Tag Archives: Reuben Cook

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.

The Full Circle secures Ascom Network Testing for Windows Server 2008 R2 Early Adopter Program

The Full Circle (www.thefullcircle.com) has been working with Microsoft Virtualisation technologies since before they were Microsoft Virtualisation technologies… (think back to Virtual PC from Connectix ;-)).

More recently and formally, we have been working with Microsoft Hyper-V since the v1 Rapid Deployment Program (RDP) in spring 2008.  We attended various RDP Bootcamp training and used pre-release/beta versions of Hyper-V extensively to accelerate testing and migration for our Microsoft Windows Essential Business Server (EBS) Technology Adoption Program (TAP) customer, Newman Martin and Buchan – read more at http://reubenjcook.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/windows-essential-business-server-2008-launch/

For Hyper-V v2 we are a UK Early Adopter Program (EAP) partner for Windows Server 2008 R2, with a focus on virtualisation, specifically Hyper-V with failover clustering.  We’ve been working with various builds and flavours of Hyper-V v2 including the command line only and free Hyper-V Server 2008 R2, and also the full GUI versions available in the full Windows Server 2008 R2 product.

For an EAP, or TAP for that matter, you need a customer who’s willing to participate in deploying and testing early release software (Beta’s and Release Candidate builds) in a production environment, and then talk about it through press releases, case studies, etc. also known in Microsoft speak as ‘customer evidence’.
The benefits are many!  Microsoft gets real world deployments of their new product ahead of general release which helps with convincing the wider market that the technology is dependable and fit to deploy.  The customer gets to the latest technology for their business ahead of their competition, and often assistance/support such as sponsored consulting, licenses, etc.  The partner (us) gets supported training, technical assistance, and exposure to new products ahead of our competition, plus, of course, exposure in the market through PR & various co-marketing activities.

Our EAP customer deployment was with Ascom Network Testing (formerly Argogroup – www.argogroup.com).  Ascom Network Testing is part of the Mobile Test Solutions business of the Swiss company Ascom (www.ascom.com), and is a global provider of mobile test & measurement solutions for some of the worlds largest mobile network operators (the likes of Verizon, T-Mobile, Orange, etc.). 
Specifically Ascom wanted to update and improve the backend server components of a product called Monitor Master.  Monitor Master is an end-to-end solution for measuring ‘User Experience’ and collates and presents measurement data from mobile services probes out in the field.  Monitor Master is a Business Intelligence (BI) platform with a data warehouse back-end running on Microsoft SQL Server.

The project was given the title ‘EPIC’ due to the scale of the larger deployments which can be several hundreds of Gigabytes of data.  The primary goals were to accelerate the quality and consistency of customer deployments of the Monitor Master server components.  This was achieved by defining and testing new reference architectures including O/S setup, database configuration, hardware platform architecture, and operational procedures to manage the environment.

Clearly Virtualisation can help accelerate almost any platform development project and due to the timings of the project, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V v2 was an obvious choice.  Soon into the project we came to realise that due to the performance and other benefits of Hyper-V v2 it could actually form part of the solution, not just a tool to help develop it! 🙂

Our old mate, business associate & mentor (for all things PR & communications), John Dean (COO of www.showmethegolf.tv) helped us put together a short release that announced this exciting project, it went out to coincide with the global Windows Server 2008 R2 & Windows 7 launch events and is available online via PRWEB (http://uk.prweb.com/releases/2009/10/prweb3039184.htm), but also below for your enjoyment!:

PRESS RELEASE

The Full Circle Secures Client for Windows Server 2008 R2 EAP

Ascom Network Testing Enrolled as Early Adopter for Hyper-V Virtualisation

London, 15 October 2009 – The Full Circle, the Microsoft Gold Partner specialising in virtualisation and infrastructure deployments, announced today that it had secured Ascom Network Testing’s participation in the Windows Server 2008 R2 UK Early Adopter Program (EAP).

Ascom Network Testing is a global mobile data software systems provider. They offer test and measurement solutions to many of the world’s largest mobile network operators, including Verizon, Orange, and T-Mobile.

