Category: Virtual Machine Manager

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E2EVC Copenhagen

Speaking at E2EVC 2015 Berlin

Last year I was speaking at the Experts 2 Experts Virtualization Conference (E2EVC) at E2EVC Barcelona and E2EVC Brussels. And I am proud to announce that I will speak at E2EVC 2015 in Berlin next week from 12-14 June. Together with Michael Ruefli (Microsoft MVP for Cloud and Datacenter Management) I will speak about the latest announcement from the Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter evolution, covering topics like Azure Stack, Nano Server, Windows Server 2016, System Center 2016, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure.

E2EVC Virtualization Conference is a non-commercial, virtualization community event. The main goal of the E2EVC is to bring the best virtualization experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. E2EVC is a weekend crammed with presentations, Master Classes and discussions delivered by both virtualization vendors product teams and independent experts. I am happy to be part of the community and listen to other industry leading experts, hopefully see you in Berlin.

 

 



System Center 2012 R2 Update Rollup 6

Summary: Update Rollup 6 for System Center 2012 R2 and Azure Pack now available

Microsoft just released System Center 2012 R2 Update Rollup 6, which includes a lot of new features and fixes. With this Update Rollup 6 Microsoft now supports SQL Server 2014 as databases for the System Center and Windows Azure Pack components.

Components that are fixed in this update rollup

  • Data Protection Manager (KB3030574)
    • Option to keep online backup data while deleting a protection group
    • Support for SQL Server 2014 as DPMDB
  • Operations Manager (KB3051169)
  • Service Manager (KB3039363)
  • Service Provider Foundation (KB3050307)
  • Service Reporting (KB3050321)
  • Virtual Machine Manager (KB3050317)
    • Add Azure Subscription feature
    • Improved E2A ASR protection scenario
    • Option to use Generation 2 VMs in Services and VMRoles
    • Total Networking Usage Exposure rules in Management Pack
    • Option to overcommit Cloud and Host Group capacity for Replica VMs
  • Windows Azure Pack (KB3051166)
    • Adds support for Webjobs in Windows Azure Pack Websites.
    • Adds support for Deployment Slots in Windows Azure Pack Websites.
    • Adds support for Virtual Machine Checkpoint.
    • Adds support to maintain Data Consistency between the SQL Resource Provider configured properties for resources with the actual provisioned resources on the SQL Server Hosting server.
    • Compatibility with the next version of Windows Server
    • Fixes several SQL Server Resource Provider issues
  • Windows Azure Pack Web Sites (KB3051142)

I already posted some information on the Update Rollup 6 for Windows Azure Pack and System Center Virtual Machine Manager. I also want to highlight a change which was made in several different components in System Center and Windows Azure Pack. With UR6 you are now able to track Total Networking Usage Exposure rules in Management Pack. This change introduces two rules that target Hyper-V Hosts:

  • Total Incoming VNic Network traffic collection rule
  • Total Outgoing VNic Network traffic collection rule

These rules measure the total incoming and total outgoing traffic in Kilo Bytes per VNic per virtual machine in the following method:

For each VM:

  1. Enable Hyper-V Metering if it is not enabled.
  2. Run Measure-VM.
  3. Collect metering data for every remote address of “0.0.0.0/0″ or “::/0″ per VNic.

By default, these rules run every hour. Users may opt to override this setting by overriding the IntervalSeconds property. These rules should not be run more frequently than every five minutes (300 seconds).

Behavior in previous versions: VMM did not measure data consumption. It measured only throughput.



Scale Windows Server Storage Spaces

System Center Operations Manager Management Pack for Windows Server Storage Spaces

Microsoft just released the System Center Operations Manager Management Pack for Windows Server Storage Spaces 2012 R2 to the public. This allows you to monitor your Storage Spaces deployments with Operations Manager.

You can download the Management Pack for Storage Spaces from the Microsoft Download Site.

Monitoring Scenarios

This Management Pack contains rules to monitor physical disk and enclosure state in storage spaces.
Health is calculated by the storage service and is passed to Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) using the Storage Management API (SM-API), and is in turn passed to Operations Manager (OM) through the OM connector for VMM.

Supported Configurations

This management pack requires System Center Operations Manager 2012 SP1 or later. A dedicated Operations Manager management group is not required.

