Best of Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) UK 2013

Today we are at Microsoft’s Cardinal Place offices in London Victoria for ‘Best of MMS’ – a regular fixture in The Full Circle calendar for a rapid-fire immersion in the latest Microsoft System Center technologies.  It’s also a great opportunity to catch-up with key System Center partners, the leader in this space being our good friends at Inframon.

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‘Best of MMS’ is a one-day synopsis of the week long main event held in Las Vegas in April – see www.2013mms.com/ for the official MSFT site inc. videos, keynotes, etc…

This year’s event is just 1-day at 1-venue (last year was 3), however last year was product launch cycle with the 2012 wave whereas this year is mid-release improvements.

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Microsoft Tech.Days 2012: Windows Server 2012 – Virtualising Servers IT Camp

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Today we are at Microsoft UK offices in London Victoria for technical readiness / education event as part of the long running Microsoft UK Tech.Days aimed at IT Pros, which we’ve been attending and blogging about since they started in 2010.

The event is an introduction / update of Windows Server 2012 (virtualisation) which went General Availability (GA) earlier in the week on Tuesday, and was Released To Manufacturing (RTM) on August 1st.
Whilst just released, traction for Windows Server 2012 has been building up since early 2012 through the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) which we were accepted for..

The format of the day (an IT Camp) has a twist as it’s a heavily hands-on learning event where you Bring Your Own Device / BYOD capable of running Hyper-V (or capable of dual booting from a USB key into WS2012) to participate in a hands-on lab session.

Bringing your own machine (ideally a laptop as opposed to a rack server Winking smile) meant a heavy bag for me with two laptops, one freshly built with the released/RTM code just this week – a ThinkPad T61p with Windows Server 2012 Standard see Windows Server 2012 laptop installation.. (on ThinkPad) – Part 1

The brief on the day given by Microsoft was:

Synopsis (from the Tech.Days site)

"These hands-on sessions will give you an introduction to Windows Server 2012 and ample opportunity to discuss any specific issues and concerns you may have with Microsoft experts Simon May and Andrew Fryer as well as professional peers working near you.

The agenda will be set by you, but here are some topics that are likely to be covered:

  • What’s new in Windows Server 2012
  • How to create Virtual Machines
  • High availability with clustering

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Simon May and Andrew Fryer delivering the session (& BYOD laptops..)

 

Cool stuff – Lots of it!

Indeed too much for a post, and too much for a single day session so the UK IT Camp team kindly has put a deck on SkyDrive @ http://sdrv.ms/ORM1WO

