Tag: VHDX

Windows Server 2012 R2 Private CLoud Storage and Virtualization

Windows Server 2012 R2 Private Cloud Virtualization and Storage Poster and Mini-Posters

Yesterday Microsoft released the Windows Server 2012 R2 Private Cloud Virtualization and Storage Poster and Mini-Posters. This includes overviews over Hyper-V, Failover Clustering, Scale-Out File Server, Storage Spaces and much more. These posters provide a visual reference for understanding key private cloud storage and virtualization technologies in Windows Server 2012 R2. They focus on understanding storage architecture, virtual hard disks, cluster shared volumes, scale-out file servers, storage spaces, data deduplication, Hyper-V, Failover Clustering, and virtual hard disk sharing.

Bedsides the overview poster, Microsoft Includes the following Mini-Posters:

  • Virtual Hard Disk and Cluster Shared Volumes Mini Poster
  • Virtual Hard Disk Sharing Mini Poster
  • Understanding Storage Architecture Mini Poster
  • Storage Spaces and Deduplication Mini Poster
  • Scale-Out and SMB Mini Poster
  • Hyper-V and Failover Clustering Mini Poster

You can get the posters from the Microsoft download page.



Export Templates from Virtual Machine Manager Settings

Export and Import Virtual Machine Manager Templates

If you are working with System Center Virtual Machine Manager and you want to export and import your existing VM or Service Templates. I have a customer scenario where we have two VMM installations. They are using System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Orchestrator, Serivce Manager to deploy new customer environments for their premium SaaS (Software as a Service) hosting solution where they deploy Lync, Exchange and SharePoint fully automated. Here we have a development environment where they test new System Center Orchestrator Runbooks and new Templates in Virtual Machine Manager. After they have a working RunBook with working Templates they export the templates from the dev VMM and import them in the production environment.
Because I was surprise how great this works and I think not a lot of people know about this feature, I created this short step-by-step guide.

Export Templates from Virtual Machine Manager

First select the Templates you want to export and click on the Export button on the Ribbon bar. You can also do a multiple select to export multiple templates.

Export Templates from Virtual Machine Manager

You can than configure the export, with a location, password.

Export Templates from Virtual Machine Manager Settings

 

You can also select what physical resources which should be exported with the template. For example if you are using the same VHD or VHDX for multiple templates you may want to export this resource only once to save some space.

Export Templates from Virtual Machine Manager physical resources

The export will look kind of like this. The XML files are the templates with the configurations, and in the folders are the physical resources like VHDs, XMLs or other stuff.

Exported Templates from Virtual Machine Manager

Import Templates in Virtual Machine Manager

To import a template just select the exported XML file.

Import Templates in Virtual Machine Manager

You can change or setup the resource of the template, for example you can select an already existing VHD from your Library or an already existing Run As account.

Import Templates in Virtual Machine Manager resources

And you can set the location for the new imported resources (VHDs,…)

Import Templates in Virtual Machine Manager resource location

I hope this shows you how easy an export and import of a Service or VM Template from System Center Virtual Machine Manager is. I like especially how SCVMM handles the additional resources, so you don’t have to import the same VHD every time and you can change Run As accounts very easily.

 

 



Windows Server 2012 R2

What’s new in Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V

Today Microsoft announced the new features which are coming in Windows Server 2012 R2 which will be the next version of Windows Server at Microsoft TechEd North America. By the way just to show you how great Windows Server 2012 was and how great it scaled, Windows Azure uses the same Hyper-V virtualization service built-into Windows Server 2012 and this means complete virtual machine compatibility between on premise Hyper-V and Windows Azure IaaS. This blog post shows what’s new in Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V.

Here the next version names:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • System Center 2012 R2
  • Windows 8.1

Now Microsoft announced a lot of new features especially for Hyper-V, and here are some of them:

