Category: Windows 10

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Windows Server Semi-annual Channel Overview

Windows Server release information – Windows Server Semi-Annual Channel and LTSC

As mentioned a couple of months ago, Microsoft has updated the Windows Server servicing model. The Semi-Annual Channel is a twice-per-year feature update release with 18-month servicing timelines for each release and the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) will be support for 5+5 years as we know it form previous Windows Server releases as Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016. This is similar servicing model as the Windows 10 client.

In short:

The Semi-Annual Channel provides opportunity for customers who are innovating quickly to take advantage of new operating system capabilities at a faster pace, both in applications – particularly those built on containers and microservices – and in the software-defined hybrid datacenter.

Customers also have the option to continue using the Long-Term Servicing Channel releases, which continue to be released every 2-3 years. Each Long-Term Servicing Channel release is supported for 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support.

You can find more information about the Windows Server Servicing changes in my blog post: What is next for Windows Server and System Center with a faster release cadence

Today Microsoft released a page where you can get an overview about the Windows Server versions and their support end dates.

Windows Server current versions by servicing Overview

This will quickly get you an overview about the Windows Server releases.

 

 



Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017

My impressions from Microsoft Ignite 2017

Okay, I know, Microsoft Ignite 2017 was already a couple of weeks ago. But still, I finally had time to write about my impressions from Microsoft Ignite, after the conference plus my visit in Seattle for the Intelligent Cloud Architect Bootcamp and spending my days in meetings and back at work in Switzerland. Since there is a lot of stuff and important changes coming, I think it is still valid to write about my impressions.

First, I have to say Orlando is great, I really loved spending my time there. This was my second Microsoft Ignite after the first one in Chicago. I have to say, it was very well organized and organizing such a huge conference is definitely not easy.

The Speaking part…

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2017 Theater

I had the great opportunity to speak in several Microsoft Ignite sessions and this was huge fun. It is always fun for me to stand in front of a couple of people and show them some stuff I am working on. I not only had the chance to do my Theather session about “Lessons learned from deploying Windows Server 2016”, I also spoke in two breakout sessions about our customer cases focusing on System Center and Storage Spaces Direct.

The Networking part…

One of the most important parts of such a conference is networking with others. The point is that all the videos are going to be online available for later review, but you get time to meet with people from Microsoft, customers and partners, and talk, share and learn from them. The connections you make at such a conference will be helpful in the future, trust me…

The Learning part…

One of the main reasons for me to attend, was to learn. Not only learn about the latest and greatest technology, but also about where the industry is heading. I believe that our industry is heading to one of the biggest changes in history since the transition from Mainframes to client server topology. I think this is not new to most of us, but what is interesting and something I underestimated is, how fast that transition will be going forward. Cloud Computing, AI, Big Data, IoT and modern applications are going to be big topics in the future and technologies like containers and methods like DevOps are going to accelerate this change. My lesson learned from these events is that we all in the industry have to learn much faster and be ready to adapt to change much quicker.

With that, I hope to see you soon at other conferences and events or again at Microsoft Ignite on September 24 – 28 in Orlando, Florida.



Surface Pro Storage Spaces Boot

Boot from Storage Spaces Virtual Disk in Windows 10

A couple of weeks ago I got my new Microsoft Surface Pro, I decided to go with the 1TB version to have enough space.

Surface Pro Storage

After the first minutes of setup I quickly wanted to run disk optimization, which for SSDs usually does quick trim operations. In my case this was running way longer then on my Surface Book, so I checked what was going on, and I realized that it was running Optimization on a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk, which is kind of strange.

Surface Pro PowerShell Storage Spaces Boot

I checked the disk configuration and really, my Surface Pro (2017) does have a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk which it boots from. The Storage Spaces Pool does include two physical 512GB NVMe drives with one Virtual Disk on top configured as simple (striped) volume. Right now I don’t know how they did it, but it seems now possible to boot Windows from a Storage Spaces Virtual Disk with the Windows 10 Creators Update or some Surface team magic. Then when Storage Spaces was introduced with Windows 8, boot from Storage Spaces was not possible.

