Last updated by at .

  • What's new in Hyper-V 2016
  • Microsoft Azure

Tag: VM

Containers PowerShell

First steps with Windows Containers

At Microsoft Ignite 2015 back in Chicago Microsoft announced Windows Containers. With the release of the Technical Preview 3 (TP3) for Windows Server 2016 we are finally able to start using Windows Containers, and we can finally test them. But first let use check a little what containers are.

The concept of containers is nothing new, in the Linux world containers are a well known concept. If you have a look at the Wikipedia description for Linux Containers, Wikipedia describes it as follows: LXC (Linux Containers) is an operating-system-level virtualization environment for running multiple isolated Linux systems (containers) on a single Linux control host. Containers provide operating system-level virtualization through a virtual environment that has its own process and network space, instead of creating a full-fledged virtual machine. With Windows Server 2016 more or less the same concept comes the Windows world. This makes containers much more light-weight, faster and less resource consuming than Virtual Machines, which makes it perfect for some scenarios, especially dev-test scenarios or for worker roles.

Container Ecosystem

If we have a look at the concept of containers you have several things in the container ecosystem:

Container Ecosystem

First you have the Container Run-Time which builds the boundaries between the different containers and the operating system. To make deployment easier, faster and more efficient you build Container Images which Include the application frameworks as well as the applications on top of the OS used for the container. To use, store and share Container Images you can use an Image Repository.

The question most people will ask is how are containers different than Virtual Machines etc.

Physical Server

Physical Host

At the beginning what we did is, we installed an operating system on physical hardware and in that operating system we installed applications directly.

Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines

With virtual machines we created simulated some virtual hardware on top of the operating system of the physical server. We installed an operating system inside the virtual machine on top of the virtual hardware and installed application inside the VM. In this case, each virtual machine has its own operating system.



With container we use an operating-system-level virtualization environment which create boundaries between different applications. This is so efficient you can run multiple applications side by side without effecting each other. Since this is operating-system-level virtualization you cannot only directly on the operating system on the physical hardware, you can also use operating-system-level virtualization inside a virtual machine. This is by the way the way I see most of the deployments of containers.

Windows Containers vs. Hyper-V Containers

Hyper-V Containers

Microsoft will provide two different types of Container Run-Times. One is Windows Containers and the other one will be Hyper-V Containers (not Hyper-V Virtual Machines). In some cases it is maybe not compliant that some applications share the same operating system. In this case Hyper-V Containers will add an extra boundaries of security. Hyper-V Containers are basically Windows Containers running in a Hyper-V Partition, so with that you gain all the stuff you get with Windows Containers but with another layer of isolation.The great thing here, is that both Container Run-Times use the exam same image format. This means if an image is created in a Windows Container Run-Time it also works as a Hyper-V Container and vice versa.

Hyper-V Containers Nested Virtualization

The other great side effect of Hyper-V Containers is, that in order to run Hyper-V Containers inside a Virtual Machine we need nested Virtualization, which will be included in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V. Btw. Hyper-V Containers are not part of the Technical Preview 3.

(Pictures from the Microsoft Ignite 2015 presentation of Taylor Brown and Arno Mihm (Program Managers for Containers)

Deploy Windows Containers

With the release of the Technical Preview 3 of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft made Windows Containers available to the public. To get started you can download a install Windows Server 2016 inside a Virtual Machine or even bare-metal. If the virtual machine has internet connection you can use the following command to download the configuration script, which will prepare your container host.

Install Windows Container Host

After that you can run the C:\ContainerSetup.ps1 script, which will prepare your container host. This can take some time depending on your internet connection and hardware.

The VM will restart several times and if it is finished you can start using Windows Containers inside this Virtual Machine.

Managing Windows Containers

Containers PowerShell Module

After you have logged in to the Virtual Machine you can start managing Containers using PowerShell:

Containers PowerShell

Get Container Images, by default you will get a WindowsServerCore Image. You can also create your own images, based on this image.

Create a new Container

Start the container

Connect to the Container using Enter-PSSession

Of course you an also use the docker command to make your containers.

Windows Containers Docker

Deploy a Container Host in Microsoft Azure

If you don’t want to go trough all the installation process you can also use a Template in Microsoft Azure to deploy a new Container Host Virtual Machine.

Microsoft Azure Windows Server Container Preview

If you need some more information on Windows Containers check out the Microsoft Resources on MSDN about Windows Server Containers.


