2011
08.26

You may have noticed that little is happening in the Hyper-V world in terms of news at the moment.  We are all waiting on information to start flowing from the Build conference.  So with that, I am announcing how I will be participating at Build:

Untitled

I will be outside the main entrance until Security chase me away Smile with tongue out Somewhere right now, there are panicked emails being written and phone calls being made.

BTW, I will be offline for most of the coming week, trying to find a few square miles of land in Ireland where it isn’t raining.

2011
08.24

I was listening to the Guardian Tech Weekly podcast this morning while driving to the office after a meeting.  I don’t know why I listen to this show any more; the commentators on it are complete dimwits and they make me angrier than news of further banking bailouts.

Anyway … The commentators were proclaiming the death of the PC in favour of the tablet.  Hmm, if the likes of these commentators, the Irish Independent, and various other hype fiends were to be believed then it must be so.  But the facts would contradict this.

Global PC sales every year are in excess of 300 million.  In fact, the Guardian reported that Gartner expected a slow down in growth from 10.5% to 9.3% with just 385 million PCs being sold in 2011.  The Guardian says IDC tends to be more conservative with predictions, estimating the figure will be 361.6 million PCs sold in 2011.  Oh poor old Microsoft; how will they survive!?!?! 

On the tablet front, we all know that Apple rules the roost.  Marketwatch reported that Gartner estimates 19.5 million tablets would be sold in 2011.  For Apple, that’s absolutely monstrous.  But it’s still only 5% of the market, using Gartner figures.

Have PC sales slumped?  Dell issued a warning.  HP is selling/spinning off their PC division but that’s because they make little margin, not because of it being a loser (they are number one overall in this space).  Yes, PC sales are down.  But there is always talk of a slump before a Windows release. 

We’re facing a Windows 8 release in 2012.  People and businesses are not going to buy new Windows 7 PCs now – many of them license using OEM rather than VL or off the shelf.  This expected slump is why you heard “the best path to Windows 7 is Windows Vista” from Microsoft a few years ago, and why you’re hearing “the best path to Windows 8 is Windows 7” from them now.

The PC is not dead.  Will the shape change?  Yes, to some extent.  But lets get real.  Think about ergonomics; who wants to use a foot-wide tablet on their desk, 8 hours a day, 220 days a year?  The big screen, keyboard, and mouse have lasted so long because they work.  The tablet plays an additional role and it is very good at it (I do use an iPad), but you wouldn’t see me wanting to use it in the office all day long. 

The PC is dead!  Long live the PC!

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2011
08.23

News broke over the last 24 hours that the PLA (People’s Liberation Army - military of People’s Republic of China) has decided to adopt Hyper-V to virtualise their NeoKylin Linux distro, with the assistance of Microsoft.  I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. I seriously don’t think that the PLA would adopt a virtualisation solution that wasn’t stable, scalable, or enterprise ready.  How do you like them apples, vFanboys?
  2. Can you imagine the size of the deployment that this will be?  Dear Mr. Hu Jintao, can I play with this Hyper-V deployment?  I promise I won’t break it.  Honest!
  3. I wonder if Sybex has printed my book Mastering Hyper-V Deployment in Mandarin?
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2011
08.22

In the past I’ve always said that I pick manufacturers based on:

  1. Support for System Center (Operations Manager management packs, Configuration Manager/SCE plug-ins, PRO management packs, etc)
  2. Price/quality/met requirements/etc

HP and Dell always top the chart there, and I’ve tended to prefer HP because:

  1. I know their stuff
  2. The build quality and SupportPack support are excellent

IBM is always bottom of my hardware charts Smile

Ask me last week what servers and storage I’d recommend and I’d have said HP ProLiant rack/blade servers and either P4000 or EVA storage.  Now that has changed.

