Posts Tagged ‘Hyper-V’

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Tips

August 16th, 2012

One of the benefits of working for Dell Compellent is having the privilege to collaborate with some very smart people who are subject matter experts in areas of technology I don’t get as much time to spend time on as I’d like to.  I get to share information with team members about vSphere, as well as Exchange, SQL, *nix, Oracle, and you might have guessed it… Microsoft Windows (including Hyper-V).  One of my colleagues has been working with Windows Server 2012 lately and he drew up a quick guide on some of the findings he had made.  Not only was he gracious enough to share it with his teammates, he was more than happy to share with the community when asked.  When I say community, of course I’m referring to readers of this blog.  So without further to do, here are some Windows Server 2012 (and perhaps even Windows 8) tips to get you started.

Navigating the New Server 2012 GUI

The look and feel of the Server 2012 GUI is quite different than Server 2008. While most of the familiar options and features are still available, the process of getting to them is quite different, and in some cases, more difficult.

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1)      The “Start” button no longer exists in Server 2012.  To expose Start, jiggle your mouse in the lower left corner of the desktop and the Start option will appear as shown above.  This is a bit cumbersome in RDP sessions and takes some getting used to.

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2)      The Start Menu presents applications and other options as tiles.

3)      To access Lock and Sign out, click on the User in the upper right for a drop-down menu.

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4)      To access All Applications, right-click on any tile under Start, and then an options bar will appear at the bottom of the screen.  On this options bar, click on All Apps in the lower right.

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5)      Under All Apps, you can find all the rest of the familiar (but now more difficult to find) options such as Command Prompt and Run.  To make these more easily accessible, pin them to the taskbar.

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6)      Another hidden menu exits off the right side of the desktop.  To access it, move your mouse to the far right or lower-right corner of the screen and hold it there for a couple seconds.   Again, this is cumbersome in RDP sessions and takes some getting used to.

7)      As you can see above, the Restart and Shut down options are now buried a few layers deep so accessing them is a bit tedious.   Some customization suggestions below will help alleviate this.

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8)      To stop the Server Manager window from automatically starting every time you log on, edit the Server Manager Properties and check the box Do not start Server Manager automatically at logon.

Customizations to Facilitate Better User Experience with Server 2012

You may find yourself a little frustrated with the changes introduced with the Server 2012 GUI because many apps/options/tools have been relocated and are therefore more difficult (and more time consuming) to find.

Below are some quick and simple customization changes to “restore” some of the of the Server 2008 look/feel/agility to the 2012 GUI.

1)      The first step is to install the Desktop Experience as found under Features.  Once installed, then the (My) Computer icon can be added back to the desktop.

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a)      Launch Server Manager from the taskbar.

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b)      Click on Add roles and features to launch the Add Roles and Features Wizard.  Under Features, check the box for Desktop Experience and then complete the wizard (requires a reboot).

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c)       After rebooting, from the Desktop, right click and choose Personalize, Change Desktop Icons, and add the desired icons such as Computer and Control Panel.

d)      Right click on the Desktop again, and under View, set icon size to Small, and set Auto Arrange and Sort By options according to your preference.

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2)      Customize the taskbar by pinning shortcuts for I.E., Run, Command Prompt, and other frequently used apps (as found under Start and All Apps) that you want to be quickly accessible.  For directions on how to access the Start and All Apps menus, see Page 2.

3)      Right click on the taskbar, select Properties, and select Use Small taskbar buttons, and under the Toolbars tab, add the Desktop toolbar.

4)      If you desire to add the Background Info (BGI) utility to your Windows 2012 server desktop, then complete the following steps:

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  • From your network share or software repository containing BGInfo, copy the folder BGInfo to C:\BGInfo.  Edit the BGInfo.bgi config file to customize (if desired) the BGInfo settings.  (this is the latest 64-bit version of BGInfo)

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  • To automatically refresh BGInfo each time you log on to the server, add a reg key (string value) called BGInfo with value of C:\BGInfo\LaunchBGI.batto:HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run

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  • If using mRemote, change the Display Wallpaper setting to Yes under the configuration settings for your server (the default setting is No).  Otherwise the BGInfo screen will not be passed to your display.