Veeam FastSCP for Microsoft Azure

Veeam FastSCP for Microsoft Azure

Veeam does some great products for your virtualization and datacenter environment such as their Veeam Backup & Replication suite, Veeam Endpoint Backup FREE and Management Packs for System Center Operations Manager. Now a couple of weeks ago Veeam released a cool free tool call Veeam FastSCP fro Microsoft Azure. With Veeam FastSCP (Secure Copy Protocol) for Microsoft Azure, IT Pros and Azure Developers can simply and reliably copy local files to Azure VMs, and copy files in Azure VMs to on-premises.

Veeam FastSCP for Microsoft Azure Diagram

The utility makes your life way easier when dealing with Virtual Machines running on Microsoft Azure IaaS.

  • Secure file copy with no independent encryption or VPN needed
  • Manual file copy to/from Azure VMs without the need to keep the UI open until the file copy completes
  • Automatic scheduling of file copy jobs for nightly or weekly copies to/from Azure VMs
  • A wizard-driven UI to copy files in just a few clicks – with no scripting needed

If you want to download it, check out the Veeam Website.

To set it up the tool connects to the PowerShell endpoint for your IaaS VM. Just add the Virtual Machine and you are ready to go! With that you can do some great things, like simply copy a file to an Azure IaaS VM or even doing scheduled backups of files from inside Azure VMs like Didier Van Hoye did.



Windows Azure Pack Archtiecture Overview

What’s new Windows Azure Pack Update Rollup 6

Microsoft just released Update Rollup 6 for Windows Azure Pack on April 28. Microsoft fixes some bugs and added some highly requested features from User Voice as well.

  • Tenants can now create a checkpoint of a Virtual Machine and restore it at will when needed.
  • VMM Users can now deploy and manage Generation 2 VMs through VM Roles using WAP and the corresponding UR6 SPF Resource Provider
  • Added support to maintain Data Consistency between the SQL Resource Provider configured properties for resources with the actual provisioned resources on the SQL Server Hosting machine(s).
  • Added support for Webjobs in Windows Azure Pack Websites. This functionality offers creation of Webjobs to be executed manually or continuously in the background.
  • Tenants can now use deployment slots associated to their websites. Web app content and configurations elements can be swapped between two deployment slots, including the production slot.
  • Administrator can take advantage of DSC to deploy the update across a distributed environment.
  • Windows Azure Pack Websites can now take advantage of the HttpPlatformHandler to host Java and other runtimes.
  • Updates to Management Pack
    • Synthetic Transactions
    • Resource Governor Error Monitors
    • Monitor Certificate Validation Disabled
  • High Priority Bug Fixes

Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0

Microsoft releases Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0

Microsoft today released the next version of the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter (MVMC). (MVMC) is a Microsoft-supported, stand-alone solution for the IT pros or solution provider who wants to convert virtual machines and disks from VMware hosts to Hyper-V hosts and Microsoft Azure.

In MVMC 3.0 Microsoft adds the ability to convert a physical computer running Windows Server 2008 or above server operating systems or Windows Vista or above client operating systems to a Virtual Machine. This feature was highly claimed by the community, since the P2V (Physical to Virtual) Migration feature was removed in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 R2.

MVMC can be deployed with minimal dependencies. Because MVMC provides native support for Windows PowerShell, it enables scripting and integration with data center automation workflows such as those authored and run within Microsoft System Center Orchestrator 2012 R2 or Service Management Automation. It can also be invoked through the Windows PowerShell command-line interface. The solution is simple to download, install, and use. In addition to the Windows PowerShell capability, MVMC provides a wizard-driven GUI to facilitate virtual machine conversion.

This tool can not only help you to migrate from VMware or physical computers to Hyper-V, it also allows you to directly upload the Virtual Machine to Microsoft Azure.

MVMC3 migrate to Hyper-V or Azure

You can get the new version of the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0 in the Microsoft Download Center.

centos hyper-v

Best Practices for running Linux on Hyper-V

Sometimes I just need my blog as a reminder or a database to find something in a few months so this is exactly one of this blog posts. Microsoft has a TechNet article where they describe the best practices for Linux VMs running on Hyper-V 2012 or Hyper-V 2012 R2. The article is a list of recommendations for running Linux virtual machine on Hyper-V.

