Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Publicly Available & Update on Error 0x00f0818

Yesterday, late last night in Europe, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 became available to the general public. That means it will be pushed via Windows Updates or that you can download it manually here Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (KB976932)

I’ve been busy doing deployments in the lab but also in production at several locations. The speed of a deployment depends on the host and what’s running on that host. I’ve seen anything between 22 minutes and 65 minutes. For a walk through of an install see my previous blog post on this Upgrading a Hyper-V R2 Cluster to Windows 2008 R2 SP1

I’ve also noticed an increased amount of hits for my blog on error 0x00f0818 when installing the Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Beta. The same solution holds true for RTM. More info on that is available at Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Beta Install Gone Wrong: Service Pack Installation failed with error code 0x800f0818

I had one place where dozens of VMs had this issue so in order to progress quickly we scripted the replacement of the C:\Windows\servicing\Packages folder content with know good files in bulk. Read the above mentioned article to learn about the security settings you’ll need to address in any automated solution (use takeown F c:\Windows\Servicing\Packages /D y /R & cacls c:\Windows\Servicing\Packages /E /T /C /G “UserName”:F  to take care of business). That saved us the time to check on each affected server individually what packages were involved. This works but test this before using it in production and don’t forget to return the security settings to the default when you’re done. In this case it was a rather large lab environment.

Hyper-V Component Architecture Poster Updated With Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Features

You probably are all familiar with the component posters that Microsoft put out for Several technologies. You have the Exchange 2010 (Exchange Server 2010 Architecture Poster), Windows 2008 R2 (Windows Server 2008 R2 Feature Components Poster) & Hyper-V (Hyper-V Component Architecture).

I have them hanging on the walls around our offices and these make a great tool to discuss the technology and where what is being done or accomplished. Or as a reference when you need to explain some features.  I suggest you download them and have them plotted in a print shop.

Microsoft recently put out a new version of the Hyper-V Component Architecture poster with the Windows 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 features (Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Component Architecture (with Service Pack 1)). It’s nice to see that they update these so quickly.  We’re plotting this on A0 as we speak.

Upgrading a Hyper-V R2 Cluster to Windows 2008 R2 SP1

For all you people waiting to roll out Windows 2008 R2 SP1 to your Hyper-V cluster here’s a quick screenshot rich run through of the process. Some people claim you need to shut down the cluster services and shut down the guests but this is not the case.  You can do a rolling upgrade and your guests can stay on line on the other nodes, just use live migration to get them there. Now I do recommend to upgrade all the nodes tot SP1 as soon as possible and not staying a mixed Windows 2008 R2 / Windows 2008 R2 SP1 situation in your cluster. But this mixed situation makes upgrades of the nodes in the cluster possible without any down time for the guests (if you have live migration), which is the aim of having a high availability cluster.

Walk Through

Live migrate all the guests from the node you wish to upgrade to SP1. Make sure the host is fully patched and disable any antivirus services if you are running any. I always reboot the node before a major upgrade to make sure we have the server in a clean state with  no lingering reboots waiting  or processes can cause issues.

Navigate to the service pack 1 file for Windows 2008 R2, it’s called windows6.1-KB976932-X64.exe and start it up:



You’ll have to accept the license terms:



And then the preparation process starts:



It is now ready to start the upgrade and yes we want it to reboot automatically when needed:


The upgrade process takes a while (about 17 minutes on my lab servers):



When it’s done it will reboot and bring you back to the logon screen. Multiple reboots might be needed to complete the upgrade process depending on what’s running on your server. In this case we are dealing with dedicated Hyper-V nodes.

View when connected to the console


View when connected via RDP



After logging on you are greeted with this window:



And yes this is indeed the case


Reboot included the entire process took about 22 to 23 minutes. In the setup event log you’ll find these messages:

  • Initiating changes for package KB976932. Current state is Absent. Target state is Installed. Client id: SP Coordinater Engine.
  • Package KB976932 was successfully changed to the Installed state.

Note: if an extra reboot is required you’ll see an extra entry in between these stating: A reboot is necessary before package KB976932 can be changed to the Installed state.

When you have a cluster with nodes running both W2K8R2 TM and W2K8R2 SP1, mixed situation so to speak,  you’ll see the following notification in the cluster events:



You can live migrate the guest from the next node to the node already upgraded to SP1 and than repeat the process. You keep doing this until all your nodes are upgraded.