The following table details the supported configurations for the Management Pack for Storage Spaces:

Configuration Support
Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2 with Update Rollup 4 or later installed
Windows Server File Servers 2012 R2 with KB 3000850 (November 2014 update rollup) or later
Clustered servers Yes

Management Pack Scope

This management pack supports up to:

  • 16 Storage Nodes
  • 12 Storage Pools
  • 120 File Shares

Prerequisites

The following requirements must be met to run this management pack:

  • Operations Manager Connector for Virtual Machine Manager installed and configured.
    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh427287.aspx
  • Configuring this connection will install the required VMM Management Packs.
  • Storage Spaces managed by Virtual Machine Manager
  • KB2913766 “Hotfix improves storage enclosure management for Storage Spaces” must be installed on the VMM server and file server nodes


VMM 2012 R2 Update Rollup 6 Azure IaaS Management

Generation 2 Virtual Machine in Service Templates and Managing Azure IaaS VMs in VMM with UR6

Microsoft just announced System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager Update Rollup 6 with some highly requested features. Two of them are support for VMM Service Templates with Generation 2 Virtual Machines and managing Microsoft Azure IaaS Virtual Machines directly from the Virtual Machine Manager Console.

If you want to know more checkout that video:



NIC Teaming

Overview on Windows Server and Hyper-V 2012 R2 NIC Teaming and SMB Multichannel

I know this is nothing new but since I had to mention the Whitepaper on NIC Teaming and the use of SMB Multichannel as well as the configuration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager in a couple of meetings I want to make sure you have an overview on my blog.

NIC Teaming

Windows Server NIC Teaming was introduced in Windows Server 2012 (Codename Windows Server 8). NIC teaming, also known as Load Balancing/Failover (LBFO), allows multiple network adapters to be placed into a team for the purposes of bandwidth aggregation, and/or traffic failover to maintain connectivity in the event of a network component failure.

NIC Teaming Recommendation

For design the default and recommended configuration is using NIC Teaming with Switch Independent and Dynamic and in some scenarios where you have the write switches you can use LACP and Dynamic.

Download Windows Server 2012 R2 NIC Teaming (LBFO) Deployment and Management Whitepaper

This guide describes how to deploy and manage NIC Teaming with Windows Server 2012 R2.

You can find the Whitepaper on Windows Server 2012 R2 NIC Teaming (LBFO) Deployment and Management in the Microsoft Download Center.

SMB Multichannel

Hyper-V over SMB Multichannel

If you use Hyper-V over SMB you can use SMB Multichannel as a even better mode to distribute SMB 3.0 traffic across different network adapters or you could use a mix of both, NIC Teaming and SMB Multichannel. Check out my blog post about Hyper-V over SMB: SMB Multichannel, SMB Direct (RDMA) and Scale-Out File Server and Storage Spaces.

Configuration with System Center Virtual Machine Manager

Logical Switch

Some months back I also wrote some blog post about configuration of Hyper-V Converged Networking and System Center Virtual Machine Manager. This guide will help you to understand how you deploy NIC Teaming with System Center Virtual Machine Manager using the Logical Switch on Hyper-V hosts.



Hyper-V vNext Runtime Memory Resize

Sneak Peek into the Next Version of Hyper-V

Back in October Microsoft released the first public Windows Server Technical Preview for the next release of Windows Server. At TechEd Europe Bed Armstrong, Principal Program Manager on the Hyper-V team at Microsoft, talked about a couple of new features which are coming in the next release of Windows Server Hyper-V. This is a quick list of some of the new features we will get in the next release of Windows Server Hyper-V, there is a lot more coming until the release of Windows Server vNext and System Center vNext in 2016.

Virtual Machine Configuration Changes

Hyper-V vNext VM Configuration Files

In the next release of Hyper-V Microsoft will change the Virtual Machine configuration files. Today the Hyper-V VM configuration files had the xml file format. You were able to open the file and check and edit the virtual machine configuration inside that file, even it was never supported. By running more and more workloads virtual and in a dynamic cloud way, scale and performance gets even more critical. In the next version of Hyper-V Microsoft will change the VM configuration from the xml file to a binary file format. The new binary format brings more efficient performance at large scale. Microsoft also now includes a resilient logging for changes in the configuration files so this should protect virtual machines from corruption.

