Microsoft TechDays 2012 Switserland presentations online

Microsoft Switzerland’s largest technology event took place for the 9th time this November in Lausanne and Basel. At both locations TechDays 12 Switzerland offered two full days of high quality content for software developers, architects and ITPros. The reason for two events in the same country is the language used at the event:

Lausanne: French (Primary) and English
Basel: German (Primary) and English

Some examples of  ITPro sessions are about Exchange, SQL 2012 , Lync, BizTalk and Hyper-V/SCVMM.

The slides of the sessions are available online. Most of the slides are in English language.

Recordings of the sessions should be made available soon at Channel9.

To download the slides, click here.

TechDays Microsoft 2012 Switserland ITPro

Some examples for sessions on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and SCVMM.

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V – The next chapter
System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager
Verwandlung einer VMware vSphere Infrastruktur in eine Private Cloud mit System Center 2012
Windows Server 2012 Storage

Microsoft TechEd 2012 Orlando presentations online and how to download

Presentations given at TechEd Orlando 2012 June 11-14 are online and viewable for free for everyone. Recorded sessions can be viewed and PowerPoint slides can be downloaded. Great that Microsoft  makes the presentations available for free a few hours after the session has ended. VMware releases the presentations given at VMworld for free viewing 1 year after the event!

For an overview of all sessions see
If you like to download sessions for offline viewing go to Here you will find a script which downloads all sessions automatically. Very handy.

An overview of the sessions in the Virtualization track.

What’s New with Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1 VIR201

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Storage VIR301

Enabling Disaster Recovery for Hyper-V Workloads Using Hyper-V Replica VIR302

An Overview of Hyper-V Networking in Windows Server 2012 VIR303

Building Flexible Hyper-V Environments Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Live Migration and Live Storage VIR304

Hyper-V Network Virtualization for Scalable Multi-Tenancy in Windows

Hyper-V over SMB2: Remote File Storage Support in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V VIR306

Get Hands-on with the New Hyper-V Extensible Switch in Windows Server 2012 VIR307

What’s New in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Part 1 VIR308

What’s New in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Part 2 VIR309

Deploying Hyper-V Hosts Using Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager VIR310

Compete to Win, Part 1: Comparing Core Virtualization Platforms VIR311

Compete to Win, Part 2: Comparing Private Cloud CapabilitiesMatt McSpirit VIR312

RemoteFX and RDP Rocking RDS in Windows Server 2012Rob Williams,Gaurav Daga VIR313

Windows Server 2012 VDI/RDS Infrastructure and ManagementDean Paron,Adam Carter VIR314

Lessons from the Field: 22 VDI and RDS Mistakes You’ll Want to AvoidGreg Shields VIR317

Hyper-V High-Availability and Mobility: Designing the Infrastructure for Your Private CloudSymon Perriman VIR401

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Architecture Poster

A picture tells more than a thousand words.

Microsoft posted an updated poster which provides a visual reference for understanding key Hyper-V technologies in Windows Server 2012. This Hyper-V poster focuses on Hyper-V Replica, networking, virtual machine mobility (live migration), storage, failover clustering, and scalability.

Download here.

Microsoft earlier released a Hyper-V architecture poster on Windows Server 8 Beta. To find the differences (are there any?) have a look at this posting.

Introducing Windows Server 2012 free eBook from Microsoft Press

Microsoft Press released a new free ebook titled ‘Introducing Windows Server 2012’ . In this 223 pages book Microsoft explains all the new features and enhancements in Windows Server 2012. Download here

This is a MUST read!

Taken from the introduction chapter:

Windows Server 2012 is probably the most significant release of the Windows Server platform ever. With an innovative new user interface, powerful new management tools, enhanced Windows PowerShell support, and hundreds of new features in the areas of networking, storage, and virtualization, Windows Server 2012 can help IT deliver more while reducing costs.

Windows Server 2012 also was designed for the cloud from the ground up and provides a foundation for building both public and private cloud solutions to enable businesses to take advantage of the many benefits of cloud computing.

This book represents a “first look” based on the public beta release of Windows Server 2012 and is intended to help IT professionals familiarize themselves with the capabilities of the new platform. Although certain features may change between now and RTM, much of the basic functionality likely will remain as described here, meaning that most of what you learn from reading this book will continue to benefit you as you begin to evaluate and deploy Windows Server 2012 in your own environment.

Direct from the source
A major feature of this book is the inclusion of sidebars written by members of the Windows Server team, Microsoft Support engineers, Microsoft Consulting Services staff, and others who work at Microsoft. These sidebars provide an insider’s perspective, “direct from the source,” that include both “under-the-hood” information concerning how certain features work, as well as strategies, tips, and best practices from experts who have been working with the platform during its early stages.Sidebars are highlighted in the text and include the contributor’s name and title at the bottom.

Windows Server “8” Beta Hyper-V Component Architecture Poster

A picture is worth a thousand words“. This is very much true for explaining technology. Microsoft is famous for its detailed posters explaining Microsoft technology.

