Category: Server

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Intel NUC Windows Server

Building a Windows Server Lab with an Intel NUC

With the release of Windows Server 2019, which includes a ton of Hybrid Cloud integration features, it was time to build a new lab environment. The plan is to create a lab and demo environment for my presentations and workshops. Until today, I was still using my hardware from 2011, which was built from Cisco C200 and HPE ProLiant servers. This was, more or less, datacenter grade hardware, it was using a lot of electricity and made a lot of noise. Not really the thing for a home lab on your desk. With some pretty good deals out there, I decided to buy a brand-new Intel NUC. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing, which is a small, light, cheap and not very noisy computer, which gives you the latest Intel CPUs and ports. Mostly used as desktop or media computers. However, the price and the features, are also making it a great option for a lab running Hyper-V.

If I look at the hardware our customers are using today, there is not really a good way to build a cheap home lab based on datacenter hardware. And with my workloads mostly running in Azure anyway, the Intel NUC seems to be a great option. For most of my demos a single server running Hyper-V should be enough. For demos on Storage Spaces Direct or Clustering I can still use Azure with Nested Virtualization.

Intel NUC Windows Server LAB

I decided to get an Intel NUC NUC8i7BEH – Bean Canyon with the following specs:

  • Intel Core i7-8559U
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM
  • 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO
  • Intel Wireless-AC 9560 + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Gigabit LAN
  • USB-A and USB-C ports
  • Thunderbolt 3 port

Unfortunately, the Intel NUC is limited to 32GB of RAM and this version does not have a TPM chip. The good thing, it runs Windows Server 2019 and Windows Admin Center just fine. So far I don’t have any issues, except that there are some missing drivers for Windows Server 2019. We will see how it works out in the next couple of months.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.



Cisco Champion 2016

Cisco Champion 2016

Just had a look at my inbox and found out that I received the Cisco Champion Award for 2016, which is my third Cisco Champion Award in a row, after 2014 and 2015. I feel highly honored to get this award and looking proud into the future. Since I do a lot of Datacenter projects with Microsoft and Cisco technologies I can see that the new partnership between Cisco and Microsoft is really paying off and we can expect even better integration and services from both companies.

Hi Thomas Maurer

 

Because of your impactful and valuable contributions to the IT community, you have been chosen out of hundreds of nominees to be part of the 2016 Cisco Champion program. Congratulations!

 

Cisco Champions are a group of highly influential IT technical experts who enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and thoughts across the social web and with Cisco. The Cisco Champion program encompasses a diverse set of areas such as Data Center, Internet of Things, Enterprise Networks, Collaboration, and Security. Cisco Champions are located all over the world.

 



CDN Consistent Device Naming

Cisco UCS supports Consistent Device Naming (CDN)

Yesterday I posted about Cisco UCS supporting RDMA (SMB Direct) with firmware version 2.2(4b)B. Walter Dey, former Cisco Distinguished Engineer at Cisco informed me not only about the RDMA feature he also showed me that Cisco UCS now supports Consistent Device Naming which was introduced with Windows Server 2012. Consistent Device Naming (CDN) allows Ethernet interfaces to be named in a consistent manner. This makes Ethernet interface names more persistent when adapter or other configuration changes are made. To use CDN in Cisco UCS you need to run firmware version 2.2(4b)B. This will help to make it a lot easier to identify network interfaces used with Windows Server 2012 R2 and Hyper-V.



Cisco UCS Hardware

Cisco UCS supports RoCE for Microsoft SMB Direct

As you may know we use SMB as the storage protocol for several Hyper-V deployments using Scale-Out File Server and Storage Spaces which adds a lot value to your Hyper-V deployments. To boost performance Microsoft is using RDMA or SMB Direct to accelerate Storage network performance.

RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) allows direct memory access over an Ethernet network. RoCE is a link layer protocol, and hence, it allows communication between any two hosts in the same Ethernet broadcast domain. RoCE delivers superior performance compared to traditional network socket implementations because of lower latency, lower CPU utilization and higher utilization of network bandwidth. Windows Server 2012 and later versions use RDMA for accelerating and improving the performance of SMB file sharing traffic and Live Migration. If you need to know more about RDMA or SMB Direct checkout my blog post: Hyper-V over SMB: SMB Direct

With Cisco UCS Manager Release 2.2(4), Cisco finally supports RoCE for SMB Direct. It sends additional configuration information to the adapter while creating or modifying an Ethernet adapter policy.