Here are a few items we picked up, and hopefully some ‘gold’ Smile

  • Server Manager – improved single pane of glass for managing servers local and remote, create groups of servers and perform some tasks simultaneously on multiple servers
  • Multi-server remote management enabled by default (great for 10’s or 100’s but maybe not 1000’s)
  • Red lighting within server manager for situation bad, but hopefully not FUBAR!
  • Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) already on Win8, with Windows 7 (& Vista?) coming soon..
  • Lots of new Virtualisation features and capabilities:
    • New VHD format .vhdx lifts size limit from 2TB to 64TB (but some Gotcha’s – read-on!)
    • New type of NIC – Virtual Fibre channel SAN allows connecting directly to FC storage from a guest
    • VM Live migration without a cluster / shared storage!
    • Can start a VM with more starting RAM than the minimum set in Dynamic memory settings and the VM will release the difference after start up has completed, saving memory usage.
    • 64 Cores now supported
    • 64 Nodes now supported in a cluster (up from 16) – scalability has gone through the roof!
      (1000 VM’s per cluster)
    • You can set the number of Live Migrations allowed at a time up to 64 at a time
      (but you better have a very fast SAN to support several simultaneous live migrations)
    • Virtual GPU by using CPU – no GPU needed. Useful for VDI scenarios, and helps the challenge of how do I fit this expensive, large, hot & hungry high-end gaming graphics card in my 1u server..
    • SR-IOV – talking directly to the switch, all major vendors are signed up to supporting it
    • DHCP Guard stops rogue DHCP, Router guard protects against rogue routers – we’ve accidently deployed a DHCP server into a network in the past and then enjoyed the middle of the night support call… NOT!
    • NIC teaming supported by guests (needs to be enabled)
    • Storage Migration – move VHD’s over to other storage on another server
    • Remote management is enabled by default, building a VM in PowerShell can configure the VM too from the same script
    • Domain Controllers are VM snapshot aware (do folks really go around snapshotting DC’s in production? Confused smile), anyway Snapshotting DC’s is now supported and changes in Server 2012 will replicate AD changes when it comes back up..
    • Cluster Aware Updates (CAU) – moving VM’s around nodes during cluster patching.. talks to WSUS, it moves VM’s over to another node and will save LOTS of time!!
    • Hyper-V Replication across the WAN – Set on a machine by machine basis, several options for getting the VHD over the wire. Replicated VM’s can have alternative IP address settings to its source VM.
    • Cluster broker role – manages where to put the replicated VM’s
    • Injecting PowerShell into a guest VM from the host, e.g. when building out new servers to then install roles & features
    • Add Windows features directly into a VHD while it’s turned off (and scripted!)
  • Storage Pools for creating and presenting unified storage from a collection of disparate disks with parity or mirror, also allows Thin Provisioning of storage – save storage costs and never run out of disk again!
  • You can then create volumes and provision shares, all from within Server Manager and can be VHD’s or host Hyper-V
  • Data Deduplication – block level (4K) deduplication of files (a sub-feature of the File and Storage Services, File and iSCSI Services, Data Deduplication feature – FS-Data-Deduplication)
    • Data Deduplication on Storage Pools
    • Backup vendors are working on Backup agents that are de-dupe aware.
    • De-duplicate data more than x number of days old
    • Can backup while de-dupe is running. It will back off or pause if system resources are low
      Caveats – files have to be closed, can’t be in use. Inside VM’s fine, not on where the VM VHD is sitting are sitting
    • Runs as a job on schedule, controlled through PowerShell
  • PowerShell 3.0 – new version of Windows PowerShell, lots of new cmdlets for managing almost every role, feature or capability of the platform, plus other enhancements that makes it easier to write scripts
  • File Shares – different performance and usage profiles available to different usage types
  • SMB v3 greatly improved, 250,000 concurrent connections to a share (up from 75,000)
  • You can put VHD’s on a file share now, no SAN needed
  • A cluster will come up if the domain controllers that are on the cluster are down by caching data from the domain at last successful start-up (mitigates chicken & egg virtualised DC scenario)
  • HA Shared Storage with SMB 3.0 – Making a highly available File Store for a third the cost of a SAN
  • Create a Failover Cluster with just 3 lines of code as opposed to 15 mins (I’d suggest a good half hour and we are very practised!) with Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) can now be used for other services, not just Hyper-V e.g. File Services
  • CSV Caching for huge improvements to iSCSI SAN storage
  • No Quorum configuration needed when creating an even-node cluster
  • DHCP Failover – when the DHCP server goes down another trusted server will respond – DHCP failover capability allows two DHCP servers to lease out addresses from the same scope, to the same subnet. Clustering still another options for DHCP high availability. Hot standby and load balancing also available.
  • Server Core or GUI – you can choose – can add and remove the GUI at will, thus it will flip between a core install and full-fat install.  Start with GUI first then go to core otherwise you’ll have to mount the media to install the GUI components..

Licensing

A big change in that Enterprise is no longer offered leaving just Standard and Datacenter editions, however all features are in both products with the main difference being virtualisation rights..

  • Datacenter licensed based on 2 sockets = 1 licence, unlimited VM’s on that host
  • Standard – about quarter the price, between 4 and 6 servers, also based on 2 sockets = 1 licence

Everything is available on Standard and Datacenter, no RAM caps or CPU caps any more, all OS max

Hyper-V Server 2012 expires some time in 2050

Tips, Tricks & Gotcha’s

  • Differencing Disks and the new VHD format, be aware the target disk can only be spawned from the same format parent (you can convert from .vhd to .vhdx using Edit Disk)
  • Migration – no ‘Rolling Thunder’ approach to cluster upgrades, you need to build a new cluster then migrate your VM’s, however as we know Hyper-V v2 VM’s will import by simply copying in and importing (no need for export process)
  • In-place upgrades supported for non-clustered servers
  • Can’t live migrate between AMD and Intel CPU’s since there are different instruction sets, but can use reduced instruction set / CPU compatibility for migrating from very old processor support (e.g. an NT4 HAL) and this needs restart to change the settings, used for maintaining compatibility when you’re moving VM’s between CPU architectures, i.e. Xeon II to Xeon III
  • Shared nothing migration does not work with differencing disks
  • Systems Centre 2012 needs SP1 before it will support and run on Windows Server 2012

Windows Server 2012 Certification

It’s definitely time to update that MSCE with the new release of Windows Server.  There are 3 core Windows Server exams covering Installing & Configuring, Administering, and Configuring Advanced Windows Server Services, followed by Designing & Implementing plus Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure

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From MCSA to MSCE in 3 steps..image

It’s as easy as 1..2..3 (okay, it’s definitely going to be harder than that), but as Andrew pointed out, how many folks are hiring at the moment (no one in the room) so it’s still a tough market out there and along with the new love for PowerShell an updated MSCE won’t do any harm to your job prospects..

more at Microsoft.com > Microsoft Learning > Certification > MCSE: Server Infrastructure and Microsoft Virtual Academy Windows Server 2012 training

And we won some SWAG!