Microsoft released a new poster showing the Hyper-V 3 components and features like Live Migration, Storage Migration and Replica.

This poster provides a visual reference for understanding key Hyper-V technologies in Windows Server “8” Beta. This Hyper-V poster focuses on Hyper-V Replica, networking, virtual machine mobility (live migration), storage, failover clustering, and scalability.


Mythbusting:Can a VMware private cloud cost 5 to 16 times more than Microsoft private cloud?

<updated April 20 2012: VMware response to Microsoft’s whitepaper. See the end of this blogposting>

Microsoft claimes their private cloud solution is 5 to 16 times cheaper than a compareable VMware’s private cloud solution. This posting shows this claim is unfair and inaccurate because it compares apples to oranges.

In January Microsoft announced the new System Center 2012 suite. The Redmond company also published a new whitepaper titled ‘Microsoft private cloud, a comparative look at functionality, benefits and economics’ in which it compares the products being part of System Center 2012 to the VMware products in a usage scenario for private cloud. Also the total costs for a Microsoft solutions based private cloud are compared to a VMware solutions based private cloud. Microsoft conclusion is:

Our analysis shows that a VMware private cloud solution can cost from five to sixteen times more than a comparable Microsoft private cloud solution over a period of one to three years.

Microsoft also released an online calculator titled Microsoft Private Cloud Economics Tool.It calculates the cost of creating a private cloud solution with Microsoft and VMware technologies. The calculator follows a simple methodology by considering the software acquisition and support costs for a private cloud solution.

Lets have a more closer look on how Microsoft came to this conclusion and if they are really comparing apples to apples like they claim in their whitepaper.

To start with we need to have a definition of what a private cloud is. A private cloud is not a virtualized infrastructure as most organizations are currently running. According to Microsoft’s whitepaper a private cloud has the following characteristics:

  1. it has a self-service experience
  2. is has a service model
  3. it has process automation capabilities
  4. it has tools to configure and deploy the infrastructure and application layers
  5. infrastructure and applications needs to be “discovered” and monitored for reporting and health tracking

Lets have a look at another definition of which components or characteristics a private cloud should have. The image below shows what according to Gartner should be part of a private cloud. Read the posting of Peter Noorderijk titled “the Private Cloud explained” to understand which Microsoft solutions deliver this private cloud mode.


The table below shows the products required to deliver IT as service using a private cloud computing model. As you can see below, to build a comparable private cloud based on VMware, you need several components like Cloud Infrastructure Suite products (vSphere, vCenter, vCloud Director, vCenter Site Recovery Manager), vCenter Operations Management Suite and vFabric among others.

While Gartner does not mention data protection/disaster recovery as part of a private cloud, Microsoft does. Microsoft compares VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) to a combination of Data Protection Manager and Orchestrator. This is not a fair way to compare. It is like comparing apples to oranges and a way to make the VMware solution much more expensive. I will explain why.

Disaster Recovery: compare Apple 1 to Orange 1
First of all, SRM is a totally different solution than DPM. SRM is able to replicate virtual machines using either storage replication (synchroneous) or host based replication (hypervisor). Replication means that an organization has an exact copy of a virtual machine somewhere in a recovery site. This replica can be started instantly when needed. Also SRM is able to verify the replicated virtual machines can start.
DPM on the other hand is a backup tool. It stores virtual machine metadata and data of virtual machine in a backup file. When a virtual machine is lost a timeconsuming restore process needs to be performed. This proces might be automated using Orchestrator but comparing to SRM is comparing an ultralight plane to a Boeing: both can fly but with a total different experience.

Not only compares Microsoft two totally different solutions, it also assumes an organization running 500 VM want to protect all 500 VM’s using SRM. This is not a reallife scenario. SRM will be used to protect TIER1 applications. There are lots of applications which do not require a recovery time of lets say less than 1 hour. Also some applications take care of replication themselves (Active Directory) or can easily be reinstalled (Citrix, RDP servers).

Security: compare apple 2 to no orange nor another apple
In a private cloud you will need some sort of security to isolate virtual machines  because of political or compliancy reasons. Microsoft does not mention in their text and image a security solution. Still they add the costs of VMware’s security solution vShield to the costs of the VMware private cloud. That is wrong and unfair for several reasons:

  1. Microsoft does not add a comparable security solution in the cost calculation for their own private cloud. To isolate network of tenants in a Microsoft infrastructure you will need Microsoft TMG. This is not part of the System Center 2012 suite so additional costs are involved.
  2. Included in the vCloud Director license is vShield Edge delivering firewall, NAT and DHCP features. For an overview of the vShield family of solutions see this posting. While vShield Edge is already paid for in the vCloud Director license, Microsoft adds the costs.
  3. Included in the vSphere Advanced edition is vShield App. Microsoft uses the vSphere Enterprise Plus edition license in the calculation which also is including vShield App. Microsoft adds by mistake the costs of vShield Add.
  4. Part of the System Center 2012 suite is Microsoft Endpoint Protection. This is a malware/anti virus agent. VMware’s endpoint protection solution is called vShield App. It is not an anti-virus product but a middleware solution which enables anti-virus vendors to write applications to protect virtual machines. Instead of installing an agent in every VM like Microsoft Endpoint Protection using VMware’s solution anti-virus/malware detection is done in the kernel offloading resources. Both solutions cannot be compared.