5)      To work around the cumbersome process of having to navigate to log-off, shutdown, or reboot commands under the hidden menus, place shortcuts to these operations on the Server 2012 desktop.  To make this process quick and easy, pre-defined shortcuts can be saved on a network share and copied down to each server installation.

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  • From the network share, copy the desktop shortcuts to Libraries\Documents\Public Documents on your 2012 server.

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  • Once copied, open the Desktop_Icons folder, and copy and paste the icons found there to the public desktop (a hidden folder) which can be accessed at C:\Users\public\desktop (manually type this path in Windows Explorer as shown above to get to it).
  • Add or create other shortcuts as desired here so they will show on the public desktop.
  • By placing them on the public desktop, they will be there for all users, and will be preserved even when the server is sysprepped.

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6)      When finished, your desktop will look similar to the above screen capture:

  • (My) Computer and Control Panel icons added to the desktop
  • Shutdown, Logoff, and Restart icons (which are shortcuts to the shutdown command) added to the desktop.  This is much quicker than having to access these options from the hidden menus on the left or right sides of the desktop, and it skips having to provide a reason for shutting down.
  • Shortcut to launch Disk Manager added to the desktop (add other shortcuts as desired)
  • Shortcuts to I.E., Run, and Command Prompt added to the taskbar
  • Desktop toolbar added to the taskbar
  • Background Info (BGInfo) provides for a blue background with the server name and other essential server specs on the desktop.  This will automatically refresh at each logon due to adding LaunchBGI.bat to Run in the system registry, and it can be refreshed manually at any time by clicking on the LaunchBGI icon on the public desktop.

Sysprep Suggestions

1)      When building a new gold image of a Windows 2012 server, include the above customizations before running Sysprep to allow cloned copies to boot with these modifications in place.  Most of the changes will be preserved in the sysprep image saving configuration time.

2)      Other suggested modifications you may want to consider making to a Windows 2012 image before sysprepping it to use as a gold image it include:

  1. Enable RDP
  2. Install Adobe Reader
  3. Using Roles and Features, install .Net 3.5 (set the path to \sources\sxs when prompted); Failover Clustering, MPIO, and Hyper-V
  4. Disable the firewall
  5. Disable I.E. security
  6. Disable User Account Control security (set to never notify)
  7. Fully patch the server
  8. If a physical server, run the applicable driver and firmware management/update utility to apply the latest drivers and firmware.
  9. Set the time zone to Central
  10. Install JRE (version of your choice, both the 32bit and 64bit versions)
  11. Other apps and features as desired

Jobs

February 25th, 2012

I receive a lot of communication from recruiters, some of which I’m allowed to share, so I’ve decided to try something.  On the Jobs page, I’ll pass along virtualization and cloud centric opportunities – mostly US based but in some cases throughout the globe.  Only recruiter requests will be posted.  I won’t syndicate content easily found on the various job boards.  If you’re currently on the bench or looking for a new challenge, you may find it here.  Don’t tell them Jason sent you.  I receive no financial gain or benefit otherwise but I thought I could do something with these opportunities other than deleting them.  Best of luck in your search.

In case you missed the link, the Jobs page.

StarWind Releases iSCSI SAN Software Enhanced by VM Backup Technology

January 17th, 2012

Press Release:

New StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper Backup Plug-in are a New Level of Data Protection

SnagIt CaptureBurlington, MA – January 13, 2012StarWind Software Inc., an innovative provider of SAN software for iSCSI storage and VM Backup technology, today announced the release of new StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper-V Backup Plug-in. The iSCSI SAN software is enhanced by the powerful VM Backup technology that is included as a plug-in.

Backup plug-in is built specifically for Hyper-V-based environments to provide fast backup and restore for Hyper-V virtual machines. The backup solution delivered by StarWind performs all operations on the Hyper-V host level thus it requires no backup agents to be installed on virtual machines (Agentless Architecture).

Hyper-V Backup Plug-in makes fast backups and allows quick, reliable restore of both virtual machines and individual files. It utilizes advanced technologies for maximum disk space saving (Global Deduplication). This backup tool is integrated with StarWind Centralized Management Console that enables managing backup and storage from a single window.

