Looking for a cost effective way to manage Hyper-V? Introducing 5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V

For managing Hyper-V servers, virtual networks, storage and virtual machines customers are required to buy the complete Microsoft System Center Suite. System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which is used for management of Hyper-V, is not available as a separate product. Customers have to buy the complete suite including backup, monitoring and deployment tools.

For small organizations the costs of System Center can be unattractive especially because they get functionality they probably either already have or will not need. Not every organization needs Configuration Manager or Operations Manager.

5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V is a nice alternative to buying the full blown System Center suite . Version 5 has been released end of June. Even if Hyper-V is not used this product is usefull. If Windows Server Core (no GUI) is used 5nine Manager offers a GUI to manage those servers.

The product has some unique features like the ability to manage the Hyper-V role installed on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 which Microsoft Hyper-V Manager nor SCVMM is able to.

5nine-hyperv-5-2

Another very nice feature is the ability to manage the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server. This software once installed does not come with a graphical userinterface. Basic configuration can be done in a command prompt. Advanced configuration needs to be performed using tools like PowerShell.  5nine Manager offers a graphical userinterface for Hyper-V installs without a GUI.

It is available in three editions:

  1. 5nine Manager free edition
  2. 5nine Manager
  3. 5nine Manager with antivirus.

The free edition only allows to do basic management. Actions like performing a Live Migration or a Storage Migration are not enabled in the free edition. However it offers some features not available in Microsoft Hyper-V manager console.
5nine Manager commercial edition has all features you want as an administrator.
5nine Manager with antivirus has all features of 5nine Manager including agentless antivirus for virtual machines.

A feature compare can be seen here.

What’s new in 5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V

  • Automated virtual machine (VM) provisioning
  • Enhanced cluster management
  • VMs Guest connection views through FreeRDP or Microsoft controls
  • Support in the GUI for configuration of Hyper-V Replica which enables failover of production workloads to a secondary site for disaster recovery
  • Group operations for multiple VMs
  • Applications Logs

Additionally, 5nine Manager for Hyper-V performs the following features that are absent in the
standard MS Hyper-V management tool:

  • Own graphical user-friendly interface – file manager with built-in transfer virtual hard drive with a capacity up to 127 Gb for exploring files and network shares, even on Windows Core and Free Hyper-V.
  • Quality of Service management – setting of minimum and maximum Input Output operations per second (IOPS) throttling for the virtual hard disk attached to a virtual machine (applies for hosts with Windows Server 2012 R2)
  • System Status Report presented in the intuitive graphical form. Available in the full version of 5nine Manager for Hyper-V.
  • Failover cluster manager function, such as VM migration between nodes. Available in the full version of 5nine Manager for Hyper-V.

qualityofservice

5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V is available immediately. It is priced per host, and pricing begins at $199

The administrators guide (for version 4.2) can be found here.

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Microsoft licensing explained (a try)

Microsoft licensing is hard and complex. Many options are offered by Microsoft for the right to use their software.

It is a skill to be able to provide the best advise and to implement licensing the correct way. First there are many different agreements, plans and programs. Secondly there are many rules, small letters, exceptions and not so obvious restrictions documented in not always very well known documents.

In this blog I will provide a highlevel overview of Microsoft licensing. When you understand the basics, Microsoft’s  detailed information on all the agreements and enrollments will provide the details.

Buy or lease agreements

The right to use Microsoft software can be obtained via two ways:

  1. as a retail boxed software. Customers buy a box with the software on DVD and the license to use the software.
  2. as part of Volume Licensing. Customers receive a license. Software is downloaded from a Microsoft portal. Customers which agree in a Volume Licensing agreement get discount and other benefits.

Volume Licensing  can be either purchased, leased or leased/purchased. Depending cash position, dynamics of the organization a lease or purchase is the best option.  Agreements for organizations with over 5 computers are part of the Microsoft Volume Licensing. There are programs for organizations with 5-250 computers and for organizations with over 250 computers.

For Service Providers Microsoft has a pay-as-you-go model available. A service provider is only charged for the actual usage of a product. This can even be a single hour.

Volume Licensing has three important components which you should be aware of.

  • agreements or programs
  • enrollments
  • software assurance

An agreement is an procurement contract. In the contract Microsoft and the customer agree on many things. It has information on processes like True-Up and defines the length of the contract, the payment, term for additional product license acquisitions, subsequent orders and perpetual rights.

