Microsoft tech•ed Europe 2009, Berlin, 10 November 2009

Microsoft TechEd Europe 2009, Berlin, 8-13th November 2009

Continuing the post on TechEd Europe started on Monday I’ve decided to write daily, there is just too much for one mega-post.  In fact, most sessions have enough quality content to justify their own posts, but I’ll save you from this! 😉   It’s a massive geekfest!  ja!

First session of the day for me is:

CLI302 – How Windows Storage Is Changing: Everything’s Going VHD!

Mark Minasi, internationally recognised technical guru, funny guy, great speaker (his next session on IPv6 in the afternoon was one of the most over-subscribed sessions of the event and I didn’t get in 🙁 )

Load Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 on a system, and you’ll notice something sort of strange: there’s no boot record or BCD folder. Look at other Windows 7/R2 systems, and you may notice something even stranger: there’s only one file on the hard disk, and yet you can boot the system and run a normal Windows system. What’s going on here? Simple: Windows 7 gets a lot of press for its faster-than-Vista performance and newer user interface, but there’s a lot more to it also, including native support of VHD files (that’s how a one-file system boots) as well as a new default disk structure, support of direct-to-disk ISO burning, and more. Whether you’re going to Windows 7 sometime soon or five years from now, you’ll want to be prepared for the changes that Windows 7 brings to storage—and who better to prepare you than veteran Windows explainer Mark Minasi? Join Mark for this quick look at Windows 7/R2 storage and save yourself having to read a small mountain of whitepapers!

Mark Minasi: “come to the command line, the command line will set you free!.  If we want the full power my friends… the command line!”

Also, ignore the V in VHD, there’s nothing Virtual about VHD’s

How easy is it to create a VHD?

  create vdisk file=filename maximum=sizeinmegabytes [type=fixed|expandable]
  select vdisk=drive:path
  attach vdisk  (can attach as read-only)

Of course, it can also be done through the GUI, although this is lame!  come to the command line!  (I like this guy lots!)

Creating a bootable VHD image:
  1) Take your gold image machine and sysprep it
  2) Attach an extra drive
  3) Image the system to the drive  (/verify /check)
  4) Create a new vhd
  5) Select the vhd
  6) Apply the wim file to the vhd (imagex /apply)
  7) Detach the vhd

You now have a sysprep’d gold image that you can deploy and boot from on as many machines as you like.  Sysinternals also have a tool that does the same and used the same API’s so is functionally identical

Basic VHD boot:
  1) Copy the VHD to a local hard drive
  2) Use BCDEDIT to create a new OS entry that points at the VHD

bcdedit /copy (copy the resultant GUID to the clipboard!)

What about making a system that has no installed O/S – just a pure boot from VHD

If you do this – insomnia!  you cannot hybernate a VHD system!

How to setup WinPE – newsletter #59 on
Create the system.wim – newsletter #61

MGT213 – Introducing Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager v3 Beta

Jason Buffington, Technical Product Manager, DPM

The third generation of Microsoft’s backup and recovery solution began public beta in October 2009. In this session, we spend most of the hour demonstrating what’s changed, the new capabilities, and what you should be planning for with Data Protection Manager.

Agent deployment changes, can install as before, but also attach to an existing agent which covers for agents behind firewalls, externally installed, etc.

Disk Allocation – changes to support collocating data in the  DPM storage pool, also the ability to Automatically grow the volumes – woohoo!!  (single biggest request for DPM into Microsoft)

Client support – as in client workstations, laptops, etc.  Much improved support for remote clients over long, thin links.  Capabilities to enforce an IT policy for backup but also allow the end user to add to the protection (with controls, i.e. IT can still enforce exclusions such as no MP3s).

“I like one throat to choke” – i.e. using a Microsoft backup tool to backup Microsoft

Using DPM to provide Disaster Recovery, i.e. replace a.n.other replication technologies by having another offsite DPM server (can do very funky automated recovery into a VM using VMM).

One thing to remember if you don’t attend another DPM session.  For compliance, PCI, Sarbanes, whatever!  If you have your offsite DPM server with the tape drive at that location you are already backing up and storing in a seperate geographic location – “You don’t have to pay the guy to lose your tapes for you!”

DPM 2010 Scalability
100 servers, 1000 clients, up to 2000 databases per server
Significantly increases fan-in of data sources per DPM server

DPM Recovery – specify ‘latest’ will not just restore the last DPM replica point, but also play back the transaction logs to the point of failure 🙂 – “scary smart people who have taken DPM management to a whole new level”

you heard it hear 1st…
DPM 2010 from RC onwards will support backup of non-domain joined clients, i.e. none AD clients 🙂 – this got a major applause (fortunately no ‘high-fives’).