As usual at these events, audience participation is encouraged and correct answers equal prizes along with a thank you for event survey’s, etc.  Today was a good day for swag! – a tech.days branded Mini Mag-Lite, a tool kit, a branded notepad (pen & paper still works! ;-), and a Microsoft Virtual Academy 2GB flash memory plastic card… err with nothing on it!?!  anyway, its SWAG and SWAG is good! Smile

There were many questions during the day, but the ones we got swag for were:

Q. How many simultaneous live migrations can you do with Hyper-V v2 (Windows Server 2008 R2)
A. 1 (obviously you can do many in v3 / Windows Server 2012)

Q. How do you understand how many VM’s you have to migrate to Windows Server 2012?
A. Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP)
(Audit & Review is a big part of our consulting practise and MAP is a core tool used in various audits)

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Today SWAG is brought to you by Torches, Notepads, and Toolkits 

Overall & thank you..

A cracking day and an excellent break from the usual auditorium delivery method, or in previous years in a cinema in Hammersmith (for us at least), so a lot less people than a cinema full so registration went fast – if it is coming to a venue near you (see UK Tech Days Upcoming Events) get in quick!

Special thanks must go to Andrew, Simon, Marcel, and Sarah for putting on an excellent day which really worked to deliver and retain a LOT of great information – if I could go again I would, it was that good!!
Also thanks to Patrick Lownds from HP and also an MVP for Windows Server (Virtual Machine) whom we bump into at various events over the years (since a SMSE train-the-trainer bootcamp in 2008) – Patrick was on hand to help answer questions and contribute on the day.

Best of Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) UK 2012 – Launching System Center 2012

Microsoft Cardinal Place, Victoria, London

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On May 17th we attended one of our regular annual fixtures ‘Best of MMS’ which is a one-day (at 3 UK venues) synopsis of the week long main event held in Las Vegas in the spring – see www.mms-2012.com for the official MSFT site inc. videos keynotes, etc…

Microsoft described the event with:
“We have a very exciting wave of new product launches and announcements for the Microsoft Private Cloud in 2012 – starting with the release of System Center 2012, which allows you to manage your virtual, physical, and cloud environments from a single console, using common and consistent management experiences that provide full control across your existing datacentre investments.

We have also introduced a new edition line-up and simplified licensing for System Center 2012 to address both your server and client management needs – including Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Service Manager, Orchestrator, Endpoint Protection, and App Controller.

Best of Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) UK 2012– This 1-day event will provide you with the best possible opportunity to learn about what’s new in System Center 2012 and our next step forward in the Microsoft Private Cloud vision, strategy and roadmap – with deep dive sessions on infrastructure management, service delivery & automation, application management, desktop & device management – whichis an opportunity you won’t want to miss!”

In addition there were 12 exhibiting and sponsoring partners – 1E, Avnet, Bytes, Computer 2000, EACS, HP, Risual, Silversands, Trinity, Ultima, Veeam, and of course our good friends at Inframon – Gordon McKenna, Sean Roberts, and Clive Donaghue.

The agenda for the day and our notes on the sessions are below:

09.30-10.00 Microsoft’s Private Cloud: Built For The Future, Ready Now
Mike Schutz, General Manager for Windows Server & Management

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Opened with a flashy marketing video describing some of the new features of Microsoft’s private & public cloud management solutions

– Product Marketing 
– Trends – Cloud computing, Continuous Services and Connected Devices
– Cloud Definition (yet more)
– Pooled Resources, Self Service, Elastic, Usage Based
– Cloud Drivers
– Agility, Economics, Innovation
– Microsoft Hybrid Cloud – stitched together with common technologies
– Identity, Virtualisation, Management, Development
– Private Cloud Focus
– All about the App, Cross-Platform from the metal up, Foundation for the future, Cloud on Your Terms
– TAP video interview with the business that were involved

10.00-10.30 What’s New in System Center 2012
Matt McSpirit, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Server & Cloud Platform Team

We’ve known Matt since his early days at Microsoft when Microsoft virtualisation meant Virtual Server 2005 and later worked with him on the Windows Server 2008 R2 EAP with Hyper-V v2 (more on EAP’s and The Full Circle’s involvement in the development of Hyper-V 2008 R2 at http://blog.thefullcircle.com/2009/11/05/the-full-circle-secures-ascom-network-testing-for-windows-server-2008-r2-early-adopter-program/)
Matt has deep technical knowledge combined with skill as a presenter, and thorough understanding of what the business needs means his sessions are always worth a watch – today was no exception.