The announcements of last week leave me thinking that HP is a headless chicken.  They are the number 1 PC maker and they’re getting out of the market.  The morons on the board spent over $1 billion on Palm so they could spend billions more on a tablet that they pulled after 1.5 months of sales, and a phone that was “on sale” (or in warehouses) in Europe for less than a week.  I’d hate to invest in server and/or storage system from HP to find that suddenly they decided to focus on the manufacturing on ice cream – I wouldn’t put it past the former CEO of SAP to do this:

  • SAP effectively fired him by not renewing his contract according to the BBC
  • When you say SAP to me I think of over priced, overrun, and failed projects – funnily enough, HP went through this in 2003 when it was taking up to 6 months just to get a monitor from them, allegedly thanks to a new SAP installation

So now I look to Dell.  I’m not a fan of their build quality compared to HP desktops/laptops.  Storage-wise, the Compellent has been getting great reviews.  The R-series servers are mature – and in the end they use the same NICs, CPUs, and memory as everyone else.  And Dell are “all in” on System Center.

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2011
08.22

I just noticed a new patch was added to the list on the TechNet wiki for Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (W2008 R2 SP1).  There are 2 scenarios:

Issue 1

  • You have an AMD CPU that supports the Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) feature on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM.
    Note AMD introduced support for the AVX feature in Bulldozer-based multicore processors.
  • You install the Hyper-V server role on the computer.
  • You create a virtual machine on the computer, and then you try to start the virtual machine.

In this scenario, the virtual machine does not start, and you receive an error message that resembles the following:`

<Virtual machine name> could not initialize.

This issue occurs because Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM does not support the AVX feature.

Issue 2

  • You have an AMD CPU that supports the AVX feature on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1). 
    Note AMD introduced support for the AVX feature in Bulldozer-based multicore processors.
  • You install the Hyper-V server role on the computer.
  • You create a virtual machine on the computer, and then you try to start the virtual machine.

In this scenario, the virtual machine does not start, and you receive the following error message:

Virtual machine could not start because the hypervisor is not running.

Additionally, the following event is added to the Microsoft-Windows-Hyper-V-Worker-Admin log:

Source: Microsoft-Windows-Hyper-V-Worker
Event ID: 3112
Level: Error
Description:
The virtual machine could not be started because the hypervisor is not running

This issue occurs because Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 does not support the AVX feature on AMD processors.

You can download the hotfix to resolve this issue.

2011
08.19

Considering the failure of HP’s WebOS powered TouchPad, and RIM’s Blackberry tablet, one could consider that there is no space for other contenders behind Apple’s iPad and Google’s Android OS.  I’m not sure that I agree.

The executives of HP and RIM were naive at best, and plain stupid at worst.

RIM’s tablet could do basic functions like email and calendar without being paired with a Blackberry phone.  That shrunk the market radically.  Version 2 would be better was the promise, then why the hell did you release version 1?  I listened to The Guardian’s Tech Weekly webcast last week and a RIM executive was being hammered by a fairly mild journalist.  Even RIM’s employees are rebelling against the morons who are drunkenly steering that ship.

Then over in HP land we have a who other class of maroon.  HP went and bought WebOS, the successor to PalmOS and declared to the world that it would be their tablet and phone OS.  Hello?  Is anyone there in 1996?  Is the Macarena still number 1 in the music charts back there?  WebOS went on “sale” and it turns out that no one wanted it.  The Pre3 phone was unwanted by any of the networks, and went on sale this week in Europe with no announcements.  Sales were so bad that HP terminated WebOS operations last night.

Where did it go wrong?  Both HP and RIM were convinced that they could use their corporate and government market penetration to drive huge sales.  There’s 2 issues with that.

Consumerisation of IT

The IT department is not driving the sale of tablets in the business.  IT admins hate supporting them because they don’t fit in with anything.  The end consumer is driving the use of the iPad at work; they want something friendly, light, and an experience that they can share with their friends/family.  Some stodgy business tool is not in their buying plans.

Applications

Imagine you bought a PC and could not run any applications.  How would doing business with Notepad work for you?  Not well, I’d expect.  But HP and RIM expected you to use their platforms with no app ecosystem.  They didn’t encourage an app developer community.  That impacts things generally.  But let’s dig deeper.

Are Microsoft Discouraged?

Hell no!  If anything, this proves something:  if the business is going to embrace tablet technology then they want an application platform, and they want it to be hardware agnostic.  If I develop and use some app on a Toshiba tablet, I want to make sure that my colleague in Paris that has a Sony tablet can work with me.  If I use a Toshiba OS and they use a Sony OS, then we cannot collaborate.  Sure there’s “the cloud” and web based apps, but we no that things aren’t really that simple; they should be but they aren’t.  And the PC isn’t dead; I sure don’t want to use a tablet 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  If I run a PC then I also want to use the same apps.