Right now they have 4 recommendations on the list (Source Microsoft TechNet):

  • Use static MAC addresses with failover clustering.
  • Use Hyper-V-specific network adapters, not the legacy network adapter.
  • Use I/O scheduler NOOP for better disk I/O performance.
  • Add “numa=off” if the Linux virtual machine has more than 7 virtual processors or more than 30 GB RAM.


Azure Preview Virtual Machines

Virtual Machines IaaS now available in the Azure preview portal

Some months ago Microsoft lunched a new preview portal for Microsoft Azure, with a cool new design and features. The IaaS or Virtual Machine services was missing from the portal. A week ago Microsoft announced to add some enhancements to the preview portal including Virtual Machines. Now today Microsoft rolled out the enhancements to the portal. with other improvements:

  • IaaS Functionality: Create, deploy, monitor and manage rich virtual machines’ based applications, and manage virtual networks within a fully customizable Portal experience. In addition to creating simple virtual machines, we are adding the ability to automate the deployment of rich multi-machine application templates with a few clicks. With this, deploying a multi-tier, highly-available SharePoint farm from the portal will be a few clicks away!
  • Resource Group enhancements: Manage infrastructure services like virtual machines and virtual networks along with platform services like web sites and databases, all within the same Resource Group, as a single application. This level of flexibility and control is an example of how Azure is leading the way in blurring the lines between infrastructure and platform services, giving customers the choice to pick the best platform for their application needs.
  • Azure Image Gallery Updates: The completely re-imagined Azure Gallery is more powerful with the addition of several new virtual machine images that enable you to provision dev/test servers or production applications in minutes. The new virtual machine images and templates take the guesswork out of building, orchestrating and deploying complex applications, thus letting you focus on creating business value instead of managing the infrastructure.
  • Azure SQL Database: Customers can manage their Azure SQL Databases within the Portal, consistent with other Azure services. This includes provisioning databases across Web and Business (currently in general availability) and Basic, Standard, and Premium (currently in preview).

Checkout the blog from  Director, Product Marketing, Microsoft Azure to learn more.

Azure Preview Portal Virtual Machine

Azure Site Recovery

Microsoft Azure Site Recovery Preview

Microsoft today announced the preview of Disaster Recovery to Azure called Microsoft Azure Site Recovery. This also replaces HRM (Hyper-V Recovery Manager). Microsoft Azure Site Recovery (ASR) allows you to orchestrate disaster recovery to a second site or directly to Azure.

Microsoft ASR

Both solutions use Microsoft on-prem technology like Windows Server Hyper-V Replica and System Center Virtual Machine Manager and you can start using them via the Microsoft Azure Management Portal.

In addition to enabling Microsoft Azure as a DR site in multiple geographies, this preview also includes an impressive list of features for enabling virtual machine replication to Azure:

  • At-Scale Configuration
    You can configure the protection and replication of VM settings in a private cloud and configure and connect on-prem networks with Azure Networks. Those VM’s are then only replicated to customer-owned and managed geo-redundant Azure Storage.
  • Variable Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
    This feature provides support for near-synchronous data replication with RPOs as low as 30 seconds. You can also retain consistent snapshots at desired frequency for a 24-hour window.
  • Data Encryption
    VM Virtual Hard Disks can be encrypted at rest using a secure, customer-managed encryption key that ensures best-in-class security and privacy for your application data when it is replicating to Azure. This encryption key is known only to the customer and it is needed for the failover of VM’s to Azure. Simply put: All of this service’s traffic within Azure is encrypted.
  • Self-Service Disaster Recovery
    With ASR you get full support for DR drills via test failover, planned failover with a zero-data loss, unplanned failover, and failback.
  • One-Click Orchestration
    ASR also provides easy-to-create, customizable Recovery Plans to ensure one-click failovers and failbacks that are always accurate, consistent, and help you achieve your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) goals.
  • Audit and Compliance Reporting with Reliable Recovery
    DR testing and drills can be performed without any impact to production workloads. This means you get risk-free, high-confidence testing that meets your compliance objectives. You can run these non-disruptive test failovers whenever you like, as often as you like. Also, with the ability to generate reports for every activity performed using the service, you can meet all your audit requirements.

ASR does not only help you in terms of Disaster Recovery, it also allows you to quickly and easily migrate your Virtual Machines to Azure or create a new dev environment.

Check out the ASR session at TechEd 2014 and Brad Andersons blog about the release of the Azure Site Recovery Preview.

Once you’re ready to see what ASR can do for you, you can check out pricing information, sign up for a free trial, or learn more about the product specs.