Category Archives: Virtualization

Hotfix 1 for SCVMM 2016 Update Rollup 1

Microsoft has published a new Hotfix 3208888 for those who are running SCVMM 2016 Update Rollup 1. This includes a fix for the issue where when you use VMM to live migrate a VM from one host that’s running one version of Windows Server 2016 to another host that’s running a different version of Windows Server 2016, the placement page assigns a zero rating to the target host.(i.e Datacenter edition to Standard edition). This issue happens only when you try to live migrate between two version of Windows Server 2016 but not when you are trying a live migration between hosts that are running 2012 R2 and 2016.

This leads to block the live migration with below error message:

Unable to migrate or clone the virtual machine VM_name because the version of virtualization software on the host does not match the version of virtual machine’s virtualization software on source version_number. To be migrated or cloned, the virtual machine must be stopped and should not contain any saved state.

Installing KB3208888

Note the this is applicable only to those who are running SCVMM 2016 Update Rollup 1.

  • Download the KB package from here.
  • Use an elevated Command Prompt to install the KB manually.

msiexec.exe /update kb3208888_vmmserver_amd64.msp

 

VM Version Upgrade | Windows Server 2016 & Windows 10

If you have recently upgraded your datacentre infrastructure to Windows Server 2016 (or your client device to Windows 10) you can benefit from the latest Hyper-V features available on your virtual machines by upgrading their configuration version. Before you upgrade to the latest VM version make sure;

  • Your Hyper-V host are running latest version of Windows or Windows Server and you have upgraded the cluster functional level.
  • You are not going to move back the VMs to a Hyper-V host that is running a previous version of Windows or Windows Server.

The process is fairly simple and involves only four steps. First check the current VM configuration version.

  • Run Windows PowerShell as an administrator.
  •  Run the Get-VM cmdlet as below  and check the versions of Hyper-V VMs. Alternatively the configuration version can be obtained by selecting the virtual machine and looking at the Summary tab in Hyper-V Manager.

Get-VM * | Format-Table Name, Version

  • Shutdown the VM.
  • Select Action > Upgrade Configuration Version. If you don’t see this option for any VM that means that  it’s already at the highest configuration version supported by that particular Hyper-V host.

If you prefer PowerShell you can run the below command to upgrade the configuration version.

Update-VMVersion <vmname> 

Introducing Technical Preview 4 | Windows Server 2016 & System Center 2016

With dawn of the year 2016 almost upon us, Microsoft has released another build for it’s upcoming Windows Server & System Center 2016 suite of products. This Technical Preview 4 contains much new advancements and fixes based on customer feedback on the product clearly making it’s way as the cloud OS for next generation of computing.

Nano Server gets a new touch

Nano server, a headless installation option like server core which is going to be one of the installation option for Windows Server 2016 has improved a lot since last preview. In this release IIS & DNS server roles can be installed in Nano server in addition to existing Hyper-V & Scale-out File Server features.

Introducing Hyper-V Containers

Providing additional layer of isolation for Windows Containers, Hyper-V containers can be now deployed as virtual sandboxes to host application workloads. This technology utilizes the nested virtualization capability introduced in Windows Server TP4. Also you can use both docker & PowerShell to create, deploy and manage Windows Containers.

System Center 2016 Improvements

Another milestone is the System Center 2016 TP4 release with some awesome features for private cloud management. Now you can use the SCOM agent to monitor your Nano Servers in TP4. SCCM 2016 TP4 has introduced some new functionality to improve Windows 10 deployment experience via SCCM.

  • Mobile Device management (MDM): enhanced feature parity with Intune standalone – Many of the  MDM feature that are supported via Intune standalone (cloud only) are also enabled for Configuration Manager integrated with Intune (hybrid) in this release.

  • Integration with Windows Update for Business – Now you can view the list of devices that are controlled by Windows Update for Business.

  • Certificate provisioning for Windows 10 devices managed via on-premises mobile device management

You can download Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 4 & System Center 2016 Technical Preview 4 evaluation bits from here.

Look into the future of your datacenter with Savision Cloud Reporter

The biggest challenge today that IT managers face is accommodating the rapid workload growth in their environments. One cannot always buy hardware when the demand for resources is high. Another dilemma is having a clear picture of resource utilization in the datacenter. If you are running a virtualized datacenter on VMWare or Hyper-V and looking for a cost effective solution to address above pain points there is no better solution than Savision Cloud Reporter.

Unlike its competitor from Veeam which uses a collector to gather data, Savision Cloud reporter is a simple management pack that you import in to your existing SCOM environment. It provides a unified view for both VMWare & Hyper-V environments; utilizes existing vCenter to load data about VMware hosts into SCOM. Being a simple management pack without additional configuration Cloud Reporter leverages existing health agent deployed to Hyper-V hosts and has its own schema within the SCOM Data warehouse database.