Windows 8 accomplishes this.  It will be hardware manufacturer agnostic.  It will give us the same HTML5 and Javascript OS platform across laptop, PC, tablet, and even netbook.  Wave 15 (Office and SharePoint vNext) even will support HTML5 and Javascript.

I think (this morning) that true tablet PCs will go through an evolution process.  Evolution looks unkindly at specialists.  When the environment changes, the specialist dies out.  Windows is like a fox; it is a true generalist, found almost everywhere, always able to adapt because it runs on so many vendors hardware and platforms, and suits the needs of so many.

RIM’s and HP’s tablets were true evolutionary mistakes.  What I do find surprising it that the executives or designers of either corporation were deluded, drunk or stoned enough to think that either of these tablets had a snowball’s chance in hell to succeed.  If I was a shareholder, I’d be considering suing them for negligence and demanding my money back.

EDIT:

I should have wrapped this up.  I believe that if Microsoft doesn’t screw up Windows 8 on ARM, in other words, if it is good enough to keep users happy, then it’s manageability and it’s shared application platform with the PC will make it the winner in the business that HP and RIM desired and failed to achieve with their Dodos.

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2011
08.18

HP have decided that Google have had too much news headlines this week.

WebOS

Fresh on the awful news of sales for their WebOS (Palm) TouchPad tablets, it’s just been announced by HP that they are ending operations of WebOS.  And that’s a day or two after they started selling their Pre3 WebOS powered phone in Europe! 

The news of tablet sales were awful.  It didn’t have a chance.  Apple dominates.  Business is waiting for Windows 8.  Android tablets (an open OS) aren’t selling that well.  RIM proved that a new closed device with no app environment would have the lifespan of a fat Turkey in December.  And HP fattened up and walked straight into the butcher shop.

Bye bye HP WebOS!

PC/Consumber Division

HP has announced that they are looking to “spin off” the PC business.  That’s business and consumer stuff on the desk.  Personally speaking, I prefer HP desktops/laptops because of their build quality and ease of management in relation to software and drivers in the business.  I hate Lenovo (quite poor here compared to what I hear from American friends), and although Dell has a good business, I think the build quality of PC’s’/laptops isn’t as good – which is important for devices that users are bashing about. 

On TWiT Windows Weekly, Mary-Jo Foley suggested that maybe Samsung would buy the division.  Maybe.  And maybe it’ll be spun off/IPO’d as a new Compaq.

Oh – HP are also buying some UK software company called Autonomy.  I guess they want to be the next IBM.  Eeek!

EDIT:

Last year there were rumours about HP’s tablet plans.  Originally, the tablet was to run Windows.  Then HP “knew better” and went exclusively with WebOS.  Well, Windows 7 tablets … you know my opinion on that – wait for 8.  But investion millions/billions of dollars on WebOS, a no app OS, I think everyone knew that had no future.  Shareholders should be furious.

And as for HP in the phone market … oh come on!  I evaluated one of those back around 2004.  We had to clip a keyboard onto the bottom of it to use a “keyboard” Smile  We ended up buying XDA (remember them?) III’s instead.

2011
08.18

You’ll soon see that this is not based on any inside information … so make of it what you want.

We all know that Mary-Jo Foley reported a little while ago that Windows 8 could RTM as soon as April 2012.  I have 2 reasons to think that she might not be far off.

The first is a little bit more sensible than the second.

Timing

The Build conference is being held earlier than PDC used to be.  That makes me think that we’re working on a schedule with earlier milestones.  RTM for Windows 7 was early Summer with launches later in the year.  So maybe we’ll see a Windows 8 RTM in Spring with launches in the summer time frame?

Microsoft is Superstitious

Yes, a 100,000 employee corporate giant is afraid of the number 13.  Was there an Office 13?  Was there an Exchange 13?  No; they skipped a version number and went from 12 to 14 (“Wave 15” is on the way).