While Microsoft adds costs for Disaster Recovery and Security in the VMware solution they do not have add costs for an alternative, *equal* solution themselves.  This adds 33% to the costs of the VMware solution.

Missing components in Microsoft solution
In the Gartner definition of a private cloud a couple of preferred components of a private cloud are listed:
chargeback system and capacity management.
Microsoft does not have a software solution for Chargeback. In Windows Server 8 Powershell and WMI command will be available so IT can meter the usage of resources. Complicated scripting will needs to be done. Expected is that third party suppliers will use the metering to built tools on.
More information on metering of resource usage in this article titled Shedding light on Hyper-V 3.0 resource monitoring on

VMware has a solution titled VMware vCenter Chargeback Manager which is able to perform chargeback out of the box. Chargeback Manager is part of VMware Operations Management Suite. Microsoft included the license costs of VMware Operations Management Suite in the comparison.
So with Microsoft private cloud chargeback is very limited with no out of the box functionality in VMware ‘s solution a full chargeback solution is offered.

Microsoft also does not deliver a solution for Capacity Management. Using some third party management packs for System Center Operations Manager some rough capacity estimates can be given. This cannot be compared to the capacity management offered in vCenter Operations Manager. vCenter Operations Manager is part of VMware Operations Management Suite.
So with Microsoft private cloud Capacity Management is very limited, it is fully integrated in VMware’s private cloud offering.

While the costs of buying the software, maintenance and support are clear (listed in a pricelist) the costs of using the software are not. At this point it is impossible to judge how well the System Center 2012 products can interact with eachother and how eassy they can be used by IT-staff. I do not have experience with the VMware private solutions to say anything about how well those components work together.

VMware response
At April 9 VMware responded to the Microsoft claim by posting a blogposting titled 7 Reasons Why Microsoft’s Cloud Math Needs Remediation. VMware makes it’s own cost calculation and it turns out to be 15 % cheaper than Microsoft private cloud solution. This calculation is questionable as well. VMware compares vCenter with System Center. System Center offers a lot more functionality than vCenter Server alone.
The conclusion of VMware is
The Microsoft white paper is nothing but an attempt to artificially inflate VMware’s prices and distract customers from the shortcomings of their own products.

Microsoft want to believe that their private cloud solution is 5 to 16 times cheaper than VMware’s solution. In real they are comparing apples to oranges.


TechEd North America 2011 sessions online

Microsoft will publish all sessions given at TechEd North America 2011 in May 2011 on internet! Those sessions can be viewed for free for everyone! Microsoft is delivering a great service to anyone interested in Microsoft solutions.

Sessions can be viewed online about 24 hours after the session in Atlanta ended.

See the sessions at the Channel9 website here.

Sessions on virtualization can be found here

An overview of PowerPoint slides, videos can be found here.

Some interesting looking sessions:

WSV302 iSCSI and Windows Server: Getting Best Performance, High-Availability and Better Virtualization

Microsoft recently released it’s free iSCSI Software Target. Very handy for demo, study and small production sites.
WSV313 Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 for Application Storage, Diskless Boot, and More!

VIR327 Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track: A Reference Architecture for Private Cloud

SIM336 Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: Server Fabric Lifecycle, Part 1 – Configuring Networking and Storage

SIM211 Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012: What’s in It, and How It Enables the Building of Private Clouds and Federation to the Public Cloud

VIR309 Hyper-V R2 Healthcheck (Configuration and Performance)

NetApp announces Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track with Cisco data center architecture design

At May 16 2011 NetApp published it’s Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track reference which uses Cisco UCS for server and networking. Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track is a solution which delivers a virtualiztion infrastructure delivered by vendors based on best practises of those vendors. Read more about the announcement of NetApp here.

A video explaining the solution can be seen here.

NetApp published a very detailed, 57 pages whitepaper full of best practises. It is a recommended read not only for Hyper-V design but also for any other virtualization solution. It gives good insight in Cisco UCS and NetApp storage.

This joint NetApp, Cisco, and Microsoft white paper includes a detailed description of the technical approach and also includes the following information:

• The joint solution for server, network, storage management, and out-of-band management in the Hyper-V cloud

• Our joint approach to automation, maintenance, and security

• The storage area network (SAN) multipathing solution, Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) array design, and performance characteristics

• The cloning capabilities of the SAN, the use of data deduplication and thin provisioning, and Hyper-V integration

• The network infrastructure card (NIC) teaming solution and the host adaptor’s Fibre Channel (FC) and Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) settings

• The specific network and storage tiering strategies and recommendations

Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0 SP1 beta available

Reported at the System Center Team Blog

The System Center Team is pleased to announce the Beta of the Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0 SP1 (VVMMSSP 2.0 SP1). This public Beta is available through Connect. The VMMSSP 2.0 SP1 Beta allows an organization to abstract physical resources and assign these services quickly and efficiently.