 



Project Honolulu Server Overview

Microsoft Project Honolulu – The new Windows Server Management Experience

Last week Microsoft introduced the world to Project Honolulu, which is the codename for a new Windows Server management experience. Project “Honolulu” is a flexible, locally-deployed, browser-based management platform and tools to manage Windows Server locally and remote.

Microsoft today launched the Hololulu Technical Preview for the world, I had the chance to already work with Microsoft during the last couple of months in a private preview. Project Honolulu helps you to managed your servers remotely as a new kind of Server Manager. This is especially handy if you run Windows Server Core, which I think is the new black, after Microsoft announced that Nano Server is only gonna live as a Container Image with the next version of Windows Server.

Project Honolulu took many features for the Azure Server Management Tools which were hosted in Azure, and allowed you to manage your servers in the cloud and on-premise. But the Feedback was simple, People wanted to install the Management expierence on-prem, without the dependency to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft listened to the feedback and delivered the with Project Honolulu a web-based management solution, which you can install on your own servers.

Honolulu Management Experience

Project Honolulu Server Overview

Project Honolulu has different solutions which give you different functionality. In the technical preview there are three solutions available, Server Manager, Failover Cluster Manager and Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager.

Server Manager

The server manager lets you is kind of like the Server Manager you know from Windows Server, but it also replaces some local only tools like Network Management, Process, Device Manger, Certificate and User Management, Windows Update and so on. The Server Manager Solution also adds management of Virtual Machines, Virtual Switches and Storage Replica.

Failover Cluster Manager

As you might think, this allows you to manage Failover Clusters.

Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager

The Hyper-Converged Cluster Manager is very interesting if you are running Storage Spaces Direct clusters in a Hyper-Converged design, where Hyper-V Virtual Machines run on the same hosts. This allows you to do management of the S2D cluster as well as some performance metrics.

Honolulu Topology

Project Honolulu On-Premise Architecture

Project Honolulu leverages a three-tier architecture, a web server displaying web UI using HTML, a gateway service and the managed nodes. The web interface talks to the gateway service using REST APIs and the gateway connected to the managed nodes using WinRM and PowerShell remoting (Similar like the Azure Management Tools).

Project Honolulu On-Premise and Public Cloud Architecture

You can basically access the Web UI from every machine running modern browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. If you publish the webserver to the internet, you can also manage it remotely from everywhere. The installation and configuration of Project Honolulu is straight forward, but If you want to know more about the installation check out, my friend and Microsoft MVP colleague, Charbel Nemnom’s blog post about Project Honolulu.

Project Honolulu Gateways Service can be installed on:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016

You can manage:

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2016 and higher

Conclusion

In my opinion Microsoft Project Honolulu provides us with the Windows Server Management Tool we need so much. It helps us to manage our servers from a centralized HTML5 web application, and really makes management of GUI less servers easy. Deployment and configuration is very easy and simple and doesn’t take a lot of effort, while drastically removing the need to locally logon to a server for management reasons. I hope with that we will see a higher deployment of Windows Server Core installations, since we don’t need the GUI on every single server anymore.

You can download the Project Honolulu Technical Preview here: Project Honolulu Technical Preview

You can give feedback to Project Honolulu here: User Voice Project Honolulu

 



Ubuntu on Microsoft Azure

Microsoft and Canonical create Azure optimized Ubuntu Kernel

Ubuntu is a popular choice for Virtual Machines running on Microsoft Azure and Hyper-V. Yesterday Microsoft and Canonical that they will provide an Azure Tailored Kernel for Ubuntu. Microsoft and Canonical were already working on a lot of projects together, like Linux Containers on Windows using Docker, or the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

Canonical, with the team at Microsoft Azure, are now delighted to announce that as of September 21, 2017, Ubuntu Cloud Images for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on Azure have been enabled with a new Azure tailored Ubuntu kernel by default.  The Azure tailored Ubuntu kernel will receive the same level of support and security maintenance as all supported Ubuntu kernels for the duration of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS support life.