Enrollements are available as part of enterprise agreement and select licensing programs. Enrollments are contracts about the ordering of software. The customer promises to buy a certain quantity of software and certain types of software. In return the customer receives discount.

Enrollments are a Microsoft way to push customers to a certain direction. This can be towards purchasing Software Assurance or towards purchasing Hyper-V, standardize on Office or consume cloud services like Azure.

Software Assurance (SA) is a kind of maintenance contract. Customers have the right to use the latest version software. Another benefit is the right to move license to other servers or to cloud environments. Microsoft is constantly moving benefits which were included in the  license to SA. Cost of SA is about 25% of the license price paid each year.

For some agreements the customer can decide to buy SA as addition to the license. In many agreements SA is included. SA has been introduced by Microsoft to guarantee a steady cashflow. Before SA Microsoft got a lot of revenue after the release of a new version of software. Then the revenue dropped to be increased at the next release. With SA Microsoft monthly gets money from customers on SA.

The reference guide explains it all.

Available Agreements 

The image below shows the major agreements available to corporate . There are also agreements for government, education, charity, service providers and partners of Microsoft.

These programms are all focussed on on-premises software usage. They offer however the possibility to use Microsoft cloud services as well.

Pricing for all agreements are very different. Organizations with over 250 users/computers get a better price than those with a few users. Organizations with many desktops get better discounts than with few desktops. Schools get about 80 % discount for licenses.

To be able to start an agreement organizations must meet certain conditions. For example a minimum purchase or have all workstations installed with the latest Office version.

It is perfecty possible to have a customer use various agreements.

Microsoft license agreements

Agreements for small orgs with 5-250 computers or users 

  • Open License
  • Open Value
  • Open Value Subscription

Open License is just buying the license. This provides the customer the right to use to software as long as he wants. There is no rental available. A maitenance program called Software Assurance can be purchased if the customer wants to upgrade to the most recent version software. Software is paid upfront.

Open Value is including Software Assurance. The customer can annualize their billing over 3 years or they can pay upfront. After three year no more payments and the license belongs to the customer. Licenses can only be added to the agreement. So if your organization shrinks you might have to pay for more licenses than needed.

Open Value Subscription means the customer rents the software. When the rental period has expired and is not extended the software may not be used anymore. Licenses can be added (True Up) or removed from the agreement (True down)

These agreements can be sold by any Microsoft partner.

Agreements for large orgs with over 250 computers or users

  • Select and Select Plus
  • Enterprise Agreement
  • Enterprise Agreement Subscription

Select Plus is a purchase programm with an option to buy SA. To qualifiy for Select Plus customers have to buy an initial order of 500 points per product pool. Microsoft products are groups in three pools: applications, systems, and server.  500 points equals for example 250 Office licenses. The more points a customer has, the better discount.  More on Select Plus here.

Select Plus is being replaced by  a new agreement for midsized organisations called Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA). A FAQ here. The general rollout of MPSA licensing is planned for late 2014 which is when all enrollments will be expected to start following the MPSA model. Microsoft describes the MPSA as blending elements of the Microsoft Business and Services Agreement, Select Plus licensing and Microsoft Online Services subscriptions. A compare between Select Plus and MPSA is here.

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement can be purchased at a Microsoft Licensing Solution Provider  only. The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement allows organizations with more than 250 PCs, devices and/or users to purchase  Microsoft licenses  and cloud services over a three-year period at the best available pricing. As Software Assurance is included customers have the right to use the most recent version. At the end of the three years the license becomes a perpetual license. This means the customer can use it as long as he wants. Customers cannot reduce the number of licensed software during the three year period.

Microsoft Enterprise Subscription Agreement is a pay-as-you-go model. It is a rental agreement for three year which includes Software Assurance. Customers have the ability to decrease the number of licensed software each year during the True-Up process. There is no initial CAPEX. Costs are booked as operational costs. Licenses in this agreement are  nonperpetual (or subscription) licenses, which provide the right to use a particular licensed product until the end of the license-agreement term.  A requirement is that all desktops of the customer are standardized on Office, Windows or the Core CAL.

More info here. 

The difference between both is explained here.

