Drinking from the Virtualisation mug…

...drinking from the mug of Virtualisation!
...drinking from the mug of Virtualisation!

On the drinking from the virtualisation mug, I really am and just the very next early morning after the Execuitve Briefing Center event…

okay, I’d forgotten to put the dishwasher on the night before, but after a quick audit & rinse of the physical environment, Microsoft virtualisation provided much needed ‘capacity & volume’ to support the morning peak workloads and saved the day!… okay the coffee (I’ll get my coat! ;-).







Microsoft Virtualisation (Hyper-V & VMM2008) Executive Briefing…

Tuesday 22nd October, 2008


Attended an invite only Microsoft Virtualisation Solutions Partner event at the Microsoft UK Executive Briefing Center, Building 3, TVP, Reading…


The event was focused around Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, plus the other supporting System Center technologies.  The event was a small, select gathering in the Executive Briefing Center at TVP of only 6-7 attendees plus some key Microsoft UK Virtualisation team members led by Mike Peers.  On the partner/attendee side it was mostly VMware partners with a view to converting and capturing them with Microsoft’s latest kit – believe it or not, they were very, very impressed (esp. with VMM2008).


Microsoft EBC Virtualisation event (Hyper-V, VMM2008, etc. :-))


Green IT Expo – London 5th November

Wednesday 5th November, 2008

As founder and CTO of a small IT consultancy & Microsoft Gold partner ‘Full Circle Technology Limited – www.thefullcircle.com – I often attend trade shows and events.  On Wednesday I went along to the Green IT Expo (www.greenitexpo.co.uk) at the Barbican Center in London, and made a few scribbles from the day…

“Gartner predicts that Green IT will be the No.1 Strategic Technology for 2008, accelerating and expanding the focus that came to the forefront in 2007.”
Source – Gartner Inc

I had some very interesting conversations with various vendors and attendees on various things Green IT related, and some not so… I also attended some very interesting seminars, these stood out for me:
Virtualisation as an IT Optimiser

Hosted by Tikiri Wanduragala, Modular Systems Senior Consultant, IBM

Today’s enterprises are confronted by a rapidly growing stream of disruptive forces, e.g. globalisation, mobile devices, new collaboration models, energy management and emerging economies. At the same time, information technology is rapidly expanding to make many new applications economically viable. However, the cost of managing IT has doubled since 2000, putting the datacentre at risk. As corporations intensify their focus on delivering innovation and globally integrating their business design, pressure to improve datacentre efficiency and agility will continue to grow.

Virtualisation, the de-coupling of resources from the physical environment, offers a solution through greatly improved resource management and will render non-virtualised IT obsolete over the next 3-5 years. Successful organisations will make virtualisation an essential part of their data centre optimisation plans. IBM will outline four specific actions you can take now to help improve efficiency and agility through virtualisation.

x86 systems are the driver, simply because of the numbers involved.

25 new x86 servers coming on-line every minute and they are switched on 24×7!

A play station has 8 cores, more powerful than most x86 servers!
Why? Because we all demand faster, quicker, shorter…

Centralised computing is back in as opposed to the 80’s-90’s distributed dream

Server consolidation is just the start, the desktop will happen, further centralisation.

If you virtualize you have to do the lot! I/O and storage, otherwise you loose the resilience benefits

Start thinking about servers or desktops as a file then the architecture changes accordingly

Virtualization 1.0
test & dev
slower than the real thing

Virtualization 2.0
business continuity – HA / DR
performance improvements – load balancing, resource streamlining, etc

Virtualization will drive architectural advancement – servers no longer being 10% utilised, but 80%+ utilised, however…

Your eggs will be in one basket, so it had better be a good basket!

Think Different! 😉

Virtualization enables consolidation, the more you consolidate the better the returns!

Management needs to be strong – people, process and technology

High Availability is critical!

Virtualization introduces standardization and therefore allows repeatable, scriptable systems management, deployment, etc.

However, if you do it badly it is a rope to hang yourself, and it will be a much swifter end!

Akin to moving from a relationship to a marraige!


