Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's New in DPM 2012

Today was the final day of Tech ED and it was nice to sit along with guys from DPM product group and thanks to Praveen and Prabhu for sharing details on DPM 2012 features. Earlier in the day it was interesting to discuss SCVMM 2012 and Exchange online solutions with Microsoft consultants present at event. Coming Back to DPM, I am going to keep it short and precise about the features in DPM 2012 but as I have worked on almost all versions of DPM since their first 2006 release, I felt good about the way new centralized reporting works in DPM and also the fact that very soon you will be able to deploy DPM agents from SCCM server. You will also be able to refer to AD for assigning which DPM server.

 The new centralized feature of DPM allows you to manage upto 100 DPM servers from one console while allowing role based administration and centralized reporting from same console. The most cool feature is that you will be able to integrate your DPM server with SCOM 2007R2 and have a scoped view of the issue in DPM console i.e. see only the content in scoped DPM view which is relevant for the alert coming in SCOM [No clutter]. Another interesting features are “Push to resume backups”, integration with service manager and remote console to DPM servers from centralized console. DPM 2012 supports certificates and will introduce block level de duplication. It also now enables Hyper-V item level recovery when DPM is running inside a VM [see the trick for DPM 2010] and uses XML to support applications that do not have a VSS writer and yes you will be able to manage both DPM 2010 and 2012 servers from same centralized console. Last but not the least, I understand DPM 2012 will also support CSV 2.0 i.e. what comes in server V. Next right from beginning.

Yes these features sounds very good and we all are looking forward to DPM 2012. Read more at Mike Resller Blog as it covers a few more features and I hope this was reading pleasure.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Be careful while deploying 2008 R2 SP1 on your Hyper-V R2 clusters

There are some nice fixes in 2008 R2 SP1 and i have seen successful deployment of SP1 on many clusters however I wanted to update you to be careful while deploying SP1 on your hyper-V R2 clusters as there are some reported issues with storage validation after sp1 installation and it seems issue is storage vendor agnostic and Microsoft is already aware and working with those who have reported these issues.
 At same time there are successful deployments of SP1 on hyper-v clusters too so issue may or may not be seen however if you are already seeing the issue, please report here.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Meet me at Tech ED 2011 Bangalore on 23rd March and discuss Failover Clustering

It’s good to be at Microsoft Tech ED and I can vouch that Tech ED is very helpful in getting latest information about new products being launched and to network with fellow MVP’s and Microsoft resources. There are various sessions on different technologies and you get to know the latest from the experts and interact with expert peer community and get lot of opportunities to discuss with peers how they are implementing different solutions and designs and their implementation of technology. Just to give an example I will be interacting with Microsoft DPM product team and get a sneak peek of the new version yet to be launched in Market. In another session, will be meeting the cloud and server division folks to discuss on Remote FX technology which brings value to VDI solution. At the same time MVP community will be accessible if anyone has any specific queries or want to discuss something. You will find me at Bangalore Tech Ed 2011 and feel free to discuss any queries in regards to Hyper-V, failover clustering and System Center technologies. You can find me at “Meet the MVP” session at Tech ED on 23rd March and I will be there to answer your cluster queries and we can have an interesting discussion on failover cluster.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

HP 3PAR Geocluster solution for Microsoft Failover Clustering

Somebody asked me month back about HP 3par storage which was acquired by HP last year and there was some competition for this acquisition and question was particularly about the features of 3par storage and advantages around this. Though I am not a storage expert though I am very much impressed by the features of the 3par storage. I thought writing on features of 3par and its advantage in today’s cloud scenario is very relevant. 3par features broadly can be read here

Its architecture and implementation is very different that existing storage technologies. Each physical disk is broken in 256-MB chunklets, each of which can be independently assigned and dynamically reassigned to virtual volumes of different Quality of Service (QoS) levels taking storage from different tiers [golden, silver, bronze]. Host only sees volume at its end irrespective of how that volume has been carved dynamically out of different storage tiers [which could be SSD, FC, SATA]. You can anytime change the storage tiers of your Volume dynamically as per your performance needs. On top of that HP 3par thin technology lets you use thin conversion and persistence technology and not only thin provisioning. You can convert your legacy capacity from full provisioned storage to thin provisioned storage and when data is deleted from the host, volumes are shrinked on the storage [so your storage starts thin and remains thin over the time]. Virtual domain feature enables in delivering secure, segregated access to different user groups which is very essential for a multi tenant cloud infrastructure. It enables Non-disruptive distribution and redistribution of application volumes across storage tiers to align application requirements with data QoS levels on demand and automatically analyzes how volumes use physical disks and makes intelligent, non-disruptive adjustments to ensure optimal volume performance and capacity utilization.