MOSA Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement

MOSA is a dedicated licensing agreement for using Microsoft Online Services like Office 365. After signing the MOSA customers can purchase subscriptions under the  Microsoft Online Subscription Program (MOSP). This is a subscription-based Microsoft Volume Licensing program for organizations with one or more users that want to subscribe to, activate, provision, and maintain services seamlessly and affordably. The services available in this program  include Office 365, Windows Azure Platform, CRM Online, and Intune

Agreements for Service Providers

  • Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA)

Agreements for Education

  • School Enrollment
  • Campus and School Agreement (CASA) = Specifically for qualified academic institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, including research facilities, interested in purchasing five or more licenses.
  • Enrollment for Education Solutions (CASA+EES or OVS-ES).
  • Microsoft Campus Agreement for higher education
  • Microsoft School Agreement for primary and secondary education institutions.

Enrollments

An enrollement is an extension of some agreements like the Enterprise Agreement. The target of an enrollment is to stimulate customers to buy a number of licenses or standardize on Microsoft products. In return they get discount.

For Enterprise Agreements the following enrollements are available:

  • Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE). The most recent enrollment which replaces the ones listed below.
  • Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP)
  • Enrollment for Core Infrastructure  (ECI)
  • Enrollment for Windows Azure (EWA)

Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) covers datacenter products both on-premises and in the cloud. It  includes SQL Server, SharePoint, Biztalk, the Core Infrastructure Suite, Visual Studio and Azure.  There is no growth of licenses required but a minimum purchase of licenses is required. For example to meet SCE requirements customers must purchase minimum of 50 SQL Server core licenses or 5 SharePoint licenses. Also customers needs to cover the entire Enterprise server footprint with SA.
More info on SCE

Enrollment for Application Platform contains SQL Server, Visual Studio, SharePoint and Biztalk. It provides up to 40% discount but a license growth is expected to be 20-30% over a baseline.

Enrollment for Core Infrastructure offers discounts for a bundle of  Windows Server and System Center. Two bundles are available. The Core Infrastructure Suite Datacenter and Core Infrastructure Suite Standard. Discount of 20% is given on bundle as compared to product licenses individually

More info on ECI and EAP

This image compiled by Enpointe.com clearly shows the differences in enrollements

enrollment programs

Legal documents

When the agreement has been signed the customer should comply to certain Microsoft published documents. These documents explain how licenses should be applied.

The Microsoft Business and Service Agreement (MBSA) is the perpetual umbrella agreement that dictates the basic terms for all signed licensing agreements between your organization and Microsoft. This master agreement defines contract terms common to Microsoft licensing, service, and support agreements. MBSA is applicable for Select, Select Plus and Enterprise Agreements.

An important document for on-premises software is the Product Usage Rights. Service Providers have to use the Services Provider Use Rights (SPUR)  document. These are frequently published by Microsoft. The PUR describes per Microsoft product how the license should be used.

The Product List is another important document. It has info on avilability of new products, point values, product migration paths and Software Assurance benefits.

Both are binding documents. The customer should apply to what is written in those documents.

It is important to understand to what license the PUR applies. An excellent post at microsoftlicensereview.com about the PUR states:

  • For customers that elect to leverage downgrade rights, the Product Use Rights for the version licensed, not the version running will apply.

 

Some terms being used

Microsoft uses various terms in licensing documents. Some are explained here.

True-up
Customers with an Enterprise Agreement or Open Value contract agree to use a certain number of licenses. The customer is allowed to use more licenses than agreed. Once a year the customer reports the number of licenses in use. The difference between the number of licenses in the EA or Open Value and the actual usage is the True-up. Reporting the true-up once a year is mandatory.

Level and No Level
Microsoft provides discount when customers purchase a certain number of licenses. If the number of license is below a threshold this is called no Level. Level means the customer has acquired more licenses than the threshold and will get more discount. So LEVEL licenses are always cheaper than NOLEVEL

Levels in some products have numbers like Level C or Level D.

Pricing levels 
For enterprise Agreements there are pricing levels. Starting at Level A which provides the lowest discount to Level D which offers the highest discount. Governments always get Level D discount. The numbers in the second column shows the number of desktops in use by the organization.

