Tag: Hyper-V

Windows Sandbox

How to configure Windows Sandbox

With the latest release of Windows 10 (1903), Microsoft introduced a new feature called Windows Sandbox. Windows Sandbox is based on Hyper-V technology and allows you to spin up an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software. In this blog post, I will show you how you can set up and configure Windows Sandbox in Windows 10. I will also cover who you can do an advanced configuration of your Windows Sandbox using Windows Sandbox config files.

The sandbox is great for demos, troubleshooting or if you are dealing with malware. If you close the sandbox, all the software with all its files and state are permanently deleted. It is a Windows 10 virtual machines, with the advantage that it is built into Windows 10, so it leverages the existing OS, which gives you faster startup, less footprint, better efficiency, and easier handling, without losing security.

Dynamic Image

Source: Microsoft

Windows Sandbox is a lightweight virtual machine with an operating system. The significant advantage which makes it so small is the usage of existing files from the host, for data which cannot change. For the files which can change, it uses a dynamically generated image, which is only ~100MB in size.

There are much more exciting things happening with the Windows Sandbox like smart memory management, Integrated kernel scheduler, Snapshot and clone, Graphics virtualization and Battery pass-through. If you want to find out more about the Windows Sandbox, check out the official blog post.

Prerequisites

Windows Sandbox comes with a couple of requirements. How more powerful your machine is, the better the experience will be.

  • Windows 10 (1903) Pro or Enterprise build 18362 or later
  • 64-bit architecture
  • Virtualization capabilities enabled in BIOS
  • At least 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 1GB of free disk space (SSD recommended)
  • 2 CPU cores (4 cores with hyperthreading recommended)


Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

Configure Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

With the Hybrid Cloud effort Microsoft invested heavy to make Windows Server and Hyper-V better connect to Microsoft Azure. One way of doing that is with Windows Admin Center and Azure Site Recovery. The Azure Site Recovery integration in Windows Admin Center, allows you to easily replicate Hyper-V virtual machines to Microsoft Azure. The technology is not new, ASR does exist for a long time and allows you to not only replicate Hyper-V VMs, but also VMware VMs and physical servers. However, with the integration in Windows Admin Center, setting up Azure Site Recovery became super easy.

Set up Azure Site Recovery from Windows Admin Center

Setup VM Protection in Windows Admin Center_LI

In the Virtual Machines extension, you can already see a recommendation to setup ASR: “Help protect your VMs from disasters by using Azure Site Recovery.” Which will guide you through the onboarding steps. If you don’t see that banner, just click on the VM you want to protect and replicate to Azure. Click on More and select “Set up VM Protection“, this will guide you through the same wizard.

If you haven’t connected your Windows Admin Center to Microsoft Azure yet, the wizard will help you to go through and set up this connection.

Setup up Hyper-V ASR Host with Windows Admin Cenetr

After your WAC is connected to Azure, you will now setup Azure Site Recovery for the Hyper-V host in Azure. This can directly be done from Windows Admin Center. For example, this will let you select the Azure Subscription you want ASR to connect to. It will let you create a new Resource Group and Recovery Services Vault or use an existing one. After you have done the configuration part, WAC will create the specific Azure resources and configure the Hyper-V host for Azure Site Recovery. This can take up to 10 minutes depending if you are using existing resources or creating new once.

If you have a look at the Hyper-V Replica settings in Hyper-V Manager, you will see that ASR is completely setup and configured.



Azure Stack Familiy - Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI – A new member of the Azure Stack family

Today, the Azure team is proud to announce a new member to the Azure Stack family, the Azure Stack HCI solutions. Azure Stack HCI is Microsoft’s hyper-converged solution available from a wide range of hardware partners. Azure Stack shipped in 2017, and it is the only solution in the market today for customers to run cloud applications using consistent IaaS and PaaS services across public cloud, on-premises, and in disconnected environments. With adding the Azure Stack HCI solutions, Microsoft is offering customers a great new choice for their traditional virtualized workloads.

Today, I am pleased to announce Azure Stack HCI solutions are available for customers who want to run virtualized applications on modern hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) to lower costs and improve performance. Azure Stack HCI solutions feature the same software-defined compute, storage, and networking software as Azure Stack, and can integrate with Azure for hybrid capabilities such as cloud-based backup, site recovery, monitoring, and more.