Microsoft’s financial years are from July to June.  For example, Microsoft is currently in financial year 2012.  Come July 2012, Microsoft will be in financial year 2013.  They name their products like EA Sports.  If Microsoft releases Windows Server “8” in June, it could be called Windows Server 2012.  But come July, it’ll more likely (not necessarily) be called Windows Server 2013.

Remember that they hate black cats, walking under ladders, spilling salt (or is it throwing it?), and the number 13.  I bet the next version of Server is called Windows Server 2012 … and therefore they will aim to RTM it before July of 2012.  Launches will probably be in September … that’s because MSFT is a mess in July with FY planning, and everyone is away on vacation in August.

That’s my 2 cents, not exactly based on science Winking smile

2011
08.16

Once again, experts in all kinds of virtualisation technologies will be gathering to share their knowledge at E2E London 2011, a super-economic mini-conference, formerly known as PubForum.  I’ll be talking Hyper-V as usual with a 45 minute and a 900 seconds session.  Some other MVPs and Microsoft virtualisation experts from around Europe will be there presenting.  And as usual, there will be LOTS of Citrix, VMware and common virtualisation technology sessions.

2011
08.16

The Microsoft Hybrid cloud, as it stands currently, is a mixture of a Hyper-V private cloud with an Azure public cloud, managed by System Center App Controller (formerly Concero).  One of the key pieces of the Microsoft solution is monitoring the health of the application (that the business really cares about) using System Center Operations Manager (OpsMgr).

Management packs make monitoring of Hyper-V, Windows, SQL, Exchange, CRM, hardware, storage, etc, easy.  You can put together end user perspective monitoring from the basic ping test to the advanced synthetic transaction, build service-centric distributed application models, and provide SLA monitoring of the LOB applications.  That’s got the private cloud covered.

There is also a management pack for Azure.  This allows you to monitor the availability, health, and performance of your public cloud services.  Let’s face it – even if Microsoft does/did provide a monitoring solution within Azure – can you really use a monitoring solution that is a part of the thing you are monitoring, i.e. the Microsoft public cloud?  I say no – and that’s the first reason why you should use OpsMgr and this management pack.  The second reason is that it allows you to integrate your monitoring of public and private clouds, giving you that mythical single pane of glass for monitoring.

  • The features of this management pack are:
  • Discovers Windows Azure applications.
  • Provides status of each role instance.
  • Collects and monitors performance information.
  • Collects and monitors Windows events.
  • Collects and monitors the .NET Framework trace messages from each role instance.
  • Grooms performance, event, and the .NET Framework trace data from Windows Azure storage account.
  • Changes the number of role instances via a task.

The prerequisites of it are:

  • The management group must be running Operations Manager 2007 R2 Cumulative Update 3.
  • The Windows Azure role must be published with full trust level. For more information about Windows Azure trust levels, see Windows Azure Partial Trust Policy Reference.
  • Windows Azure Diagnostics must be enabled. For more information about Windows Azure Diagnostics, see Implementing Windows Azure Diagnostics.
  • Windows Azure Diagnostics must be configured to forward diagnostic data to a Windows Azure storage account. For more information about configuring Windows Azure Diagnostics, see Transferring Diagnostic Data to Windows Azure Storage.
  • Microsoft .NET Framework version 2.0 or newer must be installed on the computer that you designate as the proxy agent when you configure the Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Applications.
2011
08.15

I’ve blogged before how much I love my iPad.  I read from it (Kindle for ebooks and Zinio for emagazines), I watch TV and movies on it, and it’s a handy lightweight browser when just lounging in the house.  But despite all that, the real reason I bought it was so I could take notes (Evernote) at conferences.  The battery life is simply amazing.  Unlike with a netbook or laptop, I can last all day long without searching for that lost city of gold AKA a free power socket at an IT conference.

But the sucky thing about note taking with the iPad is the keyboard.  I got used to typing on the screen, but I just cannot get used to the constant need to frequently shift through lower case letters, upper case letters, character set 1, and character set 2.  I mentioned to one of my colleagues that I’d be going to the Build conference and that I’d want to take lots of notes on my iPad.  And that’s when he introdoced me to the Kensington Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad (1).  We (work) happen to distribute these in Ireland so that made it easy for me; I swapped it out for my usual cover and gave it a go.

