Category: VMware

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Azure to Azure Site Recovery

Disaster recovery for Azure IaaS virtual machines using ASR

Microsoft today announced the public preview of disaster recovery for Azure IaaS virtual machines. This is basically Azure Site Recovery (ASR) for the Azure-to-Azure scenario. With that you can replicate Azure virtual machines from one Azure Region to another Azure Region, without deploying any other infrastructure components such as software appliances. Cross-region DR feature is now available in all Azure public regions where ASR is available.

The Azure Documentation describes it the following way:

In addition to the inbuilt Azure infrastructure capabilities and features that contribute to a robust and resilient availability strategy for workloads running on Azure VMs, there are a number of reasons why you need to plan for disaster recovery between Azure regions yourself:

  • Your compliance guidelines for specific apps and workloads require a Business continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) strategy.
  • You want the ability to protect and recover Azure VMs based on your business decisions, and not only based on inbuilt Azure functionality.
  • You need to be able to test failover and recovery in accordance with your business and compliance needs, with no impact on production.
  • You need to be able to failover to the recovery region in the event of a disaster and fail back to the original source region seamlessly.

Azure to Azure VM replication using Site Recovery helps you to do all the above.

Azure to Azure Site Recovery Setup

To set this up you have to create an Azure Recovery Vault. This Recovery vault cannot be in the same region as the source virtual machines, because if the region is down, you will not have access to the vault.

Azure ASR Configuration Settings

Form that you can choose to create a new Replication and select the virtual machines you want to replicate. You can select the virtual machines you want to replicate. At the end you choose the target location and create the needed target resources and start the replication.

This will now allow you to failover you virtual machines to another Azure region.

Azure ASR Failover

Source Microsoft

There are some limitations right now, like no support for managed disks or limited operating system support. Check out the Azure Site Recovery support matrix for replicating from Azure to Azure for more support information.

Azure Site Recovery now allows you to replicate Virtual Machines from:

Azure Site Recovery Overview

  • On-premise Hyper-V Servers
  • On-Premise Hyper-V using System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • On-Premise Physical Servers
  • Virtual Machines from AWS
  • Virtual Machines from another Azure Region

 



What's new in Hyper-V 2016

Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Scale Numbers

Yesterday Microsoft announced the VMware to Hyper-V Migration offer with Windows Server 2016. The Hyper-V team also announced the new scale numbers in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V. Microsoft announced a Hyper-V Host will support 24TB of RAM and up to 512 CPUs, and up to 16TB and 240 virtual CPUs per Virtual Machine. This are huge number and a huge improvement to the numbers to the numbers of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Windows Server 2012/2012 R2

Standard & Datacenter

Windows Server 2016 Standard & Datacenter
Physical (Host) Memory Support Up to 4 TB per physical server Up to 24 TB per physical server (6x)
Physical (Host) Logical Processor Support Up to 320 LPs Up to 512 LPs
Virtual Machine Memory Support Up to 1 TB per VM Up to 16 TB per VM (16x)
Virtual Machine Virtual Processor Support Up to 64 VPs per VM Up to 240 VPs per VM (3.75x)


VMware Switch

Microsoft’s new VMware migration offer for Windows Server 2016

Microsoft just announced a new VMware migration offer for Windows Server 2016. In a nutshell: If you switch from VMware to Hyper-V from during September 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, you can get free Windows Server Datacenter licenses when buying Windows Server Datacenter + Software Assurance. That ultimately means customers only pay for Software Assurance.

Microsoft also released a new TCO calculator to compare VMware and Hyper-V, which you can find here: VMware Shift

There are also a lot of great technical reasons to switch from VMware to Hyper-V. Check out my blog post about What’s new in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V to get an overview about new features.

To get started just follow these steps:

To be eligible for the VMware migration offer, customers must follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Engage your account executive or sales rep to begin the process.
  • Step 2: Identify virtualized workloads to migrate and specify the Windows Server Datacenter cores required.
  • Step 3: Provide your account executive proof of eligibility. (Offer applicable to customers migrating from VMware to Microsoft).
  • Step 4: Engage your partner to start the migration process.
  • Step 5: Receive free Windows Server Datacenter licenses with Software Assurance and pay only the cost of Software Assurance to kick start your migration.

Feel free to contact us to help you switch!



GartnerMQ_Virtualization

Microsoft a leader in Gartner x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure 2016 Magic Quadrant

Year over year Microsoft is named as a leader in the Gartner x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure Magic Quadrant and it gets closer and closer to VMware. Microsoft now is named again as a leader in Gartner x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure 2016 Magic Quadrant. Especially the integration with System Center and Microsoft Azure as well as the new security features in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V, makes Hyper-V a strong player in the hypervisor space. Check out the Microsoft Blog post for more information or my blog post about What’s new in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V.

Gartner published the Gartner x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure MQ with Microsoft landing in the Leader Quadrant for the sixth year in a row. Microsoft moved up in the ‘ability to execute’ and to the right in the ‘completeness of vision’ assessment compared with 2015. Gartner defines leaders as having a clear strategy and roadmap for offerings, understanding virtualization’s role in infrastructure and operations transformation, and having a clear vision with respect to private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud computing.