Additionally, a new version of HA plug-in is presented in StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 that allows use of raw basic images to create HA targets. A new replication engine based on own technology instead of MS iSCSI transport creates higher performance and reliability. This new engine permits use of multiple network interfaces for synchronization and heartbeat.

To simplify the replacement of equipment and recovery of fatal failures, StarWind Software has implemented the ability to change the partner node to any other StarWind server without any downtime and on the fly. Synchronization engine is improved, and this version allows both nodes to sync automatically even in the case of a full blackout of both servers.

“With the release of StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 our company is happy to provide our customers with highly available storage and fast backup software developed by the same vendor,” said Artem Berman, Chief Executive Officer of StarWind Software. “Now small and medium-sized companies have an opportunity to achieve higher performance and absolute data protection.”

About StarWind Software Inc.
StarWind Software is a global leader in storage management and SAN software for small and midsize companies. StarWind’s flagship product is SAN software that turns any industry-standard Windows Server into a fault-tolerant, fail-safe iSCSI SAN. StarWind iSCSI SAN is qualified for use with VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer and Linux and Unix environments. StarWind Software focuses on providing small and midsize companies with affordable, highly availability storage technology which previously was only available in high-end storage hardware. Advanced enterprise-class features in StarWind include Automated HA Storage Node Failover and Failback (High Availability), Replication across a WAN, CDP and Snapshots, Thin Provisioning and Virtual Tape management.

Since 2003, StarWind has pioneered the iSCSI SAN software industry and is the solution of choice for over 30,000 customers worldwide in more than 100 countries and from small and midsize companies to governments and Fortune 1000 companies.

For more information on StarWind Software Inc., visit: www.starwindsoftware.com

StarWind Webinar – Storage & Hyper-V VM Backup

January 8th, 2012

Webinar Announcement:

What: New StarWind V5.8 – Storage & Hyper-V VM Backup from one vendor!

When: Tuesday, January 10, 4:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM EST

Where: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/562126034

Details: StarWind iSCSI SAN V5.8 introduces a new powerful backup technology designed specifically for Hyper-V-based environments to provide fast backup and restore for virtual machines.

The key to protection of your virtualization investments is one solution with a rich feature set developed to help you achieve your IT goals easily. It is ONE ultimate answer to all your storage and data managing needs.

StarWind iSCSI SAN 5.8 provides:

Hyper-V Backup Plug-in

- Agentless Architecture

- Backups stored in VHD format

- Global Deduplication

- Single-click Backup

iSCSI Storage

- 100% stability and uptime

- High Availability / Automatic Failover

- Network Centralized Management

- Synchronous Replication

Register now to learn more!
Here is the link for registration:

https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/562126034

Veeam Offers Free NFR License for Backup & Replication v6

December 23rd, 2011

Veeam is once again blessing the community with their generous holiday spirit, which of course includes gifts!  Veeam recently launched version 6 of their flagship Backup and Replication product which now includes support for Microsoft Hyper-V.  Those who are heavily active in the Microsoft and/or VMware community and formally recognized as such, are eligible to register for their free gift from Veeam – NFR licensing for Backup and Replication v6. 

I will attest that I’ve been using Veeam Backup & Replication to protect valuable data in my home lab for a few years and I’ve had to rely on it for recovery more than once.  I also included it as a backup and disaster recovery replication solution in my VCDX design submission which I successfully defended in February 2010.

Below you’ll find two promotions for redeeming the NFR licenses.  First is the Hyper-V promotion for MVPs, MCPs, and MCTSs, followed by the VMware promotion for vEXPERTs, VCPs, VCIs, and registered VMUG members (remember, anyone can be a registered VMUG member, it’s free to sign up, so why not do it today?)

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Free NFR license for
Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for Hyper-V
Get this holiday gift from Veeam!

If you are a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) or a Most Valuable Professional (MVP), you can get a FREE 2-socket NFR* license for Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for your home or work lab.

Register NOW! Get your FREE NFR license from Veeam

*An NFR (Not for Resale) license can only be used for evaluation or demonstration purposes. Read EULA for more details.