The kernel itself is provided by the linux-azure kernel package. Some of the special feature this kernel provides are:

  • Infiniband and RDMAcapability for Azure HPC to deliver optimized performance of compute intensive workloads on Azure A8, A9, H-series, and NC24r.
  • Full support for Accelerated Networking in Azure.  Direct access to the PCI device provides gains in overall network performance offering the highest throughput and lowest latency for guests in Azure.  Transparent SR-IOV eliminates configuration steps for bonding network devices.
  • NAPI and Receive Segment Coalescing for 10% greater throughput on guests not using SR-IOV.
  • 18% reduction in kernel size
  • Hyper-V socket capability — a socket-based host/guest communication method that does not require a network.
  • The very latest Hyper-V device drivers and feature support available.

Source: https://insights.ubuntu.com/2017/09/21/microsoft-and-canonical-increase-velocity-with-azure-tailored-kernel/

I am sure these improvements will not only help Ubuntu Virtual Machines running on Azure, but also Ubuntu Virtual Machines running on Hyper-V

Canonical and Microsoft also promise to work close in the future to deliver more new feature.

As we continue to collaborate closely with various Microsoft teams on public cloud, private cloud, containers and services, you can expect further boosts in performance, simplification of operations at scale, and enablement of new innovations and technologies.

Really looking forward how this works. Also funny to see the comments on the Tweet from the @Ubuntu on twitter, which shows how many people live in the old world.



What is in my Bag for Microsoft Ignite 2017

What’s in my bag for Microsoft Ignite 2017

In a couple of hours I will catch my flight to Orlando FL to the Microsoft Ignite 2017 conference. I am happy to join the itnetX team and be able to speak at the largest Microsoft Conference this year. I am really looking forward to it and meet other enthusiast around Microsoft Cloud solutions and of course meeting with members of the Microsoft Product Group.

I am already preparing and packing stuff for my two weeks trip to the United States. After Microsoft Ignite I will spend another week on the Microsoft Campus in Redmond (Okay, actually it is in Bellevue at the Azure Cloud Architect Bootcamp) so I have to pack enough stuff so I can pre productive for these two weeks and especially Microsoft Ignite.

What is in my Bag for Microsoft Ignite 2017

  • My main devices is of course my new Microsoft Surface Pro which I use as my 3-in-1 device, replacing my notebook, tablet and desktop using the Surface Docking Station. Of course it is running the latest Microsoft Windows 10 Insider Preview. Battery life I get is around 8 hours depending on what I am doing I get even some more. I will leave my Surface Book, which I was using for over a year and was my daily driver for a long time, back home. The Surface Pro is lighter much more portable, and especially at a huge conference like Microsoft Ignite, it helps to have a light devices to carry around.
  • The Surface Pen, well especially for conferences, workshops and trainings, I like to take handwritten notes or draw things to discuss ideas and solutions with people. The Surface Pen and OneNote are a must have for such events! (Quick Tip: Check out my blog post about Why OneNote is Awesome to learn some new OneNote skills)
  • As my day to day phone I use the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL (Yes sometimes I still use a Windows Phone) and the Samsung Galaxy S8+, which are the perfect devices for me with great cameras to take picture from the place I travel to and listen to music.
  • Even I like the track pad of the new Surface Pro Signature Type Cover I think I am more productive using a mouse. For that I got the new Microsoft Arc Mouse, Microsoft delivered together with the new 2017 Surface Pro. It follows the same line of design as the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse and others, which are perfect for traveling. If you don’t need them, you can just click them, to turn the off.
  • The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Audio Headphones and their Noise Cancelling feature are some real life savers. I like them especially when I travel and have some long flights. But I also like that they now support bluetooth, so I can connect wirelessly. I also use them for Skype and Skype for Business calls.
  • To get some extra power if needed, I also carry a Microsoft DC-34 portable power charger with a 9000 mAh battery
  • I am also carrying the Garmin Forerunner 325 which helps me tracks the steps I walk during Microsoft Ignite and the limited sleep I get during this event. Trust me, you will definitely walk a lot during that conference.
  • For presentations I got a Microsoft Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI and VGA adapter as well as the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter which acts as a Miracast Receiver and is great for presentations.
  • I also carry a USB 3.0 drive, since you never know when you need to share some files, which might be to larger to share over the conference WiFi.
  •  I just use power adapter of the Microsoft Surface Pro which also has a USB port for charging the phone, speaker and other stuff.
  • Next to that, I will bring some cables, sunglasses and a bunch of other stuff you need during a conference.

