The Hyper V Amigos Showcast Episode 6: Storage Spaces


Everybody is very busy and I’m a bit tires but here’s the 6th episode of the Hyper-V Amigos show cast. In this episode we get to play a bit with storage spaces in Carsten’s lab.

As always we had a lot of fun doing so and thanks to Carsten Rachfahl and the assistance of Kerstin (his charming wife, also an MVP, in Office 365) we could simulate hardware failures & film them for you!

 

Carsten & I discuss several scenarios and what’s happening during failovers. Carsten is assisting customers with this a lot so he has some of the most varied experience with storage spaces and SOFS out there!  Interesting stuff and for people who haven’t even looked at Windows Server 2012 or later yet a wake up call to start as the world is not limited to what we once knew. It’s not your daddy’s Windows anymore Winking smile

I hope you enjoy it and we’re already planning for the next one!

Microsoft Keeps Investing In Storage Big Time


Disclaimer: These are my musing on the limited info available about Windows Server vNext and based on the Technical Preview bits at the time of writing. So it’s not set in stone & has a time limited value.

Reading the documentation that’s already available on vNext of Windows it’s clear that Microsoft is continuing it’s push towards the software defined data center. They are also pushing high to continuous availability ever more towards the  “continuous” side of things.

It’s early days yet and we just only downloaded the Technical Preview but what do we read in What’s New in Storage Services in Windows Server Technical Preview

Storage Quality of Service

  • They are giving us more Storage Quality of Service tied into the use of SOFS as storage over SMB3. As way to many NAS solutions don’t support SMB3 or only partially (in a restricted way) it’s clear too me that self build SOFS solution on a couple of servers is and remains the best SMB3 implementation on the market and has just gotten storage QoS.

Little Rant here: To the people that claim that this is not capable of high performance, I usually laugh. Have you actually build a SOFS or TFFS with 10Gbps networking on modern enterprise grade servers line the DELL R720 or 730? Did you look at the results form that relative low cost investment? I think not, really. And if you did and found it lacking, I’ll be very impressed of the workload you’re running.  You’ll force your storage to the knees earlier than your Windows file server nowadays.

  • It’s in the SOFS layer, so this does not tie you into to Storage Space if you’re not ready for that yet but would like the benefits of SOFS. As long as you have shared storage behind the SOFS you’re good.
  • It’s policy based and can apply to virtual machines, groups of virtual machines a service or a tenant
  • The virtual disk is the level where the policy is set & enforced.
  • Storage performance will dynamically adjust to meet the policies & when tied the performance will be fairly distributed.
  • You can monitor all this.

It’s right there in the OS.

Storage Replica

This gives us “storage-agnostic, block-level, synchronous replication between servers for disaster recovery, as well as stretching of a failover cluster for high availability. Synchronous replication enables mirroring of data in physical sites with crash-consistent volumes ensuring zero data loss at the file system level. Asynchronous replication allows site extension beyond metropolitan ranges with the possibility of data loss.”

Look for Hyper-V we already had Hyper-V replica (which is also being improved), but for other workloads we still rely on the storage vendors or 3rd party solutions. But now I can have my storage replicas for service protection and continuity out of the box with Windows.  WOW!

and as we read on ..

  • Provide an all-Microsoft disaster recovery solution for planned and unplanned outages of mission-critical workloads.
  • Use SMB3 transport with proven reliability, scalability, and performance.
  • Stretch clusters to metropolitan distances.
    Use Microsoft software end to end for storage and clustering, such as Hyper-V, Storage Replica, Storage Spaces, Cluster, Scale-Out File Server, SMB3, Deduplication, and ReFS/NTFS.
  • Help reduce cost and complexity as follows:

Hardware agnostic, with no requirement to immediately abandon legacy storage such as SANs.

Allows commodity storage and networking technologies.
Features ease of graphical management for individual nodes and clusters through Failover Cluster Manager and Microsoft Azure Site Recovery.

Includes comprehensive, large-scale scripting options through Windows PowerShell.

  • Helps reduce downtime, and increase reliability and productivity intrinsic to Windows.
  • Provide supportability, performance metrics, and diagnostic capabilities.

I have gotten this to work in the lab with some trial and error but this is the Technical Preview, not a finish product. If they continue along this path I’m pretty confident we’ll have functional & operational viable solution by RTM. Just think about the possibilities this brings!

Storage Spaces

Now I have not read much on Storage Space in vNext yet but I think its safe to assume we’ll see major improvements there as well. Which leads me to reaffirm my blog posy here: TechEd 2013 Revelations for Storage Vendors as the Future of Storage lies With Windows 2012 R2

Microsoft is delivering more & great software defined storage inbox. This means cost effective yet very functional storage solutions. On top of that they put pressure on the market to deliver more value if they want to stay competitive. As a customer, whatever solution fits my needs the best, I welcome that. And as a consumer of large amounts of storage in a world where we need to spend the money where it matters most I like what I’m seeing.

