Last updated by at .

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Virtual Machine Manager

Category: Server

Distinguished Judges for the UCS Power Scripting Contest

Cisco UCS PowerShell Scripting Contest

In the Microsoft world PowerShell is the tool to automate everything especially in your datacenter. I already mentioned that Cisco offers some great enhancements for the Microsoft Datacenter stack. If you are using a Cisco UCS solution you can integrate System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Orchestrator and others. But Cisco does also offer a PowerShell module for the UCS called Cisco UCS PowerTool. The UCS PowerTool allows you to automate management and deployment tasks very easily via Windows PowerShell. By the way, one of the coolest features in the Cisco UCS PowerTool is the ConvertTo-UCScmdlet.

Cisco announced the UCS Power Scripting Contest

Everyone is invited to share their scripts and possibly win some prizes by entering the UCS Power Scripting Contest on the Cisco Communities.  The contest will run until May 11th.  A distinguished panel of judges (Jeffery Snover, Rob Willis, Don Jones, Hal Rottenberg and Thomas Maurer) along with other members of the community will select the grand prize winner from a set of five finalists.

Distinguished Judges for the UCS Power Scripting Contest

I am proud to be one of the Distinguished Judges for the UCS Power Scripting Contest and I hope we will see some great solutions. To get more information about the contest check out the Cisco Blog from Bill Shields and the UCS Power Scripting Contest website.

Sort Network Adapter via PowerShell

Sort Windows Network Adapter by PCI Slot via PowerShell

If you work with Windows, Windows Server or Hyper-V you know that before Windows Server 2012 Windows named the network adapters randomly. This was a huge deal if you were trying to automate deployment of servers with multiple network adapters. And of course Hyper-V Servers normally have multiple network adapters. In Windows Server 2012 Microsoft had some different ways how this was fixed. First there is CDN (Consistent Device Naming) which allows hardware vendors to integrate the names so the OS can pick them up and the second one being the possibility of Hyper-V Converged Fabric which is basically making our lives easier by having less network adapters.

Well a lot of vendors have not integrated CDN or you have some old servers without CDN support. Back in May 2012 before the release of Windows Server 2012 I wrote a little Windows PowerShell script to sort network adapters in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 by using WMI (Configure Hyper-V Host Network Adapters Like A Boss). Now for a Cisco UCS project I rewrote some parts of the script to use Windows PowerShell in for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Hyper-V.

First lets have a look how you can get the PCI slot information for network adapters, luckily there is now a PowerShell cmdlet for this.

Now lets see how you can sort network adapters via Windows PowerShell.

This will get you a output like this:

Sort Network Adapter via PowerShell

Lets do a little loop to automatically name them:

So this names all the network adapters to NIC1, NIC2, NIC3,…

So lets do a PowerShell function for this:

Now you can run this by using Sort-NetworkAdapter for exmaple:


You can also get this script from the Microsoft Technet Gallery or Script Center.

Cisco UCS PowerTools

Cisco UCS PowerShell: ConvertTo-UCSCmdlet

This week I had a chance to be part of a Cisco UCS course and the trainer Walter Dey (ex Cisco Distinguished Engineer) showed me a great feature in the Cisco UCS PowerShell Module called Cisco UCS PowerTools. The Convertto-UCSCmdlet allows you to record the things you do in the UCS Manager (GUI) and converts this into Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

Thomas Maurer Walter Dey

To use this, this is pretty simple first install the UCS PowerTools and Connect to your UCS with the same user you connect to the UCS Manager. Checkout my blog post about the Cisco UCS PowerTools.

After that run the cmdlet:

After that open the UCS Manager session and do the steps you want to recored.

Cisco UCS PowerTools

I have to say, this is just great feature included in the Cisco UCS PowerTools.