What’s new with VMMSSP 2.0 SP1?

•Import virtual machines: Allows DCIT (Datacenter) administrators to re-import virtual machines that were removed from the self-service portal and also import virtual machines created outside the portal but managed by VMM.

•Expire virtual machines: This feature provides the user the ability to set an expiration date for the virtual machines that are being created or imported so that the virtual machines auto-delete after the set date. This feature also provides users the flexibility (through role-based access) to set or change the expiration date for the virtual machine.

•Notify administrators: This feature provides functionality to notify BUIT(Business Unit) or DCIT(Datacenter) administrators about various events in the system (for example, Submit request, Approve request,Expire virtual machine, and so on) via email through SQL server mail integration.

•Move infrastructure between business units: This feature allows DCIT(Datacenter) administrators to move an infrastructure from one business unit to another when the system is in Maintenance Mode.

This tool is available now, and we are very interested in your feedback. Check it out.

Microsoft offers free three day web based training called ‘Microsoft Virtualization for VMWare Professionals Jump Start’

Microsoft offers a three day, free webbased training on Microsoft virtualization concepts targeted at VMware professionals. 

The training  starts at 10:00 AM PDT (Los Angeles timezone) and last till 16:00 PDT. This converts to 19:00 till 01:00 Amsterdam time.

The webcasts are recorded so you can watch them on demand at a later date.

Registration needs to be done for each of the three days and can be done using this link.

Taken from the website:

If you’re seasoned in Windows IT management and looking to expand the way your environments leverage virtualization, this special event is for you. Following just one week after Microsoft Management Summit 2011 (MMS), this three-day Jump Start class is specially tailored for VMWare and Microsoft technology pros.  Here’s a glimpse of what we’ll cover:    *   Hyper-V Deep Dive    *   Real-world demos of SCVMM 2012 and other just-released tools    *   New automation techniques using Opalis & PowerShell    *   Private Cloud architecture and SCVMM Self-Service Portal 2.0    *   A full day of VDI Architecture, v-Alliance & application delivery    *   High-level outline below…

What is a “Jump Start” Course?

Jump Start training classes are specifically designed for experienced technologists and IT leaders whose jobs demand they know how to best leverage a new Microsoft technology. These advanced courses assume a certain level of expertise and domain knowledge, so they move quickly and cover topics in a fashion that enables teams to recognize progress quickly. Suggested Audience Not sure you’re ready? Suggested prerequisite skills include real-world experience with Windows Server 2008 R2, virtualization and datacenter management. This session is tailored to these types of roles:    – IT Professional    – IT Decision Maker    – Network Administrators    – Storage/Infrastructure Administrators & Architects


Schedule | Microsoft Virtualization for VMWare Professionals

Details Subject to Change | Please register for all sessions using the links below

Session One | “Platform” | March 29, 2011 | 10am-4pm PDT
What time is this in my region?| Use “Register Online” button above 

10:00am – 10:30pm   Virtualization 360 Overview

10:30am – 12:00pm   Microsoft Hyper-V Deployment Options & Architecture

12:00pm –   1:00pm   Lunch Break

  1:00pm –   2:00pm   Differentiating Microsoft and VMware (terminology, etc.)

  2:00pm –   4:00pm   High Availability & Clustering


Session Two | “Management” | March 30, 2011 | 10am-4pm PDT
What time is this in my region? | Register Here
10:00am – 11:00pm   System Center Suite Overview w/ focus on DPM

11:00am – 12:00pm   Virtual Machine Manager 2012 | Part 1

12:00pm –   1:00pm   Lunch Break

  1:00pm –   1:30pm   Virtual Machine Manager 2012 | Part 2

  1:30pm –   2:30pm   Automation with System Center Opalis & PowerShell

  2:30pm –   4:00pm   Private Cloud Solutions, Architecture & VMM SSP 2.0


Session Three | “VDI” | March 31, 2011 | 10am-4pm PDT
What time is this in my region? | Register Here

10:00am – 11:00pm   Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Architecture | Part 1

11:00am – 12:00pm   Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Architecture | Part 2

12:00pm –   1:00pm   Lunch Break

  1:00pm –   2:30pm   v-Alliance Solution Overview

  2:30pm –   4:00pm   Application Delivery for VDI



SCVMM 2012 private clouds and services

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (SCVMM 2012) is currently in a Community Test Program (CTP) which means the distribution of the software is limited to a select number of persons. Microsoft expects to release the software in the second half of 2011 with a public beta before launch.

This posting in the third in a serie on SCVMM 2012.

Part one is titled New features in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012

Part two is titled New storage and networking features in SCVMM 2012

SCVMM 2012 will have a lot more functionality compared to the current 2008 R2 release. A new concept is private cloud, which enables the consumer of a cloud (the business) to easily provision,  configure and use virtual machines. Another new concept is services: a group of virtual machines which act together to serve an application. Think about a webshop application which has webservers, application server and a database server. Lifecycle (create, update) of such a service is made very easy using new deployment software like Server App-V. These very interesting concepts are discussed in more details below.