As a final recommendation I would suggest waiting until you get the SCVMM2008R2 SP1 bits is you use this product before you upgrade you clusters especially when using this with SCOM2007R2 PRO Tips. Otherwise you don’t need to wait just realize that until you have SP1 for SCVMM2008 R2 you won’t be able to use the new functionality for Hyper-V. In production I would not recommend using the RC1 for this.

Please do not forget to update your guests with the new SP1 version of the Hyper-V Integration Components. This is needed to be able to use the new features like Dynamic Memory & Remote FX. The Windows 2008 R2 RTM version of the Integration Components is  6.1.7600.16385:



You can do this using Hyper-V Manager through selecting “Insert Integration Services Setup Disk”  and running the setup, this will require a reboot.



Click to start the upgrade process:



It will ask to remove the previous version:



Work in progress:



Done and asking for a reboot:



SCVMM2008R2 can also be used, here you shut down the guest before updating the virtual guest services as it’s called in SCVMM2008R2. It can be annoying that the nomenclature differs. The good thing here is that you can upgrade multiple guest using VMM2008R2. Hans Vredevoort did a blog post on this here:  After the upgrade you can see that the version of the Integration Components  for Windows 2088 R2 SP1 is  6.1.7601.17514:


Why I’m No Fan Of Virtual Tape Libraries

After implementing a couple of SAN’s with backup solutions I have come to dislike Virtual Tape Libraries. This is definitely technology that, for us, has never delivered the promised benefits. To add insult to injury it is overly expensive and only good to practice hardware babysitting. When discussing this I’ve been told that I want things to cheap and that I should have more FTE to handle all the work. That’s swell but the business and the people with the budgets are telling me exactly the opposite. That explains why in the brochures it’s all about reduced cost with empty usage of acronyms like CAPEX and OPEX. But when that doesn’t really materialize the message to the IT Pros is to get more personnel and cash. In the best case (compared to calling you a whining kid) they‘ll offer to replace the current solution with the latest of the greatest that has, wonder oh wonder, reduced CAPEX & OPEX. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

So one thing I’m not planning to buy, ever again, is a Virtual Tape Library (VLS). Those things have a shelf life of about 2 years max. After that they turn into auto disintegrating pieces of crap you’ll spend babysitting for the rest of the serviceable live. This means regularly upgrading the firmware to get your LUN(s) back, if you get them back that is. This means convincing tech support to come up with a better solution than restarting from scratch when they acknowledge that their OS never cleans up its own log files and thus one day just kicks the bucket. Luckily they did go the extra mile on that one after we insisted and got a workaround without losing al backups. Babysitting also means that replacing the battery kits of all shelves becomes a new hobby. You become so good at it that you have better and faster way of doing it than the junior engineers they send who happily exclaim “so this is what it looks like”. The latter is not a confidence builder. The disks fail at a rate of 1 to 2 per week until you replaced almost all of them. Those things need to be brought down to fix just about anything. That means shutting down the disk shelf’s as well and cutting the power, not just a reboot so yes you need to be in the data center.

There is no RAID 6, no hot spares (global or otherwise). The disks cost an arm and a leg and have specialized hardware to make sure all runs fine and well. But in they are plain7.200 rpm cheap 500 GB SATA disks that cost way too much. The need for special firmware I can understand but the high cost I cannot. The amount of money you pay in support costs and in licensing the storage volume is more than enough to make a decent profit. Swapping disks and battery kits isn’t hard and we do it ourselves as waiting for a support engineer takes more time. We have spares at hand. We buy those when we by the solution. We’ve grown wise that way. We buy a couple units of all failure prone items at the outset of any storage project. Having only RAID 5 means that one disk failure puts you virtual tapes at a very high risk so you need to replace it as soon as possible. Once they shipped us a wrong disk, our VTL went down the drain due to incorrect firmware on disk. They demanded to know how it got in there. Well Mr. Vendor, you put it in yourself a as a replacement for a failed disk. In the first year it often happened they didn’t have more than 1 spare disk to ship. If anyone else has a VLS in your area you’re bound to hit that limit have to wait longer for parts. They must have upped the spare parts budget to have some more on hand just for us as we now get a steady supply in Confused smile.