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Free NFR license for
Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for vSphere
Get this holiday gift from Veeam!

If you are a VMware vExpert, VMware Certified Professional (VCP), VMware Certified Instructor (VCI) or VMware User Group (VMUG) member, you can get a FREE 2-socket NFR* license for Veeam Backup & Replication v6 for your home or work lab.

Register NOW! Get your FREE NFR license from Veeam

*An NFR (Not for Resale) license can only be used for evaluation or demonstration purposes. Read EULA for more details.

HotLink Launches Latest Version of HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware

December 14th, 2011

I don’t publish the majority of the press releases which make their way to my inbox but I took a quick look at HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware and what it does is interesting.  Watch the video below (feel free to expand to full screen to see the detail) and see how this product is able to pull in various Type 1 hypervisors in a heterogeneous datacenter under the vCenter management umbrella.  By now you know VMware isn’t the only player in the hypervisor business.  VMware’s competitors have been making their presence known.  They remain persistent partly because of their gradual market penetration.  And I’ll be the first to admit that the other hypervisors out there are the right fit for some business use cases and requirements.  Also, multi vendor policies are not uncommon in large organizations.  Whatever the reason, deploying different makes and models of hypervisors in an environment is your business.  Managing them with ease is HotLink’s business.  Read on.

Press Release:

HotLink Launches Latest Version of HotLink SuperVISOR™ for VMware

Leading enterprises including McAfee and BMC Software adopt HotLink SuperVISOR to seamlessly manage mixed hypervisors inside VMware vCenter console

SnagIt CaptureSUNNYVALE, Calif. – December 15, 2011HotLink® Corporation, the market leader in transformation solutions for heterogeneous virtualization management, today announced the newest release of its flagship product, HotLink SuperVISOR™ for VMware. HotLink SuperVISOR is the first and only solution to enable VMware vCenter users to natively manage cross-platform virtual infrastructure spanning Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (KVM). The latest release, HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware 1.2, adds new capabilities focused on enterprise robustness, scalability, configuration and management of multi-hypervisors and workloads.

With its latest release, HotLink customers benefit from an enhanced virtual integration platform that provides total control and performance visibility across all enterprise hypervisors, using the VMware vCenter management console they already have. The new features of HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware 1.2 include:

  • Enhanced Networking Configuration – Users can now provision and modify virtual switches and network adapters from VMware vCenter and associate these to any enterprise hypervisor —enabling users to manage heterogeneous virtual networking from a single interface.
  • Expanded Performance Monitoring – The latest release expands the heterogeneous performance statistics and alerts that are gathered and displayed inside the native VMware vCenter performance tab —allowing administrators to quickly identify issues across the mixed hypervisor environment.
  • Robust Configuration of Virtual Machine Settings – Only HotLink provides the ability to modify the configuration of virtual machine settings such as virtual CPUs and memory assignments natively inside vCenter and apply across all virtual platforms —ensuring the optimum VM configuration regardless of the hypervisor.

“Enterprise IT needs are rapidly evolving as an increasing number of VMware shops are deploying heterogeneous hypervisor environments. Administrators need a single management console that provides a comprehensive view and complete control of all enterprise workloads,” said Lynn LeBlanc, CEO and founder of HotLink. “The latest enhancements to HotLink SuperVISOR extend the VMware vCenter management infrastructure to provide sophisticated and robust management capabilities to Hyper-V, XenServer and KVM – unifying the management of all virtual workloads inside VMware vCenter.”

As virtual infrastructure deployments expand and mature, heterogeneity is being fueled by a combination of economics and maturing of hypervisor alternatives. The most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure report included, for the first time, both Citrix and Microsoft alongside VMware in the leaders quadrant. Moreover, Hyper-V grew 62 percent last year compared to ESX’s 21 percent growth and Citrix’s 25 percent, according to IDC. While the proliferation of multiple virtual platforms is accelerating, streamlined infrastructure is needed to unify management. That’s exactly what the latest release of HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware addresses.