Some other tips for the conference:

You are going to talk a lot, and the days will be back with a lot of information and discussions, so make sure you pack something light to carry your devices around or a comfortable backpack. Also make sure you stay hydrated during the day, not just during the evening events 😉

By the way, check out my video interview with Marcel Zehner about my sessions at Microsoft Ignite during one of the itnetX X-Talk videos:

With that, hopefully see you at Microsoft Ignite 2017 in Orlando, and if you are there, contact me if you want to grab a coke, coffee or beer.



Hyper-V Enhanced Session Mode

10 hidden Hyper-V features you should know about!

Microsoft added some amazing new features and improvements to Hyper-V over the past few years. A lot of them you can use in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V today, but there are also a lot of features hidden in the user interface and they are also included in Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise. I think this list should you a good idea about some of them.

Nested Virtualization

Hyper-V Nested Virtualization

Hyper-V Nested Virtualization allows you to run Hyper-V in a Hyper-V Virtual Machine. This is great for testing, demo and training scenarios and it work on Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. Microsoft Azure will also offer some new Virtual Machine which will offer the Nested Virtualization feature in the Azure public cloud. Nested Virtualization is not just great if you want to run virtual machines inside a virtual machine, it is also great (and I think this will be the largest use case in the future) you can also run Hyper-V Container inside a Hyper-V or Azure Virtual Machine. Hyper-V Containers are a feature will brings the isolation of a Virtual Machine to a fast, light and small footprint container. To enable Nested Virtualization you have the following requirements:

  • At least 4 GB RAM available for the virtualized Hyper-V host.
  • To run at least Windows Server 2016 or Windows 10 build 10565 (and higher) on both the physical Hyper-V host and the virtualized host. Running the same build in both the physical and virtualized environments generally improves performance.
  • A processor with Intel VT-x (nested virtualization is available only for Intel processors at this time).
  • Other Hypervisors will not work

Configure the Virtual Machine for Nested Virtualization follow the following steps:

  • disable Dynamic Memory on Virtual Machine
  • enable Virtualization Extensions on the vCPU
  • enable MAC Address Spoofing
  • set Memory of the Virtual Machine to a minimum of 4GB RAM

To enable the Virtualization Extensions on the vCPU you can run the following PowerShell command

PowerShell Direct

PowerShell Direct Enter-PSSession

Hyper-V PowerShell Direct is also one of the great new features in Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V. PowerShell Direct allows you to connect to a Virtual Machine using PowerShell without connecting over the network. Instead of the network, PowerShell Direct uses the Hyper-V VMBus to connect from the Hyper-V host to the virtual machine. This is handy if you are doing some automation or you don’t have network access to the virtual machine. In terms of security, you will still need to provide credentials to access the virtual machine.

To use PowerShell Direct you have the following requirements:

  • The virtual machine must be running locally on the Hyper-V host and must be started.
  • You must be logged into the host computer as a Hyper-V administrator.
  • You must supply valid user credentials for the virtual machine.
  • The host operating system must run Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, or a higher version.
  • The virtual machine must run Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, or a higher version.

To use PowerShell Direct just use the Enter-PSSession or Invoke-Command cmdlets with the -VMName, -VMId or VM parameter.

Hyper-V Virtual Switch using NAT

Hyper-V Virtual Switch NAT Configuration

If you are running Hyper-V on your workstation, laptop you know that networking could have been kind of a problem. With the Hyper-V Virtual Switch using NAT, you can now create an internal network for your virtual machines and still allow them to for example have internet access, like you would run your virtual machines behind a router. To use this feature you have the following requirements:

  • Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 build 14295 or later
  • Enabled Hyper-V role

To enable you can first create an internal switch using PowerShell, the the IP Address on the Virtual NIC on the Management OS and then set the NAT configuration:

To create NAT forwarding rules you can for example use the following command:

Virtual Battery for Virtual Machines

Hyper-V VM battery

With the Windows 10 Insider Build XXXX and later with the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft enabled a Virtual Battery feature for Hyper-V Virtual Machines. This will allow Hyper-V VMs to see the battery status of the host. This is great when you are running Hyper-V on a notebook or if you have a SUV battery on your server

Hyper-V VMConnect – Enhanced Session Mode

Hyper-V Enhanced Session Mode

Interacting with Virtual Machines can be difficult and time consuming using the default VM console, since you can not copy paste or connect devices. VMConnect lets you use a computer’s local resources in a virtual machine, like a removable USB flash drive or a printer and in addition to this, Enhanced session mode also lets you resize the VMConnect window and use copy paste. This makes it almost as if you would use the Remote Desktop Client to connect to the Virtual Machine, without a network connection, instead you will make use of the VMBus.