Adopting hybrid cloud is a journey and it is important to have a strategy that takes into account different workloads, skillsets, and tools. Microsoft is the only leading cloud vendor that delivers a comprehensive set of hybrid cloud solutions, so customers can use the right tool for the job without compromise.

It is built on a hyper-converged Windows Server 2019 cluster that uses validated and certified hardware to run virtual machines and workloads on-premises. Azure Stack HCI also allows you to optionally connect Azure services for BCDR, management and more. Azure Stack HCI solutions use Microsoft-validated hardware to ensure optimal performance and reliability. It includes support for technologies such as NVMe drives, persistent memory, and remote-direct memory access (RDMA) networking, to get the best possible performance if needed.

What is behind Azure Stack HCI

Azure Stack HCI Product Overview

Azure Stack HCI is based on Windows Server 2019, parried with validated hardware from OEM partners. With the Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition, customer get Software Defined Infrastructure and Software Defined Datacenter technologies like Hyper-V, Storage Spaces Direct and many more, which are the base of Azure Stack HCI. Paired with Windows Admin Center, you can use existing skills, gain hyperconverged efficiency, and connect to Azure services.



Veeam Vanguard 2019

Veeam Vanguard 2019

Beginning of this week I got some fantastic news. I was awarded with my third Veeam Vanguard award. I was on of the first Veeam Vanguards in 2015 and was awarded directly after that in 2016. I am proud to again receive the Veeam Vanguard Award in 2019.

A Veeam Vanguard represents the Veeam brand to the highest level in many of the different technology communities in which Veeam engages. These individuals are chosen for their acumen, engagement and style in their activities on and offline.

I am looking forward to community in this virtualization and cloud journey. I also want to thank Veeam, it is an honor to be part of the Veeam Vanguard community again.



Hyper-V VM Configuration Version

Hyper-V VM configuration version supported features

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about the new Microsoft Hyper-V UEFI in Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10 virtual machines. With that version Microsoft also released a new Hyper-V VM configuration version 9.0. This is not unusual, the Hyper-V teams usually bumps up the version number from release to release, since new Hyper-V features are introduced. In the comments, the question came up, what is new in this version of the Hyper-V VM configuration, Since the version was still a preview release of Windows Server and Windows 10, Microsoft didn’t share the full list of features per configuration version. However, now the documentation is ready and you can find the documentation here.

Supported features

The following table shows the minimum virtual machine configuration version required to use some Hyper-V features.

Windows ServerWindows 10VersionFeature
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Hot Add/Remove Memory
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Secure Boot for Linux VMs
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Production Checkpoints
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2PowerShell Direct
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 3Windows 10 15076.2Virtual Machine Grouping
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 Windows 10 15117.0Virtual Trusted Platform Module (vTPM)
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 57.1Virtual machine multi queues (VMMQ)
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0XSAVE support
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Key storage drive
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Guest virtualization-based security support (VBS)
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Nested virtualization
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Virtual processor count
Windows Server 2016Windows 10 Anniversary Update8.0Large memory VMs
Windows Server 1803Windows 10 April 2018 Update8.3Increase the default maximum number for virtual devices to 64 per device (e.g. networking and assigned devices)
Windows Server 2019/1809Windows 10 October 2018 Update9.0Allow additional processor features for Perfmon
Windows Server 2019/1809Windows 10 October 2018 Update9.0Automatically expose simultaneous multithreading configuration for VMs running on hosts using the Core Scheduler
Windows Server 2019/1809Windows 10 October 2018 Update9.0Hibernation support

Source: Microsoft Docs (Thanks to Rene Moergeli for the link)

How to list the supported VM configuration versions

You can list all supported VM configuration versions on your Hyper-V host using the Get-VMHostSupportedVersion cmdlet.

Get-VM Hyper-V VM Configuration Version

If you want to see the version of a Hyper-V virtual machine, you can use Hyper-V Manager or the following PowerShell command:

Full list of Hyper-V VM versions

Here you have a full list of VM configuration versions of Hyper-V VMs together with the operating system.