EA level A 250 – 2.399
EA level B 2.400 – 5.999
EA level C 6.000 – 14.999
EA level D 15.000 +

Step-up licensing 
customers with a volume agreement including Software Assurance can upgrade the edition of software for a reduced price. For example they can upgrade from Windows Server Standard Edition to Datacenter Edition.
more info here 

Points
Some agreements like Select Plus use points to determine if a customer qualifies for the agreement. Each Microsoft product has points. These are documented in the Product List.

Pricelist

Many pricelists are available on Internet. Prices are hard to understand as you will see different prices for what looks like the same product. As you have learned the price depends on type of organization, agreement, enrollment, number of licenses in use etc.

This is a pricelist of Kernel Software

 

System Center, Hyper-V , Azure Meat(ing) June 26 the Netherlands

If you like System Center, Hyper-V, Azure as well as meat, don’t forget to register for System Center Summer Night “The MasterChef edition” which is rapidly approaching. This event is held in Culemborg, the Netherlands at June 26.

Do not worry about the Worldcup, the Netherlands is not playing. Below the games scheduled for June 26.

wc-soccer

At June 26 nine experts, seven of them are MVPs, will present five interesting presentations.

Because we have plenty of space left we invite those who have registered to bring a friend without additional cost. If you haven’t registered yet, please do and have a great afternoon which is completed with a nice barbecue.

 

Date of event

June 26th

 

Program

15:00 – 16:15 How many System Center fits on one grill by Ronny de Jong / James van den Berg [MVP] / Helmer Zandbergen / Marc van Eijk [MVP] / Dieter Wijckmans [MVP]

16:15 – 17:30 How Service Manager can do everything you need – a best-of-the-best Swiss cheese selection by Marcel Zehner [MVP]

17:30 – 17:45 Break

17:45 – 19:00 Light up the fire on your Hyper-V by Hans Vredevoort [MVP] & Peter Noorderijk on Hyper-V Architecture

19:00 – 20:15 Become a Masterchef on Microsoft Azure Automation by Maarten Goet [MVP]

20.15 BBQ time

This event is organized by SCUG.nl and Hyper-V.nu

 

Registration

Please register at https://www.eventbrite.nl/e/tickets-system-center-summer-night-2014-9265847399

 

Location

Unieplaza
Multatulilaan 12
4103 NM Culemborg

Google map here

Hyper-V 2012 R2 virtual machines lose randomly network connections . Be carefull with Emulex NICs! New driver expected in July

<update June 24>
Hyper-V Program Manager Ben Armstrong made a blogpost about this issue titled Hyper-V Network Connectivity Issues with Emulex Adapters

He is blogging about this for two reasons:

  1. I have been contacted by a number of customers who have hit this, and want people to know about what to do.

  2. It is really good to see a hardware vendor documenting status and workarounds for known issues, and I am glad to see this post going up.

<update June 20> 
Hans Vredevoort of Hyper-V.nu wrote a blog about the conference call he had with Emulex. Emulex was unaware of this issue for a long time. It seems HP did not inform Emulex about the issue. When Emulex was aware they could n0t reproduce the issue at first, and then found other issues as well.
His blog here: Additional Background on the VMQ Issue with Emulex and HP

<update June 19>

Emulex posted a blog on the Emulex website explaining the issue described in my post. The workaround is to disable VMQ. We knew that one for a couple of months.

The good news is that a new driver and firmware is expected to be released in Mid July.

See the blog here. 

————————

<update June 17>

I have been in touch with the CEO of Emulex about this issue. He stated “My team is very aware of this and while you may not have been provided the update you deserve, the issue has not been ignored.   I know the team has been very engaged with HP and MSFT on this ”

Lets hope there is some progress on resolving the issue

————————

Virtual machines running on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V could randomly lose their network connection. The only workaround to restore network connectivity is to perform a Live Migration of the affected VM to another host or to reboot the Hyper-V host.

To do this some ITpro’s wrote scripts which pings all VMs and if no response is received a Live Migation is performed.

In many cases the issue is seen on Emulex NIC’s in HP Gen8 blades on which Windows Server 2012  R2 with Hyper-V is installed.

The problem seems to be related to the number of VMQ’s available in the network interface. If the number of netadapters/ virtual nics in VM exceeds the number of VMQ’s available, some  virtual machines will lose network connectivity.

I found an explaination of how VMQ works here. For much more indepth details about VMQ see this blogpost and the earlier linked in the article.