System Center 2012 brings a host of new and improved features over previous releases and really does span the management gap between Private and Public Cloud Infrastructures with Heterogeneous support to integrate a wide range of technologies into a coherent private cloud.

System Center 2012 comprises:

– App Controller
– Operations Manager
– Orchestrator
– Service Manager
– Virtual Machine Manager
– Data Protection Manager
– Endpoint Protection
– Configuration Manage

Areas of improvement cover:

– Process automation
– Self-service infrastructure
– Deep application monitoring and problem diagnosis
– Standardized provisioning of application service
– Simplified management of applications
– Application self-service  across clouds
– Flexible delegation with control
– Physical, virtual, and cloud management

more at www.microsoft.com/systemcenter

 

10.30-11.00 BREAK

11.00-12.00 Infrastructure & Fabric Management
Julius Davies, DataCenter Technology Specialist

Another no-nonsense, articulate, and technically deep presenter able to take a topic offline well into level-400 and beyond which is no surprise considering Julius has been working on Windows since when IBM & Microsoft were still working on the likes of OS/2 😉

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Data Centre and Private Cloud

Self service > fills in a form > reaches into backend infrastructure and provisions service >

13.00-14.00 Service Delivery & Automation

Microsoft System Center 2012 Service Manager, coupled with the rest of the System Center suite, delivers industry best practice capabilities for managing your data center and adhering to Industry Best Practices. This session presented how the System Center suite supports industry frameworks like ITIL and MOF with the features introduced in the 2012 release.

14.00-15.00 Application Management

sorry we ducked out on Service Manager, there were offline conversations to be had on partnering opportunities with HP & Microsoft on getting Hyper-V to 50% of the market by 2014..

15.30-16.30 Desktop & Device Management

End users are bringing consumer devices into the organisation – iPhones, iPads, Tablets and Smartphone’s are now part of the corporate environment. All of this is adding pressure for client administrators to deal with this influx of diverse devices.
Microsoft Client management technologies such as the new version of Intune in beta wave, along with their partners’ (that’ll be us then – see www.thefullcircle.com), can help IT enable consumerisation.

Great demo showing a simple app deployment across iOS (iPad & iPhone), Android, and of course, Windows Phone.

Intune at http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/windowsintune/pc-management.aspx

Intune Beta (April 2012 pre-release) Sign Up Now


16.30-17.00 NETWORKING & CLOSE

A bunch of the ‘usual suspects’ headed to Brown’s across the road – last time we were out with some of this lot it got quite early.. this time Reuben showed his determination on day-2 of a 9-day detox and left after two sparkling waters – fitter for next time!

Later heard that it was unfortunately dampened by some tea-leaf nicking Stuart’s bag with virtually his whole work life in it – sorry to hear it Stuart and hope you’ve now recovered from the obvious pain – thoughts with you.

UK Tech.Days 2011: Delivering IT as a service with the Microsoft private cloud

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The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com) is a Microsoft Partner for both Online Services such as Office 365 (Public Cloud), and Virtualisation using Hyper-V with System Center (Private Cloud).

As part of this commitment we regularly attend Microsoft training and events, and over the course of this week there are a number of ‘Tech Days’ covering various industry hot topics – Cloud, Mobile, Web, Client and Server aimed at two distinct audiences – IT Pro’s and Developers.

Just over a year ago we attended the Virtualisation Summit TechDays event as covered in http://blog.thefullcircle.com/2010/04/12/microsoft-techdays-virtualization-summit-from-the-desktop-to-the-datacenter/
Today’s topic from the Vue Cinema in Fulham, West London (around the corner from the office Smile) is a continuation of last year’s theme – Private Cloud – running your own utility based compute platform using Microsoft technologies,  namely Hyper-V for virtualisation and System Center for management.

This 1-day event will provide you with an understanding of the latest technical updates for your datacentre & infrastructure investments. This event will share more expert knowledge and information than ever – with deep dive sessions on the Windows Server 2008 R2 platform, Hyper-V virtualization capability, and System Center end-to-end service management capabilities.