The information used in the posting is based on the presentation Microsoft gave during TechEd 2010 in Berlin.

SCVMM 2012 is targeted at private clouds which means the available resources (computer, storage and network) are consumed by one organization. It is not targeted at public cloud with multiple tenants.  

The management  done using SCVMM 2012 can roughly be divided in two levels. One level is the fabric management and the other level is the service management.  

In a private cloud computing environment we see two types of roles. A producing role which is done by the IT-department and a consuming role performed by the business.

Fabric management is the technical configuration of compute resources (deployment and configuration of Hyper-V servers but also VMware and XenServer servers), placement of virtual machines, network (subnet, ip configuration, vlan) and storage configuration (raid sets etc)etc. The producing role in a cloud (the IT-department)  has to make sure everything is nicely connected and it operates as designed according Service Level Agreements.

Private cloud
A private cloud is a new abstraction of the fabric. It hides the technical complexity of compute, storage and network from the consumer. Instead the consumer can easily select a functional network (production, test) and storage based on service levels (silver, gold etc). No need to know what VLAN’s, network interfaces or cluster shared volume to use.

To manage the cloud several concepts are available. These concepts can be used to limit the cloud.  A capability profile defines the shape of VM’s that can be created in the cloud.  For example the person who creates the cloud for the consumer can limit the maximum number of CPU’s of a virtual machine in that cloud to 2.

Another specification which needs to be set when creating a cloud is the capacity of the cloud. This  is a shared limit on dimensions like cpu, memory, storage and number of VM’s in the cloud.

For example a private cloud can be created for use by the marketing and finance department. The capacity of the cloud can be 50 virtual machines.

User roles
Users roles can be used to assign specific actions on specific objects to specific persons. There are three kinds of user roles available in  SCVMM 2012: user roles for fabric management, user roles for cloud management and user roles for cloud consumption.

For fabric management 4 user roles are supported: VMM admin or full admin, storage admin, network admin and read only admin which is for audit purposes. 

For cloud management one user role is available called cloud manager.

For cloud consumption  one role is available  named  self service user. This role can be assigned various actions, like starting, stopping and creating virtual machines or services.

A VMM admin creates a cloud and delegates the cloud to a cloud manager. A cloud manager is for example an IT-manager of a business unit. The cloud manager sub-divides the cloud and assigns it to Self service users.

The self service user creates VM’s and services in the cloud. Quota’s can be used to define limits on a per-user based on compute, storage, memory and number of VM’s. This can be set on the self-service user role.

So in our previous example where a cloud was created for use by both the financial and marketing department, quotas can be used to limit to number of created vm’s for financial department to 20 and limit the maximum number of vm’s to be created by the marketing department to 30.

Also new in SCVMM 2012 is the ability of self service users to share vm’s, templates, profiles and services to other users.

Creation of a private cloud
To create a new cloud in SCVMM 2012 several steps needs to be taken.  The resources needed for consumption can be offered by an existing cloud created earlier in SCVMM 2012 or by a host group (a number of Hyper-V hosts) or by a VMware resource pool. In the CTP version of SCVMM 2012 XenServer resources are not yet available for creating a cloud!

Then the logical networks can be selected which will be available in the cloud. Logical networks can be for example ‘production network’ , ‘dmz network’,  ‘test/dev network’ or a ‘storage network’.

Then the loadbalancers and VIP-templates can be selected. Then the storage specifications can be selected like a high performance storage, silver storage, gold storage etc. The next step is adding the library where the template virtual machines are located. Next step is defining the limits of the cloud. The following dimensions can be set: number of virtual machines, number for virtual CPU’s, custom quota, storage in gigabytes, memory maximum .

New in SCVMM 2012 is the concept of services. A  service is a group of virtual machines working together. Think about a webshop application which often has a webserver, an application server and a database component.  A service is also known as a multi-tier application.

Where SCVMM 2008 was limited to provisioning the virtual machine and configuration of the Windows operating system, SCVMM 2012 adds deployment of applications to it.

Supported application types are: web apps (deployed using MSdeploy) , virtual apps (deployed using Server App-V) and database apps (deployed using SQL Data-Tier Applications or DAC). Also scripts can be run to deploy applications.

Server App-V is a new solution currently developed by Microsoft. It is very similar to the  App-V targets at Windows desktops. Server App-V unties the application logic from the operating system. It will be available in the second half of 2011 before or at the same time SCVMM 2012 will be launched.

To initially deploy a service first a service template needs to be created. The service template consists of one or more virtual machine templates. Each virtual machine template has information about the virtual hardware (number of CPU’s, memory etc), operating system (admin password, timezone etc) and application deployment (Server App-V, MSdeploy etc). 

Once a service is created from a service template, the service is always linked back to the template is was created from. Updates to services must be applied by changing the template first. This can be done to clone the template, rename the cloned template, edit it and deploy it. This allows rapid changes of services, like adding more servers to changing the virtual hardware specifications.  