When you look at the complete picture the cost of storage per GB on a VLS is a much as on 1st tier SAN storage. That one doesn’t fly well. At least the SAN has decent redundancy and is luckily a 100 fold more robust and reliable. Why buy a VLS when you can have a premier tier SAN for the same cost, the VLS functionality? No sir that also never lived up to its promises. It has come to the point that the VTL, due to the underlying issues with the device, are more error prone than our Physical Tape Library. That’s just sad. Anyway, we never got the benefits we expected form those VTL. For disk based backup I don’t want a Virtual Tape Library System anymore. It just isn’t worth the cost and hassle.

Look you can buy 100 TB of SATA storage, put it in couple of super micro disk bays, add a 10Gbps Ethernet to your backup network and you’re good to go. Hey that even gives you RAID 6, the ability to add hot spares etc. You buy some spare disks, controllers, NICS, and perhaps even just build two of these setups. That would give you redundant backup to two times 100 TB for under 60.000 €. A VLS with 100TB, support and licensing will put you back the 5 fold of that. Extending that capacity costs an arm and a leg and you’re babysitting it anyway so why bleed money while doing that?

Does this sound crazy? Is this blasphemy? The dirty little secret they don’t like you to know is that’s how cloud players are doing it. First tier storage is always top notch, but if you talk about backing up several hundreds of terabytes of data, the backup solutions by the big vendors are prohibitively expensive. This industry looks a lot like a mafia racketeering business. Well if you don’t buy it you’ll get into trouble, you’ll lose your data. You won’t’ be able to handle it otherwise. Accidents do happen. The guys selling it even dress like mobsters in their suits. But won’t you miss out on cool things like deduplication? If your backup software supports it you can still have that. The licensing cost for this isn’t that bad a deal when compared to VLS storage costs. And do realize instead of 2*100 TB you could make due to 2* 25 TB Open-mouthed smile Hey that price even dropped even more.

When it comes to provisioning storage our strategy is to buy as much of your storage needs during the acquisition phase. That’s the only time deals can be made. The amount of discounts you’ll get will make you wonder what the markup in this market actually. It must be huge. And storage can’t cost as much as you think to build as they would like us to believe. Last time the storage sales guy even told us they were not making any money on the deal. Amazing how companies giving away their products have very good profit margins, highly paid employees with sales bonuses and 40.000 € cars If one vendor or reseller ever tells you that things will get cheaper with time, they are lying. They are actually saying their profit margins will increase during the life cycle of you storage solution. Look, all 1st tier storage is going to be expensive. The best you can hope for is to get a good quality product that performs as promised and doesn’t let you down. We’ve been fortunate in that respect to our SAN solutions but when it comes to backup solutions I’m not pleased with the state of that industry. Backups are extremely important live savers, but for some reason the technology and products remain very buggy, error prone, labor intensive and become very expensive when the data volumes and backup requirements rise.

Windows 2008 R2 / Windows 7 is RTM today (for real this time)

After an initial false start ( Window 2008 R2/Windows 7 Service Pack 1 has been officially RTMed today . SP1 brings Dynamic Memory& RemoteFX to hyper-V virtualization. I’m probably doing a SQL Server virtualization project and thus I’m very interested in the ability to disable NUMA spanning (watch Ben Armstrong’s Tech Ed 2010 presentation here) when beneficial to do so . Which is good news. Until now SQL Server Hyper-V host where better of using machine with lesser CPU sockets & and SSL server VM’s that don’t consume more RAM than that CPU socket can address directly to avoid this.  Until now, for the  environment at hand, I’m leaning to virtualizing SQL Server on it’s own Hyper-V cluster for that reason. It will have to be confirmed in a test environment to see how big the impact is. Systems do differ and get better every year. Perhaps I’ll get back to that subject later. Anyway The bits should be on TechNet/MSDN on February 16th 2001 and available to the general public on February 22 2011. Read the announcement by Microsoft here Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 SP1 Releases to Manufacturing Today

Keeping The Same Server Name & IP Address When Moving A Domain Controller, DNS, DHCP & WINS Server To New Hardware


At one place I provide Infrastructure consulting  & services the supportable life of some servers running Active Directory, DNS, WINS and DHCP has come and gone (+5 years old DELL PE1850) so I was asked to renew them. These are in fact the servers that where upgraded to Windows 2008 R2 some 16 months ago right after Windows 2008 R2 went RTM. See this blog post about that:

For several reasons not all domain controllers or core infrastructure servers should be virtualized so this was not just a matter or doing a P2V migration and be done with it. That would have made it very easy as not only are they already running on the latest Windows version but they had some extra requirements. They wanted to preserve the server names and IP addresses for these servers. Normally DHCP takes care of the DNS servers for clients. Servers that have static IP addresses without using DHCP reservations can be dealt with via scripting. But al lots of devices that need a DNS Server are a pain to deal with. There are devices that do not accept FQDNs, can’t be DCHP clients. Often a management solution for settings the IP configurations on hardware devices is not in place even when does tools exists (i.e. for network switches). Even if such software is in place more likely than not it doesn’t cover all devices (printers, copiers, scanners, load balancers, …) You’re lucky if they know and have a list of all devices that need their DNS entries changed, sometimes you don’t even have that. So I understand the reasons behind their request. In a perfect world this might not be needed but I’ve seldom see that in reality.

So the names and IP addresses needed to be preserved. That is can be done with some preparation and planning.  There is the approach of restoring the server to new hardware using a Windows backup but that’s not without its own issues. You could use one of the (paying) P2P migration tools that comes with various backup solutions or dedicated disaster recovery tools. To do it for free and in the cleanest possible manner I chose to go with the approach you’ll find below. There are multiple domain controllers with DNS, WISN and DHCP set up for redundancy. This means we can take these out of production one by one to recuperate the names and IP addresses. If you didn’t have that you could even introduce a temporary one (virtualized) to give you that option.

Imagine you have to servers named bert.big.corp ( and ernie.big.corp ( with Active Directory, DNS, WINS and DHCP running on them. These will be replaced with new hardware whilst maintaining the name and IP address. Basically you stage the new servers with Windows 2008 R2 and get everything installed what you need (Server management software from the hardware vendor, the UPS Software) and that doesn’t depend on computer name, IP address and domain membership. That way they are ready to go. You’ll need to wait to rename the servers and add them to the domain one by one until you’ve demoted the current servers one by one that use that name and IP address. So first you replace Bert and only after that has been completed successfully and has been verified you can replace server Ernie. That way you can recuperate the name and IP address without losing those services at any given time. The end result is two new servers with the name Bert ( and Ernie (1692.168.2.20) and none of your network devices will need any DNS FQDNs or IP addresses changed. Do note that some devices only allow for one IP address or FQDN so they might lose DNS name resolution for the period in which the old server is taken out of service and the new server is brought into service. This is not the only way to do it. I do not like to rename domain controllers and I have other roles to migrate such as WINS and DHCP. So the DNS & Active Directory migration I do is not like the one described in Perhaps Microsoft can comment on the best practice of this all, but this is how I approached it. This is the first time I did this for Windows 2008 R2 in production as that hasn’t been out in the wild that long yet.

We’ll run through the process step by step for Bert. This needs to be done for every server that is being replaced. Check your Active Directory, DNS and replication is healthy. If not, fix this first. Also check out DHCP and WINS health. As always you have a good backup of the server and it roles before you attempt any of this.

Mind you can play the order of things to do according to you needs & environment but when using some option in the Server Migration Tools like –Users and –Groups you should pay attention unless you want to wind up with a truckload of users/groups from a DC created as local users and groups on a member server Confused smile Oh yeah, I’ve done that. When that happens you’ll love the fact that you know some scripting Winking smile. So if you do the DHCP migration, do both export and import from a domain controller or from a member server (i.e. after demoting the domain controller). In the former case you’ll just get a bunch of warnings during the import that the users/groups already exist and are therefore skipped.

Decommissioning The Old Server

Demote the domain controller

Move all FSMO roles to another domain controller.  Make sure you also move the time server to the domain controller with the PDC role.