  • Shared VHDX – a VHDX can now be shared between two Virtual Machine by using the virtual SCSI controller. This is created if you need shared storage for guest clustering inside virtual machines instead of using iSCSI or virtual fiber channel.
  • Live Migration Compression – Live Migration traffic will be compressed by the Hyper-V host before it’s sent over the wire. Which does reduce Live Migration time dramatically, up to 50% faster.
  • Live Migration over SMB Direct (RDMA) – Live Migration can use leverage SMB 3.0 and this means it can also make use of SMB Direct or RDMA which allows you to do live migration even faster.
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS) – Limit storage IOPS per virtual machine
  • Live Virtual Machine Cloning / Exporting – You can now live clone a virtual machines without downtime and also export a running virtual machine.
  • Linux Guest OS support enhancements – Support for live backups of linux virtual machines and dynamic memory support for Linux guests.
  • Hyper-V Replica 2.0 – Hyper-V replica can now replicate not just two one other host, this replica can also replicate to a third Hyper-V host and the replication time was changed to three different settings (every 30 secs, every 5 minutes or every 15 minutes). Hyper-V Replica also got some background scalability and performance improvements.
  • Windows Azure Compatibility – As I already mentioned Windows Azure is running Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V which means that Hyper-V virtual machines on-premise are also capable to run in Windows Azure
  • Online resizing of VHDX – You can expand and shrink VHDX files during the virtual machine is running.
  • Automatic Guest Activation – zero touch activation of virtual machines. Virtual machines automaticly get activated if the Hyper-V hosts is an activated Datacenter edition.
  • VM Connect using RDP or enhanced VM interaction – This uses Remote Desktop over the VMBus, which allows you to use full remote desktop capabilities (Shared clipboard, audio redirection, folder redirection, smartcards, USB pass-through enhanced login and more…)
  • Generation 2 virtual machines – Gen2 VMs are legacy free and based on UEFI. So this means no more emulated devices, boot from virtual SCSI controllers or synthetic network adapters (PXE boot >100MBit) and enables UEFI secure boot as a standard. Supported guest operating systems: 64-bit versions of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Zero-downtime upgrade (Cross version live Migration) – Live migrate virtual machines from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2 (this also includes shared-nothing live migration).
  • Hyper-V Recovery Manager – I already mentioned the new service called Hyper-V Recovery Manager in Windows Azure which allows you to run a orchestrator failover of your virtual machines using Hyper-V Replica.
  • Deduplication – Deduplication of VDI Virtual Machines

There are a lot of other cool features in Windows Server 2012 R2 which add other great value to Hyper-V and your Private cloud. I will cover them in some other blog posts in the next days.



Hyper-V VHDX Format Specification v1.00

Windows Server 2012 Logo

Yesterday I posted a blog post about the new recommendations about Virtual Disks files in Hyper-V called VHD and VHDX.

Today I saw a tweet from Niklas Akerlund who posted a link to the new VHDX Format Specification v1.00.

This specification describes the VHDX virtual hard disk format that provides a disk-in-a-file abstraction.  This specification assumes that you are familiar with hard disk technologies, including how hard disks interface with the operating system or a virtual machine and understand how data is accessed and laid out on the physical medium. This specification is released under the Microsoft Open Source Promise (OSP) initiative to help guide development of VHDX virtual hard disk format implementations that are compatible with those provided by Microsoft.

Download: Hyper-V VHDX Format Specification v1.00

 

VHDX is the new format which is currently supported by Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.



Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Virtual Disk VHD & VHDX recommendations

Windows Server 2012 Logo

In the new released Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2012 you can find a lot of tuning information for Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. One important part is the Virtual Disk chapter which is all about the VHD and the new VHDX format.

The basic key takeaways are:

  • Use VHDX every time
  • Use Dynamic VHDX

The VHDX format:

VHDX is a new virtual hard disk format introduced in Windows Server 2012, which allows you to create resilient high-performance virtual disks up to 64 terabytes. Benefits of this format include:

  • Support for virtual hard disk storage capacity of up to 64 terabytes.
  • Protection against data corruption during power failures by logging updates to the VHDX metadata structures.
  • Ability to store custom metadata about a file, which a user might want to record, such as operating system version or patches applied.

The VHDX format also provides the following performance benefits (each of these is detailed later in this guide):

  • Improved alignment of the virtual hard disk format to work well on large sector disks.
  • Larger block sizes for dynamic and differential disks, which allows these disks to attune to the needs of the workload.
  • 4 KB logical sector virtual disk that allows for increased performance when used by applications and workloads that are designed for 4 KB sectors.
  • Efficiency in representing data, which results in smaller file size and allows the underlying physical storage device to reclaim unused space. (Trim requires trim-compatible hardware.)

When you upgrade to Windows Server 2012, we recommend that you convert all VHD files to the VHDX format due to these benefits. The only scenario where it would make sense to keep the files in the VHD format is when a virtual machine has the potential to be moved to a previous release of the Windows Server operating system that supports Hyper-V.

