Back from inovatiX Amsterdam 2014

A little over 24 hours the itnetx team arrived at the Zurich airport. At the end of last week some of you may have seen a lot of tweets around Microsoft System Center with the hashtag #inovatiX. Well the name inovatiX comes from the company names of inovativ and itnetx. Both companies do focus on Microsoft Cloud solutions based on System Center, Windows Server, Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure. So what is behind that inovatiX event. InovatiX was the first run of the know-how sharing event between inovativ.nl, inovativ.be and itnetx.ch. In different focus groups around topics like Windows Azure Pack, Hyper-V, Config Manager, Windows InTune, Operations Manager, VMM or Microsoft Azure,  the cloud experts of those companies shared knowledge and experience with real world deployments.


For me personally I had some great talks about Windows Azure Pack, Hyper-V, VMM, Storage Spaces, Scale-Out File Servers, Network Virtualization and a lot more. And it was fun to finally meet the guys from inovativ in person.


This event was a perfect example how different companies can collaborate with each other to evolve and to make the quality even better, and help employees to Thanks here to the management of Inovativ and itnetx for organizing this.

System Center 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 1 Available

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After Microsoft released System Center 2012 SP1 the first update rollup is available which fixes some issues for some of the System Center components. With the System Center 2012 SP1 Update Rollup 1 (KB2785682) fixes also some issues with System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) and App Controller (SCAC).

You can get more information about what is fixed on the Description of Update Rollup 1 for System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 page.

Thanks to Michel Lüscher (Consultant at Microsoft Switzerland) for the link.



System Center 2012 SP1 RTM download available on TechNet and MSDN

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Finally System Center 2012 SP1 is available on TechNet and MSDN. This has been a release we all have been waiting for, since we could get Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.

Service Pack 1 for System Center 2012 is not just a maintenance release, it also includes a lot of new features for all products and especially for Virtualization:

  • Virtual Machine Manager adds support for Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Network Virtualization, Advanced Networking Configurations, SMB Storage, Plugins and a lot more.
  • Data Protection Manager adds support for online backup to Windows Azure and also support for Windows Server 2012.
  • App Controller adds support for Windows Azure and Hoster VMs

And of course a lot more, so checkout the downloads on TechNet and MSDN.

System Center 2012 SP1 TAP Airlift @ here we go

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Some weeks ago I got the okay for the System Center 2012 SP1 TAP Airlift event in Redmond. Together with my fellows from itnetx gmbh, Marcel Zehner (MVP for System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management) and Stefan Roth (System Center Operations Manager Expert) and Michel Lüscher from Microsoft Switzerland. In the next hours we will catch our flight to Seattle and I am already exited to meet some great people and talk about the next releases of System Center.

What’s new in System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta

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Some days ago Microsoft released the Beta of System Center 2012 Service Pack 1. With the Service Pack 1 beta Microsoft added a lot of improvements and features to the System Center 2012 suite. However not everything is included in the beta. Here is a list of new features in System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta:

  • Virtual Machine Manager
    • Improved Support for Network Virtualization
    • Extend the VMM console with Add-ins
    • Support for Windows Standards-Based Storage Management Service, thin provisioning of logical units and discovery of SAS storage
    • Ability to convert VHD to VHDX, use VHDX as base Operating System image
  • Configuration Manager
    • Deployment and management of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012
    • Distribution point for Windows Azure to help reduce infrastructure costs
    • Automation of administrative tasks through PowerShell support
    • Management of Mac OS X clients and Linux and UNIX servers
    • Real-time administrative actions for Endpoint Protection related tasks
  • Data Protection Manager
    • Improved backup performance of Hyper-V over CSV 2.0
    • Protection for Hyper-V over remote SMB share
    • Protection for Windows Server 2012 de-duplicated volumes
    • Uninterrupted protection for VM live migration
  • App Controller
    • Service Provider Foundation API to create and operate Virtual Machines
    • Support for Azure VM; migrate VHDs from VMM to Windows Azure, manage from on-premise System Center
  • Operations Manager
    • Support for IIS 8
    • Monitoring of WCF, MVC and .NET NT services
    • Azure SDK support
  • Orchestrator
    • Support for Integration Packs, including 3rd party
    • Manage VMM self-service User Roles
    • Manage multiple VMM ‘stamps’ (scale units), aggregate results from multiple stamps
    • Integration with App Controller to consume Hosted clouds
  • Service Manager
    • Apply price sheets to VMM clouds
    • Create chargeback reports
    • Pivot by cost center, VMM clouds, Pricesheets
  • Server App-V
    • Support for applications that create scheduled tasks during packaging
    • Create virtual application packages from applications installed remotely on native server

I will provide more impressions on products I could already work with, such as SCVMM, SCAC and SCDPM, as soon as I find some time.

