RSS

Category Archives: Microsoft

Travails in Hyper-V R2eality: Tales of the Red Mist: A Messcellany

fistmonitorDo you geddit? Miscellany and Messcellany. It’s wots called a pun my friend.

In my travails in Hyper-V R2eality, I’ve come across of number of facepalm moments – and also a number “I want to drive my fist through the screen” situations. Sadly, none of these individual add up to much on their own. Collectively they are more than the sum of their parts. I wanted to share those experiences with you – and I thought a “messcellany” might help facilitate that.

The kind of thing I’m getting at is the daily grind of not-workingness that you have to live with. Do you ever have days, weeks or months (years!) where everything seems broken, and you feel your will to live is slowly being sapped by software. That’s the kind of thing I’m thinking about. At all times you try to remain calm. Deploying all those strategies your therapist taught you in “Anger Management” classes. Perhaps I’m getting old and jaded, but my personal well of patience for things that don’t work is one that appears to get shallower and shallower as the years roll by. You would think after many years of working in IT, my levels of hope would have levelled off to such a low-level of expectation – that I would no longer experience the feeling of disappointment. Sadly, the battle scars of working in IT haven’t eviscerated all semblance of optimism. And I still have this crazy notion that stuff should work – all the time, and never break. I know I need my head examining…

Anyway, for the sake of my own sanity, I’ve tried to approach these with a big fat dose of humour – and some videos to amuse along the way… mainly on the theme of Monty Python sketches…

  • To P2V or Not P2V
  • When is an upgrade not an upgrade?
  • Network Virtualization “Gateway” –  Clusters in clusters…
  • Remember NOT to store stuff in the C: drive
  • Adding Windows Hyper-V Host to SCVMM
  • A State of Job #Failure
  • Prerequisites: No one expects the Spanish Inquisition
  • It’s not Hypervisor, its naughty, naughty boy
  • The RunAS Olympics…
  • I tell you what’s wrong with it. It’s dead…

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Microsoft

Comments Off on Travails in Hyper-V R2eality: Tales of the Red Mist: A Messcellany

Hyper-V R2eality: VMs not so hot after all…

When I first got into virtualization with VMware, one of the most compelling advantages was the fact that the VM is just a process (albeit one running an OS inside it) and it liberated you from the constraints of physicalization. That’s a word I invented to describe the situation where someone is foolish enough to run x86 OSes directly on a physical server. When Virtualization 1.0 came on the scene it seemed a revelation that if I wanted more memory, disk, network or CPU – I merely had to power off the VM, click a spinner and power back on. Nowadays, even that seems rather quaint and charmingly old-fashioned. We have got so used to being able to add resources on the fly, you would assume that every vendor in this so-called era of the “commoditized hypervisor” would have this functionality. I mean especially Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2, right?

I’m going to do a quick compare of vSphere 5.5 with Windows Hyper-V 2012 R2. I’ll be using the same guest OSes and the latest and greatest versions – Hardware Level 10 with the vSphere Web Client and a Gen2 VM in Hyper-V. Sadly, what you will find is the Microsoft Virtual Machine is more like the Physical Machine, because to make changes often as not you have to power it down. To me that makes Microsoft Virtualization more like a 1.0 era solution. It’s all somewhat bizarre coming from a company that championed “Plug & Pray” in the 90s.

These comparison uses a Gen2 VM on Windows Hyper-V 2012 running Windows 2012 R2 inside it – remember Microsoft doesn’t’t offer any supported automated way to do this – as my previous post outlined:

Hyper-V R2eality: On the long, long road to Damascus – Hyper-V Gen1 conversion to Gen2

Adding a PCI Device

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Microsoft

2 Comments

Hyper-V R2eality: On the long, long road to Damascus – Hyper-V Gen1 conversion to Gen2

img01

Acknowledgement: I’d like to recognise John Howard’s TechNet Blog series about Gen2 VMs on Windows Hyper-V 2012 R2. Specifically two posts about conversion. Without these blogposts I wouldn’t have known where to start and this article wouldn’t have been possible. As far as I can tell there are no Microsoft KB articles on the topic, essentially because Microsoft doesn’t have a recognised process for converting Gen1 to Gen2.