Yes, it adds weight and thickness to the iPad.  Not a big deal.  It gives me a functional QWERTY keyboard.  That is a big plus.  I can type away with no issue.  I was told that the keyboard would be a little spongy.  It’s like that to protect the screen when folded up.  It’s a little weird at first but doesn’t slow me down.  It does require charging via a USB lead so that must be remembered.

Note that there is different model of keyboard for the iPad 2.

My personal review: well worth the money if you want to take lots of notes or write a lot on the iPad.

2011
08.15

It is 28 days (and a bit) until the sold out Build Windows conference.  I was looking forward to it.  And then today, I skimmed through the latest vTax blog post by Jeff Woolsey (Principal Group Program Manager, Windows Server Virtualization), and at the end he said this:

“At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2011, we demonstrated some of the new capabilities of Windows Server “8,” specifically around Hyper-V. With an ability to create VMs with more than 16 virtual processors and built-in replication with Hyper-V Replica, Microsoft is showcasing its deep commitment to its customers, and our relentless pursuit to provide even more value, at no extra cost. These are just 2 of the hundreds of features coming in the Microsoft Private Cloud, of which you’ll be able to find out more about at Microsoft’s BUILD conference, September 13th-16th in Anaheim, CA”.

What the deuce?!  My tickets are booked and I cannot wait.  I have a Kingston keyboard for my iPad so I can blog the good news all day long … but maybe, just maybe, I might end up blogging with a Windows 8 tablet instead.  Now wouldn’t that be cool it if was so?  Must not get my hopes up …

2011
08.15

Thanks to everyone who “entered” the competition.  The winner of the free Unlimited copy of Altaro Hyper-V Backup is @ReactorBoy – I have DM’d you to contact me for your product key.  Thanks to everyone who entered, and congrats to @ReactorBoy!

2011
08.15

A while ago I was asked to write a document that explained Hyper-V and reasons to use it for virtualising a server farm.  What makes this one different is that it isn’t for my usual techie audience; instead the target audience of this guide is the IT manager, executive, or techie that is new to virtualisation.  I just notice on Twitter that it was release last month.

The paper is published by PC Pro in association with Microsoft.

2011
08.14

I have just published a guide or document to discus the subject(s) of Hyper-V Cluster Shared Volume (CSV) and backup.

Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced many new features for those of us who use Hyper-V. One of the big ones was something called Cluster Shared Volume (CSV). This allowed us to do something that VMware users take for granted and that we could not do before this release of Windows Server: store many virtual machines, which are running on many hosts in a cluster, on a single storage volume. The benefit of CSV is that it simplifies administration, reduces the possibility of human engineering error, and even makes the private cloud a possibility.

A structure depends on the foundation that it is built upon. The same is true of a virtualisation infrastructure. The foundation of Hyper-V (or XenServer or vSphere) is the storage design and implementation. What appears to be not very well understood is that backup design is intrinsically linked to your storage architecture. One must be considered hand-in-hand with the other in the Hyper-V world. Get that wrong and you’ll have unhappy users, an unhappy boss, and maybe even an unhappy bank manager when you are no longer employed. When you get to grips with the basics you’ll be empowered to implement that ideal virtualisation platform with optimised backup.

This document will cover:

  • What is CSV and how does it work?
  • How backup works with CSV
  • Designing CSV for your compute cluster
  • Disaster recovery with multi-site clusters
  • “Planning” for the private cloud

The document continues.

Thanks to Altaro for sponsoring this document.

2011
08.12

The survey is now closed and the results can be found here.

As a blogger/author/speaker, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everyone works in a similar way and environment as I do.  My experiences are based on:

  • When I was managing Hyper-V/System Center directly in a hosting environment
  • Talking to people online
  • Helping people as a consultant, or in my current role as a partner technical advisor

Most of my experiences are in Ireland, and it’s rare to see a virtualisation cluster of more than a few nodes in these parts.

And this is why me, Damian Flynn (another Hyper-V MVP), and Hans Vredevoort (Failover Clustering MVP), have joined forces to bring you the …

GREAT BIG HYPER-V SURVEY of 2011

The goals are:

  • We learn a bit more about what everyone is up to
  • We can share the findings with everyone so you can learn what everyone else is up to

This survey will run from this morning until 5th of September.  We want to publish the results later that week, which just so happens to be the week before the Build Windows conference.  We’ll be publishing the percentages breakdowns, and also trying to figure out trends.