Cisco UCS Microsoft Solutions

Manage your Cisco UCS with Windows PowerShell

Cisco does a really great job on supporting different management software for their blade center. For example Cisco offers a System Center Virtual Machine Manager Add-in to manage your Cisco fabric directly from the SCVMM console, a System Center Orchestrator Integration Pack for automation and a System Center Operations Manager Management Pack for monitoring. But another great thing they offer is the PowerShell module for the Cisco UCS called Cisco UCS PowerTools, which allows you to manage and automate your Cisco Blade Center via Windows PowerShell. The Cisco PowerShell module offers round 1400 PowerShell cmdlets which allows you basically to do every task from the console.

To connect to your Cisco UCS system you can use the following cmdlet:

and you can use other cmdlets to manage your Blades, VLANs or Service Profiles.


You can get the Cisco UCS PowerTools from the Cisco Website.

Cisco UCS Hardware

Automate your Cisco UCS with System Center Orchestrator

Some days ago I posted an article how you can manage your Cisco UCS Blade Center directly from System Center Virtual machine Manager. Cisco also offers an Integration Pack for System Center Orchestrator which allows you to automate your Cisco UCS via Orchestrator Integration Packs, which is great if you are building your own Private Cloud based on Cisco hardware.

First step you have to download the Cisco UCS PowerTool (PowerShell Module) and the Cisco UCS Microsoft System Center Orchestrator Integration Pack.

After you have installed the Cisco UCS PowerTool on your System Center Orchestrator Runbook servers you now an import the Integration Pack via the System Center Orchestrator Deployment Manager. With a right click on Integration Packs you can Register the Cisco UCS IP.

Cisco UCS Integration Pack Orchestator Deployment Manager

After that you also have to deploy the IP to the Orchestrator Runbook servers.

Cisco UCS Integration Pack Orchestator Deployment Manager Deploy

You can start to create new Orchestrator Run Books with the Runbook Designer. First open the SCO Runbook Designer and in the Options menu select Cisco UCS to added the Path to the Cisco UCS PowerTool module (PowerShell module). The default path the Cisco UCS PowerTools are installed is: “C:\Program Files (x86)\Cisco\Cisco UCS PowerTool\Modules\CiscoUcsPS\CiscoUcsPS.psd1″

Cisco UCS Integration Pack Orchestator PowerTool Path

You can now start to automate your Cisco UCS with System Center Orchestrator.

If you are interested in how you monitor your Cisco UCS system with System Center Operations Manager Stefan Roth blogged about that.

Cisco UCS C200 M2 with Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 8 #HyperV

Manage Cisco UCS via UCS Manager Add-in in System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Maybe you already know about the Cisco UCS Blade Center about I already blogged a lot especially about Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center integration. Today I had the change to integrate the Cisco UCS in many different System Center products such as Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager and Orchestrator. The Cisco UCS Manager Add-in for Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager allows administrators to manage the physical and virtual infrastructure on a single pane of glass right from the Virtual Machine Manager console.

Key Features of Cisco UCSM Add-in 1.0.1:

  • Mapping of the hypervisor host with UCS Manager managed server on which it is installed
  • UCS domain registration and grouping
  • Summary of both blades and rack servers in the UCS domain, including the firmware details.
  • Fault Summary
  • View of service profiles and service profile templates in the domain
  • Associate and disassociate of service profiles.
  • Modify power state
  • Launch KVM console
  • Clone a service profile or service profile template.
  • Create service profile from template

The Cisco UCS Add-in for Virtual Machine Manager supports System Center 2012 SP1 and System Center 2012 R2.

How to install:

  • First you have to download the Add-in from the Cisco Homepage.
  • Open the Virtual Machine Manager console and navigate to settings and click on “Import Console Add-in”

Select the .ZIP file, the wizard will show a waring because the add-in is  not signed by a trusted authority.

Import SCVMM Add-in

After that the Cisco UCS Manager logo will show up in the SCVMM console and you can now connect your UCS Domains.

Add UCS Domain to SCVMM

And you can now start to manage your Cisco UCS blades directly from the System Center Virtual Machine Manager console.

Control Cisco UCS Blade Center from SCVMM

And of course you have also KVM console support directly from the SCVMM console.



What is Hyper-V over SMB?