Manual Process:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/jhoward/archive/2013/11/06/hyper-v-generation-2-virtual-machines-part-8.aspx

PowerShell Process:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/jhoward/archive/2013/11/14/hyper-v-generation-2-virtual-machines-part-10.aspx

In the world of VMware, when a big new shinny version of vSphere is released it’s not uncommon to find that a new version of VMware Tools and a new virtual hardware level is available. Since vSphere 5.1 it’s possible to upgrade VMware Tools without a reboot, albeit with caveats. Upgrades of the virtual hardware aren’t mandatory – but you do need to power off the VM before editing the virtual machines settings. The nice thing about the upgrade of virtual hardware is the total absence of a torque screwdriver (that’s my little joke by the way).

img02

Note: As we all know upgrading the virtual hardware exposes a new hardware level (which we now refer to as a “compatibility level” which is a combination of VMware Tools version and hardware level) with new features. In the case of hardware level 8 this includes 32-vCPU, 1TB RAM, 3D Graphics for Aero, USB 3.0 and UEFI virtual BIOS. The nice thing about the VMware method is we can defer the upgrade until the next normal guest OS shutdown – or “Patch Tuesday” as its known in the trade. 🙂

In case you don’t know Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V R2 introduced a new Gen2 VM definition. It supports UEFI, boot from SCSI devices rather than IDE, and removes some (but not all) legacy devices in their VM. Perhaps the biggest reason to use a Gen2 over Gen1 VM is the ability to resize disks on the boot disk – something an IDE/Gen1 was incapable of doing. Personally, I find all this quite bizzare. VMware vSphere VMs have always been able to boot from SCSI, and hot-extend of disks from the command-line and UI were added donkey’s years ago…

Sadly, our friends over on the Microsoft side of the fence don’t have it so easy when it comes to “upgrading” from Gen1 virtual machines, to Gen2 virtual machines – that were introduce mid-way in the life of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V R2. The process (and I’m being generous by using that term) involves many, many steps if you are doing it manually using four different command-line tools, and many different PowerShell cmdlets. True, there is PowerShell script that “automates” some of this – but the critical bottleneck has to do with copying of the contents of the Gen1 VHD disk into a Gen2 VHDX disk – something Powershell cannot improve.  This conversion has to happen because Gen1 VMs were IDE based, and Gen2 are SCSI based – and Gen2 VMs do not support booting from IDE. From a performance perspective I don’t see how SCSI would be any better than IDE. It’s virtual after all – but it does show what a pain in the rear only supporting IDE has become. Even when given a blank slate to begin with, Microsoft made a poor decision back in their first iterations of virtualization.

So not only do you have to claim a maintenance window to carry out the process – the time the “conversion” takes is directly related to the speed of your storage and volume of data inside the virtual disk. The other thing to be careful with is – as this process uses “diskpart” you could easily repartition the wrong disk – so be cautious as this runs the risk of data lost. The last thing you want to be doing is reaching for your backup catalog whilst attempting a conversion. As with all Microsoft conversions/upgrade paths the story gets decidedly shaggier the more you get into the process… For instance even after doing the disk conversion – a new Gen2 VM has to be created, so any “custom” settings you had on the Ye Olde Gen1 VM will need documenting and configuring on the new VM… L With that said Howard’s script does handle this more efficiently.

Having worked through the manual process and the Powershell script, and considering the fact that this involves data crunching and extended maintenance windows – it’s my bet most Windows Hyper-V customers wouldn’t want to undertake this “conversion” process. Instead they would probably run with their existing Gen1 where possible, and adopt a policy that all new VMs based on Windows Hyper-V 2012 R2 would be Gen2 based. Another approach would be to invest in some 3rd party tools to help in the conversion. This is all rather ironic to me. Folks who adopt Windows Hyper-V often bang on about cost savings – and they are unlikely to want to supplement entry-level virtualization with additional software. A case of pennywise and pound foolish, perhaps?

Sadly, I think that this Gen1 to Gen2 pain point diminishes the impact of the new Gen2 feature in the short-term… Of course you could always just reinstall Windows to a clean VM, and not bother with this conversion process. We have been here before in my previous article “What works best – Clean install or upgrade”. That’s a view echoed in John Howards post at the end of the process:

So that’s it. Although somewhat involved, that is what it takes to convert a workload from generation 1 to generation 2. You may, of course, decide that a clean installation may be simpler.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/jhoward/archive/2013/11/06/hyper-v-generation-2-virtual-machines-part-8.aspx

Okay. Deep breath. I’ve broken this down into 8 main steps – the truth is within these 8 steps are quite a few sub-steps. Remember the fastest way of doing this is to use the MSDN available PowerCLI script. I’m going try both methods to see how they fair. I think it’s important to know the manual process prior to automation in case the train comes off the tracks.