For more information, please visit: http://uktechdays.cloudapp.net/techdays-live/delivering-it-as-a-service-with-the-microsoft-private-cloud

Transforming your Datacentre

Kevin Sangwell

Virtualisation + Fabric Management + Mature Operations and Service Management + Cloud Principals = Private Cloud

a lot of benefit is based on stove pipes of provisioning teams – racking team handing off to system build, waiting on networks for VLANS, then storage team for LUNs, etc. to give the average time from order to service ready of a new server being c.12 weeks start to end.

In reality do many large IT shops still behave this way?  unfortunately for a lot of enterprise shops the answer is yes, this, is of course, fortunate for us! Smile

Building the foundation: Server Virtualisation and Management

Julius Davies & Clive Watson (Data Centre Technology Specialists)

 

Evangelising Hyper-V, also introduced Hyper-V Server as ‘Enterprise’ but cut-down without GUI, same capabilities… in terms of CPU (64 Cores), Memory (1TB), etc. and the difference being that Enterprise and Data Center have licensing rights to run more VMs… this took me by surprise and at the break discussed with Stuart Leddy, old friend of ‘The Circle’ and Microsoft Core Infrastructure Marketing Lead – Server & Tools Business Group.

Hyper-V R2 Server is akin to Enterprise but cut-back, rather than the original Hyper-V Server which was more like Server Core with Standard constraints (32GB, etc.)…
since R2 – 1TB memory, 64 CPU cores – see:

Q. Are there any limitations to the number of processors and/or cores that Microsoft Hyper-V Server can utilize?

A. Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 supports systems with up to 64 logical processors on the physical machine.

Q. Are there any physical memory limitations to Microsoft Hyper-V Server?

A. Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 supports up to 1 TB of physical memory.

 

Teaming Support provided by NIC vendor

Intel = PROSet, Broadcom = BACS, HP = NCU
Best practise: :install/enable Hyper-V, then install networking utilities…. ???? WTF?  perhaps before configuring networking?  surely you present a Teamed NIC to Hyper-V rather than abstract post event

Hyper-V Networking for Clusters – guide at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff428137(WS.10).aspx

Best practise suggesting 5 separate networks!!  host mgmt, heartbeat, CSV’s, live migration, VM traffic, if iSCSI x2 with MPIO!  (interestingly their demo platform used 3 – Corpnet (External), Live Migration, and Storage

 

How can we better manage?

Clive talked about SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1… but not much SCVMM 2012… a shame!

interesting use of the term ‘evacuate virtual machines to another host’ (implementing a PRO Tip), and ‘rehydrating’ back onto a host once fixed.  Usual demo of Self Service and breaking VM’s – audit trail, etc.

ahha..a little bit about v.Next / 2012 – its all about Fabric Management!

VMM Self-Service Portal 2.0 – bringing business requests and IT service delivery/provisioning together.

 

HP Hyper-V Reference Architecture

Adam Richardson, HP & Neil MacCuish, CSC

Adam dot Richardson @HP.com – a sales guy, but a good sales guy.  Talking about the shape of HP customers and their agility, or rather, in a lot of cases lack of… 1 customer who took 18months to deploy a mail platform – yikes!

Some ‘Hyper-Customers’ – in excess of 100,000 servers installed – Microsoft is one of them.

Hyper-V Cloud Reference

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Virtualisation at the Royal Mail

Customer Profile
The government owned Royal Mail Group (RMG) is responsible for universal mail collection and delivery in the United Kingdom and delivers more than 70 million items every working day.
Business Situation
RMG needed to improve the resilience and flexibility of its IT infrastructure to prepare the company to meet the challenge of a changing market for postal services.
Solution
The company looked to CSC as its IT outsourcing and systems integration partner to virtualise its servers using the Hyper-V feature of Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter.

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Summary / Headlines

  • 9 months to platform ready
  • up to 720 Guest VM’s over 2 x HP 16 slot blade enclosures
  • Delivered against plan** (of course, it evolved)

Key Points & Learnings

  • Issues not really technology based – people change are harder
  • ** Build it and they will come! – once the business realises you’re faster they will come to you
  • Keeping it green, Service Integration
  • One team – HP/CSC/Microsoft – go to meetings together, share the issues, share the plan

Managing your infrastructure with System Center

Ellis Paul & Paul Collins

 

Presenting your business case for Private Cloud

Adam Collins, Risual

Cloud, over time will allow a closer alignment between IT and the business by giving back time to focus on more strategic objectives and decision making. Understanding how to position with the business, build a technology roadmap and deliver long term value from your current and future investments is a critical task that can’t be put off any longer. Within this session you will be presented with the necessary tools to support you in taking advantage of Cloud solutions from both an experienced IT consultancy in Risual and a global customer in Paul Smith.