GartnerMQ_Virtualization

Microsoft offers you to have a look at the Gartner Document here:

Download the Gartner x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure 2016 Magic Quadrant



unatted xml file for VM

Add unattend.xml to VHDX File for VM automation

If you for example don’t have System Center Virtual Machine Manager or another tool to create Virtual Machine Templates and automate the deployment, you can also do this using Sysprep, PowerShell and an unattend.xml file to automate or simplify the Virtual Machine creation process. In other blog posts I already wrote how you can sysprep Virtual Machines or how you can create Hyper-V Virtual Machines using PowerShell. In this post I will show you how you can add an unattend.xml file to your VHD or VHDX so your virtual machine gets some default settings like regional information.

Here we have a basic unattend.xml file. If you want to enhance it, or create your own, you can also use the Windows ADK.

To use this unattend.xml you first have to sysprep a virtual machine and create a sysprep VHD file. After that you can mount the VHDX file and insert the unattend.xml file to the VHD. Copy the unattend.xml file to the following location: D:\Windows\Panther (in my case the VHD was mounted as D drive).

You can mount the VHDX using the UI or PowerShell:

There are more paths as well. You can check out the Windows Setup Automation Overview on TechNet where you can see all the possible paths to place the unattend.xml file.



sysprep.exe vm mode

Windows Sysprep for Virtual Machines

For using the same system image for different virtual machines or physical computer, Microsoft created a tool called sysprep.exe. Most people should be already familiar with that tool. If not here is the description:

Sysprep prepares a Windows installation (Windows client and Windows Server) for imaging, allowing you to capture a customized installation. Sysprep removes PC-specific information from a Windows installation, “generalizing” the installation so it can be reused on different PCs. With Sysprep you can configre the PC to boot to audit mode, where you can make additional changes or updates to your image. Or, you can configure Windows to boot to the Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE).

This is great so you can sysprep a virtual machine copy the VHD or VHDX file and use it for the first boot of different VMs. In Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8, Microsoft added an addition to sysprep called the mode switch “/mode:vm”. The mode:vm switch allows you to identify the Windows as a Virtual Machine and sysprep.exe will generalize a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD or VHDX) so that you can deploy the VHD as a VHD on the same Virtual Machine (VM) or hypervisor. You must deploy the VHD on a Virtual Machine (VM) or hypervisor with the same hardware profile. For example, if you created VHD in Microsoft Hyper-V, you can only deploy your VHD to Microsoft Hyper-V VMs with a matching hardware profile, and you can only run VM mode from inside a VM.

This will boost the performance and time for the virtual machine for the first startup and installation. This also work of course with virtual machines running on other hypervisors such as VMware or Xen.

Run the following command inside the Virtual Machine (You find sysprep.exe in the  C:\Windows\System32\Sysprep folder):

Now you can copy the VHD or VHDX file from that virtual machine and use it for other VMs.



System Center Logo

Summary: Update Rollup 7 for System Center 2012 R2 and Azure Pack now available

Last week Microsoft released Update Rollup 7 (UR7) for System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack. And as always, Update Rollup 7 does not only include a bunch of fixes, it also includes some new features. This time especially Windows Azure Pack and System Center Virtual Machine Manager got some nice updates. Components that are fixed and updated in this update rollup

  • Data Protection Manager (3065246)
    • Support for Windows 10 Client operating system
    • Ability to use an alternative DPM server to recover from Azure Backup Vault
    • Improvements for backup on Hyper-V Replica VMs
    • Other improvements and fixes…
  • Orchestrator & SMA (3069115)
    • Orchestrator: some small fixes
    • SMA
      • SMA runbook execution fails if a PowerShell execution policy is set to Unrestricted through a Group Policy Object.
      • Fixed an error when you try to save or import a runbook in SMA
  • Operations Manager (will be released later)
    • The rollup is delayed by few weeks, as engineering team is working on recently reported issues.
  • Service Manager (3063263)
  • Service Provider Foundation (3069355)
    • This update includes general API changes to improve product quality.
  • Virtual Machine Manager (3066340)
    • Support for Windows 10 Client Operating System
    • Support for new Linux Operating Systems (Debian 8)
    • Support for VMWare vCenter 5.5 management scenarios (more infos VMWare vCenter 5.5 management scenarios)
    • Support for Multiple External IP Addresses per Virtual Network
    • Option to Reassociate Orphaned virtual machines to their Service or VM role
    • Support for VMM DHCP Extension PXE/TFP Forwarding
    • Some scale improvements if you have more than 50 Hyper-V Hosts
    • Some Hyper-V Network Virtualization (HNV) fixes and improvements
    • Other fixes…
  • Windows Azure Pack (3069121)
    • Tenants cannot delete the checkpoints of their virtual machines
    • Support for VM names of up to 15 characters
    • Displaying VHD items during virtual machine creation when there are no hardware profiles in the plan
    • Incompatible VHDs are offered to the tenant when attaching a VHD to a virtual machine
    • Support for tenant plan viewing and self-subscription permission based on security groups
    • Support for Shielded Virtual Machine Management when it’s run on Windows Server 2016 Preview
    • Virtual Machine performance data displayed in the tenant portal
    • Other fixes and improvements…
  • Windows Azure Pack Web Sites (3069358)
    • Adds support for IPv6 to IP SSL functionality
    • Changes Web Deploy publishing from publish.domain.com to site.scm.domain.com.
    • Other fixes and improvements…

One of the new features I want to highlight is the possibility to add multiple public (external) IP addresses to  Virtual Network (Using Hyper-V Network Virtualization HVN). This means a tenant can assign multiple public IP addresses on his NAT gateway and do port forwarding, for example if he runs multiple webservers in that VM Network. This is a feature a lot of customers especially service provider have missed for a long time.

Another improvement we can see is the support for the next release of Windows Server and also support for Windows 10.