  1. Disable the recovery environment in source VM
  2. Shutdown source VM; Mount VHD; Capture the image
  3. Create a new VHDX
  4. Partition in the GPT format
  5. Clone WIM to VHDX; Configure BCD Store
  6. Clean up and Unmount VHD/VHDX files
  7. Attached to new Gen2 VM
  8. Rebuild recovery partition and re-enable recovery environment

PHEW!

Of course – they’re some important caveats around this process to be aware off:

  • By cloning a Gen1 VM to be Gen2 VM – you have two copies of the same VM. You should only power one on at any time to prevent IP conflicts, and potential AD issues associated with computer accounts – or patch them into different networks or VLANs
  • Even if you use the script – parts 1 and 8 must be done before hand

My tests were done using a Windows 2008 R2 instance running IIS. And this was my first mistake. I didn’t check to see what OS types are supported with the new Gen2 format. I just assumed Microsoft would support Windows 2008 R2 because it’s still so popular in customer environments. It turns out Gen2 VMs can only use Windows 2012 or Windows 8.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn282285.aspx

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Microsoft

1 Comment

Microsoft Hyper-V R2eality – To P2V or not P2V, that is the question…

One of the more recent oddities from the Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V R2 (Chandler Aside: Can the product name get any longer?) release is Microsoft’s somewhat arbitrary decision to do away with the ability to do P2V conversions from System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). In case you don’t know Administrators used to have access to a pull-down menu option within SCVMM 2012 like so:

 image01

In the new R2 release this was unceremoniously removed, so unsuspecting administrators might think they have some sort of memory lapse after an upgrade.

image02

It seems rash to me to remove functionality like this within the lifetime of products release. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to “depreciate” functionality once it’s become redundant or if it’s being superseded by another more efficient method. That’s something that VMware does at various intervals – and there’s generally plenty of warnings of the future removal of particular function. A good example of this is when you use cmdlet in PowerCLI that has been superseded by a better approach. It gives scripters time to update their automation.

Anyway, believe it or not – those Hyper-V Administrator are not going mad, the “Convert Physical Machine” option has been ripped out completely – and this was tucked away in Microsoft release notes before GA.

image03

Note: Incidentally, I saw this around the time of the GA of R2. The interesting thing about the release notes is that they have appeared to be updated, and this acknowledgement removed. There’s no statement that P2V functionality will be retired or has been removed. All we do know is that it isn’t there anymore. I got this image from this blogpost  http://v-enfra.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/p2v-functionality-retired-in-scvmm-2012.html

So the removal is “by design”. The trouble is there’s scant information available on how on earth administrators are supposed to convert their physical machines into virtual ones. After some digging about I discovered this blogpost – http://blogs.technet.com/b/scvmm/archive/2013/10/03/how-to-perform-a-p2v-in-a-scvmm-2012-r2-environment.aspx

image04

Note: It seems the way of the world nowadays. That vendor documentation is pretty slim on practicalities – and actual day-to-day management tasks have be searched for and located in a morass of blogposts.

This outlines an eight-step process where the customer runs two management layers at the same time. That means running the previous SCVMM 2012 environment to actually carry out the conversion itself – and then importing the VMs from the legacy environment into the new environment. This all seems quite clunky and clumsy to me – just to gain access to a feature such as P2V. I guess another approach would be lash out on a third-party P2V product, but that means parting with valuable cash for a P2V process. Lets face it most customers expect that these sort of conversion tools should be free nowadays, and most unwilling to spend additional money on image management software.