The service lifecycle management has four steps:

  1. create template
  2. customize deployment
  3. deploy service
  4. update service

A service template can be used to deploy virtual machines on a Hyper-V, XenServer and VMware vSphere hosts. SCVMM 2012 makes  sure the most optimal host is suggested to deploy the VM’s of the service on. This can be manually overruled.

A service template can have for example three tiers: a web tier, an application tier and a data tier. The webtier can have one to three instances, the app tier 1 to 2 and the database 1 instance.

Each tier has three profiles: a hardware profile (how many cpu, memory), a os profile (admin password, time zone etv) and an application profile which is new in SCVMM 2012. This defines the application packages and custom scripts to be deployed on the virtual machine.

A service template can be created very easy using the service designer interface. A template is built using hardware, os and application templates.

The service can be deployed to a host group, VMware resource pool or to a cloud. SCVMM will use intelligent placement to select the right hosts to place the virtual machines used in the service.

SCVMM 2012 will also enable the installation  of roles and features in Windows Server 2008.  

Update services step
First clone the template. Then update the properties of the cloned the template like changing the size of the internal memory of a virtual machine.  Two kinds of updating the service are supported in SCVMM 2012: Regular updating and image based updating.

Regular updating are applied without replacing the OS image. Changes  like increase the memory of the vm or update the version of applications are in the regular updating.

Image based updating replaces an old image with a new image composed of operating system and applications.

Microsoft publishes Hyper-V Cloud Reference Architecture White Paper

At February 11 Microsoft published a new whitepaper on the Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track Program titled ” Reference Architecture Technical White Paper”. It can be downloaded here.


It is an interesting document describing the  seven principles Microsoft Hyper-V cloud architecture is based on: resource pooling, elasticity and the perception of infinite capacity, perception of continuous availability, predictability, metering/chargeback, multitenancy, and security and identity.
The document also describes design principles on networking, explains Clustered Shared Volumes, SAN design, host design, virtual machine design and a lot more interesting stuff.

A must read if your role is to design a Hyper-V infrastructure, either for a  private cloud server or limited to server virtualization.

More information on the Microsoft Private Cloud TechNet blog


Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track = slow start

At november 14 2010 I reported on a new program based on Hyper-V called Microsoft Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track.
Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track is a complete turn key deployment solution delivered from 6 server vendors (Dell, IBM, HP are three) which enables customers to quickly deploy cloud computing with reduced risk for technical issues by purchasing a virtualized infrastructure designed with best practices of Microsoft and the hardware vendor. Customers can build the infrastructure themselves based on reference architecture or use one of the many partners of the server vendor.

Hyper-V and Cloud in one solution name is interesting as currently Microsoft does not offer a real cloud computing solution for Infrastructure as a Service. Server virtualization, being able to run multiple workloads on a physical host and being able to manage the workloads and hosts is a less mature IT-infrastructure than a cloud computing platform delivering IaaS.
So cloud in the name of the Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track  should deliver more than just Hyper-V R2 and SCVMM2008 right?

Microsoft partners with 6 hardware vendors to deliver the Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track program. Part of the program is a reference architecture describing how Microsoft Hyper-V, SCVMM, server hardware and storage are installed according best practices of Microsoft and the vendor. Details can be read in this blogposting called Hyper-V Cloud Program for private cloud published at in November 2010. It states:
” HP, Dell and IBM have reference architectures available today, and the other 3 will be available shortly. ”

Well, it is now January 19th and it has become very quite since all the publicity around Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track in November. I tried to find any reference architecture which looks like a cloud solution but did not find anything new. Dell has some architecture based on Hyper-V and SCVMM 2008, which does not even get  close to a IaaS or Cloud solution.

So is  Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track a real Infrastructure as a Service solution to quicky enable your own private cloud or is it just ‘ new wine in old bottles’ ?

New storage and networking features in SCVMM 2012

In the previous blogposting on SCVMM 2012 I wrote about the new features on loadbalancing virtual machines, powermanagement and automated deployment of bare metal servers to fully operational Hyper-V hosts part of a cluster.
In this posting I will focus on the new features of SCVMM 2012 regarding networking and storage.

The release of SCVMM 2012 will be the second half of 2011.

 SCVMM 2012 will have two main roles. It wil have a Service Management or Software based role which is focussed on the virtual machines and the applications running on the virtual machines. Things like lifecycle, self service, delegation and quota and capacity are handled  here. I will create a seperate blogposting on these functions  in the following days.

This blogposting will focus on the second role of SCVMM 2012 being the Fabric Management. Fabric is the infrastructure or hardware used in the virtual infrastructure. That is servers, network and storage layer. Lots of new techniques and functions will be added in SCVMM 2012.

Firstly the userinterface of SCVMM will have the the ribbon interface already known from Office 2010.

SCVMM 2012 is able to communicate with the storage array using SMI-S providers. SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification) is a standard management interface developed by SNIA to ease the management burden in multi-vendor SAN environments. SCVMM 2012 understands the storage layer all from the virtual machine hard disk file, to the VHD file, to the CSV volume and to the LUN at the storage array level. Because of this SCVMM is able to provision LUN’s at the cluster level and allocate storage to Hyper-V clusters all automatically.