In the survey, we ask about:

  1. Your Hyper-V project/environment
  2. Your Hyper-V installation
  3. Systems management
  4. What you considering to do in 2012

There is no personal information, no company specific information.  Microsoft has zero involvement.  They’ll see/read the results the same way you do, on the blogs of myself, Damian, and Hans (Hyper-V.nu).

The whole thing will take just 5 minutes; the more people that contribute, the more we will all learn about what people are up to, and the more we’ll be able to tweak blog posts, speaking, training, writing, etc, to what is really being done.  If this goes well, we’ll do another one in 2012, 2013, and so on.

So come on …. give the greater community 5 minutes of your time.

EDIT:

Please spread the word of this survey: blog, (re)tweet, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, even MySpace/Bebo it!

2011
08.11

It is rumoured that Microsoft Studios is developing a new movie called System Center Operations Manager Knows What You Did Last Summer. The tagline is “Always watching … Always recording”. Some say that VMware CEO Paul Maritz might be playing the role of the villain. *SPOILER* Others say that Steve Jobs is killed in the opening scene. *SPOILER*

image_thumb[1]

2011
08.11

“Hyper-V Backup in 5 clicks – Hyper Easy, Hyper Speed, Hyper Effective” … that’s the tag line for a new Hyper-V backup solution from Altaro, called Hyper-V Backup, that launched today.  Features include:

  • Hot backups with VSS integration
  • Restore to a different host
  • File level restore
  • Different backup schedules for different VMs
  • Supports Hyper-V Server
  • Restore a VM to the same host but with a different name (cloning)
  • Reverse Delta Incremental Backup
  • Hyper-V cluster aware
  • Restore from older backups if you want
  • Plan for disasters
  • Backup Hyper-V snapshots

image

At this point, I would also like to welcome Altaro to my blog as a sponsor:

 

COMPETITION

Want a free copy of Unlimited Edition of Altaro Hyper-V Backup?  Then here is what you need to do.

  • Step 1: Follow me on Twitter
  • Step 2: Add the word Altaro to your Twitter profile

I will be choosing 1 winner for this software on Monday morning at 9am (Irish time).

Review

I’ve not had a chance to play with Hyper-V Backup yet but I’m looking forward to getting a chance to give it a try.  In the meantime, you can read more about it over with my friends on Hyper-V.nu.

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2011
08.08

Some of the hype about (public) cloud services is that they’ll give you increased levels of uptime.  I propose that this is a myth.  There’s been lots of headlines about downtime (some being quite brief) for the likes of GMail and BPOS.  Last night, storms in Dublin cause electrical issues for the Amazon and Microsoft cloud data centres which led to service outages.  Microsoft claims that the Amsterdam data centre will kick in for the Dublin one during an outage but it appears that this did not happen last night.  It’s funny because not only are these data centres unbelievably complex, and therefore susceptible to failure, but they can be incredibly simple too, which also can lead to failure.

These data centres may have incredible built-in levels of fault tolerance, but somewhere there is always a single point of failure.  I’ve personally seen them hurt two operators in the past 4 years.  One was a single point of fault in an electrical supply, right where incoming power met the UPS/generator (I’m no electrician).  That one caused an incident that was referred to as “black Friday” when 1/3 of the Irish internet went offline for less than an hour but the exponential traffic backlog caused an issue for a weekend.  The other was a central router in a tier IV data centre that decided to crap itself.  That one lasted just 10 minutes, but this was supposed to be a “zero single-point-of-failure” tier IV data centre that charged it customers like it was a tier IV data centre.  Somewhere deep down, despite all the clustering, despite the redundant diesel generators, despite the international replication, despite the automation, there is usually one or more single points of failure, such as being vulnerable to a lightning strike.  We understand that even Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have data centre failures from time to time, now let’s continue dealing with the uptime comparison myth.