It strikes me that Microsoft should have really mirrored the approach that VMware uses. A dedicated “conversion” utility that is really independent of the management layer. It allows for updates, upgrades and changes without the need to worry about dependencies with wider management systems. It sounds like that’s the ultimate goal of this change. After reading the blogpost above I decided to check the comments section to see if there’d been any more recent news. Of course, like any open board there are plenty of venting and flaming but one comment I was struck by comes from Group Program Manager at Microsoft, Vijay Tewari – as it acknowledges the same point I’ve made.

image05

I think the response from Gary Hay is understandable. It’s one thing to remove a feature because you found a better way of doing it – but to not release that new method or delay its release – rather leaves the customer swinging in the breeze.  There is still no statement from Microsoft of when P2V will re-appear it looks like customers will be lumbered with exporting disks with tools like disk2vhd, and importing them into R2 that way. As others has indicated there’s no disk2vhdx utility for those who have used that disk type…

From what I can tell it looks like Microsoft is putting their efforts into their “Migration Automation Tookit” or MAT for short. Although I don’t think administrators should hold their breath for too long. The MAT 1.5 version doesn’t support the latest versions of vSphere or even R2 Release of Hyper-V. This is something there own “Migration Mark” acknowledges in a post on Dec 30th of last year. I seems as if MAT is tied to another set of tools called “Microsoft Virtual Machine Convertor” (so much for release at cadence fast than the product itself), and by “Migration Mark’s” own admission:

“The MVMC engine is starting to show its age a bit with a lack of support for newer VMware versions as well as having issues on R2.”

Source: http://blogs.technet.com/b/privatecloud/archive/2013/12/30/the-year-in-migration-2013.aspx

There’s an awful lot of chatter about migration from one virtualized environment to another – and a lot hot air about the commoditization of virtualization. My own view is despite the entry of other vendors into the space increasing the choice to customers – the truth is that there is still a palpable gap both in function and finesse between VMware and also-rans. If you want to learn more about the realities of conversion from one virtual platform to another check out my post that compared/contrasted the different methods (freely) available. It seems to me that moving from Microsoft to VMware is decidedly easier than in the other direction.

http://www.mikelaverick.com/2013/09/vcenter-multi-hypervisor-manager-mhm-with-windows-hyper-v-2012/#part6

 

Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Microsoft

Comments Off on Microsoft Hyper-V R2eality – To P2V or not P2V, that is the question…

Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2eality – What works best? – Upgrade or Clean Install?

image01

Why does upgrading Microsoft Windows have to be like climbing Mount Everest?

You can read this whole blogpost if you like. But here’s the very short version. Clean install.

Nothing has really changed in terms of upgrading Microsoft Windows….

Throughout my career I’ve been dogged by a constant question from customers, clients, consultants and students. What works best, a clean install or upgrade? What always gets me about this question is generally the folks asking it already know the answer. Generally, in the shaggy-dog-story of Windows upgrades we all know that clean installs generally work better. In fact a lot of so-called “upgrades” are really just de-installs of one product, with a clean install of the new product on top. In the world of upgrade very little actually happens “in place”. In our industry upgrade processes have a particularly poor reputation. I think that’s because most software companies make little or no effort to testing upgrades against the rigours of a real-life installation. I imagine many just install cleanly the previous version plus some patches, and then a couple of hours later – test their upgrade. That’s why its so often the case that upgrade issues only surface after a product is released, and they are generally found by numb-nuts like me upgrading a product the day of the GA.

As for VMware I’ve always felt that whilst upgrades of both vCenter and ESX in place are viable. It’s really only vCenter that should qualify as genuine upgrade in-place target (rather than a re-install). The VMware ESX host should be regarded as just a block of CPU/Memory. You should (in theory) be able to place an ESX host into maintenance mode (remove it from the Distributed vSwitch if you’re using them) and then remove the host and re-install. That’s because I feel you should really have a robust scripted installation (or PowerCLI scripts) that puts back all the configuration of the host once its back in vCenter. For everyone else there’s an in-place upgrade that actually works pretty well in most cases.

In this first part I’m trying to do an upgrade from SCVMM SP1 (Cumulative Roll-up 4) to SCVMM R2. I thought I would start with the management layer first, and then move on to an upgrade of the Windows Hyper-V hosts. Unfortunately, when I went to run the SCVMM R2 setup program it only gave me the option to uninstall the previous release. The online guides from Microsoft suggest that I shouldn’t get any messages at all – not even a “hi, we see you have SCVMM already installed. Do you want to upgrade it”. 🙂