Tip for Microsoft: configurability, reliability and EASY diagnostics and remediation are paramount to success. Sure some storage vendor solution aren’t to great on that front either but some are awesome. Make sure your in the awesome category. Make it a great user experience from start to finish in both deployment and operations.

Tip for you: If you’re not ready for prime time with Storage Spaces , SMB Direct etc … do what I’ve done. Use it where it doesn’t kill you if you hit some learning curves. What about storage spaces as a backup target where you can now replicate the backups of to your disaster recovery site?

Win a free ticket to Experts Live 2014


As you might already know I’m speaking at the Dutch IT community event Experts Live 2014 in the Netherlands. The talk is about “The Capable & Scalable Cloud OS “ where we’ll highlight and show some of the scalable capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 when combined with great hardware.

You can find the program at Experts Live 2014 which is very rich in content. There are 7 tracks and over 40 sessions! Chose a track or mix and match to your hearts content between  Microsoft Azure, System Center, Hyper-V, SQL, Windows, PowerShell and Office365. It’s all good.

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To celebrate the success of the event the organizers have allowed us to give away some free entrance tickets. This is a very nice gift that will allow you to enjoy a full day of learning for free.

So convince me you’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn and we’ll help you do exactly that by making sure you get a free ticket!  Leave a reply to this blog post from Thursday October 9th till Thursday October 16th in which you tell me what blog or blogs of mine you’ve enjoyed most. Leave your name, e-mail, your company and function title so we can arrange things for you. Don’t worry we will not publish these.

There is only one request/condition … if you win a ticket come to the event as a no show means some one else can’t come.

Hyper-V did not find virtual machines to import from the location . The operation failed with error code ‘32784’.


I got contacted by some people how ran into some issues importing VMs from W2K12R2 Hyper-V into W2K12 Hyper-V. They got bitten by this “little” issue: Importing a VM that is exported from Windows Server 2012 R2 into Windows Server 2012 is not supported

This means you get greeted by

Hyper-V did not find virtual machines to import from the location <folder location>.
The operation failed with error code ‘32784’.

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No the trick of not exporting the VM but doing an “in place” registration doesn’t cut it. That’s great for W2K8R2 to W2K12 or W2K12 to W2K12R2 but not from W2K12R2 to a lower version. In that way the title of the KB article could be seen as a bit misleading or incomplete, but the contents is pretty clear.

And that’s it. Woeps! What you have 200 VMs on the LUNs form the old cluster you already blew away to build the new one? You do have a tested exit plan for this right? Uh no?

Facepalm Combo

Oh MAN, NOOOOO!

Now if it’s only one or two VMs you can always work around this by creating new VMs using the old VHDXs. This will leave you to deal with networking cleanup inside of the VMs and configuring TCP/IP. PowerShell can help here but in large volumes this remains as serious effort. This is also the time that documentation pays!

Now what if this happens to you when you’re trying to roll back a migration of a hyper-V cluster (revert W2K12R2 to W2K12 for example). Well for one you should have know as you did test all this right? Right?!

What are your other options to roll back other than  the above? From the top of my head and without details?

  • Move back to your old cluster Smile You didn’t already nuke it, I hope.
  • If you have a SAN take a snapshot of the LUNs before you move them to Windows Server 2012 R2 for faster fall back. But beware, if you’re running applications that require some tender loving care in relation to snapshots like Exchange  or Active Directory in those VMs … shutting all VMs down before you create the can help snapshot mitigates issues but is not a full proof approach! “Know thy apps”!
  • A great backup & RESTORE solution to get you back up and running also comes in handy but don’t forget that it requires you to know your apps as well here. Yes, it’s not always just “CLICKEDYCLICKCLICKDONE”
  • Perhaps it’s now time to activate your paused replicas on the DRC cluster or hosts?  You did test this didn’t you?

Now for anyone involved in a migration to Windows Server 2012 R2 there is no excuse not to know this in advance and to test out the new cluster hardware as much as you can. This minimizes the chance you’ll need to fall back. And please test your exit scenarios, really, I mean it.  Also please, you can migrate one LUN/CSV at the time. Try to run the VMs on the first migrated LUN/CSV before you do all the others. That way you can do some damage control.

Now, this is not great but it is what it is and at least now you know before your migrate Winking smile. We’ve also asked MSFT to make falling back a bit less “"involved” in future versions. Perhaps they’ll do that, I’m pretty sure they’ll consider it. And by what we’ve seen in the recently available Technical Preview they did!