In SCVMM 2008 VDS hardware providers are used for storage integration. VDS will still be available in SCVMM 2012 but this will be the last release to support VDS.

SMI-S provides a common management interface for network components, decreasing the complexity of SAN management.

 SCVMM 2012 will offer a new abstraction layer for networking. In private cloud computing persons creating the virtual machine are not IT-pro’s but can be endusers, developers or application owners.They are not aware of VLANid’s or IP-subnets. They just know a virtual machine needs network connectivity to for example the production network, to the backup network or the TestDev network. When virtual machines are provisioned from a self service portal the non IT-pro can easily choose the correct network using the logical network name.

The SCVMM administrator creates the logical network and assigns an IP-subnet and VLANid to it.  The IP-address of the virtual machines created in SCVMM is obtained from an IP-pool defined inside SCVMM 2012. This function can be compared to a DHCP server. In the IP-pool the IP-addresses of DNS servers and WINS can be assigned as well as the DNS suffix. Similar to the configuration of a DHCP-server.

I am curious how this will work out with current Microsoft and non-Microsoft DHCP-servers used for assigning addresses to physical servers in the network or other DHCP-enabled devices. Enterprises often use some sort of centralized IP-management tooling for all of their devices not being perse a Microsoft DHCP-server. Using SCVMM 2012 to assign IP-addresses to virtual machines could easily lead to double IP-addresses if procedures are not followed.

An IP-pool can have three kind of IP-adresses:
-a static IP address which is assigned to VM’s
-a reserved IP address for IP addresses that do not need to be assigned by SCVMM
-A VIP address or Virtual IP address. This address can be assigned by SCVMM 2012 to certain hardware loadbalancers.

Suppose a three tier application is used, consisting of a multiple webservers, a frontend server and a database backend server. The VIP address can be used to dynamically connect to one of the webservers running as a virtual machine behind the load balancer. The IP-pool supports both IPv4 and IPv6.

When a virtual machine is created, an IP address is checked out of the IP pool. As soon as the virtual machine is deleted the IP address is checked into the IP-pool.

For MAC addresses there is a pool as well. In SCVMM 2008 there was a global pool of MAC addresses. In SCVMM 2012 a pool can be associated  per host group. When a VM is created a MAC-address is checked out of the pool. When a VM is deleted the MAC-address is checked in.

A newly created virtual machine can be reached via a VIP address which is assigned to a certain loadbalancer by SCVMM.  For VIP addresses there will be a new template called the VIP-template. Settings on the loadbalancer like Protocol, Load balance method persistence are configured in the template and communicated via Powershell providers to supported loadbalancers like Citrix Netscaler and F5 BigIP. When the VM is created the VIP is checked out, at deletion of a VM the VIP is checked in again.

SCVMM 2012 provides rapid provisioning. When a new VM is created using template, the VHD files do not need to be copied over the network but are copied by the SAN from a template. Most other copy actions are SAN to SAN as well and no data is copied over the network.  When a template is ‘SAN Copy’ capable, at creation of a virtual machine using a template, there will be no network copy.

Regarding support of ESX and vCenter there is a change in template usage. At SCVMM 2008 the VMDK of the template was copied during provisioning of a VM over the network which is a slow process. In SCVMM 2012 the template in vCenter Server located in the datastore is used to create a VM.

What is Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track ?

At TechEd Europe 2010 in Berlin, Microsoft introduced several new initiatives and some new solutions which enables customers to start using Cloud Computing.
Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track is a complete turn key deployment solution delivered from several server vendors which enables customers to quickly deploy cloud computing with reduced risk for technical issues by purchasing a virtualized infrastructure designed with best practices of Microsoft and the hardware vendor. Customers can build the infrastructure themselves based on reference architecture or use one of the many partners of the server vendor.

The solution is based on Microsoft best practices and design principles for Hyper-V and SCVMM and on partner best practices and design principles for the part of the solution deliverd by the partner (storage hardware, blades, enclosure, rack mounted, server, networking etc)
Some parts of the architecture are required by Microsoft  (redundant nics, iSCSI for clustering at the virtual machine level) and some are recommended. There is enough room for server vendors to create added value by delivering their software solution with the Fast Track.

The solution is targeted at large infrastructures running at least 1000 virtual machines per cluster. So it is an enterprise solution, not targeted at small and medium businesses.

This posting is a detailed summary of session VIR201 ‘Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track ‘ given at TechEd Europe 2010. The session can be seen and listened to via this link.

Cloud Computing is the next revolution in computing. Once every 5 to 10 years there is a dramatic change in IT-landscape. It all started with mainframes and dumb terminals, we got stand alone PC’s. Then we got desktops connected to servers, we got Server Based Computing, Software as a service, virtualization and now (private)cloud computing

Cloud Computing delivers new exciting features to the business consuming IT-services making it possible to quickly respond to new businesses. Self service portals enables business units to send change requests (for new virtual machines, additional storage and computing resources) using Webbased portals. After the request has been approved by the IT-department resources like virtual machines, CPU, memory or storage are automatically provisioned.

