Thursday, December 23, 2010

How Microsoft Cloud strategy is different than VMware

Yesterday Microsoft announced the community technology preview release of Server Application Virtualization. With Server App-V, you are capturing an image of the application with the Server Application Virtualization Sequencer, copying that image up to Windows Azure with the Server Application Virtualization Packaging Tool, and deploying it on a Windows Azure worker role.

No need to customize your apps now for MS Azure. so your applications can take benefit of microsoft Azure cloud hosting without any special coding considerations.

Other way facilitated by windows Azure VM role [yet in beta] is to take a full Hyper-V VHD file with the OS and Application installed on it, and copying that Virtual Machine as windows azure VM role. Now this is what Microsoft is doing different than VMware which does not let you host your apps/VM in their hosted environment. VMware  Vcloud software enables vendor to create an Infrastructure as a service model cloud and let different organizations to host their infrastructure in the cloud managed by vendor. The difference in Microsoft and VMware strategy is that while Microsoft is allowing hosting in their environment and in vendor, VMware is not hosting and managing your workloads but only vendors are. How many of us will be confident that all those vendors have good experience in managing such cloud environments [except a few big names like HP, IBM etc]. I have used Vcloud solution and i like it and it would be interesting to see how Microsoft next release of SCVMM  [very focused on cloud] and SCCM due next year compete with next version of Vcloud due next year.
Blog is based on my Personal understanding of the Technologies mentioned above and information provided is AS IS.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Failover cluster validation test warns about PublishPTRRecordsWarn property

Coming back from a long vacation is very refreshing and it feels good to be back. I will like to share an interesting cluster validation issue encountered before leaving for vacation. The issue was encountered while running validation test with a warning in "Validate multiple subnet properties" task of failover cluster validation test.

Error verbatim : The publishPTRRecordsWarn property for network name “blah blah” is set to 1 For the current cluster configuration this value should be set to 0.

The value 1 is recommended when using DHCP and 0 when using static IP address scheme on network interface. For more information read here and here. I was using static IP address scheme on my cluster network interface and so getting warning seen below in screenshot.

Once i change the PublishPTRRecordsproperty the warning goes away as seen below. Please dont confuse yourselves by finding the PublishPTRRecordswarn property mentioned in error verbatim.

Hope this information is useful..especially if you get this error message :)  


Monday, November 1, 2010

What has changed for Hyper-V Dynamic Memory with RC release of 2008 R2 SP1

Microsoft has released the RC version of 2008 R2 SP1 and I was able to take out sometime this week to do my hands dirty on it by uninstalling the previous beta version and installing the RC version. I see that there have been some interesting changes for Hyper-V Dynamic memory [DM] feature based on the feedback provided and these changes span from GUI based to functionality based and address the issue of logarithmic behaviour of DM.

Before RC

In RC release we see changed GUI for DM and see new terms which can be seen below.

Assigned memory : Physical memory used by the VM.
Memory demand: Total committed memory in the VM [memory needed to run with reasonable performance] and if this memory is less than assigned memory, VM will use guest paging and you will see a memory warning status in Hyper-V GUI.
Memory status: Gives an indication about the memory status of VM for e.g. OK, Low, Warning.

If you carefully look at memory buffer setting, it has also changed in sense that earlier you had a slider moving from 5-95% however now you just have a input box for the memory buffer value where the minimum value can be 5% and max 2000%. Assigned memory ideally is memory demand+memory buffer and this new change takes care of the memory buffer algorithmic behaviour in beta version.

Memory Priority has been renamed as Memory weight however no other changes than the cosmetic name change to make it similar like cpu weight.

In the above  mentioned screenshot you can see that my SCOM VM needs around 1054MB ram but has been assigned only 1024 MB and thats why we see a warning status. What it means is that VM will initiate guest paging to take off some of the memory pressure and if you have same situation in beta version you will see negative memory availability at this stage which was confusing some customers. So i will say this is a welcome change for end users. Nothing has changed at the front of DM performance counters as seen below.

 Another welcome change is that with the RC build you can now enabled Dynamic Memory on the standard and web editions of Windows Server too by following below mentioned procedure.

Windows Server 2003 / Windows Server 2003 R2
Update the integration services.