  • If you’ve manually altered the Active Directory replication topology, make sure you take care of that as well. If you let the KCC handle this, you’re good to go as it will do this for you. But once you intervene manually it’s your responsibility.
  • We demote the domain controller
  • Reboot and check all went well.
  • We wait for AD replication or we induce it ourselves.
  • Check AD, DNS & replication, if all is well continue.
DHCP Decommission On The Old Server

There is a great tool to do this. Check out TechNet The benefit of using the Server Migration Tools  is that we can also migrate the IP configuration from the old server to the new one in one step! Pretty cool Open-mouthed smile! The details differ depending what version of Windows you’re running. I’m at Windows 2008 R2 so I can install these tools via an elevated PowerShell prompt using

  • Import-Module ServerManager
  • Add-WindowsFeature Migration (to install the Server Migration Tools)
  • We then take a DHCP backup (GUI or via an elevated command prompt using  Netsh DHCP server backup "c:\DHCP\Backup”). Make sure the folder structure exists and is empty. Copy the folder structure of to a file share for safe keeping.  Remember you want to give yourself options.
  • Export the DCHP configuration and content using an elevated powershell prompt:
    • Get-Service DHCPServer (running)
    • Stop-Service DHCPserver
    • Get-Service DHCPServer (stopped)
    • Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.Windows.ServerManager.Migration (load the Server Migration commandlets)
    • Export-SmigServerSetting -featureID DHCP -Group -IPConfig -path C:\DHCP\servermig  -Verbose (not we are working on a DC so we have no local users and hence no use for the –user switch, see TechNet and copy the folder structure to a file share for safe keeping. You’ll be asked to provide a password for the exported files. You’ll get feedback due to the –verbose switch about the results. Review these and act accordingly. The below screenshot is an illustration of the output.


  • Unauthorize the DHCP Server using an elevated command prompt: Netsh DHCP delete server bert.big.corp
  • If you want you can also uninstall the DHCP server role.
WINS Decommission On The Old Server

We won’t be migrating WINS. We’ll just replicate from the other WINS server(s). But we’re a careful bunch and you have to give yourself multiple options to get out of bad situations, as the saying goes: “one is none, two is one”. Do make sure that you adjust the WINS replication topology if you have more than 2 servers so that all of them get the required registration changes. And just in case you ask, yes I know about the Windows 2008 R2 option to dump WINS and use DNS, but they did not need/want this.

  • Take a WINS backup (GUI) and copy the folder structure of to a file share for safe keeping.
  • Stop the WINS service, disable it and copy the WINS database (mdb) over to a file share for safe keeping as well, just in case.
  • Remove the server as WINS replication partner where it was added. It remains in there when you uninstall WINS (old technology). You can actually leave it in there in this case, as a server with that name will be back.
  • If you want you can already uninstall the WINS feature. This requires a reboot.

That’s it we have now successfully stripped the old server Bert from all its previous roles. We can now change the IP address of the old server to and rename the server to BertOld. I give it a restart and check to see if the DNS record is updated. if not a swift restart of the netlogon service might help. It is now a plain member server in the domain that can be taken out of service at later. This means we are ready to bring the new server Bert to life.

Commissioning The New Server

Commissioning DHCP on the new server
  • Rename the new server to Bert.
  • Restart the server.
  • Make Bert a member of the domain.
  • Restart the server.
  • We now have a plain member server in the domain, named Bert on which we also install the Windows Migration Tools using an elevated PowerShell prompt:
    • Import-Module ServerManager
    • Add-WindowsFeature Migration
  • We copy the folder structure from the file share where we earlier copied the exported older DHCP settings and data, back to server Bert, i.e. C:\DHCP\servermig
  • We import the IP configuration plus the DCHP configuration & database using the following commandlet: Import-SmigServerSetting -featureid DHCP -Group -IPConfig NIC -SourcePhysicalAddress 00-14-72-7D-B3-C3 -TargetPhysicalAddress 44-2C-2B-AF-67-D2 -Force -path C:\DHCP\servermig –Verbose
  • Start-Service DHCPServer
  • Via an elevated command prompt we authorize Bert as a DHCP server using “netsh DHCP add server bert.big.corp”

Voila, we have Bert running as a DHCP server already!

Commissioning Wins on the new server

We Install WINS and just add the desired replication partners and configure the WINS replication schedule and option to your liking. This is the “cleanest” way. A backup restore is also an option but it could transplant old issues.

Manual trigger Replication and check if you are getting the entries you need (netstat –RR, or via the WINS GUI)

Please note that the browser service is not running by default on Windows 2008(R2) so if you need this for you clients you should set the service to automatic and start it.