New file extensions:

  • .VMCX (Virtual Machine Configuration) – replaces the .xml file
  • .VMRS (Virtual Machine Runtime State) – replaces .bin and .vsv file

Production VM Checkpoints (Snapshots)

Hyper-V vNext Production CheckPoint

Virtual Machine Checkpoints or in older versions Virtual Machine Snapshots were a great solution to take a state of a virtual machine and save it, doing some changes and if something fails you could simply revert back to the time you took the checkpoint. This was not really supported to use in production, since a lot of applications couldn’t handle that process. Microsoft now changed that behavior now fully supports it in production environments. For this Production Checkpoints are now using VSS instead of the Saved State to create the checkpoint. This means if you are restoring a checkpoint this is just like restoring a system from a backup. For the user everything works as before and there is no difference in how you have to take the checkpoint. Production Checkpoints are enabled by default, but you can change back to the old behavior if you need to. But still using Checkpoints brings some other challenges, like the growing .avhdx file, which still apply.

Hyper-V Replica support for Hot Add of VHDX

Hyper-V Replica was one of the greatest new features in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. In Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, if you have hot added a VHDX file to a Virtual Machine, replication failed. In the next version of Hyper-V when you add a new virtual hard disk to a virtual machine that is being replicated, it is automatically added to the not-replicated set so replication continues to run and you can then online update this set with via PowerShell and the VM will automatically resynchronize and everything works as expected.

Hot add / remove of Virtual Machine Memory

Hyper-V vNext Runtime Memory Resize

In Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V you could decrease the Minimum Memory and increase the Maximum Memory of a Virtual Machine using Dynamic Memory while the VM was running. In the next version of Hyper-V you can now increase and decrease the Memory assigned to virtual machines while they are running, even if they are using static memory.

Hot add / remove of virtual network adapters

Hyper-V vNext Hot Add and Remove Virtual Network Adapters

This was maybe the feature VMware fan boys all over the world have used against Hyper-V. However I didn’t really saw a lot of customers doing this, but it is great that you can now hot add and remove network adapters from Virtual Machines.

Virtual Network Adapter Identification

Hyper-V vNext Virtual Network Adapter Identification

For me more important than hot add or remove virtual network adapters is this feature. When dealing with automation you are always happy you can identify different network adapters. For the Hyper-V hosts we have different solutions such as Consistent Device Naming (CDN), sort by PCI slot using PowerShell and other options to identify network adapters. But we didn’t really have a great solution for Virtual Machines. With Network Adapter Identification this changes. You can name individual virtual network adapters in the virtual machine settings and see the same name inside the guest virtual machine.

PowerShell on the Hyper-V Host

PowerShell in the guest

Hyper-V Manager Improvements

Finally, this is something which is not a problem in most environments , since we know how things work. But a lot of people which are Hyper-V beginners coming from VMware or other platforms, they have some simple troubles with Hyper-V Manager. In the next version there are a couple of create improvements which make things a lot easier.

  • Hyper-V Manager is now connecting via WinRM instead of WMI
  • Support for alternate credentials (Requires that you have CredSSP enabled on the server and client)
  • Connected to Hyper-V Hosts via IP address
  • Mange Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and the next version of Hyper-V from the latest console

Power Management improvements

SleepStudy Report Connected Standby Transitions

Microsoft updated the hypervisor power management model to support new modes of power management. And this is one of the reasons I run Windows 10 Technical Preview on my Surface Pro 3. Surface Pro 3 is a device which can run Connected Standby, but if you install Hyper-V on Windows 8.1 Connected Standby stops working. In the next version of Hyper-V Connected Standby will work.

Rolling Cluster Upgrade

Hyper-V vNext Rolling Cluster Upgrades

With this new feature you are finally able to upgrade a Hyper-V Cluster from Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V to the next version of Hyper-V without new hardware, no downtime and the ability to roll-back safely if needed. In Windows Server 2012 R2 you had to create a new Hyper-V Cluster while the old Hyper-V Cluster was still running and migrate a Hyper-V Cluster via Cluster Migration Wizard or Live Migration. You can now have Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Hosts and the next version of Hyper-V running in the same Hyper-V Cluster. To make this scenario possible, the Hyper-V team had to do some changes to the Virtual Machine Upgrade Process

New Virtual Machine Upgrade Process

Hyper-V vNext Update VM Configuration Version

To support Rolling Cluster Upgrades Microsoft had to make some changes to the Virtual Machine Upgrade Process. In the current versions of Hyper-V, Virtual Machines were automatically upgraded from the old to the new version, which means that if you once moved a Virtual Machine to a new Hyper-V host you couldn’t move it back again. In a mixed cluster environment this does not work. In the next version of Hyper-V, Virtual Machines will not be upgraded automatically. Upgrading a virtual machines is a manual operation that is separate from upgrading the Hyper-V host. This allows you to move virtual machines back to earlier version of Hyper-V until they have been manually upgraded.