The EAP enables selected partners to take part in co-funded consulting engagements to drive product deployments prior to full launch. This gives partners and customers strategic advantage while enabling Microsoft to develop public references for their marketing efforts.

Reuben Cook, Founder, The Full Circle – “We are delighted that Ascom Network Testing will be part of the Windows Server 2008 R2 EAP. We are confident it will offer tremendous value as it will enable them to reap the benefits that the new technologies can deliver to the business well in advance of their competitors.  Windows Server 2008 R2 is planned for release October 22nd”

Kit Smithers, Chief Technical Officer, Ascom Network Testing Ltd – ”We immediately recognised the benefits of participating in the program. We have a particularly strong interest in the benefits of virtualisation and consolidation, and look forward to enjoying the performance and flexibility benefits that it will give us.”

Mike Peers, Channel Development Manager, Virtualisation, Microsoft – “The Full Circle have been an active partner on our Windows Server 2008 R2 Early Adoption Programme.  The programme is designed to help partners gain early experience deploying Hyper-V, whilst also benefitting customers in the early adoption of the technology.”

Cook concluded: “At first we saw Hyper-V as a component that could accelerate Ascom’s internal solution development process.  But it has quickly become apparent that Hyper-V could in itself become part of their client solution offering, due to the power, performance and stability it offers.  It has been a great success.”

Ends:  340 Words

VMware Virtualisation Seminar – 12th November, Global Knowledge, London

Wednesday 12th November, 2008

As founder and CTO of a London based IT consultancy ‘Full Circle Technology Limited (aka The Full Circle – www.thefullcircle.com) I often attend various trade shows and events, however these are often complimentary or supportive of our position as a Microsoft Gold partner.

Virtualisation has always been hot on our agenda, indeed it is in the business plan from when we launched our consulting business in 2003.  It has continued to be a growth technology we have implemented for several clients over the years using Microsoft Virtual Server, and more recently Hyper-V (www.microsoft.com/uk/hyper-v).

I’ve also been an early user of PC based virtualisation since 2001/2, where as CTO of a technology services company I’d insisted that our support & engineering team use virtual machines (VMware workstation at the time) for testing in relation to support & development (the main reason being to minimise the impact of breaking their production machines by ‘playing’ with flakey software! ;-))

Anyway, today I went along with a keen new associate of ours, Will Darbey, to an excellent seminar event hosted by a leading UK training organisation, Global Knowledge (www.globalknowledge.co.uk).
The seminar was exclusively about a technology that could be viewed as just ever so slightly competative to Microsoft in the virtualisation space… VMware (www.vmware.com).

It must be said, that if in the market for VMware training and certfication, then Global Knowledge is well worth a serious look in… (http://www.globalknowledge.co.uk/courses__certifications/vmware_training.aspx).

A most excellent use for the corner of the BSG building (City Road, London)

The agenda for the day was split into two halfs:

AM Session: Business Briefing-Aimed at people who are considering virtualisation for their business and the benefits it can bring to an organisation.

  • 10:00 – 11:30 Management Briefing
    Introduction to VMware
  • Virtualisation the Datacentre Initiative
  • VMware Infrastructure
  • Virtualisation Benefits
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Green IT
  • Government Legislation
  • Virtual Desktop
  • VMware lower total cost of ownership
  • 11:30 – 12:00 Q & A
  • 12:00 – 13:00 Lunch

PM Session: Technical Briefing –The session is for technical people responsible for evaluating VMware ESX Server and VirtualCenter; including IT managers, system architects, and system administrators.

  • 14:00 – 15:30 Technical Briefing:
  • Reliable Foundation
  • The Hypervisor
  • Architecture
  • The Management
  • Create, Convert, Deploy, Patch, Protect, Deliver
  • Guided Consolidation, Upgrade Manager, SRM Shared Services
  • Resource allocation
  • Live Migration
  • High Availability
  • Resource distribution, Power management Integration
  • Hardware and Guest OS support
  • Conversion and Capacity Planning
  • 15:30 – 16:00 Q & A

Speakers:

  • David Day –David comes from a 10 year Cisco and Microsoft background, and currently manages the technical delivery program for VMware Authorised Training Centres. Originally from South Africa, David is now based in the UK, and has been with VMware for four years.
  • John Churchhouse –John leads the VMware Strategic Partners team which covers all OEM and System Integrator/System Outsourcer relationships in the UK and Ireland.  Prior to VMware, John worked for Sun Microsystems where he managed the System Integrator partner sales team.