On the producing site (the IT-department) cloud computing delivers functionality to keep control over the life cycle of virtual machines, be able to forecast the need for additional resources, monitor and respond to alarms, report  and be able to chargeback costs of computing to the consumer.

If an organization decides to build a private cloud, three options are possible.
Either build the cloud computing infrastructure yourself on purchased hardware and software which is located on-premises.
Another option is to use the services of a Hyper-V Cloud Service Provider. Servers are located in an off-premises datacenter, the service provider makes sure networking, storage and computing power is provided. They also make sure the software is able to deliver Cloud computing  functions like charge back, self service portal and is ready to use. While doing it yourself  it takes the longest time to implement, using a service provider is the shortest time to implement.

There is a third option which is between doing it yourself and outsouring: Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track. This is a set of Microsoft validated blueprints and best practices developed by Microsoft Consulting Services and 6 server vendors. Those 6 represent over 80% of the server market. Instead of re-inventing the wheel by an organization wanting to jump on cloud computing, proven technology can be obtained from 6 hardware vendors (Dell, HP, IBM, Fujitsu, NEC and Hitachi). See for more info the Microsoft site
The technology is a set of hardware (servers and storage, software (Hyper-V/SCVMM and Self Service Portal 2.0) and services (experience and knowledge delivered by the hardware vendor).

Choosing for Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track solution has a couple of advantages:
reduce time to deploy. The hardware vendor has a selected number of configurations and best practices which is proven technology. It is ready to be installed without having to spend much time on inventory and design .
-reduce risk. The configurations are validated by the vendor to work. No risk on issues of components not working together. Performance is as designed and as expected.
-flexibility and choice. Several configurations can be chosen. Dell for example offers iSCSI storage, Fiber channel storage , blades and rack servers configurations.

See a video of the Dell Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track solution.

To me at the moment Hyper-V Fast Track seems to be more marketing related to impress the world about the solutions Microsoft can deliver for cloud computing. Microsoft is far behind VMware in it’s function offering for Infrastructure As A Service (IAAS). ESX is superieur to Hyper-V in being a hypervizor. The same accounts for vCenter Server for management versus System Center Virtual Machine Manager. Self Service Portal 2.0 far behind with functionality compared to VMware vCloud Director and additional software like vShield App.
While VMware has always been good in delivering superieur technology in it’s features (vMotion, storage vMotion) which appeals to IT-technicians, Microsoft has always been very good a luring IT-decision makers and higher management with perfect marketing material and distracting the functional shortcomings.

The website of Fujitsu, IBM, Hitachi and NEC only mention Hyper-V Fast Track but there is no reference architecure or detailed information to be found on the site.
Dell has four reference architectures available for download on their website, but none of them even mentions the VMM Self Service Portal 2.0 software! Delivering a self service portal to business units is what cloud computing distinguishes from server virtualization.  It is even a requirement for Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track!
I guess it only takes time before most of the 6 server vendors offer a really private cloud computing reference architecture.

The Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track solution consists of Hyper-V, System Center and Partner software technology. It is an open solution, the partner is free to add software solutions of its own (like management software).

One of the design principles for  hardware used in the Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track is that components and access to network and storage must be redundant. Each server needs to have multiple nics in a team. For iSCSI connections, at least 2 10 GBe nics or HBA’s are recommended. For the storage path MPIO most be used. VLAN trunks needs to be used to be able to split different type of networks and have control over the bandwidth usage of each network type by capping the bandwidth based on priorities. iSCSI traffic most likely wil be given more bandwidth than Live migration traffic. On a 10 GB pipe, iSCSI will typically get 5 GB while Live migration perfecly runs on 1 GB.

Although both iSCSI and Fiber Channel storage can be used, iSCSI storage is always required in the Fast Track solution as part of the solution. That is because clustering needs to be provided at the individual virtual machine level. Clustering at the host level (which ensures a VM is restarted on a remaining host if a host fails) is not enough to provide redundancy for cloud computing. Disk volumes inside a virtual machine can only be made available to multiple virtual machines using iSCSI. There is no such thing as a virtual Fiber Channel HBA in Hyper-V virtual machines.

If using a converged network, Quality of Service needs to be used to make sure certain types of network traffic can be priortized to make sure the virtual machines gets the guaranteed performance.

Management is an important part of the Hyper-V  Cloud Fast Track. Continious availability is very important aspect of cloud computing. To deliver that, the infrastructure needs to be monitored. If a failure is about to happen, actions need to be taken automatically to prevent downtime. For example, if the temperature in a Hyper-V server gets too high, System Center Operations Manager will notice that and initiate a Live migration of all virtual machines running on that host.

For file systems, Clustered Shared Volumes can be used, but also Melio FS for example. The server vendor delivering the Hyper-V Cloud Fast Track is free in selecting the cluster aware file system.

At the Private Cloud website a lot more of information can be found, like deployment guides.

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