The Enhanced Session Mode feature was introduced with Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1. Enhanced session mode basically provides your Virtual Machine Connection with RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) capabilities over the Hyper-V VMBus, including the following:

  • Display Configuration
  • Audio redirection
  • Printer redirection
  • Full clipboard support (improved over limited prior-generation clipboard support)
  • Smart Card support
  • USB Device redirection
  • Drive redirection
  • Redirection for supported Plug and Play devices

Requirements for the Enhanced Session Mode are:

  • The Hyper-V host must have Enhanced session mode policy and Enhanced session mode settings turned on
  • The computer on which you use VMConnect must run Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher
  • The virtual machine must have Remote Desktop Services enabled, and run Windows 8.1 (or higher) and Windows Server 2012 R2 (or higher) as the guest operating system.

You can simply use it, by pressing the enhanced session button (if you have all the requirementsOn the Windows 10 Client this is enabled by default on the “host”. On Windows Server you have to enable it first in the Hyper-V Manager under Hyper-V Settings

Hyper-V Manager Zoom Level

Hyper-V VMConnect Zoom Level

In the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft introduced a new feature to the VMConnect Console. This feature allows you to control the zoom level of the Virtual Machine console, this is especially handy if you have a high DPI screen.

Virtual TPM Chip

Hyper-V Virtual TPM

If you are running Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 or higher you can make use of a feature called Shielded Virtual Machines. This allows you to protect your virtual machines form being accessed from the outside. With this feature Microsoft added different levels of security enhancements. One of them is the possibility to add a Virtual TPM chip to the virtual machine. With that enabled you can use BitLocker or another encryption technology to encrypt your virtual machine disks from inside the VM.

Enable Hyper-V vTPM PowerShell

You can enable the Virtual TPM chip using the Hyper-V Manager or PowerShell. The virtual machine needs to be shut down.

Just to make sure, if you really need full protection, have a look at Shielded Virtual Machines with the Host Guardian Service (HGS).

VM Resource Metering

Hyper-V VM Resource Metering

With Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Microsoft introduced a new feature in Hyper-V called VM Resource Metering which allows you to measure the usage of a virtual machine. This allows you to track CPU, Memory, Disk and network usage. This is a great feature especially if you need to do charge back or maybe even for trouble shooting.

You can enable VM Resource Metering using PowerShell

To measure the virtual machine, you can used the following command

Export and Share Hyper-V Virtual Machines

Export and Share Hyper-V Virtual Machine

Another feature a lot of people do not know about is that you can export Hyper-V Virtual Machines to copy them to another computer or server. The great thing about this, this can even be done while the virtual machine is running and you can even export the state of the virtual machine with it. You can use the UI to do this, or you just run PowerShell using the Export-VM cmdlet.

In the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Microsoft also added a button to shared the Virtual Machine. This does not only export the virtual machine but it also create a compressed VM Export File (.vmcz).

Hyper-V Containers

Hyper-V Windows Containers

In Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 you can run Windows Containers using Docker. While on Windows Server you can choose between running a Windows Container or a Hyper-V Container, you will always run a Hyper-V Container on Windows 10. While Hyper-V Containers and Windows Containers are fully compatible with each other, what means you can start a Windows Container in a Hyper-V Container runtime and the other way around, the Hyper-V Container gives you an extra layer of isolation between your containers and your operating system. This makes running containers not just much more secure but since the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and Windows Server RS3 (Redstone 3), it will also allow you to run Linux Containers on a Windows Container Host, which will make Windows the best platform to run Windows Containers and Linux Containers side by side.

I hope this short list was helpful and showed you some features you didn’t know were there in Hyper-V. Some of these features are still in preview and are might not available in production versions of Hyper-V. Leave your favorite secret Hyper-V features in the comments!