As usual I made a few scribbles from the day…

“Virtualization will be the highest-impact trend changing infrastructure and operations through 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. Virtualization will transform how IT is managed, what is bought, how it is deployed, how companies plan and how they are charged. As a result, virtualization is creating a new wave of competition among infrastructure vendors that will result in considerable market disruption and consolidation over the next few years.”
– Gartner

 

The day was split into two parts, the morning session with John Churchhouse on the business angle, and the afternoon a technical deep dive and demonstration with David Day.

Morning session: John Churchhouse, Manager Strategic Partners, VMware

VMware by the numbers..

Founded 1998

2007 rev. $1.33B projected $1.8-1.9B

6100 employees (almost doubled since Jan, current hiring freeze)..

50% year on year growth for last 8 years, limited

120,000 customers, 87% deployed in production, 43% standardising on VMware Infrastructure (i.e. VMotion, HA, Backup, etc.)

 

3rd software company to maintain 50% revenue growth after reaching $1B (other two being Microsoft & Oracle)

 

reasons/uses for virtualisation (with VMware of course! ;-)) 

 

Server Consolidation & Containment – eliminate server sprawl by deploying systems into virtual machines…

Infrastructure Provisioning – reduce time to provision new infrastructure to minutes with sophisticated automation capabilities and standardised machine templates.

Business Continuity – reduce cost and complexity of BC by encapsulating entire systems into files that can be replicated and restored to any server

Test and Development– rapid provision and re-provision of test & dev environments; store libraries or pre-configured test machines

Enterprise Desktop / Virtual Desktop Infrastructure– secure unmanaged PCs. Alternatively, provide standardised enterprise desktop environments hosted on secure, reliable, centrally managed servers.

Legacy Application re-hosting – migrate legacy O/S & apps to virtual machines running on faster and newer hardware for better/improved reliability.

 

TCO on server consolidation typically 6 months… ?!? www.vmware.com/go/calculator

 

Greenness– Qualcomm – reduced 900+ servers, 11.2 tonnes of CO2 per server saved!

 

ESXi / VMware Virtualisation Layer – 32MB, free download – smaller, tighter, less to go wrong!

Can be specified and shipped pre-installed with servers from HP & Dell..

 

Trigger points for VDI… hmmm I missed that one…

 

2008: the year of automation!

Automation = Business Agility

Automate IT processes (Lifecycle management from machine birth through death/retirement)

Create resource pools

Capacity on-demand

 

Disaster Recovery

DR in the virtual world is orders of magnitude simpler in the virtual world.. e.g. hardware and firmware levels can be different across DR sites as the virtual layer is consistent

Turn manual recovery run books into automated

 

Test & Development

Developer productivity – >75% reduction in server to staff ratio, 10x reduction in system config time, 20% acceleration in system development lifecycle time

 

A UK ‘small’ business example..

BT consolidated 1503 servers, est 375 racks of x86 ay 5 sites replaced with 30 at 3 sites

4509 network ports down to 168!
 

Afternoon session: David Day, Technical Services Director, VMware
David’s session was a fast paced, technical deep dive into various aspects of VMware virtualisation, including some complimentary technologies.  He also ran through some demonstrations including an unplanned, unrehearsed demo (always a brave thing to do) – everything worked like a dream! (its good stuff this VMware ;-).

I’d love to give more detail other than David clearly knows his stuff and then some!, however and unfortuantely I was against the clock getting our EBS 2008 PR submitted – had to be out of the door for a 16:00 release… see http://reubenjcook.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/windows-essential-business-server-2008-launch/

Will & I did, however, have a chance to look somewhat confused with VMware… (before the event of course!! ;-)).

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