Edited Low-lights:  R2 Upgrade

  • The Biggie. You need two clusters – Windows Server Hyper-V 2012 and one of Windows Server Hyper-V R2 to do an “online” upgrade that would mean the VMs would always be powered on. That means you need the “spare” hardware to do the upgrade, and there’s storage IOPS generated as you “migrate” VMs from one cluster to the other – as each cluster has its own Cluster Shared Volume (CSVs). This might be viable for large environments, but for SMEs having the resources to build an additional cluster merely to facilitate a software upgrade might be a bit of an ask in my humble opinion
  • Backup/Snapshot your SCVMM!
  • Check & Double-check your database settings
  • Uninstall SCVMM using the installer for SCVMM R2, choosing to retain the SCVMM database
  • Uninstall the previous Microsoft ADK
  • Download & Install the ADK 8.1
  • Reader, reboot! [Remember this IS Windows…]
  • Install SVCMM R2
  • Appearances can be deceptive. Don’t assume that just because a Windows Hyper-V Server is addable to SCVMM that somehow it’s working. Check it status to confirm the VMM Agent is working, and isn’t out of date.  Failure to do this can cause jobs to fail inexplicably. It is VERY easy to be caught out by this. You’ll find you do a piece of admin to resolve an upgrade issue – but that change doesn’t stick. And you’ll end-up looking to the “jobs” view to find your admin didn’t take affect.
  • However, in comparison to upgrading Windows Server Hyper-V 2012 an upgrade of SCVMM is a veritable walk in the park.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Microsoft

1 Comment

Hyper-V R2ality: A Simple Plan – Hyper-V Recovery Manager Preview

image01

Scene from the 1998 movie “A Simple Plan” – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120324/

Because what could possibly go wrong?

Note:

I found a number of different articles and tutorials useful in my experiments. As ever there isn’t really a “killer” article – and you do have to rather stitch together the various parts. But in the interest of helping folks I’ve gathered those resources here:

Deployment Guide for Hyper-V Recovery Manager:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windowsazure/dn168841.aspx 

Configure Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager:

http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/manage/services/recovery-services/configure-a-hyper-v-recovery-vault/

Manage vault certificates:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn169036.aspx

Windows Azure: Backup Services Release, Hyper-V Recovery Manager, VM Enhancements, Enhanced Enterprise Management Support:

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2013/10/22/windows-azure-backup-services-release-hyper-v-recovery-manager-vm-enhancements-enhanced-enterprise-management-support.aspx

Recommendation: I wouldn’t recommend using Azure HRM if you haven’t yet deployed Windows Hyper-V 2012 R2. I couldn’t get the networking functioning with the previous release. Oh, and don’t bother trying to upgrade from R1 to R2, like many Microsoft Windows “upgrades” its horrible. I think your better off with the old faithful clean install. More about this in my next post!

Edited Highlights:

  • I had poor experiences with previous release of SCVMM/Hyper-V. The recent R2 release did actually work. Sadly, I think to get the most out of Azure HRM you talking about an upgrade (don’t even think about that!) or new R2 configuration. Networking mapping doesn’t seem to work without the R2 release
  • HRM is “Hyper-V Replica Broker” only solution, so you cannot use array-based replication with it…
  • SCVMM is the weakest link, and occasionally needs reboots to work with HRM
  • Expect to bounce between various interfaces to monitor things – Hyper-V Replica, Failover Manager, SCVMM and Azure HRM
  • Although you can export the result of jobs (Excel only) you cannot export the recovery plans…
  • HRM is really glorified start-up list – basically starting VMs up the right order – with manual steps and scripts being called – other features reside else where (re-ip in Hyper-V Manager for example) or don’t exist at all…

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Microsoft

1 Comment

Windows Hyper-V 2012 Replicas: Things aren’t always as they seem

image01

A scene from Bladerunner where Harrison Ford has to work who are the real humans, and who are the replicants. Sometimes choosing the right software can feel like that. You’re surround by replicants who look like the real deal, but really they are clapped out robots. Some of the replicas are very seductive on the outside, but deadly on the inside. Buyers Beware!

As part of my travails in Hyper-V Reality series I decided to take a look at Windows Hyper-V Replicas. The equivalent feature in VMware is vSphere Replication. This is a replication process that is software based, and is agnostic when it comes to the underlying storage. There’s a couple of ways that Windows Hyper-V Replicas can be set up – with or without Failover Clustering; Secured or non-secured. My initially goal was to look at the most “production” style configuration. In my configuration the setup will between two clusters and secured. That’s because if you going to replicate, you are probably smart enough to know you theoretically the network that is carrying the replication could be non-secure.  There were times when I was writing this post that I wish I hadn’t given myself this constraint. There are plenty of online help that talks about setting up Hyper-V Replicas without clustering and non-secure using the Hyper-V Manager – and little documentation about the certificate requirements. I do make a rod for my own back sometimes!