 

Since the emulex netadapters have 16 VMQ slots total, the first 4 slots are taken up by the host OS. The first of the 4 is supposed to be “special” (i’ll get back to that in a bit). The other 3 are regular adapters. The next 12 are regular VM adapters. Each guest VM is assigned one VMQ slot out of 16.

4 + 12 = 16; all VMQ slots are assigned.

When the 13th VM tries to get a VMQ slot, it fails to receive one.

What’s supposed to happen, is the hypervisor is supposed to just start sharing it’s “first” slot (the special one), with any additional VM’s that can’t get VMQ slots (or any that have VMQ disabled).

What actually happens, on the emulex or broadcom adapters, is that the guest OS simply fails to allocate a VMQ slot, and fails to get any network connectivity at all. It can not talk to the host OS (even if it’s on the same VLAN and not communicating through the physical ports).

Basically, the Emulex and Broadcom give you exactly the VMQ slots avaialable and the “fail-over” technology of failing back to vRSS-like queues for the other VM’s simply fails to work, and any VM that wasn’t issued a direct VMQ fails to communicate.

The intel drivers correctly share the first VMQ slot with any additional VM’s. It ends up with higher-than-normal CPU usage on the first core, but that’s no different than how Windows Server 2008 R2 (or 2012 R2 with vRSS networking) works anyway.

I understand the  Emulex adapters currently support up to 30 VMQ on Windows Server 2012.

The workaround which works for many people is to disable VMQ on the nic by using this command

get-netadapter | disable-netadaptervmq

This blogpost by Ben Gelens describes the same issue. Ben solved it by disabling the  Virtual Machine Queue (VMQ) on just the management nic.

The issue is described at Hyper-V.nu and at aidanfinn.com . It is also reported on the Microsoft TechNet forum.

It seems to occur mostly when Emulex network interface cards are used. These are for example used in HP (HP 554M , HP 554FLB, 554FLC adapters use the Emulex chipset) , Broadcom NetXtreme 57xx NICs, and IBM servers. Especially the 10 GbE cards are suspect for this issue.

Emulex driver versions 10.0.430.570 ,  10.0.430.1003 and 10.0.430.1047 all seem to suffer from this issue. Some information on Emulex adapters in a Hyper-V environment using RSS and VMQ.

Also NICs of Broadcom and Intel are reported having this issue but likely less frequent.

It seems that virtual machines which handle a lot of network traffic are more affected by this issue than virtual machines which do not handle a lot of network traffic.

The probolem is experienced by many people.

There is at the moment no solution but waiting for Emulex to release a new driver.

Some other advises which I found on various sites and might or might not help. There are other network issues reported as well on various blogs. Some servers get a BSOD but this could possibly be resolved by using a Microsoft hotfix

  1. disable encapsulated packet task offload per Disable-NetAdapterEncapsulatedPacketTaskOffload cmdlet
  2. Disabled Large Send Offload v2
  3. Set-NetOffloadGlobalSetting -TaskOffload Disabled

 

StarWind seminar on Virtual SAN for Hyper-V

 

Max Craft, Solution Engineer, StarWind Software, Inc.      LIVE WEBINAR on Thursday, May 15
10:00 AM EDT
FEATURED SPEAKER:
Max Craft
, Solution Engineer, StarWind Software, Inc.

Uptime is crucial for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Traditionally, it takes large investments to ensure uninterrupted workplace productivity.
Join StarWind’s FREE webinar to find out how our Virtual SAN for Hyper-V solves the uptime issue without breaking the bank:

  • Minimalistic Hardware Footprint. Only two hypervisor nodes are needed: no SAN, no NAS, no SAS JBOD, no voting third node, and no Ethernet switches. As there’s less hardware to buy and maintain, both CapEx and OpEx are reduced, resulting in improved ROI.
  • Simplicity. Neither advanced SAN management skills nor special training is required. StarWind’s Virtual SAN is a native Windows application that’s easy to setup and manage for any Hyper-V administrator.
  • Uncompromised Performance. A less expensive solution that brings even better performance.

 

Register for Webinar   Click here to register for this webinar

disclaimer:

This is a sponsored blogposting.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Update KB2919355 causing failed backups of Hyper-V VM’s

After installation of Windows Server 2012 R2 Update KB2919355, backups of Hyper-V VM’s fail. The error is

 

Error: Client error: The system cannot find the file specified

This error is not caused by the backup software nor the storage used. It is a bug in the Microsoft update. Veeam is curently working on a workaround which is expected to be released this Tuesday.

