Migrating WSUS 3.2 to Windows Server 2012 R2

Couple months back  I was assigned a task to migrate our WSUS server which was running under W2k3 R2 to W2k12 R2. The existing WSUS server was 10+ years old and actually was installed in a Domain Controller (Don’t laugh at me. I didn’t do that). The challenge I had to face was migrate all the content along with approved updates. To be exact I worked on this for 4 days following every article I could find but each time I failed at approvals. Finally it was just a simple task (I was a fool to not look at TechNet) described as in here.

I’m gonna describe how I did it (just the facts, cut the crap)

Migrate WSUS update binaries

  1. Before starting the work, I stopped WSUS service and the synchronization schedule in the existing server.
  2. Installed WSUS role on the new server. At the end of the configuration wizard I’ve left the configuration for later. This is a  must.
  3. Then created a NT Backup task to the entire WSUS Backup content folder (in my case this was 97 GB+)
  4. As Windows Server 2008 onwards NT Backup is retired, I copied the NT Backup binaries from a W2k3 server and copied it to the 2012 server. It works just fine and from there I imported the backup to the new WSUS location.

Migrate WSUS security groups

I didn’t do anything specific in this step. All the users, groups and security permissions were exact same in my new setup. If you are not certain go ahead  and double check as described here.

Back up the WSUS database

This is the most important step. I’m not gonna fill all the details but you can see how to do it here. Remember you need to install SQL Server 2012 Management Studio in your new server as 2005 version is not supported in 2012. This is required for WSUS database import.

Final steps

  1. After completing the WSUS database migration, open up WSUS console in the new server. You may notice that approved updates along with rest (yes 97 GB+) are there.
  2. Configure the new WSUS server with exact same configuration (products, classifications, automatic approvals, sync schedule etc… ). Most of the items are already there as we imported the WSUS database but make sure everything is same.
  3. In my organization, we had group policy in place to define the WSUS server. I just had to change the host name to the new one.
  4. Start a manual synchronization in the new server. Once it is finished make sure that the sync is Succeeded.
  5. As you have change the WSUS server in the domain group policy, you may need to log off and log in to client computers or run a gpupdate /force. Alternatively follow the step in the TechNet article to manually detect a client computer.

At the end of the day I saved a huge amount bandwidth for my company with a minimum downtime. So now you can stop worrying about downloading everything from the beginning if you are planning to migrate your WSUS setup to Server 2012 R2.

Watch below video from MVA featuring Andrew McMurry on how to perform this.

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.

OneDrive is coming

Microsoft has decided to re-brand their cloud storage offering “SkyDrive” to “OneDrive“. This was announced on January 27th and Microsoft states the transformation as,

“OneDrive name conveys the value we can deliver for you and best represents our vision for the future.”

The company hasn’t given an exact launch date yet. But we can expect this change to hit within next few weeks. Existing SkyDrive & SkyDrive PRO users will be automatically converted to the new name. Seems to me it would just be re-branding the existing service but Microsoft may surprise us with new features as they always do. I personally prefer SkyDrive over Google Drive because it’s much neat & pretty much easier to use.

You can find more information about this from OneDrive Blog. Enjoy the video from below.

Windows Server 2000 P2V with Disk2VHD

Nowadays lot of companies are moving to either private or public cloud to host their IT infrastructure. But at the end of the day sysadmins need to migrate the physical servers to VMs with less effort. In earlier editions of SCVMM this was possible but not with Systems Center 2012 R2.

Sysinternals suite provides a hassle free tiny tool called Disk2VHD to achieve this. This is actually a small exe file which will capture the physical hard disk volumes to VHDs and allows you to save them locally or into a network share.

Disk2vhd_v2.0In December 2013 Disk2VHD v2.0 has been released with support for VHDX format. But you need to keep in mind that in order to convert, the OS must support Windows’ Volume Snapshot. This is a must and it means that you can only convert from Server 2003/Windows XP onwards.

Then we come to the next BIG question. WHAT ABOUT MY WINDOWS SERVER 2000 SERVERS? Personally this was a headache for myself as well as I needed to do a P2V conversion for some Windows Server 2000 machines. After spending few hours in Google (Yes it was somewhere in a TechNet answer. If you couldn’t find it don’t worry) I found a simple trick to make it happen.

  1. Make sure that your grandpa server is running on W2K SP4.
  2. Shutdown the server and take off the hard disk.
  3. Install the hard disk on a computer with Windows XP (anything above that is OK too)
  4. Boot up the second computer and make a note of the new volumes.
  5. Download Disk2VHD exe from here
  6. Create VHDs as you want. You can save them to a local drive or if you have a fast network (from my experience 1 Gbps LAN connection would save a 40 GB hard disk in a matter of 15 minutes via network) you can use an existing shared folder. I still prefer to save to VHD format for Windows 2000.

Et voilà! Your old 2000 server is running on Hyper-V within a matter of minutes.

P.S : Installing guest additions for Windows Server 2000 SP4 is literally a NIGHTMARE unless you know your keyboard shortcuts in VM connection. Take a look at here for list of keyboard shortcuts which may come in handy.