How often does your internal Exchange service fail?  How often is your internal SharePoint/file services offline?  We’re a typical small business with a single Exchange server.  It was off briefly last week when a switch died.  We were on it straight away and replaced it.  Maybe 10 minutes of downtime.  Note: I am not involved in day-day internal IT all that much.  I would be very happy in saying that in the last 4 months, something like BPOS has had more downtime than our internal Exchange server.  Our file server hasn’t had any downtime since I’ve been here.

Go have a look at the downtime history of those public cloud services.  Then go look at how often your on-premises services have downtime.  I bet your IT folks are doing a better job than you think.

I hate it when I hear people saying that the (public) cloud will increase uptimes of your IT services.  To me, it’s a BS myth.  There are other reasons to consider the cloud, but I am not willing to agree that uptime is one of them. 

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2011
08.05

Hyper-V engineers are virtually whipping the competition

Last night a reputable source reported that Hyper-V engineers are more manly than those who manage other virtualisation technologies. Some say that Hyper-V engineers have higher levels of testosterone, matched only by Olympic weightlifters. Others say that Hyper-V engineers make DBAs tremble with fear as they walk past their cubicles.  Whatever the case, who would want to compete with that!?!?

Artists impression of a VMware engineer

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2011
08.05

First, I hope you’ve done some planning/architecture/proof of concept.  Next, clean up the environment.  Products that deploy agents, such as System Center Essentials (SCE), Configuration Manager (SCCM/ConfigMgr), and Operations Manager (SCOM/OpsMgr), will allow you to track the success of agent deployment.  And if your network is like most others I’ve encountered over the years, nobody has bothered to clean up the inactive/obsolete computer accounts.  The computer discovery process will use some sort of discovery process, most likely based on computer accounts found in Active Directory.  It may find computer accounts that have been there since 2000 and no longer are valid.  It may find 50% more computer accounts than actually exist.

Before you deploy agents you need to do some spring cleaning.

Computer Accounts

My favourite tool for this in the past was oldcmp.  The page doesn’t list Windows 2008 or 2008 R2.  I last used it with Windows Server 2008 in a lab and it worked fine.  It allowed you to work with user and computer accounts:

  • Report only
  • Disable
  • Move and disable (to a “disabled” OU)
  • Delete

The last time I was an admin of a large environment I was very fussy about inactive accounts.  We used to run oldcmp as a scheduled task on a monthly basis.

If you want something that is supported then try this.  Identify & disable computer accounts that were inactive for the last 4 weeks:

dsquery computer -inactive 4 | dsmod computer -disabled yes

Then you can identify and delete computer account that have been inactive for the last 8 weeks:

dsquery computer -inactive 8 | dsrm computer

Put that in a script and run it every month and you’ll automate the cleanup nicely.  Inactive machines for the last 4 weeks will be disabled and you can re-enable them if a user complains.  After 8 weeks, they get completely removed.  If you have people away for longer periods then you can extend this, e.g. disable after 26 weeks and delete after 52 weeks.  Or you might bundle that caution about deleting with a secure mindset, e.g. disable after 4 weeks and delete after 52 weeks.

Note: dsquery, dsmod, and dsrm can be easily used for lots more, e.g. user accounts. Check the help (at command prompt) and test-test-test before putting it into use.  You probably can do all of this with PowerShell and the useful –whatif flag.

DNS Records

I hate stale DNS records because they can lead to all sorts of false positives when there is IP address re-use, especially when trying to remotely manage/connect to PCs in a DHCP environment.  You can configure DNS scavenging of stale records on a DHCP server (for all zones) or on a per zone basis.

image

Be careful with this one.  I’ve been especially careful with the intervals since the 2003 days when I had a Premier support call open.  Scavenging didn’t like me using smaller intervals, even if they were correctly configured.

Once you have the environment cleaned up, you can start deploying agents.  Now when you see a “failed” message, you know you can take it seriously and schedule a human visit.

Note: I don’t think I’ve ever used ConfigMgr to build collections of users.  Users roam and I don’t want to install software needlessly.  But ConfigMgr 2012 will have a more reliable user-centric approach that detects a user’s primary PC.  Therefore, you’ll want to do a user clean up before deploying it … and that should be standard security practice anyway.

2011
08.04

Freedom ™ (the tm mark is important!) is the sequel to the last book I reviewed, Daemon, also by Daniel Suarez.  The story continues and accelerates from the cliff hanger. 