Windows Server 2008
Install sp2 and then install this hotfix: inside the virtual machine. Finally you will need to update the integration services.

Windows Server 2008 R2
Instead of updating the integration services – you need to install the release candidate of service pack 1 inside the virtual machine otherwise you get the following dummy error message even if you update the integration services.

Memory pressure perfmon counter is nothing but ratio of memory demand and assigned memory as seen below and helps in understanding the allocation of memory among the guest machines.

You will be surprised to see in screenshot below that though for DC VM the assigned memory is more than sufficient why is memory status showing low???

So low means that the virtual machine has more than the memory demand, but less than 80% of the memory buffer and at that time as i increased memory buffer suddenly from 20-1200%, VM was trying to get more memory from DMVSP.sys and we saw low mem status for a couple of seconds. I must say that DM is very robust and very quickly grabs and releases memory based on buffer and priority settings. However If no other VM needs memory and i decrease the buffer of a particular , by design it takes 5 minutes to release that memory.

We still have MemoryReserve registry key for reserving host memory if required as mentioned here. I will keep testing and sharing Dynamic memory feature findings and hope you like this article. My earlier articles on Dynamic memory can be read here and here along with a webcast recording.


Blog is based on my Personal understanding of the Technologies mentioned above and information provided is AS IS.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Exclusive PDC10 Nights Get-together at Microsoft office & key PDC10 announcements

Live blogging right now from the Microsoft Bangalore office at occasion of PDC10 Night and it was fun to hear welcome note from Moorthy Uppaluri [General Manager, Developer & Platform Evangelism Microsoft Corporation (India)] and he did shared Microsoft vision for cloud computing and WP7 and how market is getting influenced by the devices as very soon device sales is going to outnumber the pc sales. Is this an inflection point where we are seeing a shift from PC to device…from server to cloud?

During the PDC, we are going to hear and see about latest technology innovations from Microsoft and the first one to come up is IE9. IE9 gets a substantial push with HTML5 as browsing experiencing will change from what we see today..e.g. watching a HD video in browser with simultaneous browsing in same window!....Steve Ballmer [SB] continues ahead by saying that WP7 is different kind of phone. Wp7 available from 16 different operators in 30 different countries is yet not available in India though and no defined timeline yet for its release. Microsoft seems to be focusing on WP7 marketplace and getting more apps to compete against the Apple iphone and Google Android based phones. Further down the line Bob Muglia talks about Microsoft Azure and why they are focused on Platform as a service cloud model and the benefits of putting the apps into Microsoft windows azure and how azure acts as OS for PAAS cloud. Bob talks about windows azure appliances which will be available from partner hardware vendors enabling deployment of private clouds based on azure. PAAS cloud model enables a developer to concentrate more on what developer is good i.e. focus on his app and code and leave the infrastructure High availability, scalability and IT infrastructure management worries to cloud operator.

Here are the details of some interesting PDC announcements:

 Making it easier to move existing applications and run them more efficiently, Microsoft is providing a bridge to PaaS from IaaS.

 Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role eases the migration of existing Windows Server applications to Windows Azure by eliminating the need to make costly application changes and enables customers to quickly access their existing business data from the cloud. Today at PDC 2010, Microsoft announced Virtual Machine Role support for Windows Server 2008 R2 in Windows Azure. A public beta will be available by the end of 2010.

 Server Application Virtualization enables customers to deploy virtualized application images onto the Windows Azure worker role (single role, single instance) rather than the VM Role. Through this approach, customers can more easily migrate their traditional applications to Windows Azure without the need to rewrite them or to package them within a VM. Once the application is deployed with server application virtualization on Windows Azure, customers can benefit from the automated service management capabilities of Windows Azure including automatic configuration and ongoing operating system management. Server Application Virtualization for Windows Azure will be available as a community technology preview (CTP) before the end of 2010, and the final release will be available to customers in the second half of 2011.

 Constructing VM role images in the cloud. Microsoft is enabling developers and IT professionals to build VM images for VM role directly in the cloud. This will be offered as an alternative to the current approach of building images on-premises and uploading them over the Internet. This update will be available in 2011.

