Tag Archives: Windows Server

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> 

October 2016 Cumulative Windows Updates Crash SCOM Console

It seems like the October 2016 cumulative Windows updates (KB3194798, KB3192392, KB3185330 &KB3185331) cause the SCOM consoles 2012/2016 in all Windows versions from Windows Server 2008 R2 up to 2016 and Windows 7 up to 10 Windows 10 to regularly crash without any doubt.

According to Microsoft Germany’s SCOM PFE Dirk Brinkmann  who has blogged about this issue here, the SCOM team is working on a fix for this as of now and no ETA for an resolution has been provided yet.

Once a fix is available you will be able to see it via SCOM team blog.

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.

Docker Client for Windows is here

Last year Microsoft has partnered with Docker Inc to provide the next generation applications called Containers. As a result of the journey towards heterogeneous apps,  Microsoft has released the GA version of Docker CLI for Windows last week. As of today, using this tool you can manage Linux containers hosted in Azure or your own VMs straight from your Windows desktop. Microsoft plans to introduce their own container technology as below.

Windows Server containers

The idea behind this container is similar to Linux Container technology. Containers are isolated, but they share OS kernel and, where appropriate bins/libraries. Simply put we are talking about OS Virtualization where applications doesn’t need to be OS specific.

Hyper-V Containers

Using Microsoft Hyper-V technology these containers are fully isolated from the OS itself by running on the hypervisor layer. This ensures that one container has no impact on it’s host or any other containers in the same system. Even though these containers are running inside a hypervisor it doesn’t have any restriction over container deployment. You can simply deploy containers that you targeted for Windows Server in Hyper-V containers and vice versa without any modification.

Nano Server

Microsoft’s Nano server is the Windows version of Red Hat’s Atomic host, an OS designed to run containers in cloud. This version of Windows has no GUI stack, 32 bit support (WOW64), MSI and a number of default Server Core components has also been taken off. Also local logon and Remote Desktop has been removed and managing a nano server can be done only via  WMI and PowerShell. As per Microsoft nano server has 93% lower VHD size, 92% fewer critical bulletins and most importantly 80% fewer reboots.

Installing Docker CLI in Windows

There are two methods currently supported for installing Docker CLI for Windows.

Boot2Docker

Boot2Docker will install a tiny Linux VM running on Virtual Box (Yes you will have to disable Hyper-V engine for this). It is a lightweight linux distro called Tiny Core Linux specifically designed to run Docker containers. You can download the Windows version from here.

Chocolatey

This is Machine Package manager like built for Windows.Think it as YUM or apt-get for Windows. Installation is rather simple. Let’s see how we install Docker CLI using this method. You can visit their website for more information on all supported packages other than Docker.

  • Open a Command Prompt as admin and execute below command.

C:/>@powershell -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy unrestricted -Command “iex ((new-object net.webclient).DownloadString(‘https://chocolatey.org/install.ps1’))” && SET PATH=%PATH%;%ALLUSERSPROFILE%\chocolatey\bin

  • Once it finishes open a PS seesion as an administrator and set the execution policy to at least Bypass. Then type the below command to proceed.

PS:/>iex ((new-object net.webclient).DownloadString(‘https://chocolatey.org/install.ps1’))

  • Now it’s time to install the Docker CLI. Using either PowerShell or Command prompt execute below command to install Docker CLI.

C:/>choco install docker

  • To upgrade the Docker Client type choco upgrade docker

 

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.