Microsoft Hyper-V S3 Cap warning when upgrading a Hyper-V Virtual Machine


When you do an in place upgrade of a Hyper-V virtual machine you’ll get a warning that Microsoft Hyper-V S3 Cap may not work after the upgrade and that you need to update the driver prior to the upgrade.This warning is logged to the Windows Compatibility Report.htm.

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Microsoft Hyper-V S3 Cap is an old S3 Trio 765 emulated video device and the driver isn’t included anymore so you’ll get this particular warning. This will never give you an issues, all drivers needed are indeed in the install bits. You can safely ignore this and successfully upgrade.

Some people uninstall the device via device manager but basically that’s pure cosmetics & doesn’t really serve a purpose.

This warning is an artifact of the generation 1 virtual machines who still have this device on a PCI bus.  Below is a screenshot of a VM with W2K12R2, generation 1. As you can see the Microsoft Hyper-V S3 Cap is perfectly fine. No worries.image

As a matter of fact you will not even see this device on a generation 2 virtual machine and we should not see this with an upgrade of those.

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I will have to wait on a public preview of Windows vNext to test an upgrade of a generation 2 machine to prove my thinking that this cosmetic error won’t be there anymore.

Online Resizing Of Hyper-V Virtual Disks Is Possible in Windows 2012 R2


Windows Server 2012 R2 brought us the ability to resize virtual disks on line. This was a long sought after feature for many of us. It can be done via the GUI or with PowerShell. I do note however that quite often people have some problems when first using this capability. So we’ll go over the rules & prerequisites here.

Listed below are the important factors to keep in mind

  1. It has to be a VHDX
  2. Works for both generation 1 and generation 2 virtual machines
  3. It needs to be attached to a vSCSI controller. Remember this when dealing with with generation 1 virtual machines. In particular note that this means you cannot live resize the system disk as that IDE only (can’t boot from SCSI in generation 1).
  4. The virtual disk cannot be a shared VDHX (it’s on my feature request list for vNext)
  5. You can extend a virtual disk
  6. You can shrink a virtual disk
  7. This feature can leverage ODX for speed when available. The speed of this is quite addictive.

Some notes where people seem to make some other mistakes

You’ll note that you cannot shrink a virtual disk that has no unallocated disk space on the disk inside the virtual machine. When you see this picture inside of the virtual machines you can shrink your VHDX if all the above factors are in order.image

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If there is no unallocated disk space the option to shrink the VHDX won’t even show up in the GUI.

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This means you’ll first need to shrink the volume inside the virtual machine if all disk space has already been allocated.

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(Like wise don’t forget to expand the volume inside the VM to be able to use the added space you see show up as unallocated space on the disk.)

The below image is a great summary of the above

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Legacy OS in the VM?

It’s also important to note that an OS inside a VM (Windows Server 2003 comes to mind) that does not allow the expansion or shrinking of volumes means you will need a 3rd party tool to do the same. I use GParted, a free partition editor for these scenarios.

Looking Back at the DELL CIO Executive Summit 2014


Yesterday I attended the DELL CIO Executive Summit 2014 in Brussels. Basically it was home match for me (yes that happens) and I consider it a compliment that I have been given the opportunity to be invited to a day of C level discussions.

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Apart from a great networking opportunity with our peers we had direct access to many of DELL’s executives. I found it interesting to see what some existing customers had to say and share about their experiences with DELL Services. Especially in the security side of things where they provide a level of expertise and assistance I did not yet realize they did.

The format was small scale and encouraged interactive discussions. That succeeded quite well and made for good interaction between the attending CIOs an DELL executives. We were not being sold to or killed by PowerPoint. Instead we engaged in very open discussions on our challenges and opportunities while providing feedback. It reminded me of the great interaction promoting format at the DELL Enterprise Forum 2014 in Frankfurt this year. You learn a lot from each other and how others deal with the opportunities that arise.

To give you an idea about the amount of access we got consider the following. Where can you walk up to the CEO of a +/- 24 Billion $ company and provide him some feedback on what you like and don’t like about the company he founded? Even better you get a direct, no nonsense answer which explains why and where.  Does he need to do this? My guess is not, but he does and I appreciate that as an IT Professional, Microsoft MVP and customer.

Before the CIO Executive Summit started I joined the Solutions Summit, to go talk shop with sponsors/partners like Intel and Microsoft, DELL employees & peers and lay my eyes on some generation 13 hardware for the 1st time in real life.

It was a long but very good day. As the question gets asked every now and then as to why I attend such summits and events, I can only say that it’s highly interesting to talk to your peers, vendors, engineers and executives. It prevents tunnel vision & acting in your village without knowledge of the world around you. Keeping your situational awareness in IT and business requires you to put in the effort and is highly advisable. It’s as important as a map, reconnaissance and intelligence to the military, without it you’re acting on a playing field you don’t even see let alone understand.