VHD File Type

The following recommendations should be taken into consideration with regards to selecting a VHD file type:

  • When using the VHD format, we recommend that you use the fixed type because it has better resiliency and performance characteristics compared to the other VHD file types.
  • When using the VHDX format, we recommend that you use the dynamic type because it offers resiliency guarantees in addition to space savings that are associated with allocating space only when there is a need to do so.
  • The fixed type is also recommended, irrespective of the format, when the storage on the hosting volume is not actively monitored to ensure that sufficient disk space is present when expanding the VHD file at run time.
  • Snapshots of a virtual machine create a differencing VHD to store Writes to the disks. Having only a few snapshots can elevate the CPU usage of storage I/Os, but might not noticeably affect performance except in highly I/O-intensive server workloads. However, having a large chain of snapshots can noticeably affect performance because reading from the VHD can require checking for the requested blocks in many differencing VHDs. Keeping snapshot chains short is important for maintaining good disk I/O performance.

For more information checkout the Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2012.

And check out my other post about VHD and VHDX for Hyper-V:

Update 1:

My Virtual Machine MVP colleague Carsten Rachfahl just told me that now also IDE devices can use the TRIM function for VHDX files. That means that VHDX on SCSI or IDE controller as well as pass-through disks support TRIM. The only thing which is required is trim-compatible hardware.

Update 2:

Even the GUI in Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 recommend Fixed size for VHDs and Dynamic expanding for VHDX.

I have now server customer environment running in products for a couple of months and all are using the new Dynamic Expanding VHDX format. No problems and performance issues at all. Dynamic Expanding VHDX disks are even running faster than Fixed Size VHD files.

 



Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2012 released

VHDX

In July Microsoft released the beta of the Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2012  and two weeks ago Microsoft released the final of  the Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2012 (VMST 2012). I already did a post how you can update offline VHDs via Virtual machine Servicing Tool.

Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2012 streamlines the process of keeping your offline virtual machines, templates and VHDs up-to-date with the latest operating system and application updates, without introducing vulnerabilities into your IT infrastructure. VMST 2012 helps you effectively manage the workflow of updating your offline virtual machines according to their individual needs.

Using features in VMST 2012, customers can service:

  • Offline virtual machines in a SCVMM library.
  • Stopped and saved state virtual machines on a host.
  • Virtual machine templates.
  • Offline virtual hard disks in a SCVMM library by injecting update packages.

VMST 2012 works seamlessly with other Microsoft technologies.

VMST 2012 is designed to work with Microsoft® System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) and with the following technologies:

  • Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) WSUS 3.0 SP2.
  • System Center 2012 Configuration Manager.

You can find the Virtual Machine Servicing Tool 2012 in the Microsoft Download Center.



Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V – How to create a new VHD from a source VHD

Windows Server 2012 RC Logo

Microsoft MVP Aidan Finn posted a interesting blog post about Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) Block Fragmentation. He was reviewing the document about Performance Tuning Guidelines for Windows Server 2012 and found a very important note about VHD performance.

Just as the allocations on a physical disk can be fragmented, the allocation of the blocks on a virtual disk can be fragmented when two virtually adjacent blocks are not allocated together on a virtual disk file.

The fragmentation percentage is reported for disks. If a performance issue noticed on a virtual disk, you should check the fragmentation percentage. When applicable, defragment the virtual disk by creating a new virtual disk with the data from the fragmented disk by using the Create from Source option.

Now first thanks to Aidan Finn for finding this one. But how do I create a new VHD or VHDX from a source? Simple there are two ways of doing that, the first one is over the Hyper-V Manager GUI.

Create a new VHD and give it a new name.

New Defrag VHD

On the Configure Disk window check the Copy the contents of the specified virtual hard disk, and select the path to the source VHD.

Copy the contents of the specified virtual hard disk

Click next and finish and this will create the new VHD with the content from the source VHD.

Creating the new virtual hard disk

The second and my preferred way of doing it, is of course with Windows PowerShell.

Create the new virtual hard disk from Source via PowerShell

 
# Mount the Source VHD
Mount-VHD "C:\VMs\WS2012\Virtual Hard Disks\WS2012.vhdx"
 
# List the Disks
Get-Disk
 
# Create the new VHD (SourceDisk = Disknumber)
New-VHD -Dynamic -Path "C:\VMs\NewDefragVHD2.vhdx" -SourceDisk 1

 

Create the new virtual hard disk via PowerShell