Hyper-V over SMB

With the release of Windows Server 2012 Microsoft offers a new way to store Hyper-V Virtual Machine on a shared storage. In Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Microsoft did only offer block-based shared-storage like Fiber channel or iSCSI. With Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Microsoft allows you to used file-based storage to run Hyper-V Virtual Machine from via the new SMB 3.0 protocol. This means Hyper-V over SMB allows you to store virtual machines on a SMB file share. In the past years I did a lot of Hyper-V implementations working with iSCSI or Fiber channel storage, and I am really happy with the new possibilities SMB 3.0 offers.

The common problem of block storage is that the Hyper-V host has to handle the storage connection. That means if you use iSCSI or fiber channel you have to configure the connection to the storage on the Hyper-V host for example multipath, iSCSI initiator or DSM software. With Hyper-V over SMB you don’t have to configure anything special because SMB 3.0 is built-in to Windows and supporting features like SMB Multichannel are activated and used by default. Of course you have to do some design considerations but this is much less complex than an iSCSI or Fiber Channel implementation.

How did they make it work

The first thing which was important was speed. SMB 3.0 offers a huge performance increase over the SMB 2.x protocol and you totally have to think about it in a different way. There are also a lot of other features like SMB Direct (RDMA), SMB Multichannel or Transparent Failover and many more which help in terms of performance, security and availability, but more on this supporting features in the next post.
Hyper-V over SMB Multichannel

Why Hyper-V over SMB?

Well I already mentioned a lot of reasons why you should use Hyper-V over SMB, but if you think about it there are there main reasons why you should use it.

Costs – Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V allows you to build cluster up to 64 nodes and if you build a clusters this size with fiber channel storage this will be quiet an investment in terms of fiber channel hardware such as HBAs, Switches and cables. By using Hyper-V over SMB you can reduce cost for infrastructure dramatically. Sure maybe you have already invested in a fiber channel storage and a fiber channel infrastructure and you don’t have to change that. For example if you have 100 Hyper-V hosts you may have about 200 HBAs and you also need fiber channel switches. What you could do with Hyper-V over SMB, you could create a Scale-Out File Server Cluster with 8 nodes which are attached to the fiber channel and present the storage to the Hyper-V hosts by using a SMB file share. This would save you a lot money.

Flexibility – Another point which I already mentioned is flexibility. By using Hyper-V over SMB you are removing the Storage dependency from the Hyper-V host and add the storage configuration to the Virtual Machine. In this case you don’t have to configure zoning or iSCSI initiators which is making life for Virtualization Administrators much easier. Here are two examples how IT teams can reduce complexity by using Hyper-V over SMB. First in small IT departments you may not have a dedicated storage team and if you have to add an new Hyper-V host or if you have to reconfigure your storage this can be a lot of difficult work for some people who haven’t much experience with the storage. In enterprise scenario you may have a dedicated Storage and a dedicated Virtualization team and in the most cases they have to work really closely together. For example if the Virtualization team adds another Hyper-V host, the Storage team has to configure the Storage for the host on the Storage site. If the Storage team makes changes to the Storage the Virtualization team eventually has to make changes to the Hyper-V hosts. This dependencies can be reduced by adding a layer between Storage and the Hypervisors and in this case this could be a Scale-Out File Server.

Technology – The third point in my list is technology. Microsoft is not really mention this point but since I have worked with different options like iSCSI, fiber channel or SMB I am a huge fan of SMB 3.0. Fiber channel is a great but expensive technology and people who have worked with iSCSI know that there can be a lot of issues in terms of performance. SMB 3.0 has some great supporting features which can help you increase performance, RDMA which is a technology which can increase networking performance by multiple times and SMB Multichannel which allows you to use multiple network adapters for failover and load balancing are working very well and let you make the most out of your hardware. Another part can be security if you think about encrypting iSCSI networks via IPsec you know that this can be something complex, with SMB Encryption there is a very easy solution for that on the SMB scenario.

I hope I could give you a quick introduction to Hyper-V over SMB and why it’s a good idea consider this in your deployment plans. In the next post I will quickly summarize the supporting features in SMB 3.0.