• Support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 in the VM Role. Microsoft supports Windows Server 2008 R2 in the Guest OS. In 2011, Microsoft will add support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 SP2.

Hope you find this information interesting and thanks Microsoft for this special invitation.


Monday, October 11, 2010

VMware Project Sydney aka VCloud Request manager launching tomorrow

VMware VCloud Request manager which is launching tomorrow i.e. Oct 12, is very much adding the functionality which was missing in VCloud Director 1.0 and enables you to take control of vCloud Director based Private Clouds, via following

1. Adding sophisticated approval workflows to provisioning requests.

2. Automatically tracking software license usage as vApps are commissioned and decommissioned, and

3. Enforcing standardized settings on vCloud Director “Organizations” through the use of policies called “Blueprints”.

It is targeted to Enterprises building private cloud based on Vcloud director and enables self service provisioning and tracking 3rd party software licensing usage. Project Sydney runs on win2k8 64bit system with oracle 10g/11g and uses MS Active Directory. It will be available for public in Q4 2010. I don't see it much different from what SCVMM self service portal 2.0 [Microsoft Private cloud solution] provides already today.

For more details stay tuned to VMware website tomorrow and very soon product will be available for testing. Happy cloud computing till then.


Monday, October 4, 2010

How Easy to configure ISCSI Target with Powershell integration

So as we know that Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 has been RTM and MSDN and Technet subscribers can evaluate Microsoft ISCSI Target 3.3 for Development, Test and all other non-production purposes. You can install ISCSI target on any windows server 2008 R2 system [Physical or Virtual] and then present storage from same as Vdisks. The Microsoft ISCSI Software Target 3.3 can only be installed on Windows Server 2008 R2 but not any other OS.

The cool functionality of new ISCSI target 3.3 is integration with powershell and in below screencast you will see how easy it is to automate Target creation, configuration and presentation of Vdisks to initiator servers using powershell in less than 2 minutes.

3 line powershell script which does the magic

New-IscsiServerTarget -TargetName "yyyyy" -InitiatorID IPAddress:zzzzz

New-IscsiVirtualDisk "C:\xxxxx.vhd" -size 50MB

Add-VirtualDiskTargetMapping "yyyyyy" "C:\xxxx.vhd"
Hope you find this information interesting and dont forget to try ISCSI Target 3.3 yourself!


Thursday, September 30, 2010

How easy to Install & Configure Hyper-V P4000 Lefthand Virtual SAN Appliance

HP StorageWorks P4000 Virtual SAN Appliance Software (VSA) enables the benefits of a physical SAN with the ability to transform captive server disk drives and build a virtual iSCSI SAN and just a couple of days back HP Storage works P4000 Team has released Hyper-V Virtual SAN Appliance Software (VSA). Sometime back i blogged about the benefits of physical P4000 Lefthand SAN here. Today I tried my hands on this Hyper-V VSA and will share my experience and you will see how easy it is to install and configure the virtual SAN which provides you almost all feature of a Enterprise SAN including snapshots/snapclones & Multi site storage clustering.

You will prefer a Physical disk but for testing i choose Virtual disk

Minimum size needs to be at least 5GB

I manually turned on the Linux Virtual SAN appliance [VSA] Virtual machine but there is nothing more you need to do in Linux VM other than starting it up. [ My Hand is tight in Linux so i felt very happy about it ]

Now we need to install the Centralized Management Console

You see those required and available bytes in Hindi Language [ Not sure why-May be due to IST timezone? ]

Now we are about to find Storage nodes [ I only have one storage node VM deployed ]

Legacy NIC is only used during installation and later synthetic NIC is used

Now we need to create a Mangement Group and Volume

You can also create a multisite cluster as seen below

You can also create a thin provisoned volume

Now I have got my 100MB volume to be provisioned to Initiator, so i created an Initiator which is a 2008 R2 Server 

You can also investigate more about HP storage works P4000 SAN solutions at HP site and dont forget to try the trial edition here for both VMware and Hyper-V. This is atleast one SAN solution which supports Cluster shared volumes in Multi site Clustering. Hope you find this blog useful and thanks for your time.


Blog is based on my Personal understanding of the Technologies mentioned above and information provided is AS IS.