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Very interesting session starting with the driver being ‘ensure predictable IT costs’ with five pillars to support:

Business
Service Delivery
Sustainability (Green IT) –
Contract Management –

Assumed Benefits – Financial, Operational Efficiency, Governance, CSAT, Innovation, Agility, Sustainable IT

Hyper-V and System Center- Competitive Comparisons

Matt McSpirit

You’ll learn more about the different components within the Hyper-V and System Center, but more specifically, how they can provide a greater level of comprehensive management, choice, and advanced automation.

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Matt McSpirit for one of his last UK presentations before jumping to Redmond for a career in Corp. with Andrew Fryer doing his ‘Pap’ impression but with a gagging order this week.. Winking smile

As usual a great presentation from Matt who gave a deep (and broad!) session on why Hyper-V isn’t just a viable alternative to VMware, but a serious contender.  In a lot of cases not just a better value proposition (not difficult) but also more performant (not so easy!), and with independent 3rd party evidence to back up the claims e.g. TS workloads on VMware, Hyper-V R2 SP1, and XenServer (Virtual Reality Check – Phase II version 2.0) and more at http://www.virtualrealitycheck.net (same as http://www.projectvrc.nl)

There was a lot of myth busting around the issue often cited that Hyper-V is fundamentally flawed because it sits on top of Windows – of course there is Hyper-V Server (think Server Core), but what isn’t common knowledge is how many patches there have been for VMware and some pretty high profile issues, and as per Microsoft many require guest or host restarts – its not just Microsoft platforms that require reboots!

And, of course Matt plugged http://virtualboytv.com for great content including video walk-through’s and more e.g. bare-metal to live migration in under an hour!! – I’ve used Matt’s site as a handy reference and basic training tool many times and highly recommend as well worth your time.

 

What next?

For more information on what The Full Circle can do to help you find your way in the clouds, see http://www.thefullcircle.com/whatWeDo/Pages/Cloud.aspx

Hyper-V P2V using Windows Server Recovery (WinRE)

A few weeks ago I posted about using Disk2VHD see http://blog.thefullcircle.com/2011/05/02/hyper-v-p2v-using-disk2vhd/, however disk2vhd does have limitations e.g 137GB volume size, and you can get errors such as disk too large for dynamic disk, etc. (covered at the end of that post).

Another way of getting a physical host converted to a VM is to back it up, create a VM container, and restore into the new virtual machine, then go through the steps to strip back the hardware and system drivers as normal.

First you’ve got to get a good bare metal recovery backup and for the purposes of this post I’m just going to cover a Windows Server 2008 R2 source/physical server.

Bare Metal Backup on Windows Server 2008 R2

Obviously you need the backup components installed – Add/Remove Features – Windows Server Backup, or scripted using start /w ocsetup WindowsServerBackup

Launch Windows Server Backup and select ‘Bare metal recovery’ – all components to support a bare metal recovery will be checked, if you’ve installed any programs to another disk other than the %HOMEDRIVE% you may find you need to backup more than one disk volume..

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Once the backup is running you can monitor from the GUI or command line… e.g.
 

C:>wbadmin get status
wbadmin 1.0 – Backup command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2004 Microsoft Corp.
The backup of volume System(C:) successfully completed.
The backup of volume Data(D:) successfully completed.
Creating a backup of volume Logs(E:), copied (12%).

 
You can also check on how many versions of backups are available e.g. which one you intent to restore into a VM by using the wbadmin get versions command:
 
C:>wbadmin get versions
wbadmin 1.0 – Backup command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2004 Microsoft Corp.

Backup time: 17/05/2011 00:00
Backup location: Network Share labeled thefullcircle.localBackups
Version identifier: 05/16/2011-23:00
Can recover: Volume(s), File(s), Application(s), Bare Metal Recovery, System State

If the backup drive is an external drive such as a USB this would be reported as:

Backup target: 1394/USB Disk labeled X:

Restore using Windows System Image Recovery

In this case again we are using Windows Server 2008 R2 boot media but this can also be performed using a Windows 7 or ERD Commander WinPE environment, of course technically this is WinRE.