I won’t give anything of the plot away.  This is a thriller.  IT and cyber security are mechanisms in the plot but they don’t dominate, and importantly, they don’t steal from it.  The tech does stretch a little further into the sci-fi realm than Daemon, but it’s grounded enough to not be a distraction. 

I’ll sum it up; the first thing I did when I reached the last page was check if the next book by Suarez was published yet.  I’d recommend Freedom ™ but only after you read Daemon.

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2011
08.04

I guess 90 support forum pages of customers saying they’re going to dump your product and go to the competition really made an impression on VMware.  Trying to convince the world that VMware making more money from less was a good right-sizing process for their customers didn’t quite have the desired effect.

So VMware has responded:

  • They’ve increased the vRAM entitlements for “all” edition of vSphere.  Don’t plan your party yet (see below).  I don’t see any mention of the free edition being licensed to run more than the previously mentioned 8 GB RAM per physical CPU.
  • They’re not going to force you to buy multiple vSphere licenses for “monster” VMs.  The example they give is the 1 TB VM: 1 vSphere Enterprise Plus license (96 GB RAM now) will be enough for it.  Cos that will positively impact the vast majority of virtualisation customers!
  • Short term spikes in usage won’t be counted.  Instead, they’ll count “calculate a 12-month average of consumed vRAM to rather than tracking the high water mark of vRAM”.  Fair enough, that’s a good improvement.

EDIT: Marcel van den Berg let me know that it’s being blogged that vSphere 5.0 free is being increased to 32 GB.  It’s not on the VMware announcement but it’s on lots of blogs.

OK, let’s recalculate Hyper-V/System Center VS vSphere Standard + vOperations.  Last time with the original v5.0 licensing, Microsoft gave more virtualisation and systems management functionality at 52% of the cost of vSphere Standard + vOperations.  The scenario was a 2U host, with 2 CPUs, 92 GB RAM, with published retail licensing costs (both sides give discounts), and 40-50 VMs.

Product Microsoft VMware Comment
Virtualisation Free (guest licensing covers this cost) 6 * vSphere 5 Standard Plus $5,970 Hyper-V is included in Windows licensing so it’s free. The Microsoft option is already $5,970 ahead.
Windows for unlimited VMs

2 * Windows Server DC
$5,998

2 * Windows Server DC
$5,998

This applies to anyone on any virtualisation platform.
Monitoring

System Center Management Suite DC
$5,240

vCenter Operations (25 VM pack) * 2

$7,564

Not a good comparison: MSFT option includes licensing to use all of Microsoft’s System Center products and it’s still around 1/3 cheaper!
Total $11,238 $19,532 Now the MSFT option is only 57% of the cost of the VMware option, but thanks to System Center 2012, MSFT has some of those “critical” virtualisation features like power optimisation and DRS not in this vSphere 5 option.

Gee, thanks VMware, the comparative cost has improved 5% in your favour, and Hyper-V & System Center Management Suite (all of the Microsoft systems management products) actually has more virtualisation and systems management functionality.  Of course, I could be really mean, and price this up with System Center Essentials instead of System Center Management Suite.  I guess that would reduce the cost of the MSFT option by just over $4,000, and still leave it ahead of vSphere Standard/vOperations on all fronts.

I think it’s time once again to see if you’re still making carriages for horses.

2011
08.03

Cumulative Update 5 for System Center Operations Manager (SCOM/OpsMgr) 2007 R2 was released last night.

And now RedHat Enterprise Linux 6 is supported (catching up with Hyper-V)!

There are more details on the CU5 support page.

A new Cross-Platforms management pack was also released.  Oddly, the download page mentions RHEL4 and 5 as supported but not the newly CU5 supported RHEL 6.  Don’t worry, the MP’s word document does mention that RHEL6 is actually supported by the new MP version.  It also mentions a few other fixes and new features of the MP.

2011
08.03

I got this crash when trying to view the properties of a virtual machine in VMM 2012 beta console.  Fellow MVP, Mohamed Fawzi (Virtual Machine Manager), had the fix.

It’s a PowerShell command that you need to run from the VMM PowerShell window.  Before that will work, you need to run:

set-executionpolicy unrestricted

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