Feedback – Jason is an excellent, engaging presenter with deep understanding of the product with massively relevant content, way more interesting than the SQL performance tuning I was going to do. 😉

BOF04 – Snapshots in Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V

Marcos Nogueira
Snapshots in Hyper-V are a very powerful feature that when used properly can save you from disaster. On the other hand, snapshots, if used incorrectly, can bring a server down. Can snapshot replace a backup? At this BoF session we discuss the best practices for snapshots and some common usage scenarios.

Interactive, audience led session.  Not helped by folks not that keen on talking, and the speaker, sorry host (is not a demo, presentation), didn’t sound confident although should do with 3000 VM’s in his enviornment!

My question about snapshot avhd merge issues, even if you delete the snapshot striaght after the test the avhd/s will continue to grown until either the VM is shutdown or saved.  Is there any other way of merging the AVHD files back in e.g. a ‘live merge’

Using snapshots in development through test, qa, etc. to manage iteration testing

MGT314 – How to Protect SharePoint and Other Application Servers with Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager

Another session with Jason Buffington of DPM fame, we are now the DPM’ers!

In this session we look at the challenges and special requirements for protecting and recovering Microsoft SharePoint Server, as well as Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft SQL Server. We discuss how Data Protection Manager (DPM) uses the native application VSS writers to ensure supportable backups and recoveries, and discuss the implementation specifics for protecting these key platforms. The discussion focuses mainly on DPM 2007 SP1 implementations for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, SQL Server 2008, and Exchange Server 2007, but concludes with a glimpse into what DPM v3 is planning for O14 and E14.

DPM2010 new features for SharePoint – auto protection of new content dB’s, no need for a recovery sharepoint farm

Tip – for workload specific DPM information goto e.g. – how to’s, videos, sandboxed demo enviornments, why you need it (for the boss), etc.

Tip – DPM can restore to tape, e.g. when asked for a copy of last month’s backup for the auditor, rather than give them a tape containing EVERYTHING (and you know you’ll never get it back), you can just give them the data they need from the time they want it.

Further training… TechNet virtual labs – for hands-on learning with DPM 2007 SP1

SVR308 – Storage and Hyper-V: The Choices You Can Make and the Things You Need to Know

Storage and virtualisation are two of the hottest technologies in IT right now—and they’re even better together. Microsoft is delivering new products into both spaces, and understanding the impacts that storage has on a server virtualisation design is key to understanding and successfully building a virtual infrastructure. This session talks about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going. We give you the information you need to know to make the right storage decisions in this new virtual world.

Hyper-V Architecture overview
Key to have the HCL/supported hardware (we know this, but it’s especially important for clustering)

Hyper-V Storage
SAN: iSCSI, Fibre Channel, SAS
NAS is not supported (stick an iSCSI target on it!)

Storage parameters / constraints..
Max VHD size 2048GB / 2TB

Tip – ISO”s on network shares, and especially with remote management.. needs a computer account & constrained delegation!  (gets round issue of needing local ISO’s on the nodes… ahhh!  learnt something! :-))

Hyper-V Constrained Delegation
Hyper-V Constrained Delegation

Differencing VHDs – performance vs. chain length – above 8 the performance delta becomes significant

Hyper-V and AV..

SAN Boot and Hyper-V
  Boot host from SAN (FC or iSCSI)
  Boot child VM frin iSCSI (PXE solution such as emmboot)

iSCSI performance best practises with Hyper-V..
  Jumbo Frames since R2 🙂

Live Migration/HA Best Practises
  Multi-Path IO (MPIO) is your friend
  Standardise names of virtual switches
  Use ISO’s not real CD/DVD as will break live migration

Sizing Storage for Hyper-V
  see pic

HA with Hyper-V using MPIO & FC SAN
  see pic

DAT306 – Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Best Practices

Chris Baldwin (

Chris started by admitting to talking far too quickly, so excuse this post, maybe disjointed!

Is there anything you could be doing better with SQL Server Reporting Services? This session explores some of the best practices associated with report design and report server deployment. Topics range from the best way to plan your scale out architecture, to the best way to optimise your reports design for performance.

DAT306 - Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services Best Practices


Server Deployment
  Backup/Restore… see pic
  Security – use read-only accounts, be wary of unecessary use of Windows Integrated, if really paranoid can be disabled for RS (server properties)
  Monitoring & Planning – use VS2005 to perform load testing on RS, RS caches so beware testing results, can use ‘NullRenderer’ subscription to pre-process and prime the cache ahead of use
  One-Box deployments useful, but not great for production due to lack of scale

Report Design and layout
  Understanding Tablix
  Report performance analysis and optimisation – subreports can negatively impac, move subreport layout up into main report, merge main report and subreport datasets

Data Visualisation
  .. will post pics!

RS Architecture..

pics to post!