As ever my “documentary” style that records every horrible moment of my time with Microsoft Windows Hyper-V can get a bit long winded. So once again here’s the “Edited Highlights”

Edited Highlights:

  • In both R1 and R2 of Hyper-V Replica Broker I found I had handle its requirement for a computer account object in Active Directory. Simply enabling the role does NOT handle this for you. You’ll need to consult this article first before enabling the role:
    http://blogs.technet.com/b/askpfeplat/archive/2012/12/10/why-adding-hyper-v-replica-connection-broker-fails-in-failover-cluster-manager.aspx
  • Hyper-V Replica when used in Failover Cluster environment uses a “Replica Broker”. Communication can be non-secured (HTTP) or secured (HTTPs). The certificate enrolment process is fine – if you the kind of person who enjoys going to the dentist for a root canal. I imagine most folks will avoid this with a barge pole so large it would beggar belief – and choose to instead use a site-to-site VPN configuration if the replication traffic was going over Internet pipes rather than dedicated leased lines…
  • Hyper-V Replica Broker is NOT integrated in any shape or form with SCVMM. This means you are forced to use management tools normally associated with a SMB style deployment – such as Hyper-V Manager or Failover Manager. You will see situations where SCVMM will have reference to objects that don’t exist anymore when you turn off replication. If you are a SCVMM user you will need to toggle between Hyper-V Manager and SCVMM
  • Management Jive: Choose your weapon and stick to it – I wouldn’t for day-to-day management recommend oscillating between Hyper-V Manager and Failover Manager – they tend to jive with each other with the Right-Manager not knowing what the Left-Manager is up to.  If you prefer pretty pictures and pretty dialog boxes, Failover Manager is more pleasing on the eye when managing this process than Hyper-V Manager.
  • Hyper-V Replica Log – Is basically a log that holds a record of the changes occurring in the virtual disks. If the network is down the HRL can become full, trigging a full resynchronisation in out-of-office hours
  • Hyper-V Replicas are not supported within a cluster – only between clusters, or systems that are not clustered. This might prove challenging to an SMB that has a single-site, single-cluster configuration – and yet wants to use replication internally as a rapid recovery method rather than using backups only
  • Incorrect Restore: Off-site backups can cause corruption in the “initial copy” process. A VM01 being protected by a Hyper-V Replica must be restored from a catalog containing VM01. You can’t use one backup (VM02) to carry out an initial copy for another (VM01).  This is true of vSphere Replication as well, and is intended to protect an administrator from overwriting VMs by accident
  • There’s no bulk method of importing large numbers of VMs that have been copied to removable media. Your only option is to use PowerShell.
  • Prepare yourself for a lot of per-VM settings – protecting a VM is per-VM process, and modifying any settings is a per-VM process too
  • Hyper-V Replica does not use a special icon or label in Hyper-V Manager or Failover Cluster to identify replica VM. As such it is very easy to get a copy of the VM confused with the real VM.
  • Hyper-V does a re-IP process but only for failover (not for failback), if you were using Windows Hyper-V Replica inconjunction with SCVMM you’d be better of using IP Pools.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Microsoft

7 Comments

Microsoft #Fail Over Clustering: Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V R2 (Part Two)

IMPORTANT:

One thing I learned after my setting up my storage is that disks that wind-up using the Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) type must be a basic disk, not a dynamic disk. Fortunately, I hadn’t setup my partition as a dynamic disk. But I do find it interesting that Microsoft own clustering system is incompatible with its disk system. Not so “dynamic” after all then?

image1

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612869.aspx

Edited Highlights:

  • Many of the problems with storage and Windows Failover Clustering just disappeared when scrapped my “R2 Preview” and wipped and re-installed with GA release available to Technet subscribers
  • UPDATE: The best way to setup the storage is present to all host, format and assign a drive letter – and then ensure the drive letter is the same on all hosts in the cluster – AND then create the cluster, and add the disks/volumes as .CSVs. Since I wrote this post, I’ve had feedback saying that you should NOT do this… To be honest I get different people telling me different things. As I stated later in the blogpost – its never been 100% clear to me what state the storage should be before building the cluster. Online? Online to all hosts? Partitioned? Formatted? Driver Letters irrelevant?
  • VMs must have the “Availability” option set on them to be deployed to a cluster…
  • Ensure your VM path defaults point to the C:\ClusterStorage\VolumeN to stop a situation where the VMs files are stored locally…
  • You might like to create the cluster BEFORE you enable Windows Hyper-V that way you can specify the paths during the enablement of the role.
  • Recommend: Create the cluster with Failover Manager. Not SCVMM. The manager gives better feedback, and information

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Microsoft

4 Comments

I can’t get no validation: Windows Hyper-V R2eality – #Fail Over Clustering

cluster

NOTE: This book can now be bought for 0.12c on Amazon.com. 