New way how VM Drivers (integration services) get updated

Since Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, VM drivers (integration services) were updated with each new host release, and it was required that the VM driver version matches the host version. When new Hyper-V integration services were shipped you had to update the Hyper-V host and form there you could upgrade the VM drivers inside the virtual machine. With Windows Server vNext Hyper-V Microsoft brings VM driver updates over Windows Update. This means also that you now don’t have to have the VM integration services matching the host version, you simply need the latest version of the integration services released.

Secure Boot Support for Linux

Microsoft is pushing hard to bring more and more supported for Linux operating systems such as dynamic memory and other features. With Hyper-V vNext Microsoft bring Secure Boot support for Linux which works with Ubuntu 14.04 (and later) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12.

PowerShell to enable Secure Boot Support for Linux:

Distributed Storage QoS

Hyper-V vNext Storage QoS

In Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V we got the possibility to limit maximum IOPs for an individual virtual hard disk which was a great feature. Everything worked great when you were running the Virtual Machine on a single Hyper-V host, but when you were running multiple Hyper-V hosts with multiple Virtual Machine against the same storage, the Hyper-V host didn’t know that he had to compete with other servers for Storage IOPs or bandwidth. For example the scenario of a minimum IOPs setting did only work on standalone Hyper-V servers. With the next release of Hyper-V and Windows Server Microsoft adds a lot of new stuff. Together with the Scale-Out File Server and Storage Spaces, Microsoft now allows you to define IOPs reservation for important virtual hard disks and a IOPs reserve and limit that is shared by a group of virtual machines / virtual hard disks. This intelligence, build by Microsoft Research, enables a couple of interesting scenarios especially in service provider environments and large scale enterprises.

Virtual Machine Compute Resiliency

Hyper-V vNext Compute VM Reciliency

Microsoft invested heavily into VM resiliency, especially to hardware failure. One of them is the VM Compute Resiliency feature. This feature allows Virtual Machines to run on a host even if the cluster node is not available to the other nodes in the cluster. For example in Windows Server 2012 R2, if the cluster service couldn’t reach the node in the cluster for 30 seconds, the cluster would failover all the virtual machines to another node. If the same things happens in Windows Server vNext Hyper-V, the node would go into isolated mode for the next 4 minutes (default setting) and when the node comes back in four minutes all the virtual machines will still be running. If it doesn’t come back within four minutes the VMs will failover to another node. If a node is flapping from Isolated Mode to running the cluster service will set the node to quarantined and will move all the virtual machines from the node to another node. This should help keep your workloads running even if there are some hardware or network failures.

Evolving Hyper-V Backup

If you are working in IT you know that Backup is always a issues. And things didn’t really get better by running Virtual Machines running on Storage Systems. With the next release of Hyper-V Server Microsoft will release a completely new architecture to improve reliability, scale and performance of Virtual Machine backups. There are three big changes in the backup architecture:

  • Decoupling backing up virtual machines from backing up the underlying storage.
  • No longer dependent on hardware snapshots for core backup functionality, but still able to take advantage of hardware capabilities when they are present.
  • Built in change tracking for Backup of Virtual Machines

RemoteFX

Microsoft also did some improvements on RemoteFX which now includes support for OpenGL 4.4 and OpenCL 1.1 API. It also allows you to use larger dedicated VRAM and VRAM in now finally configurable.

Hyper-V Cluster Management

This is maybe something you will never use by yourself but there is another great improvements in terms of automation and development. If you have ever used WMI against a Hyper-V Cluster you always had to run it against every Hyper-V Host in the cluster to get all the information. In the next version of Hyper-V you can finally run WMI against Hyper-V Cluster and it will handle it as it would be a single Hyper-V host, so you get all the information from all hosts in the cluster.