Commissioning Active Directory and DNS on the new server
  • Make sure you can contact an existing domain controller before promote Bert to become a domain controller, this can be assured by having the first DNS server in your IP Configuration point to an operational DNS Server in the domain.
  • Promote Bert to a domain controller. By default the DNS option is enabled. Take a look at that will walk you through the wizard.
  • Check the health of you Active Directory, replication and name resolution once more and keep a close eye on it the following days. You should be good to go.


Voila, a new Bert server is born. Not too bad and a happy customer. Rinse and repeat for every domain controller you want to replace.  Do make sure you check out the documentation on the Server Migration Tool and its options. Also, if you are running Windows 2008(R2) and got there by upgrading from Windows 2000/2003 consider moving from FRS to DFRS for SYSVOL replication. As mentioned is a previous blog post of mine ( there is an absolute brilliant step by step guide to get the move from FRS to DFRS completed without a problem in a series by the storage team at Microsoft . You can find the first of a 5 part blog series over here I prefer to have this done before I introduce the new domain controllers. This helps me with my neurotic urge to have a SYSVOL folder named SYVOL and not SYSVOL-DFRS clip_image002[1]

TechNet Blog On The Possible Causes of “The connection to the Microsoft Exchange server in unavailable. Outlook must be online or connected to complete this action”

In my blog post on Workaround for Exchange 2010 & Outlook 2003 Shared Calendars Connectivity Issues "The connection to the Microsoft Exchange Server is unavailable. Outlook must be online or connected to complete this action."  I mention the excellent work of the Microsoft support Engineer on the case.  Well he’s published a very content rich blog about all this and other possible causes of the error notification on his TechNet blog: Things you need to know about “The connection to the Microsoft Exchange server in unavailable. Outlook must be online or connected to complete this action” prompts in an Outlook 2003–Exchange 2010 world. It’s a must read for all people dealing with this error message.

Microsoft Management Summit 2011

From March 21st until March 25th the Microsoft Management Summit 2011 is running in Las Vegas, Nevada in the good old US of A. I’d love to go and I had considered finding a way to do so but the amount of chaos at work have left me on rather unfavorable position and a mountain of issues to deal with. So I’m not going to get there at the moment. To bad, but there will be other opportunities.

For all those of you who are lucky enough to get to MMS 2011 or are still considering going (you should if & when you can). You’ll find great technical education and knowledge to be gathered. Also, and very important to me, are the networking opportunities and community interaction providing a platform to discuss technology with peers and colleagues. The proximity and availability of access to Microsoft and industry IT management experts is awesome. One of the things they did get right at Tech Ed Europe 2010 by the way in Berlin last year.  I’ve blogged before on why I attend tech conferences, if you’re wondering what it’s all about you can read that here Why I Find Value In A Conference

I know a bunch of people who are going and who I would have enjoyed talking IT shop with but it just isn’t going to work out for 2011. The good news is the info will be passed along and the buzz can be felt through streaming, social media & blogs.

Shameless Plug For Mastering Hyper-V Deployment By Aidan Finn

In October 2010 Aidan Finn (MVP) his book “Mastering Hyper-V Deployment” was released and in November three copies of this book landed on my desk. I bought them (pre order) via Amazon. Nope I did not get them as a gift or anything. Why Three? Well that’s the number of people I wanted to get up to speed about Hyper-V and virtualization management and operations in a Microsoft environment.

His book takes you along a journey through a Hyper-V project that will teach you about virtualization in all it’s aspects. It also touches on many supporting technologies and products such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, System Center Essentials 2010, Data Protection manager 2010 and System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. No one book can be the only source of knowledge and understanding, but using this book as a start for both new and experienced IT Pros to learn about virtualization with Hyper-V will give you the best possible start. Consider it going to an Ivy league college on a scholarship paid for by Aidan’s experience and hard work. The subsidized tuition fee is the price of the book.

We feel a bit sorry that Aidan only got one copy so we made a group picture of the gang of three on the desk of our newest team member. He got a copy of the book together with 4 recycled PC’s and a TechNet subscription to build a lab.


