways in which you can make sure your host servers and VMs are running smoothly.  From the introduction:

How can you be sure whether your Hyper-V host servers and virtual machines (VMs) have been optimally configured? Installing and enabling Microsoft Hyper-V and creating VMs is a fairly straightforward process; but the techie tendencies in all of us seems to nag the question "Isn’t there something more I should do to improve performance?" This tip targets system administrators who have deployed Hyper-V and want to ensure that they’ve made the most of host servers and VMs.

The second article, Optimizing Hyper-V performance: Advanced fine-tuning provides details on Integration Services, synthetic vs. emulated drivers, and ways in which you can improve overall performance of storage and network resources.

I hope these articles will serve as a useful checklist for Hyper-V management.  If you have any further suggestions, feel free to leave them as comments here or on SearchServerVirtualization.com.