This was a quick overview over just some of the feature and improvements which are coming in the next release of Windows Server Hyper-V which will be released in 2016. There will be much more coming until Microsoft officially releases the next version of Hyper-V and of course some of the stuff I wrote about will be improved as well.

If you want to know more about the next version of Hyper-V checkout Ben Armstrong’s TechEd Europe session or visit some of our TechNet events.

 



Update Rollup 5 for System Center 2012 R2

Summary: Update Rollup 5 for System Center 2012 R2 and Azure Pack now available

Yesterday Microsoft released a new Update Rollup for System Center 2012 R2 and Azure Pack called Update Rollup 5. Update Rollup 5 has a lot of fixes and new features especially for Windows Azure Pack and System Center Virtual Machine Manager and Data Protection Manager.

Components that are fixed in this update rollup

  • Data Protection Manager (KB3021791)
    • Protect SharePoint with SQL Always on Configuration
    • Protect SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, and Windows Client workloads to Microsoft Azure by using Data Protection Manager
    • Support for multiple retention ranges for long-term backup on Microsoft Azure
    • Ability to transfer initial backup copy offline to Azure
    • Support for protecting Microsoft workloads that are hosted in VMware
    • Display missed SLA alerts on the Data Protection Manager console
    • Enhanced reporting with Data Protection Manager central console
  • Operations Manager (KB3023138)
  • Service Manager (KB3009517)
  • Virtual Machine Manager (KB3023195)
    • Differencing disk as an option in the Windows Azure Pack VMRole deployment
    • New operating system support
    • New ExplicitRevokeRequired parameter to control IP address management when Grant-SCIPAddress is used
    • Support for SQL Server 2014
    • Azure Site Recovery
  • Windows Azure Pack (KB3023209)
    • Adds support for SQL Governor in the SQL Server Resource Provider.
    • Adds administrator support for disabling native Network RP to allow for third-party network provider
    • Provides detail on Virtual Machine Memory type, Memory Startup and Maximum values in the Tenant Portal.
    • Fix to the Get-MgmtSvcRelyingPartySettings PowerShell cmdlet.
    • Fix to the issue of failing to establish Remote Desktop Connection to virtual machines put behind a Network Address Translation (NAT) device.
    • Fix to the Attached Network dialog box where the network entries in the list were disabled.

As you can see you get several new feature with Update Rollup 5. In Data Protection Manager you finally get support for SharePoint, Exchange and Windows Client workload protection to Microsoft Azure, and support for workloads running on VMware infrastructure. Virtual Machines Manager not only brings new features such as support for the Virtual Machine Manager Database to run on SQL Server 2014 it also includes a lot of fixes and a security update (3035898
MS15-017: Vulnerability in Virtual Machine Manager could allow elevation of privilege: February 10, 2015). Some of the most interesting fixes for me are:

  • DHCP extension: Currently, users have to manually update the DHCP extension after update rollup installation on all hosts. This is now automated. After the DHCP extension is replaced in the Virtual Machine Manager server’s installation folder to the latest version, Virtual Machine Manager automatically checks the DHCP extension against all hosts. If the host has an older version of DHCP extensions, the agent version status will be displayed as “DHCP extension needs to be updated in host properties on the Status page.” The user calls the update agent and updates the DHCP extension on the Hyper-V host in the same way that the user did this for the Virtual Machine Manager agent. Also, if the VSwitch is a logical switch, the status will be shown in “logical switch compliance.” The user can remediate the logical switch. This will also update the DHCP extension on the host.
  • Bare-Metal Deployment: If a physical computer profile is created by using vNic (and by using a virtual machine network) and if there are more than one hostgroup for a logical network that also has that virtual machine network when you add a host resource on the “Provisioning Options” page, the host profile will be displayed for only one host group. The profile won’t be displayed for the rest of the host groups.

For Windows Azure Pack also includes some important fixes and improvements on of the is in the Tenant Portal, users can now see details on Virtual Machine Memory type, Memory Startup and Maximum values.

Update Rollup 5 for System Center 2012 R2 brings a lot of new features and important fixes to the table, however before deploying the fixes in your production environment, I recommend to test the Update Rollup and maybe wait for some reports about issues from other users.