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Cluster-Aware Updating (CAU)

Windows Server 2012 RC Logo

In Windows Server 2012 Microsoft introduced Cluster-Aware Updating or short CAU. Cluster-Aware Updating allows you to update your cluster nodes via automated workflow. Maybe you are familiar with the Remediation process in System Center Virtual Machine which allows you to automatically set a Hyper-V node in maintenance mode, move Virtual Machines to another node, install patches on your Hyper-V Cluster node and bring the node back online. CAU can do the same and even more.

Cluster-Aware Updating


Cluster-Aware Updating (CAU) is an automated feature that allows you to update clustered servers with little or no loss in availability during the update process. During an Updating Run, CAU transparently performs the following tasks:

  • Puts each node of the cluster into node maintenance mode
  • Moves the clustered roles off the node
  • Installs the updates and any dependent updates
  • Performs a restart if necessary
  • Brings the node out of maintenance mode
  • Restores the clustered roles on the node
  • Moves to update the next node

Microsoft TechNet: Cluster-Aware Updating overview

CAU does not only move Virtual Machines, like SCVMM, it does also know about other Cluster Roles like Hyper-V Replica Broker or File shares.

To use or configure Cluster-Aware Updating you have to install the RSAT for Clustering via GUI or via Windows PowerShell:

 Add-WindowsFeature RSAT-Clustering

After this you can run the Cluster-Aware Updating tool via GUI or the new Windows PowerShell module.

CAU PowerShell

Using Cluster-Aware Updating

Cluster-Aware Updating Console

In the Cluster-Aware Updating console you have different options.

  • Apply updates to this cluster – Manually start updating process for a specific cluster
  • Preview updates for this cluster – Check which updates will be installed
  • Create or modify Updating Run Profile – Lets you configure the default settings for the Updating Run Profile
  • Generate report on past Updating Runs
  • Configure cluster self-updating options – Lets you configure and schedule the updating process for a specific cluster.
  • Analyze cluster updating readiness – Analyzes your cluster and roles so the cluster can be patched without downtime.

Configure cluster self-updating options

CAU can be scheduled to updates clusters without any manual action.

First choose the cluster and enable the self-updating feature on the cluster

Cluster-Aware Updating self-updating

Specify the self-updating schedule

CAU Specify self-updating schedule

Specify the updating options

CAU Specify the updating options

Save the scheduled self-updating process

CAU Save self-updating

After you have configured the self-updating process you can still modify it.

CAU configure self-updating

I hope this gives you a small insight into Cluster-Aware Updating and self-updating for Clusters. If you run some Clusters with 16 nodes you know how much time was needed for manually updating the cluster nodes. With Windows Server 2012 the new maximum number of nodes in a cluster is 64, so CAU will save administrators a lot of time and will keep your clusters up to date.

For more information about Cluster-Aware Updating (CAU) check out Microsoft TechNet.

Hyper-V vs. VMware vSphere – Host Deployment

Windows Server 2012 RC Logo

VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus offers  a solution for centralized deployment of VMware Hypervisor hosts on physical hardware.

How does the deployment of Microsoft Hyper-V Server work? Microsoft Hyper-V can be deployed as Windows Server role or as Microsoft Hyper-V Server. Both setups are based on the normal Windows setups and you can use the same deployment processes.

  • DVD
  • USB
  • Windows Deployment Services (WDS)
  • Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
  • System Center Configurations Manager

or my favorite deployment method: Bare-Metal Deployment with System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Blogger and Microsoft Consultant Michel Lüscher wrote a great blog post about how you can use the bare-metal deployment feature in SCVMM.