So be carefull installing this Microsoft update.

More info on the Veeam forum.

StarWind V8 Release Candidate Is Available Now!

StarWind Software released the Release Candidate of  StarWind V8. The functionality and architecture of this software is similar to VMware VSAN. It can be installed on both Hyper-V and ESXi and converts local storage to a distributed shared storage.

General availability is expected in Q2 2014

starwind

Download the RC here.

It offers three products that share a common engine:

  • StarWind SAN – a unique system that allows you to create a high-performance and fault-tolerant shared storage on commodity hardware, saving $$$.
  • StarWind VSAN – a virtual SAN sharing a server with Hyper-V on parent partition. Convenient and as easy to manage as any Windows software.
  • StarWind VSA – a virtual storage appliance that merges with VMware and runs in a VM, making your system more efficient and convenient to use.

It is scalable to an unlimited number of nodes, optimized for flash as the primary storage, with its own LSFS and upgraded asynchronous replication.

StarWind SAN, the flagship product, runs on commodity servers’ hardware and converts them into high-performance, fault-tolerant SAN at a fraction of the cost and complexity associated with traditional SAN-based storage infrastructures. With its integrated VSA builder and scale-out architecture, StarWind SAN became the first solution running on Windows that creates clusters of multiple hypervisor hosts without separate physical shared storage (unlike SAS (JBOD), FC or iSCSI). With this release, StarWind supports the latest versions of both VMware and Microsoft platforms.

StarWind virtual SAN (VSAN) is a leading software defined storage for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0. The functionality and architecture of this software is similar to VMware VSAN. It runs inside parent partitions of hypervisor hosts and turns their directly attached storage (DAS) into fault-tolerant SAN. StarWind VSA follows the VMware VSA concept also, and operates inside a VM on the ESXi host, creating a fault-tolerant shared storage of the hypervisor resources.

StarWind V8 RC presents high-performance caching that allows affordable MLC SSDs to be used as level-2 flash cache and fast RAM to be used as level-1 cache. StarWind utilizes solid-state disks / flash cards as the primary storage with a dedicated flash-aware Log-Structured File System (LSFS).

Another major advantage over multiple virtual storage solutions is built-in asynchronous WAN-replication, which ensures effective disaster recovery. StarWind’s support of WAN-acceleration technologies also enables data replication over slow and cheap connections.

StarWind V8 RC includes a set of powerful experimental features including: LSFS, which eliminates the I/O blender effect; synchronous replication for clustered LSFS devices; and in-memory operation, which creates a HA cluster with one node running on RAM-disk.

FreeBSD 10.0 release has built in Hyper-V support

FreeBSD 10.0 release is the first release which has  native paravirtualized drivers and Hyper-V Integration Services built in the amd64 kernel. In previous releases additional software had to be installed to be able to run FreeBSD on Hyper-V.

Mind these are part of the amd64 GENERIC kernel. For i386 some manual steps needs to be taken.

For instructions see the FreeBSD Wiki page The info below was copied from the Wiki page.

As of FreeBSD 10.0, Hyper-V integration services provide the following functionality:

  1. Support for integrated shutdown from Hyper-V console.
  2. Support for keeping time synchronized between FreeBSD guest and Hyper-V host.
  3. Support for Hyper-V specific IDE and SCSI storage devices.
  4. Support for Hyper-V specific network adapter.
  5. Live migration with and without static IP migration. Note that to enable static IP migration, administrators will need to include the KVP driver and daemon available in FreeBSD 10.0 ports for Hyper-V

 

New Hyper-V + System Center exam plus voucher for free exam

Microsoft released in November 2013  a new exam named “74-409 Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center“.

The exam requires knowledge of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V. Also some basic knowledge of Windows Azure, System Center and monitoring is required.

Questions are multiple choice with some drag-and-drop.

The exam details can be found here.

To prepare for the exam a 5 day classroom course is available: 20409A: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center (5 Days)

Alternatively Microsoft Virtual Academy has a free 15 modules on-line course available.

There is a voucher for a free exam. Register using this link

The MVA course is available here,

Channel 9 has 13 videos online which explains this subject.