Microsoft’s new clustering technology is taking the industry by storm — NT professionals widely implementing the product into their networking environment. Clustering is an imperative for NT to succeed in the large-scale, business critical market, however it remains poorly documented and difficult to configure. Although MSCS is an extremely immature product it is expected to play a key role in analyst’s predictions that NT will surpass UNIX as the universal NOS of choice.

Mmm, so much has changed since then or has it?


Update:

It’s been brought to my attention that I might have been a little “harsh” on Microsoft’s validation tool. To be fair to Microsoft apparently “warnings” in the validation report do NOT mean the Failover Cluster wouldn’t be supported. They’re just that warnings – that their might or might not be problem. I guess its up to the administrator to interpret these warnings and decide if they are show stops or not.

The other thing that’s become apparent is the validation tool itself hasn’t been recently update to reflect Windows Hyper-V 2012 native support for NIC teaming. So my team was fine after all…

Disclaimer:

The post was actually written before I started using the SCVMM “Logical Switch” as such it makes references to Standard Switches and the NIC Teaming available at the Windows Hyper-V. Such were problems with getting Windows Failover Clustering to work, I had keep troubleshooting it on the backburner whilst I worked on learning something new. I couldn’t allow my problems with Failover Clustering to hold me back. Additionally, this article started its life as Windows Hyper-V 2012 R2 PREVIEW post, but it took so long (days, weeks, months…) to resolve the errors it ended up being finished on the RTM release that shipped recently to TechNet/MSDN subscribers – and that RTM release did indeed fix my storage problem that seemed to be the heart of one of my problems….

Edited Highlights:

  • Although SCVMM has the capacity to create a cluster, I consider this high risk, as it assume everything is working perfectly and all your pre-reqs are met. I found using the Failover Cluster Manager console was a safer bet as you could check that everything was in order before adding the cluster to SCVMM
  • The right-hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing – I’ve had situations where the Failover Cluster Manager validate claims I have no network redundancy (which it’s clear I do). It’s like the Failover Clustering software isn’t aware of Windows Hyper-V native NIC teaming capabilities.
  • Networking is made more complex by the fact you have navigate Windows Server 2012 own networking stack which originally was designed for an operating system. So you have situations where IP addresses are being assigned (via DHCP) to network cards which will be dedicated to the VMs. It makes things complicated as validation wizards use these IP address to confirm the correct network communications paths.
  • HomeLabbers Beware – if you have limited number of NICs you will struggle to configure the same setup as you might with vSphere AND still get passes on validation wizards from Microsoft. I have 4 gigabit cards in my servers and I struggled. If you’re setting up Windows Hyper-V for tyre kick purposes you may well need to sacrifice network redundancy to your VMs, storage or management network. I would recommend ignoring those errors, as you’re unlikely to be getting support from Microsoft anyway…

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Microsoft

1 Comment

Multi-Hypervisor Management and VM Conversion – Time to stop kicking the tyres?

tyresIMPORTANT: In the process of writing this article, I discovered that VMware MHM 1.1 is incompatible with Windows Hyper-V R2 2012. The issue seems to originate from the fact that the namespace through which the management objects of Hyper-V are accessed is no longer supported – VMware MHM manages Hyper-V through WMI objects from the namespace root\virtualization. Microsoft introduced root\virtualization\v2 with its release of Hyper-V 2012 and kept root\virtualization for backward compatibility. However, it seems that Microsoft  also deprecated the root\virtualization namespace with R2. So I had two switch from my Windows Hyper-V 2012 R2 lab, to a Windows Hyper-V 2012 environment midway through the process.