“McAfee historically was an all VMware shop, but our business needs have changed so that we now have a mix of vSphere, Hyper-V and XenServer.  Utilizing HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware across our virtual environment enables us to increase our usage of other hypervisor platforms while unifying management. By deploying multiple hypervisors and standardizing on VMware vCenter as our primary management interface, we expect to reduce our virtualization cost by over 50 percent and admin costs by 65 percent over the next 3 years,” said Mark Tonnesen, CIO of McAfee. “The foundation of our multi-hypervisor environment is built on the HotLink SuperVISOR platform.”

With the new HotLink SuperVISOR technology, enterprises can tier their virtual infrastructure with cost-effective hypervisors and still unify the management, significantly reducing their licensing and operating costs. With HotLink SuperVISOR, customers can realize the benefits of mixed hypervisors while avoiding overly complicated management systems.

“Like many other IT shops, we are investigating the use of multiple hypervisors to cost effectively support development and test activities for our Tier 2 and Tier 3 business applications. We have been very impressed by HotLink’s SuperVISOR technology and the hypervisor interoperability that it enables.  We believe that HotLink will enable us to optimize the use of specific hypervisors for individual workloads without compromising our ability to manage our overall virtual environment,” said Mark Settle, CIO of BMC Software.

Pricing and Availability

HotLink SuperVISOR for VMware 1.2 is available now with pricing starting at $25,000. For more information, contact sales@hotlink.com or visit www.hotlink.com.

Supporting Resources

Follow HotLink on:

About HotLink Corporation

Founded in early 2010 by data center software veterans and the founders of FastScale Technology, Inc. (acquired by VMware), HotLink Corporation is on a mission to transform real-world IT with the first true heterogeneous data center system management platform for virtual, cloud and physical computing infrastructure. Early customers include enterprise IT organizations spanning technology, financial services, telecommunications and Internet search. HotLink’s advisory board includes visionary leaders from Informatica, Facebook, E*TRADE, Clorox, Citrix, BMC and Flextronics.  HotLink is a privately held, venture capital backed company based in Sunnyvale, California. For more information, visit www.hotlink.com.

Say it isn’t so: Hyper-V and XenServer outperform ESX

March 7th, 2009

This isn’t exactly the type of news I like to report but at the same time it can’t be ignored. The February/March 2009 issue of Virtualization Review magazine has an article starting on page 12 where Rick Vanover puts Hyper-V, XenServer, and ESX head to head to head. Some of the conclusions drawn are startling:

“For the first two tests of heavy workloads, VMware underperformed both XenServer and Hyper-V. For the lighter workloads on the third test, the results were almost indistinguishable across the platforms, but ESX had the best results in three of the four categories.”

“After doing these comparisons of ESX to Hyper-V and XenServer, it’s clear that at the hypervisor level, ESX is optimized for a large number of less-intensive workload VMs. For intensive workloads that may not be optimized for memory overcommit apps, Hyper-V and XenServer should definitely be considered-even if that means adding another hypervisor into the data center.”

Rick is saying that both Hyper-V and XenServer deliver better performance for the heavy workloads. ESX is better suited for lighter workloads and actually will handle more of them than Microsoft and Citrix making it the better “scale up” solution. Rick also points out that ESX offers the clear advantage of memory over commit which could not be benchmarked against Hyper-V and XenServer due to memory over commit not being available in the latter two products. For a moment, let’s assume that Rick’s findings are 100% accurate. From an options standpoint, how do you feel about scaling up versus scaling out for the lighter workloads having equal performance across all three platforms? Personally, I’d lean towards higher consolidation ratios, less capital expenditures, less datacenter and utility bill consumption. That’s the ESX option.

I’m concerned that I’m hearing ESX is underperforming against the underdogs. I’m not at all saying Rick’s tests are invalid but I am looking for a response from VMware that is either published, or in the form of ESX4 taking an obvious performance lead once again in benchmark tests. Charging a premium for a lesser performing hypervisor doesn’t sound like the right formula for success.

Update: Slight goof on the title of this blog post. Originally it stated “XenApp” where I meant “XenServer”

Update: Microsoft and VMware have responded to the original article’s performance analysis.