1) Boot from your media, make any language, locale, and keyboard selections

2)  Rather than Install now, select Repair your computer
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3) Select Restore your computer using a system image that you created earlier.
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4) If you’re quick enough skip trying to find an image, but more likely you will get a dialogue advising that Windows cannot find a system image on this computer, that’s fine – click Cancel, then Next.
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5) At the re-image your computer prompt, select Advanced…
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6) You can then search your network for an image, or you may need to load drivers (should be unlikely with the driver support of Windows Server 2008 R2 as shares codebase with Windows 7 – pretty good driver support!)
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7) Clearly you do want to connect to the network (if you have DHCP enabled happy days, if not take a crash course in netsh commands to set an IP address)
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8) Choose your network location..
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9) Enter credentials – there is no point trying to save them, you’ve probably booted from an ISO or DVD-ROM anyway..
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10) Select your backup, click Next, then select your volumes

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11) Choose any additional restore options such as Excluding disks, loading additional drivers, or under Advanced – restart options when complete, checking disk errors – checked/yes by default
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12) A final confirmation of what will be restored, and then ‘another’ final check, Yes is the only option unless you’ve changed your mind about doing a restore today…
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Wot no disk partitions, volumes, or anything to restore to?

Then you may get this message..
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or this one
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which takes you back to..
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and you can get busy with diskpart, etc. from within a Command Prompt (surely that’s a Command Shell?)… select the disk, create a primary partition, make it active, and then start again..
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or just let the machine do the work.. click Restart and start again.. (again!)

Hyper-V P2V using Disk2vhd

The ability to convert existing Physical hosts to Virtual machines is often the biggest return on investment benefit to justify the case for virtualisation.  Taking a legacy platform often on older, unsupported hardware and software, and converting it to a virtual machine running with many other machines, but on new, high capacity hardware taking up less space and power is a key driver for virtualisation.

Older systems consuming a relatively high amount of energy and space for what is now very low processing power, can be converted to VM’s hosted on much more powerful hardware for a similar footprint but with much increased agility through the well understood benefits of virtualisation.

A recent project The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com) undertook as part of our private cloud practise, was to rationalise several older HP ProLiant DL360 servers (one had a BIOS dated 08/03/2001 – over 10 years old!) each taking 1U of rack space, some with dual power supplies, dual network adaptors, mirrored disks, etc. all generating high heat output (which in turn has high cooling costs).

Online Windows server capture using Sysinternals Disk2vhd utility

If you haven’t got Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Manager suite and you don’t want to spend many hours backing up the source server, creating a blank VM, installing a base O/S and then hoping a restore will work without hours of troubleshooting disparate hardware issues… really?!?!  there is a handy alternative from those clever folks at Sysinternals – disk2vhd.

From Sysinternals “Disk2vhd is a utility that creates VHD (Virtual Hard Disk – Microsoft’s Virtual Machine disk format) versions of physical disks for use in Microsoft Virtual PC or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). The difference between Disk2vhd and other physical-to-virtual tools is that you can run Disk2vhd on a system that’s online. Disk2vhd uses Windows’ Volume Snapshot capability, introduced in Windows XP, to create consistent point-in-time snapshots of the volumes you want to include in a conversion.”

 

Overall P2V process as easy as 1,2,3…

Of course it’s not as easy as 1,2,3… this process may take from only a couple of hours to a couple of days per server but its a straightforward process with no fundamental ‘gotchas’ – although in-between application licensing, network infrastructure issues, and later VM contention (disable those traditional backup agents!) – this part may prove to be the simplest part of the process, which is:

  1. Capture of source physical host/server
    1. Audit hardware and software build
      (recommend paid tools such as Belarc, but also include built-in such as systeminfo – knowing the local machine Administrator account rather than a domain account could be useful although not mandatory although you do need an admin account)
    2. Full Backup! (whilst no changes planned to source machine a backup maybe useful later)
    3. Clean-up the source machine (old profiles, programs, recovery points, temp files (could use CCleaner or just cleanmgr.exe), and always defrag! – great tip from Khwajakhurram in the comments))
    4. Disk conversion from physical source to Virtual Hard Disk file target (VHD)
  2. Build of Virtual Machine / VM hardware to be a near-as match to the source hardware in terms of major physical resources such as CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network
    1. Attach the created VHD file, note this will be one Disk that may contain multiple partitions (recommend capturing individual volumes to separate VHDs)
  3. Clean-up of new virtual machine hardware and system software
    1. Install the Hyper-V Integration Services (may have pre-reqs..) and restart
    2. remove superfluous hardware devices, drivers, and system software (may require several restarts)
    3. Setup networking (you will have lost the physical adapters)
    4. May wish to change storage properties e.g. converting from a Basic to Dynamic Disk in order to Shrink a volume, etc…
    5. Check the event logs for any errors to determine if serious or can be ignored
    6. Test, test, test!
    7. Activate Windows (the ‘hardware’ will have changed significantly)
Steps in more detail..
Running disk2vhd

You don’t even need to permanently install the tool on the source machine, simply browse to http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415 and click ‘Run Disk2vhd

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choose your source drives, enter a suitable target destination with sufficient space and click create – this may take some time (as in several hours depending on size, speed, network, etc.)