You can also leverage HP 3par Geocluster software for Microsoft windows failover cluster and disaster recovery by automating storage failover between primary and backup sites. In addition, GeoCluster Software support for Microsoft Hyper-V Live Migration increases flexibility through enabling non-disruptive migration of virtual servers. Read more about it here and I hope you will find 3par very attractive option for your cloud designs.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

VCenter XVP Manager and Converter enables to manage Hyper-V Infrastructure from within Vsphere Vcenter

VMware has brought a major change it its paradigm and now came with a tool from VMware labs [ Though yet not supported but more of a test, experiment tool ] which will enable customers to manage their Hyper-V environments from within Vsphere Vcenter. VMware vCenter XVP Manager and Converter provides basic virtualization management capabilities for Microsoft Hyper-V platforms towards enabling centralized visibility and control across heterogeneous virtual infrastructures. It also simplifies and enables easy migrations of virtual machines from Hyper-V platform to VMware vSphere and provides familiar vCenter Server graphical user interface for navigating through and managing Hyper-V inventory and is compatible with VMware vCenter Server 4.0 & 4.1 while being scalable to 50 Hyper-V hosts. As of now this tool does not work for Xen hypervisor or any other hypervisor except Microsoft Hyper-V. This very move confirms that VMware is acknowledging Hyper-V as competition and taking it more seriously.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Cluster Shared Volume disk though manually made offline do not participate in validation tests

Happy New Year to everyone while i welcome to year 2011 and hope you enjoyed Christmas and Winter vacation. This is  the time when most of people go for vacation or spend time with their closed and loved ones. Sadly, however some of IT folks have to work even in these days either due to project deadlines or critical issues and I was approached for one such issue recently where cluster environment was not stable and strangely when engineers were running cluster validation test, it was not showing any errors.

The Golden rule is to start from cluster validation test and that is the most basic troubeshooting step that you need to do for most failover clustering issues. I asked engineer about same and asked him to follow steps provided  where one have to manually take the cluster shared volumes [CSV] offline [yes the cluster validation wizard will give warning for non CSV disk resources but not for CSV disk you need to take them offline manually before running the test, else CSV disk resources will not participate in validation tests]

  • In the Failover Cluster Manager snap-in, expand the console tree and click Cluster Shared Volumes. In the center pane, expand the listing for the volume that you are gathering information about. View the status of the volume.
  • Still in the center pane, to prepare for testing a disk in Cluster Shared Volumes, right-click the disk, click Take this resource offline, and then if prompted, confirm your choice. Repeat this action for any other disks that you want to test.
  • Right-click the cluster containing the Cluster Shared Volumes, and then click Validate This Cluster.
Strangely when i looked at the Validation report i saw only one warning error for CSV disk resource. [ In our case it is "SR" as seen below]

"This resource is marked with a state of 'Offline'. The functionality that this resource provides is not available while it is in the offline state. The resource may be put in this state by an administrator or program. It may also be a newly created resource which has not been put in the online state or the resource may be dependent on a resource that is not online. Resources can be brought online by choosing the 'Bring this resource online' action in Failover Cluster Manager."

Now because of this error, CSV disk is not participating in any test. Strangely, one get this error though the CSV disk is offline [the way it should ] and cluster validation eligibility  status is true (as seen below)

Cluster validation tool itself gives a very subtle clue about why this is happening and I was quickly able to reproduce this and show why...The problem is CSV disk was either in Redirected access mode or Maintenance mode when it was turned offline for running cluster validation test.

To fix the issue one need to bring that CSV disk online..take it out from Redirected access mode by turning it off  and switching back to Direct IO mode…and then take CSV disk offline and run validation test. This is an issue which may create some confusion for customers/engineers because they do not get any error in validation test and may think that all is good and working..but in reality the CSV disks will not participate in most of the cluster storage validation tests and you may end up seeing storage issues later on. I will try to bring this to Microsoft product team's notice via right channels so that we can have better verbatim in validation test about this warning and what needs to be done to fix the issue for valued customers. Hey wait..what was that subtle clue in validation report..

The clue was that volume consistency test was telling us that CSV disk resource is not in correct state, so once you make the sugested changes you do not get that message and dirty bit is checked on CSV disk as shown above. Now though Microsoft says that we support cluster till the time you pass the validation test and have logo but in such a tricky case though you do not get an error in validation test, you are hardly in supported territory as all storage validation tests were never performed on the CSV disk resource. Hope this information is useful and helps you if you get same issue ever or in understanding cluster validation test that it is better to check all warnings and what they really mean and its implications.


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

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.