One of the cool features that I personally like about Cloud Reporter is that it can monitor Live Migrations in your Hyper-V Cluster which cannot be done by the standard SCVMM management pack. This is possible because Cloud Reporter treats a VM as an object and updates the VM references whenever a Live Migration is performed.

The most important feature of any capacity planning tool is the ability to forecast the future growth. Cloud Reporter has its own set of forecasting reports like below. If you want to create your own reports with Microsoft Power BI that is also possible once the Cloud Reporter is installed and its own schema is in place in the Data warehouse database. You can convert these reports to Excel or PDF instantaneously by allowing IT administrators to present forecasting data on the fly for management reporting.

Cluster Forecast Dashboard


Hyper-V Virtual Machine Processor Rightsizing Report


Cloud Reporter provides a handy set of task based reports such as idle VMs, VMs missing MMA agent etc… Being said that it is also a cost effective alternative to Veeam if your goal is to import VMware vCenter alarms to SCOM and display them as alerts. It also provides proactive resource exhaustion reports such as below so that you can easily decide when to order the next batch of hardware without running numerous data gathering methods.

Memory Exhaustion Predictions


Being a SCOM management pack the first question one might have about this product is how long it would take to generate a forecast after installing Cloud Reporter. Experienced SCOM admins know that you have to give it a time for any management pack to blend in, and in this case roughly you can generate the first forecast report after 2 – 3 days. In most cases Cloud Reporter is ideal for self-service environments such as hosted service provider clouds in which rapid growth of workloads can be expected.

If you want a much simpler and cost effective forecasting solution for you datacenter, I would definitely recommend Savision Cloud Reporter. You can contact Savision if you want to schedule a live demo or to get a quote for this amazing tool.

Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter 3.0

Recently Microsoft has announced the latest release of MVMC 3.0, a standalone product by Microsoft for P2V & V2V conversion. After System Center 2012 SP1 there were no built in support for P2V conversion in the VMM so as IT PROs we had to rely on MVMC & Disk2VHD.

What’s new?

  • P2V conversion of Windows 2008/ Windows Vista or above operating systems has been included in this version. Being said that those who want to convert legacy Windows OS up to Windows Advanced Server 2000 SP4 can still leverage Disk2VHD.
  • Native PowerShell capability that can be integrated with System Center Orchestrator workflows.
  • Conversion of Linux guest operating systems from VMware to Hyper-V

Prerequisites for MVMC 3.0 Installation

  • Windows Server 2012 R2/Windows Server 2012/or Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 and .NET Framework 4 (MVMC on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1)
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5 (MVMC on Windows Server 2012/R2 or Windows 8/8.1)
  • For PowerShell cmdlets released with MVMC 3.0 requires Windows PowerShell Runtime 3.0 and these will only function on Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1 or above.
  • Bits Compact server windows feature should be installed
  • Visual C++® Redistributable for Visual Studio® 2012 Update 1

What MVMC can do?

  • P2V Conversion (Windows Server 2008/Windows Vista or above)
  • V2V Conversion (VMware to Hyper-V)
  • V2V Conversion (Hyper-V to Microsoft Azure)

You can download and try this great tool from here.

Build your Test Lab | Client Hyper-V

If you are by any chance a developer reading my blog, you know how painful it is to go after IT department begging for resources for your test lab. Guess what! Screw IT guys (Don’t take it hard on them. They are doing their best. Only problem is $$$$) with Windows 8 & Windows 8.1 you can build your own test lab using Client Hyper-V. Now I know this first hand because I face this problem daily with our development team and we had a awareness session recently on Client Hyper-V.

Client Hyper-V is same as Hyper-V server or Windows Server with Hyper-V role installed (of source with some limitations). All you have to do is enable Hardware Virtualization in you laptop/PC and enable the Hyper-V feature in the OS.

Following features from the Server version of Hyper-V is lack on the Client version.

  • Remote FX ability to virtualize GPUs
  • Live migration of VMs
  • Hyper-V Replica
  • SR-IOV networking
  • Virtual Fibre Channel

Now lets take a peek on how to do it in a proper way.

Pre-requisites

  1. A PC/laptop with a minimum of 4 GB RAM running on 64 bit version of Windows 8/8.1 Professional or Enterprise version (Yes this is a as it is requirement)
  2. 64 bit processor with Second Level Address Translation (SLAT)
  3. Hardware Virtualization support in the chipset. You can check this in your BIOS. Most of the modern motherboards have this feature and you can turn it on from BIOS setup. It should be something of a check box saying”enable Virtualization Technology  (VTx)”

Installation

  1. Enable Hardware Virtualization from your BIOS setup (Not so sure. Just Google it)
  2. Go to Control Panel > Programs and Features > Turn Windows Features on or off > Select Hyper-V and Click OK. You need to chosse both Hyper-V Management Tools & Hyper-V Platform. If you choose the management tools alone, you can only remotely administer Hyper-V host and cannot create any VMs on your PC.