The number of free exams is limited, so be sure to schedule your appointment to lock-in your free exam. Vouchers expire and all exams must be taken by June 30, 2014.

Marius Sandbu wrote a blog titled Study resources 74-409 Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center with links to more information to prepare for this exam.

Veeam releases free RDP Appliance for Hyper-V Server

Microsoft has a free hypervisor offering called Hyper-V Server 2012 R2. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 is fully equal to the Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012. The only item not available in the free edition is the free usage rights for virtual machines running on a host installed with Hyper-V. Each virtual machine instance running on free Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 needs to be licensed.

Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 comes as a core installation. This means there is no graphical userinterface available to perform management. Especially connecting to the console of the virtual machine can be a challenge. Hyper-V Manager does not run on the Hyper-V Server itself. Adminstrators needs access to another Windows Server 2012 or Windows 8 with   Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) installed to be able to access the console of VM’s.

Veeam to the rescue. The company released a free virtual appliance which is a RDP proxy. The appliance runs CentOS and installs on a Hyper-V host. The appliance can connect to virtual machines using VMconnect. VMconnect is a modified RDP for connection to consoles of virtual machines. VMconnect is able to connect even when the virtual machine does not have an IP-address.

Read more of this post

Free conversion of VMware VMs to Hyper-V VMs with 5nine V2V Easy Converter v2.0

5nine Software has released the 2.0 version of its free V2V conversion tool ‘Easy converter’. It is able to convert VMware virtual machines to Hyper-V. Other conversion types are not supported.

New is this 2.0 release is added support for Hyper-V 2012 R2 as a target. It also supports simultaneous conversions of multiple VMs.

V2V Converter is a simple to use, basic converter tool targeted at the Small and medium business market. During the conversion process the source VMware virtual machine will needs to be shutdown.

The 2.0 version of 5nine V2V Converter supports conversion of VMware Virtual Machines with Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003 (x86 and x64), and most of Advanced Server 2000, Ubuntu and CentOS configurations into VHD and VHDX file formats for Microsoft Hyper-V 2008 R2 SP1 and Microsoft Hyper-V 2012/R2.

Download 5nine V2V Easy Converter v2.0 from the company website at http://www.5nine.com/vmware-hyper-v-v2v-conversion-free.aspx.

5Nine Manager for Hyper-V 3.6 released

5Nine today announced the release of version 3.6 of Manager for Hyper-V. Manager for Hyper-V is a local management tool for managing the Hyper-V hypervisor.

Microsoft provides a command line tool (SCONFIG) for the basic configuration tasks in Hyper-V server or GUI-less installations, it provides no local GUI for its management, for GUI access, administrators without any third party software have to rely on remote management through Windows Server, System Center Virtual Machine Manager or Remote Server Administration Tools: this is a space well suited for third party solution providers and 5Nine is among them.

 

5nine Manager for Hyper-V v3.6 allows local and remote management of Virtual Networks and Virtual Machines from a single management console and supports multiple versions of Microsoft hypervisors (2012 R2 / 2012 / 2008 R2 SP1).

clip_image001

Version 3.6 provides the following new features as detailed in the release notes:

  • Support of Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Live migration of Hyper-V Virtual Machines between cluster nodes
  • Virtual Machines Guest Connection View (new to the FREE version of the product)
  • Cluster storage information
  • Allows files to be copied to and between Virtual Machines
  • Enhanced Hyper-V system status report

5Nine also provides a free version of the Manager for Hyper-V with reduced functionality compared to the paid version which costs $149 per physical host per year.

Join 5nine Software Free Webinar on Hyper-V Management Best Practices!

Do you want to learn the best practices for Hyper-V Management with 5nine Software products? Register for the 5nine Software FREE webinar on Hyper-V Management Best Practices which will be held on August 14, 2013 10AM EST and you will learn:

Best practices to manage Hyper-V environments

  • How to migrate VMware VMs to Hyper-V VMs FREE, quickly and easily
  • How to get a convenient local GUI for Core versions of Hyper-V hosts
  • How to perform real-time monitoring with alert notifications of multiple Hyper-V cloud infrastructures

Best practices to protect Hyper-V environments

  • How to increase host performance while increasing VM density using agentless security approach
  • What is CBT technology, and how does it perform VM full system anti-virus scans 70x faster than traditional anti-virus scans
  • How to protect your sensitive data inside Hyper-V VMs from unauthorized access

If you want to learn more about 5nine Security Manager for Hyper-V see this 3 minute video.