Guidelines and Limitations for SMB Direct with RoCE

  • SMB Direct with RoCE is supported only on Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • SMB Direct with RoCE is supported only with Cisco UCS VIC 1340 and 1380 adapters.
  • Cisco UCS Manager does not support more than 4 RoCE-enabled vNICs per adapter.
  • Cisco UCS Manager does not support RoCE with NVGRE, VXLAN, NetFlow, VMQ, or usNIC.
  • You can not use Windows Server NIC Teaming together with RMDA enabled adapters in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 or you will lose RDMA feature on these adapters.
  • Maximum number of queue pairs per adapter is 8192.
  • Maximum number of memory regions per adapter is 524288.
  • If you do not disable RoCE before downgrading Cisco UCS Manager from Release 2.2(4), downgrade will fail.

Checkout my post about Hyper-V over SMB:



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

Cisco UCS and Hyper-V Enable Stateless Offloads with NVGRE

As I already mentioned I did several Hyper-V and Microsoft Windows Server projects with Cisco UCS. With Cisco UCS you can now configure stateless offloads for NVGRE traffic which is needed for Hyper-V Network Virtualization.

Cisco UCS Manager supports stateless offloads with NVGRE only with Cisco UCS VIC 1340 and/or Cisco UCS VIC 1380 adapters that are installed on servers running Windows Server 2012 R2 operating systems.

To use this you have to create Ethernet Adapter Policy, and set the Configuring an Ethernet Adapter Policy to Enable Stateless Offloads with NVGREin the Resources area:

  • Transmit Queues = 1
  • Receive Queues = n (up to 8)
  • Completion Queues = # of Transmit Queues + # of Receive Queues
  • Interrupts = # Completion Queues + 2

And in the Option area set the following settings:

  • Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation = Enabled
  • Interrupt Mode = Msi-X

Make also sure you have installed eNIC driver Version 3.0.0.8 or later.

For more information, see http:/​/​www.cisco.com/​c/​en/​us/​td/​docs/​unified_computing/​ucs/​sw/​vic_drivers/​install/​Windows/​b_​Cisco_​VIC_​Drivers_​for_​Windows_​Installation_​Guide.html.



Cisco Champion 2015

Cisco Champion 2015

Last year it was the first time I was awareded by Cisco with the Cisco Champions Award for 2014. This morning I found some great news in my inbox again. I feel honored to be part of the Cisco Champions community again for 2015. Since I do a lot of Datacenter projects with Microsoft and Cisco technologies I can see that the new partnership between Cisco and Microsoft is really paying off and we can expect even better integration and services from both companies.

Congratulations: Welcome to the Cisco Champions Program 2015!

Because of your excellent contributions to the IT community, you have been chosen out of hundreds of applicants, to be a member of the Cisco Champions team in 2015. Congratulations!

 

Cisco Champions are seasoned IT technical experts and influencers who enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and thoughts across the social web and with Cisco. The Cisco Champions program encompasses different areas of interest, such as Data Center, Internet of Things, Enterprise Networks, Collaboration and Security. Cisco Champions are located all over the world.

 



Cisco Microsoft

Cisco and Microsoft Announce Sales and Go-to-Market Agreement

At the Worldwide Partner Conference 2014 Cisco and Microsoft announced a multi-year sales and go-to-market agreement designed to modernize data centers through the delivery and acceleration of integrated solutions. This will focus on bringing a deeper integration between the datacenter technologies of both companies. This includes Cisco UCS and Nexus products as well as Microsoft’s CloudOS solutions based Windows Server, Hyper-V, System Center, SQL Server and Microsoft Azure.

Highlights:

Go-to-Market:

  • Cisco and Microsoft agree to a three-year go-to-market plan focused on transforming data centers through the delivery of integrated solutions for enterprise customers and service providers.
  • In year one, the companies will focus on six countries — the United States, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and Australia — with expansion to additional countries in the following years.
  • Cisco and Microsoft will align partner incentive programs to accelerate solutions selling via mutual channel partners.
  • Cisco and Microsoft sales teams will work together on cloud and data center opportunities, including an initial program focused on the migration of Windows 2003 customers to Windows 2012 R2 on the Cisco UCS platform.

Integrated Solutions:

  • Integrated solutions will focus on private cloud, server migration, service provider, and SQL Server 2014
  • Cisco technologies to include Cisco UCS, Cisco Nexus switching, Cisco UCS Manager with System Center integration modules, and Cisco PowerTool.
  • Cisco-based integrated infrastructure solutions will include FlexPod with NetApp and Cisco Solutions for EMC VXPEX.
  • Microsoft technology includes Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, PowerShell, Microsoft Azure and SQL Server 2014
  • Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure and Cisco InterCloud Fabric to be integrated in the solutions in future releases

Source and More information: www.streetinsider.com

As you may know I am a Microsoft MVP and a Cisco Champion and I really like doing project with Cisco Hardware since they do a lot of integration with the Microsoft Stack especially System Center and PowerShell. In my opinion this could be a strong partnership and will make life of a lot of people a lot easier.