Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft clothing line launched

December 9th, 2008

In case you don’t have enough technology shirts or you are not projecting your geekness as much as humanly possible onto others, Microsoft is here to save the day with the launching of their new clothing line Softwear.  In a nutshell, mid-80’s style t-shirts reflecting Microsoft technology accomplishments reminiscent of the era in addition to other icons from the same era.  Thankfully, for fashion’s sake, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in 1985 compared to today so there are only a few selections to choose from (including the classic Bill Gates police mugshot).  I’m not sure where exactly Microsoft is going with this but if it garners any success, expect more of it.

Virtualization rematch corrections and clarifications

December 4th, 2008

In the December 2008 issue of Windows IT Pro magazine, Michael Otey publishes part two of his VMware ESX/Microsoft Hyper-V comparison. From the VMware side of the world, I felt the article was well written, fair, and mostly accurate, however, there are a few things that I wanted to point out to minimize the confusion for those still trying to decide which hypervisor and feature set is best for them.

  • For most of the article, ESX is referred to as ESX Server. VMware dropped the word “Server” from their bare metal hypervisor a while back. ESX Server is merely ESX or ESXi and should not be confused with VMware’s free hosted product VMware Server.
  • Page 22 mentions the most noticeable missing feature from the Virtual Infrastructure Client is a native Windows Explorer-like file manager and direct connection from host to host. This is incorrect. From the VIC, you can either double click or right click on any datastore seen by the host and choose “Browse Datastore”. From the Datastore Browser, files and folders of the VMFS volume structure can be copied, cut, moved, renamed, created, deleted, and downloaded to the desktop. To address the host to host communication piece, the scp command can be used in the service console (COS) of an ESX host to copy files to or from another ESX host (ok, it’s not pretty, but it’s an option that does exist and I’ve used it many times).
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  • Michael goes on to say the VIC doesn’t provide the ability to copy or clone VMs. I grant Michael that in this example the VIC is not as intuitive as the other VMware hosted product management consoles which provide the user menu driven options to clone VMs, however, as I explained in the bullet above, the Datastore Browser will copy VMs which accomplishes one part of a manual cloning process. Another cloning step I will talk about in the next bullet.
  • Lastly, Michael explains he doesn’t get a graphical option to register VMs. Once again, using the Datastore Browser, we can right click on the VM’s *.vmx configuration file and choose “Add to Inventory” which registers the VM on the host (this is equivalent to the vmware-cmd -s register <config_file_path> command in the service console).
    12-4-2008 9-57-51 PM

This appears to be a simple case of Mr. Otey missing the Datastore Browser feature in the VIC which I’ve shown does exist and provides great utility and improvement over the MUI based file manager we had in the legacy ESX 2.x days. The Datastore Browser is a direct result of VMware listening to and responding to end user feedback stating we weren’t satisfied with using out of band 3rd party utilities like WinSCP for ESX host file management. Michael’s conclusion was a five-diamond rating for ESX over Hyper-V. He goes on to recommend ESX to midsized-to-large businesses looking for performance and manageability. With ESXi offered for free from VMware, I think he is missing the value of performance and manageability for small businesses as well.

Speaking of Windows IT Pro magazine, little known fact, I was the winner of the Reader Challenge in the April 2000 issue. Back then, the magazine was called Windows 2000 Magazine (and before that Windows NT Magazine). Back in the Windows NT days, the magazine was as thick as a 20,000 family telephone book. These days, the magazine still has some good articles like those written by Michael Otey, but sadly it has dwindled to 65 pages, the majority of which seem to be filled with ads and they still boast a $54.95 annual subscription cost. I’m not sure how they sleep at night.

Confused about Citrix XenServer 5 support for Windows Server 2008

November 25th, 2008

I read a news item here stating Citrix XenServer 5 lacks support for Windows Server 2008 as a guest operating system. I decided to check it out for myself.

Citrix reveals here that indeed Windows Server 2008 guests are not supported in XenServer 5. However, the What’s new in Citrix XenServer 5 page explains that XenServer 5 is tuned for Windows and Windows Server 2008 guest support has been added through the all important Microsoft Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP).

Confused? I am.

VMware supports Windows Server 2008 for many of its products and VMware is very clear about it. VMware’s guest OS support for all VMware products can be found in the Guest Operating System Installation Guide.

What’s up with the broken Windows Search?!

November 15th, 2008

Can someone please explain to me why the search function in Windows hasn’t worked reliably since about Windows 2000 or Windows 98? It got exponentially worse with the release of Microsoft’s “Desktop Search”.