Why Green IT & Virtualisation Should be Top of the Financial Director’s Agenda
Hosted by Adam Ryan, Strategic Services Director, Ben Stollard, Director of Consultancy Practise, VirtualizeIT

GreenIT and Virtualisation have become the latest IT buzzwords and every product or service is clamouring to establish its green credentials, VirtualizeIT will cut through the hyperbole to illustrate that the green revolution utilising Virtualisation is actually saving organisations hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst also enabling greater corporate environmental responsibility.

VMware’s EMEA consultancy partner of the year 2008

Cost benefits of server virtualization

Finance sector led the way

Ave IT spend 2.3% of turnover unlikely to change (costs per user relatively unchanged) – Gartner

VDI objection – reduction in local processing power is least popular…

Perception of utlisation is much higher than the reality!

No other company asset would be tolerated that is only used 3% of the time!

Industry ave for server utilisation is less than 9%

AIB had 450+ servers and haven’t bought a new server in 18months, now 43 servers but could be halfed although now fully FT DR capability with c.20 servers split across 2 DC’s

49 x DL380 c. 465w to 6 x IBM virtualized env. Saving £39K PA

The change has to be seamless – changing the engines of an airliner in flight analogy

Use your D/R estate also for test & dev to ensure utilisation numbers

Making a compelling investment case

Consultancy costs to virtualized…
S/W isn’t the main cost!

MS reckon on 10m virtual servers in the market within 18 months

Desktop revenue is falling! The move back to centralised computing is underway

VDI provides great opportunity for security enhancements

Difficult to justify on a basic utility an hardware cost is difficult, the management costs is where it’s at.

Although economies of scale factors – larger the estate, greater the returns

Blogging from a mobile device… (iPhone)

Well I’ve succumbed to the new Apple iPhone 3G and whilst it’s a fantastic device for consuming content, it’s virtual keyboard doesn’t make it the best for publishing… This said I’m comparing it to my Windows Mobile device (an Orange SPV M3100 / HTC Hermes) which has a great physical keyboard.

I’ve had the iPhone almost a week and have ported my number over from Orange (of 14 years!!) to O2 who are the only UK operator to have the device – I spoke with Orange before obtaining my PUK code and it was clear there are no plans for them to be offering this device, a shame and I’m sure many O2 will be getting a lot of new customers as a result!

Anyway, blogging from the iPhone. Today I found the wordpress blogging app (free :-)), and installed, which like almost everything on the iPhone was painless, quick, and without problems… Thus far and fingers crossed!

The wordpress app is the one for me as I already had a wordpress blog that I started earlier in the year after much resistance. As CTO of technology consulting firm ‘The Full Circle’ (www.thefullcircle.com) I’d been slow to give in and acknowledge the power of the blahhhg 😉

I’m writing this entry now and whilst the keyboard is a pain I’m getting quicker and more efficient (less errors) with every line – it can only get better!

I’m about to add a picture using the perfectly adequate built in camera (but wot no video!?!?!). The picture is of our pool, well not our pool but it is for a short time (holidaying in Portugal for a couple of weeks – bliss!) and will check out the results later – hopefully good and no flames in the meantime!

Windows Server 2008 64-bit on the ThinkPad T61p…

After reading Keith Combs’ excellent Blahg post on the same subject at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/archive/2008/02/01/installing-windows-server-2008-ee-on-a-lenovo-thinkpad-t61p.aspx I thought I’d try and update (things move quickly in 64-bit software support) and continue where he left off… Making WS2008 64-bit on a T61 your production machine…

I’ve gone for two approaches, the first is simply using imagex to backup and restore (into Hyper-V child/virtual) a T61 Vista laptop, and in parallel adding the other nice ThinkPad devices and system software to the Windows 64-bit (Vista or WS2008 ) ThinkPad build that made the ThinkPad the market leader in the first place – beyond awesome build quality – awesome system software to help productivity, management, and ultimately improve the RoI and reduce support costs (even if you are supporting yourself ;-))

I’d be tempted to start with the ThinkVantage System Update, at the time of writing this was v3.13.  System Update allows you to pick and install all of this lot plus more from a single, simple GUI – just beware the local repository can get quite large especially if you start installing monsters like the Rescue and Recovery programs (600+MB!).  The local repositor is by default in C:Program FilesLenovoSystem Updatesession – you can clear down all folders bar ‘schedulerupdater’ & ‘system’ and next time you run the update the folders will be recreated but without the actual downloaded binaries, etc.