As part of my wider journey into “da the cloud.” I’ve become more and more interested in how we might define “hybrid”.  Does hybrid merely mean a public and private cloud? Does it mean a cloud where those two domains are linked – as is the case with vCloud Connector’s “Stretched Deploy” feature or does it mean a multi-hypervisor environment, and being able to move workloads from one virtualization platform to another? Whilst we clearly want mobility of workloads in a ANY:ANY way, does that necessarily mean running more than one virtualization platform within our private environments is a good idea? Lets face it VMware vSphere pretty much dominates virtualization, with Windows Hyper-V bringing up the rear – leaving just KVM and bunch of also-rans.  As technologists we might prize the ideal of platform interoperability, but I don’t think there enough customers to make it of interest to the vendors. Those vendors are likely to put more effort in developing and improving their own management platforms and virtualization layers before they worry about the competition.

Having setup a Windows Hyper-V 2012/SCVMM 2012 environment. I decided to look at VMware managing Windows Hyper-V with VMware MHM, and also converting Microsoft VMs to being vSphere VMs – a process I’ve dubbed “M2V”. Then in an effort to remain balanced – I’ve also looked at SCVMM attempts to manage vSphere, and the quality of the tools to covert a VMware vSphere VM to a Microsoft Hyper-V VM, something I’ve dubbed “V2M”.

What follows is a full and unfiltered account of my experiences – things get a bit knotty after this point so looking back I thought a “summary” or “highlights” might help clarify the situation more.

Edited Highlights:

  • The Microsoft Firewall is your enemy. It can cause things to stop working in all places where Windows is used – SCVMM, Windows Hyper-V and then source VM – whether that source VM is running in VMware vSphere and/or Windows Hyper-V
  • VMware Convertor works with or without VMware Multi-Hypervisor Manager – and generally presents more options/features. However, if you want to have simple/quick method of converting from Windows Hyper-V to VMware vSphere then MHM is your man, if you want the fancy options then VMware Convertor is what you should focus on IMHO.
  • VMware Convertor can convert both physical and virtual machines – on the fly without a power down of the source Windows Hyper-V VM. Remember VMware has been doing conversions like this ever since the P2V product which I first started using in 2003.
  • The time to convert from M2V is considerably shorter than the time convert from V2M (5-6mins compared 30-40mins).
  • VMware Convertor can do a “final sync” between the source (Windows Hyper-V) and the destination (VMware vSphere) which gives you an consistent copy of the VM.
  • If you’re serious about (or forced against your will into) a multi-hypervisor strategy – I think neither VMware MHM or Microsoft SCVMM, where one vendor manages another, is a serious proposition. I think if your serious about this approach then you should be looking at a provisioning tool like VMware vCloud Automation Center.
  • Adding VMware into SCVMM requires – adding vCenter, adding vSphere hosts AND retrieving/authentication to each and every host to get full functionality
  • Neither SCVMM or MVMC (Microsoft Virtual Machine Convertor) allow you to convert a vSphere VM to a Windows Hyper-V without some sort of power down in the process, and as consequence a maintenance window
  • Using SCVMM to convert V2M is fraught with authentication/communications problems, using “Convert Physical Machine” might work better and quicker (around 10mins compared to 30-40mins with MVMC/SCVMM V2M). I understand that SCVMM R2 removes “Convert Physical Machine” from SCVMM. This in the release notes for SCVMM R2 – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn303329.aspx
  • After any successful conversion from vSphere to Hyper-V I’ve yet to see any method that successfully allowed for Microsoft Intregration Services to be installed – that means no mouse control, and in some case no network capabilities.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 14.42.43

 

UPDATE:
Since the publication of this blogpost – Microsoft have indicated how their customers will be able to carry on doing P2V conversion. There recommendation is to run old instance of SCVMM 2012 containing a Windows 2012 Hyper-V host and carry out the conversions there. Then, (I kid you not!) export the VM out of the old SCVMM and import into the new SCVMM R2 2012 environment. Joined up management? I don’t think so.

http://blogs.technet.com/b/scvmm/archive/2013/10/03/how-to-perform-a-p2v-in-a-scvmm-2012-r2-environment.aspx

Although my post is about V2V and not P2V. I do take this as being symptomatic of Microsoft dropping the ball on the R2 release. It’s now 8 steps to covert a physical machine to a virtual – requiring two management layers!!!


This is a lengthy post – so I decided to split it up into sections to ease navigation.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Microsoft, vSphere

4 Comments