See below. I’m looking for the location of a file called wuauclt.exe. The “Desktop Search” feature, which when installed, replaces the default built in Windows Search, can’t find the file:


I have to resort to the old faithful command prompt search to find what I’m looking for:


This is beyond stupid.

VMware Server 2.0 installation error

November 15th, 2008

I ran into an installation error this afternoon with VMware Server 2.0 on Windows Server 2003 R2.  It was a dialog box that popped up and said “The System Administrator has set policies to prevent this installation“.  The error prevents the installation from proceeding and offers only one course of action which is to click “Ok” and the installation terminates.

The workaround is as follows:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click Run
  3. gpedit.msc <enter>
  4. Drill down to Computer configuration
    1. Windows Settings
      1. Security Settings
        1. Software Restriction Policies
  5. Right click Software Restriction Policies
  6. Choose Create New Policies
  7. On the right hand side, right click Enforcement
  8. Choose Properties
  9. Down below, choose All users except local administrators
  10. Click OK
  11. Close Group Policy
  12. Open a Command Prompt
  13. Run the command gpupdate /force <enter>
  14. When local group policy is finished updating, re-run the VMware Server 2.0 setup

Microsoft focus on features and marketing talk; delivery a secondary objective

November 15th, 2008

Looking for the SCVMM 2008 management pack? It doesnt exist much to the contrary of the documentation. Microsoft marketing is five steps ahead of the development team. That’s old news.

I’m so glad I’m not a Microsoft virtualization customer. What a let down it must be at times. Want to put Hyper-V and VMware pricing head to head? This is what you get. These are the soft details price comparisons don’t reveal. This is what Microsoft isn’t going to openly admit at the booth. For my dollar, today’s innovative features are what count.

Anyway, that’s quite enough press for Microsoft on my blog. Read the rest at VCritical.

Make VirtualCenter highly available with Microsoft Cluster Services

November 12th, 2008

When VirtualCenter was first introduced, many could make the argument that VC was simply a utility class service that provided centralized management for a virtual infrastructure. If the VirtualCenter Management Server (VCMS) was rebooted in the middle of the day or if the VC services were stopped for some reason, it wasn’t too big of a deal providing the outage didn’t interrupt a key task such as a VMotion migration or a cloning process.

Times are changing. VirtualCenter is becoming a fairly critical component in the VI and high availability of VC and the VCMS is becoming increasingly important. Several factors have contributed to this evolution. To identify just a few:

  • Virtual infrastructures are growing rapidly in the datacenter. The need for a functioning centralized management platform increases exponentially.
  • Increased and more granular VC alerting capabilities are relied upon to keep administrators updated with timely information about the load and health of the VI.
  • The introduction of more granular role base security extended Virtual Infrastructure Client or Web Access deployment to more users and groups in the organization increasing dependability on VC and visibility of downtime.
  • The exposure of the VC API/SDK encouraged many new applications and tools to be written against VC. I’m talking about tools that provide important functions such as backup, reporting, automation, replication, capacity analysis, sVMotion, etc. Without VC running, these tools won’t work.
  • The introduction of plugins. Plugins are going to be the preferred bolt on for most administrators because they snap in to a unified management interface. Obvious dependency on VC.
  • The introduction of new features native to VC functionality. DRS, HA, DPM, VCB, Update Manager, Consolidation, snapshot manager, FT, SRM, etc. Like the bullet above, all of these features require a healthy functioning VCMS.
  • The Virtual Datacenter OS was announced at VMworld 2008 and is comprised of the following essential components: Application vServices, Infrastructure vServices, Cloud vServices, and Management vServices. I don’t know about you, but to me those all sound like services that would need to be highly available. While it is not yet known exactly how existing VI components transform into the VDC-OS, we know the components are going to be integral to VMware’s vision and commitment to cloud computing which needs to be highly available, if not continuously available.

VirtualCenter has evolved from a cornerstone of ESX host management into the the entire foundation on which the VI will be built on. Try to imagine what the impacts will be in your environment if and when VirtualCenter is down now and in the future. Dependencies may have waltzed in that you didn’t realize.

A single VCMS design may be what you’re used to, but fortunately there exists a method by which VC may be made highly available on a multi-node Microsoft Cluster. This document, written by none other than my VI classroom training instructor Chris Skinner, explains how to cluster VirtualCenter 2.5.

If you’re on VirtualCenter 2.0.x, follow this version of the document instead.

Update:  Follow up post here.