Setting up the captured hard disk

The disk captured by disk2vhd will be a single hard disk image of the selected partitions/volumes, this may be fine if they combine less than 127GB as the first Hyper-V bootable disk has to be attached to the IDE controller (with a disk limit of 127GB)

However, for production use we recommend splitting your disks in the virtual world as you would in the physical – capture each volume to a separate VHD e.g. HOSTNAME-diskN-c_system.vhd, HOSTNAME-diskN-d_data.vhd, etc.

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Here’s a grab of a SCSI based system which had 2x73GB SCSI disks as a single RAID disk

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P2V for Windows Server 2003 onto Hyper-V

Windows Server 2003 machines require Service Pack 2 to be installed before the Hyper-V Integration Services can be installed – get ready to install using the keyboard as until the IS bits are installed you have no mouse!

Removing superfluous hardware devices, drivers, and system software

You need to get familiar with removing hidden devices and how to show non-present devices by following the Microsoft KB ‘Device Manager does not display devices that are not connected to the Windows XP-based computer’ basically:

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1

start devmgmt.msc

And then show hidden devices, to allow removal of the no longer supported devices, below shows the main areas to cover from a HP ProLiant server to VM:

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I’m fairly confident to remove ALL hidden/greyed-out devices, especially if its a device that has been replaced by another ‘active’ / non-hidden instance of the same name e.g.

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Note – this is a tedious process working through all greyed-out devices – suggest using the keyboard to save time (cursor to device, delete, enter, use of home & end keys, then repeat – many times! 😉

If you delete something in error don’t worry – you can always re-scan for hardware changes or restart the machine – you’ll be doing a few restarts during the process anyway…

Some things should be removed that are not hidden

Some devices won’t be hidden, but if you know your hardware and device drivers fairly well you should be able to spot the obvious candidates for removal, e.g. the Compaq Smart Array Controller drivers used for managing the hardware disk array.. cpqarry2 is definitely one to go..

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but most will (be hidden), including related components…

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(I think the Pentium III chip can go in this case! Winking smile)

Note – some of these may prompt for a restart, I normally bank several restarts together, but some system software to be removed may require a restart to uninstall cleanly..

System software uninstallation and many restarts

Most server systems may also have significant software components to uninstall, in this case several HP components that talk to proprietary HP systems management components that will no longer be present in the virtualised machine.

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HP Network Teaming Utility – where is that software?

The HP Network Teaming Utility – easily spotted on most HP Windows server systems by the image  logo in the system-tray, however the software is not that easily found as doesn’t appear in Add/Remove Programs nor is removed from Device Manager.

Open network connections (ncpa.cpl) and select the ‘HP Network Configuration Utility’ then select Uninstall – you should be prompted to uninstall per:

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You’ll be prompted for a restart, and by now the system probably deserves one!

 

Recreate your Network connections

Its time to dig out that systeminfo report, as that’s going to have a concise listing of the source server’s network settings in terms of IP addresses, etc. – if you’re converting from large-frame/iSCSI with VLANs etc. then that scenario is slightly beyond the scope of this post – sorry, but some things have to be billable!

Errors on start-up?

You are bound to get some start-up errors at the end of the process, although hopefully these should be insignificant such as a w32tm service unable to update from NTP or a domain controller due to network changes (e.g. still testing on a private network).  You may also have dependency components that still require removal such as a System Management Controller via the Service Control Manager (typical event id 7000 stuff).

Fire up the Event Viewer (eventvwr) regardless and have a trawl through the event logs, even if you didn’t get a error starting service alert on start-up you may find issues that require further investigation – effort here will be worthwhile for a stable and error free machine.

At the end of the process…

When you’re finished, sit back crack open a can (if you won’t get caught with food and drink in the data center) and have a think what nice new tin you’ll replace all those gaps in the rack with… mine would be Stella… Winking smile  Better still, for you, the company and the planet, return a few racks to the data center manager / co-lo provider, and ask for a bonus from all the carbon you’ve saved Smile

 

Added a week later..

It doesn’t always work…

..and does have limitations e.g.

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The disk is too large for a dynamic VHD…

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