Intel(R) Chipset Software Installation Utility
Lenovo System Interface Driver
ThinkPad Power Management Driver
Intel Matrix Storage Manager Driver for Windows Vista 64bit

Ricoh 4-in-1 Media Card Reader Driver for Windows Vista/XP

ThinkVantage Fingerprint Software Windows 64-bit
ThinkVantage Client Security Solution for Vista 64-bit ?

SoundMAX audio driver
Wireless LAN
Maintenance Mananer
Productivity Centre

ThinkPad Mobility Center Customization

Adobe Flash Player for
Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP and Vista (32 and 64 bit)

query on:
Windows Vista Update Modules KB932063 (Fix for Several problems occur on a Windows Vista-based computer when you work in a wireless network environment)
Windows Vista Update Modules KB929191 (Vista disk enumeration optimizations are disabled on IBM and Lenovo computers)

Whilst not all links mention 64-bit in the title (I’ve kept the titles true to the ThinkVantage System Update as of April 20th 2008) this does not mean they are not 64-bit such as the Ricoh 4-in-1 Card, if you read the detail you will see mentioned “Summarized Windows Vista x86/x64 drivers”

I’ll be adding more to this post and fleshing out the links during the week of 28th April as I  should have plenty of time and, hopefully, the resources to hand get this right as attending the Windows Essential Business Server (formerly “Centro”) partner airlift to Microsoft in Redmond 🙂




Hyper-V & Hybernate, Standby, etc.. http://www.ditii.com/2008/09/24/hyper-v-enable-sleep-hibernate/
you can have Hyper-V installed but not started by the following registry setting:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

When you start your Hyper-V laptop you will have full access to the power management fucntionality 🙂
If you need to demo a VM, I can start Hyper-V with the command:

net start hvboot
(Power management is then disabled again until the next reboot)

Windows Server 2008 Server Core setup scripts & common commands

In a previous post I talked about setting up Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition 64-bit to be a Hyper-V platform, Microsoft’s recommendation is for the Virtual Machine host to be running Server Core – dig out your old PC-DOS or MS-DOS commands then apply 20+ years of updates 😉

Server Core is all about the command line and scripting and I was recently lucky enough to have attended a Microsoft Hyper-V RDP bootcamp in which we covered Server Core deployments, this and having trawled various blog posts but not being able to find a single source for common Hyper-V server core setup commands made me want to document the setup scripts I used to allow quick and easy replication and, of course, for all dev environments – frequent rebuild!

These are listed in the order I would perform them to either minimise security or network ‘steps’ (such as name registration order):

To enable Automatic Updates and force an immediate update (apparently you can also define a schedule – for non-managed servers we only allow Saturday at 03:00)
cscript windowssystem32scregedit.wsf /au 4
net stop wuauserv
net start wuauserv
wuauclt /detectnow

To enable Terminal Services access
cscript windowssystem32scregedit.wsf /ar 0
cscript windowssystem32scregedit.wsf /cs 1

(for help on what commands are available via scregedit type cscript windowssystem32scregedit.wsf /?)

To rename the local computer name
netdom renamecomputer <old_host_name> /newname:<new_host_name>
rem – a shutdown /r /t 0 will be needed to restart the computer for the change to be applied

To change the workgroup name
rem usage sc-changeWGroup <host_name> <workgroup_name>
wmic computersystemwhere name=”%1″ call joindomainorworkgroup name=”%2″
rem – a shutdown /r /t 0 will be needed to restart the computer for the change to be applied

To list the status of Hyper-V and install it (assumes any pre-req patches such as RC0)
oclist | find “Hyper-V”
ocsetup Microsoft-Hyper-V

To rename the new virtual switch interface from the default Local Area Connection 3
netsh interface set interface name = “Local Area Connection 3” newname = “Local Area Connection – Virtual”