5nine

PXE boot will be supported on synthetic NIC in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V R2

When a virtual machine running on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V is booted over the network using PXE, only the legacy network adapter can be used. This legacy adapter is limited to 100 Mbps. The much faster synthetic NIC supporting 10 Gbps does not support PXE. This is not ideal when for example Citrix PVS is used to provision new virtual machines. This means two network adapters need to be configured for the virtual machine. See my post on this restriction here.

This restriction is solved in Windows Server 2012 R2. Server 2012 R2 Hyper-v allows virtual machines to be created using the current Generation 1 type, or using the new Generation 2.

Generation 2 virtual machines only support synthetic network interface cards. New is that the synthetic NIC does support PXE network boot.

However, Generation 2 virtual machines only support 64-bit editions of Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 as guest operating systems.

 

Hyper-V-generation2

 

Gartner: Can you replace VMware with Hyper-V or other competitor?

Gartner Catalyst Conference is an event for advisors and decision makers in IT. July 29- August 1 2013 the event was held in San Diego having tracks on Cloud computing, mobility, virtual datacenter and big data. An overview of the agenda can be seen here.

One of the sessions was  titled D4 – Rethinking Your Hypervisor Choice: Can You Replace VMware. The session presented by Chris Wolf of Gartner  has been recorded and is available for viewing here. Registration is required but is free and allows you to view up to three sessions for free.

The highlights of the sessions are written in this blogpost.

Gartner compared 5 x86 virtualization solutions: vSphere 5.1, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV), Citrix XenServer and Oracle VM.

Gartner uses their Evaluation Criteria for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure to assess the solutions and to be able to compare them. This helps customers to answer the question “What product is right for my technical requirements?” The Evaluation Criteria complements the Magic Quadrant which helps customers to select vendors for a short list.

Gartner uses in total 241 criteria. Criteria are features on compute, storage, networking, Guest OS support, management, business continuity etc.  70 of those criteria are ranked as required features by Gartner, 117 preferred and 45 are optional. Gartner selects the criteria based on customer requirements they get from Gartner customers. Vendors do not have any influence on the selection of criteria.

Required criteria are features which are essential for the typical large Enterprise. Products that do not meet 100% of the required criteria are considered not ready for large-scale Enterprise production workloads.

Preferred are nice to have features.They improve TCO for instance but are not deal breakers.  Optional features are those needed for selected deployments or use cases. All the results of the product assessments have been checked by the vendors on results being factual correct,

Gartner customers can get an Excel spreadsheet listing all the criteria and  results of the assessment.

The slide below shows the results of the assessment. VMware vSphere is the leader. It is the only solution on the market which scores 100% on the required criteria. Hyper-V is very close behind. Interesting to see is that RHEV scores slightly better than Citrix XenServer.

slide1

 

Results of the product comparison are showed in so called spider graphs or radar charts. The next slide shows the score of the required, preferred and optional features. vSphere is a bullseye. Hyper-V has some small white spaces in Business Continuity and Guest OS support

 

slide2

vSphere and Hyper-V are very close to each other when looking at the  required features. Hyper-V supports less operating systems in the guest. The gap with vSphere is also caused by less support of snapshots of Linux guests by Hyper-V. A Linux guest will be temporary suspended prior to a backup when snapshots are used in a Hyper-V environment.
Another of Hyper-V weaknesses  is lack of central management. Certain tasks can only be done in either Hyper-V manager, SCVMM or Powershell. Gartners says VMware offers the best GUI management solution as basically all operations can be done using  vCenter Server.

Both VMware and Microsoft management tooling is able to manage other hypervisors. However Gartner is not aware of any Gartner customer who is using SCVMM to manage ESXI or using vCenter Server to manage Hyper-V.

vSphere weakness is its costs. Other weaknesses mentioned by Gartner are all shared with the other solutions.

Hyper-V-strengthsHyper-V-weaknesses

An interesting remark by Chris Wolf is  that Gartner does not see large scale clusters being used in enterprises. Typically in enterprises virtualization clusters are 32 nodes or less.

 

The slides below show some of the criteria used by Gartner.

compute-required-capabilities compute-required-capabilities2 network-required-capabilities required-guestos

 

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