If you know people who want or need to learn about Hyper-V, you’d do well to make sure they get this book and have them set up a lab to play with the technologies. Those efforts will pay off big time when they implement their solutions in the wild. If Ireland is doomed it won’t be because of smart & hardworking Irish IT professionals like Aidan. You see when you design, build and support IT solutions that your customers depend on 24/7 you can not hide behind false promises, you can’t fake away the fact when “stuff” doesn’t work or hide behind vast amounts of papers & documents void of any substance. Nope you are responsible for everything and anything you build. Aidan backed and supported by some very knowledgeable colleagues has made that burden a bit lighter for you to bear with this book. Aidan’s blog lives here:

A Hardware Load Balancing Exercise With A Kemp Loadmaster 2200

I recently had the opportunity to get my hands on a hardware load balancer for a project where, due to limitations in the configuration of the software, Windows Network Load Balancing could not be used. The piece of kit we got was a LoadMaster 2200 by Kemp Technologies. A GPS network/software services solution (NTRIP Caster) for surveyors needed load balancing, not only for distributing the load, but also to help with high availability. The software could not be configured to use a Virtual IP address of a Windows Load Balancer cluster. That meant when had to take the load balancing of the Windows server nodes. I had been interested in Kemp gear for a while now (in function of some Exchange implementations) but until recently I did not get my hands on a LoadMaster.


We have two networks involved. One the 192.1683.2.0/24 network serves as a management, back office network to which the dial access call are routed and load balanced to 2 separate servers WebSurvey01 and WebSurvey02 (running VMs running on Hyper-V). The Other network is and that serves the internet traffic for the web site and the NTRIP data for the surveyors, which is also load balanced to WebSurvey01 and WebSurvey02. The application needs to see the IP addresses of the clients so we want transparency. To achieve this we need to use the gateway of the VIP on the Kemp load balancer as the gateway. That means we can’t connect to those apps from the same subnet, but this is not required. The clients dial in or come in from the internet. A logical illustration (it’s not a complete overview or an exact network diagram) of such a surveyors network configuration is shown below.


Why am I using layer 7 load balancing? Well, layer 4 is a transport layer (which is transparent but not very intelligent) and as such is not protocol aware while layer 7 is an application layer and is protocol aware. I want the latter as this gives me the possibility to check the health of the underlying service, filter on content, do funky stuff with headers (which allows us to give the clients IP to the destination server => X-Forwarded-For header when using layer 7), load balance traffic based on server load or service etc. Layer 7 not as fast as layer 4, as there is more things to do, code to run, but when you don’t overload the device that not a problem as it has plenty of processing power.

The documentation for the KEMP LoadMaster is OK. But I really do advise you to get one, install it in a lab and play with all the options to test it as much as you can. Doing so will give you a pretty good feel for the product, how it functions and what you can achieve with it. They will provide you with a system to do just that when you want. If you like it and decide to keep it, you can pay for it and it’s yours. Otherwise you can just return it. I had an issue in the lab due to a bad switch and my local dealer was very fast to offer help and support. I’m a happy customer so far. It’s good to see more affordable yet very capable devices on the market. Smaller projects and organizations might not have the vast amount of server nodes and traffic volume to warrant high end load balancers but they have needs that need to be served, so there is a market for this. Just don’t get in a “mine is bigger than yours” contest about products. Get one that is the best bang for the buck considering your needs.

One thing I would like to see in the lower end models is a redundant hot swappable power supply. It would make it more complete.  One silly issue they should also fix in the next software update is that you can’t have a terminal connection running until 60 seconds after booting or the appliance might get stuck at 100% CPU load. Your own DOS attack at your fingertips. Update: I was contacted by KEMP and informed that they checked this issue out. The warning that you should not have the vt100 connected during a reboot is an issue the used to exist in the past but is no longer true. This myth persists as it is listed on the sheet of paper that states “important” and which is the first thing you see when you open the box. They told me they will remove it from the "important"-sheet to help put the myth to rest and your mind at ease when you unbox your brand new KEMP equipment. I appreciate their follow up and very open communication. From my experience they seems to make sure their resellers are off the same mindset as they also provided speedy and correct information. As a customer I appreciate that level of service.

The next step would be to make this he setup redundant. At least that’s my advice to the project team. Geographically redundant load balancing seems to be based on DNS. Unfortunately a lot of surveying gears seems to accept only IP addresses so I’ll still have to see what possibilities we have to achieve that. No rush, getting that disaster recovery and business continuity site designed and setup will take some time anyway.

They have virtual load balancers available for both VMware and Hyper-V but not for their DR or Geo versions. Those are only on VMware still. The reason we used an appliance here is the need to make the load balancer as independent as possible of any hardware (storage, networking, host servers) used by the virtualization environment.