AND THAT’S IT! NO MORE BUGGING.

Well you may still require to create a Virtual switch (External Virtual Switch is recommended in order to allow Internet access to your VMs) and associate vNICs of your VMs to that. Well here is a fully featured article from Canadian IT PRO connection blog that explains how to do it yourself. (A big thank you for them as well). Now take advantage of this cool feature from you Windows 8/8.1 PC/laptop and build your test lab in minutes.

One more thing.

More VMs = More Physical RAM + Disk Space

Obviously you need around 16 GB of RAM plus adequate disk space if you need couple VMs depending on your memory allocation. Also take a look at your CPU as well/ Better the CPU is better the performance of your VMs.

Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager

As a SysAdmin you are responsible for the protection of your data center. We are all comfy with traditional backups and DR methods with off-site backup infrastructure. But what happens if your secondary site caught up in a fire?  The worst case is you are running the whole data center in a private cloud. This gives us a good example of why we should backup our VMs to the cloud.

Windows Hyper-V Recovery Manager protects applications by coordinating the replication of virtual machines at a secondary location. It provides Hyper-V Replica asynchronous virtual machine replication capabilities in Windows Server and the Virtual Machine Manager component of system center and combines them with the power of Windows Azure to provide site-to-site protection of your virtual machines and private clouds. There are three key functions provided by this feature.

Automated Protection

Protection of VMs can be automated once configured. This integrates with Hyper-V replica and SCVMM technologies and delivers on going replication of VMs. Also all the work load data remains in your network which means they neither moved into or passes through Windows Azure.

Continuous Health Monitoring

Once automated protection is in place the Hyper-V Replica Manager monitors the health of VMs real-time with SCVMM. Keep in mind that only SCVMM servers can communicate directly with Azure.

Orchestrated Recovery

In an event of a failure, VMs can be recovered in an orderly fashion. You can predefine which VMs you need to recover first. You can create customized recovery workflow, store them in Azure and even test them before deploying.

How it works Windows Azure Recover Manager

If you have,

  • a secondary site
  • a SCVMM server
  • Unprotected workloads

Then Azure Recovery Manager is the best solution for your data center protection.

Resources

  1. Hyper-V Recovery Manager
  2. Configure Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 | Facts that matter

For those who have been working with Microsoft Virtualization platform, the free enterprise grade hypervisor is a valuable product for running VMs on the fly. The new version of Hyper-V Server has number of advantages compared to it’s  predecessor. If you take a look at the features of Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V role installed vs. free hypervisor there is no difference. That is all the features are exact same.

Now lets focus on why you should use the Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 for you virtualization platform.

Free forever

YES it’s free as in FREE BEER (the product). You’ll need to license only the VMs. If you are a developer or an IT PRO who just needs a host to run you test lab this is it.

Shared VHDX storage

Hyper-V 2012 R2 is capable of clustering virtual machines using shared virtual hard disk (VHDX) files. I you need high availability in your private cloud deployment for large workloads this feature enables multiple VMs to access the same same virtual hard disk (VHDX) file, providing Windows Failover Clustering. VHDX files can be stored in CSV or SMB 3.0 Scale-out file server shares. This is a new feature with this release.

GEN 2 VMs

2012 R2 provides two different platforms for your VMs. Generation 1 VMs  provides the same virtual hardware as in previous versions of Hyper-V while Generation 2 VMs provide new functionality such as,

  • Secure Boot (enabled by default)
  • Boot from a SCSI virtual hard disk
  • Boot from a SCSI virtual DVD
  • PXE boot by using a standard network adapter
  • UEFI firmware support

Important fact is that IDE drives and legacy network adapter support along with legacy hardware support has been removed in Generation 2 VMs. This way the boot up time for a typical VM has been increased by 90%. Not all Guest OS are supported in this architecture (only Windows Server 2012/2012 R2, Windows 8/8.1 x64 versions are supported). You can choose what generation of a VM you’ll need in the New VM creation wizard and once created you can’t change the generation of a VM.

Enhanced Session Mode

Hyper-V now allows you to use your local resources such as Display configuration, Audio, Printers, Clipboard, Smart cards,  Drives, USB devices and Supported Plug and Play devices to be redirected to a Virtual Machine Connection session. Yet again this feature only supports Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 client.

Storage Quality of Service

This enables you to specify the maximum and minimum I/O operations per second (IOPS) for each virtual disk in your virtual machines. This way you have a guarantee that one VHD doesn’t impact the performance of another on the same host.

You can download the free Hypervisor from here. If you are new to virtualization with Microsoft you can have an idea about what it is by going through the below TechNet article.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831531.aspx

The era of physical machines has come to an end. Therefore get yourself familiarize with the virtualization before you become a LEGACY SysAdmin.

P.S Following is an interesting video about what’s new in Hyper-V 2012 R2 presented at TechEd 2013 North America featuring Rick Claus and Benjamin Armstrong.