Script to set IP, mask, G/W, & DNS servers
rem changes ip address by script
rem usage – sc-setIP <ip address> <subnet mask> <gateway> <dns1> <dns2>

netsh interface ipv4 set address name=”Local Area Connection – Virtual” source=static address=%1 mask=%2 gateway=%3

netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name=”Local Area Connection – Virtual” address=%4 index=1
netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name=”Local Area Connection – Virtual” address=%5 index=2

netsh interface ipv4 show config | more

To open WMI for Hyper-V remote administration
winrm quickconfig
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group=”Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)” new enable=yes
net localgroup “Distributed COM Users” /add Admin-TFCSupport

or to open a WorkGroup server for full remote administration…
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group=“Remote Administration” new enable=yes

rem changes ip address by script
rem usage – sc-setIP <ip address> <subnet mask> <gateway> <dns1> <dns2>

netsh interface ipv4 set address name=”Local Area Connection” source=static address=%1 mask=%2 gateway=%3

netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name=”Local Area Connection” address=%4 index=1
netsh interface ipv4 add dnsserver name=”Local Area Connection” address=%5 index=2

netsh interface ipv4 show config | more

netsh firewall set icmpsetting 8

(or to simply disable the entire firewall… netsh firewall set opmode disable)

w32tm /configure /manualpeerlist:pool.ntp.org,,0×8 /syncfromflags:MANUAL
net stop w32time
net start w32time
w32tm /resync /nowait

Of course, a lot of these commands are not just specific to Server Core but can be also run on full versions of WS2008, the new Hyper-V Server soon to be launched, or indeed Vista.
One last great command line line tool to confirm many of the outcomes and changes executed by the commands detailed here is ‘systeminfo’ – try it!

update… two excellent resources that expand way more than I have time to are:

Why virtualise when a server costs less than a desktop… (bar ‘green IT’ of course!)


As part of our business – an IT consulting firm called “The Full Circle” www.thefullcirle.com – and as a Microsoft Gold Partner that likes to ahead of the game by being an early adopter, we are always playing with new software and that means building and rebuilding boxes.  Clearly virtualisation can make huge savings, especially in time but not always is virtualisation suitable (such as testing the latest 64-bit drivers and support packs).

However recently I came across an HP Proliant ML110 G5 server (dual core Xeon 2.33GHz, 1GB RAM expandable to 8GB, 250GB SATA, Gigabit Ethernet) for only £220 + VAT which is about £100 cheaper than HP’s value DX2300 desktop range and better spec’d (well bar the 8MB Matrox GPU! ;-).

I sent a mail to my colleages titled “An HP server for less than a desktop?  Virtualise when you can have a physical?”




HP ProLiant ML110 G5 Xeon 3065 2.33/1333 Dual-Core, 1x1GB, Non Hot Plug SATA

250 GB, DVD±RW (+R double layer), Gigabit Ethernet – £220 inc VAT


I’m in the process of building a new ML110 G5 with Windows 2008 Server Enterprise Core (x64) which is now RTM with a view to this being a Hyper-V platform for a number of other guest VM’s including my main desktop which may or may not prove a little optimistic re: things like driver support, etc. we will see…


Note – you need to enable the CPU VM support before installing, it is disabled by default.


will aim to get a physical Vista platform built to test suitability for normal desktop use and may even try restoring an existing XP image just for the hell of it but won’t be spending too much time troubleshooting if it doesn’t play nicely for obvious reasons.


In the meantime some interesting & essential reading below if you are thinking of Windows Server 2008 virtualisation…








I’d say the RC1 ref’s re: Hyper-V support are now out of date as I’ve successfully installed it on the RTM platform I built this morning, although already running into issues with ‘core’ that may have me reinstalling with a nice GUI such as:


Enabling Hyper-V in a Server Core deployment

The following steps will replace steps 4-7 above for a Server Core installation.

1.Type “Start /w ocsetup Microsoft-Hyper-V” to enable Hyper-V role.

2.     Restart when prompted.
Note: To Manage Hyper-V, you can remotely connect to the server from an existing Hyper-V Manager MMC on a different system.


I think without training (I’ve re-included the recent WS2008 links) it may be too much to learn/dig around with not enough time (other priorities!) trying to pursue the core build, I can feel a shutdown /c “rebuild with GUI” /f /r coming on… 😉



 …since writing that mail in mid-February I’ve been on the UK Hyper-V RDP training with Microsoft and have learnt lots about server-core and just how difficult it currently is to remote manage… will be posting some findings and tips n tricks soon… (althojgh next job building a T61p laptop to be a Hyper-V host for some Centro / Essential Business Server work we are doing… 🙂