Windows ClientWindows ServerVersion
Windows Server 20081.0
Windows Server 2008 SP12.0
Windows Server 2008 R23.0
Windows 8Windows Server 20124.0
Windows 8.1Windows Server 2012 R25.0
Windows 10 1507Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 36.2
Windows 10 1511Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 47.0
Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 57.1
Windows 10 Anniversary UpdateWindows Server 20168.0
Windows 10 Creators Update8.1
Windows 10 Fall Creators UpdateWindows Server 17098.2
Windows 10 April 2018 UpdateWindows Server 18038.3
Windows 10 October 2018 UpdateWindows Server 2019 / 18099.0
Windows 10 April 2019 UpdateWindows Server 19039.1
PrereleasePrerelease254.0
ExperimentalExperimental255.0

How to upgrade Hyper-V VM configuration version

Hyper-V vNext Update VM Configuration Version

Upgrading the Hyper-V VM version is pretty straight forward. If the VM is running on a host supporting a newer version of Hyper-V VMs, you can right click the virtual machine in the Hyper-V Manager and click on upgrade or you can run the Update-VMVersion PowerShell cmdlet.

I hope this blog was help full for understanding Hyper-V VM versions, let me know if you have any questions in the comments!



Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox – Isolated Windows Desktop

Today Microsoft announced a new feature called Windows Sandbox. Windows Sandbox is built based on Windows Container technology, which allows you to spin up an isolated, temporary, desktop environment where you can run untrusted software. The software you run and install in the Windows Sandbox does not affect the host. If you shut down the Windows Sandbox all changes and all software you installed in the Sandbox are gone again. This sounds very similar to the technology Windows Defender Application Guard already used to build a sandbox environment for Microsoft Edge.

Windows Sandbox Overview

Windows Sandbox

Windows Sandbox has the following properties:

  • Part of Windows – everything required for this feature ships with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. No need to download a VHD!
  • Pristine – every time Windows Sandbox runs, it’s as clean as a brand-new installation of Windows
  • Disposable – nothing persists on the device; everything is discarded after you close the application
  • Secure – uses hardware-based virtualization for kernel isolation, which relies on the Microsoft’s hypervisor to run a separate kernel which isolates Windows Sandbox from the host
  • Efficient – uses integrated kernel scheduler, smart memory management, and virtual GPU

Windows Sandbox brings the advantages of Windows Containers and also adds a desktop. If you compare this to a Windows 10 Virtual Machine, the Windows Sandbox will consume much fewer resources, it starts up match faster and will be much more efficient with hardware resources. You can think of it like a lightweight virtual machine, which can share the same hardware but also the same kernel and memory as the host system (like a container).



Azure Live Migration

Azure uses Live Migration for VMs

If you have worked with Azure in the past, you might have been aware that Azure didn’t have live migration for VMs hosted in Azure for a long time. This had an impact for customers in terms of VM up-time during host maintenance. You basically got emails, that the host your VMs were running is going into maintenance during a specific time, and you will have a possible outage. Microsoft Hyper-V, which is the Hypervisor in Azure, had Live Migration for a long time. Today, Microsoft revealed that they are using Live Migration in Azure since early 2018 to move virtual machines in cases of rack maintenance and software and BIOS updates, as well as hardware faults.

But Microsoft didn’t stop there, they made even better using Machine Learning. Predictive ML helps Microsoft to detect proactively failure and do failure predictions. And in case a hardware failure is predicted, Microsoft can move the virtual machines from that host without downtime, using live migration.

To further push the envelope on live migration, we knew we needed to look at the proactive use of these capabilities, based on good predictive signals. Using our deep fleet telemetry, we enabled machine learning (ML)-based failure predictions and tied them to automatic live migration for several hardware failure cases, including disk failures, IO latency, and CPU frequency anomalies.

 

We partnered with Microsoft Research (MSR) on building our ML models that predict failures with a high degree of accuracy before they occur. As a result, we’re able to live migrate workloads off “at-risk” machines before they ever show any signs of failing. This means VMs running on Azure can be more reliable than the underlying hardware.

Microsoft talks in a blog post more about Live Migration in Azure and goes more in details about the challenges and how live migration in Azure works. It is great to see Microsoft adding features to improve VM resiliency with features like live migration and machine learning technology.