Storage Quality of Service (QoS) In Windows Server 2012 R2


In Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V we have the ability to set  quality-of-service (QoS) options for a virtual machine at the virtual disk level. There is no QoS (yet) for shared VHDX, so it’s a per individual VM, per virtual hard disk associated with that virtual machine setting for now.

What can we do?

  • Limit – Maximum IOPS
  • Reserve – Minimum IOPS threshold alerts
  • Measure – New Storage attributes in VM Metrics

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Limit

Storage QoS allows you to specify maximum input/output operations per second (IOPS) value for a virtual hard disk associated with virtual machine. This puts a limit on what a virtual disk can use. This means that one or more VMs cannot steal away all IOPS from the others (perhaps even belonging to separate customers). So this is an automatic hard cap.

Reserve

We can also set a minimum IOPS value. This is often referred to as the reserve. This is not hard minimum. Here’s a worth of warning, unless you hopelessly overprovision your physical storage capabilities (ruling out disk, controller issues, HBA problems & other risks that impact deliverable IOPS) and dedicate it to a single Hyper-V host with a single VM (ruling out the unknown) you cannot ever guarantee IOPS. It’s best effort. It might fail but than events will alert you that things are going south. We will be notified when the IOPS to a specified virtual hard disk is below that reserve you specified?that is needed for its optimal performance.  We’ll talk more about this in another blog post.

Measure

The virtual machine metrics infrastructure have been extended with storage related attributes so we can monitor the performance (and so charge or show back).  To do this they use what they call “normalized IOPS” where every 8 K of data is counted as one I/O. This is how the values are measured and set. So it’s just for that purpose alone.

  • One 4K I/O = 1 Normalized I/O
  • One 8K I/O = 1 Normalized I/O
  • One 10K I/O = 2 Normalized I/Os
  • One 16K I/O = 2 Normalized I/Os
  • One 20K I/O = 3 Normalized I/Os

A Little Scenario

We take IO Meter and we put it inside 2 virtual machines. These virtual machine reside on a Hyper-V Cluster that is leveraging shared storage on a SAN. Let’s say you have a VM that requires 45000 IOPS at times and as long as it can get that when needed all is well.

All is well until one day a project that goes into production has not been designed/written with storage IOPS (real needs & effects) in mind. So while they have no issue the application behaves as a scrounging hog eating a humongous size of the IOPS the storage can deliver.

Now, you do some investigation (pays to be buddies with a good developer and own the entire infrastructure stack) and notice that they don’t need those IOPS as they:

  1. Can do more intelligent data retrieval slashing IOPS in half.
  2. They waste 75% of the time in several suboptimal algorithms for sorting & parsing data anyway.
  3. The number of users isn’t that high and the impact of reducing storage IOPS is non existent due to (2).

All valid excuses to take the IOPS away …You think let’s ask the PM to deal with this. They might, they might not, and if they do it might take time. But while that remains to be seen, you have a critical solution that serves many customers who’re losing real money because of that drop in IOPS has become an issue with the application. So what’s the easiest thing to do? Cap that IOPS hog! Here the video on how you deal with this on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/82728497

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Now let’s enable QoS as in the screenshot below. We give it a best effort 2000 IOPS minimum and a hard maximum of 3000 IOPS.

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The moment you click “Apply” it kicks in! You can do this live, not service interruption/ system downtime is needed.

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I actually have a hard cap of 50000 on the business critical app as well just to make sure the other VMs don’t get starved. Remember that minimum is a soft reserve. You get warned but it can’t give what potentially isn’t available. After all, as always, it’s technology, not magic.

In a next blog we’ll discuss QoS a bit more and what’s in play with storage IO management in Hyper-V, what the limitations are and as such we get an idea what Microsoft should pay attention to vNext.

Remarks

Well doing this for a 24 node Hyper-V cluster with 500 VMs could be a bit of challenge.

2014 Kicks Offs With A Microsoft MVP Award Renewal!


I can start of the new year at the office tomorrow by whishing everyone a great 2014 and talking to the CEO about making sure we schedule/budget for the MVP Summit in 2014 as I just got this e-mail in:

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This is great news. Somewhere this month, a box will arrive at my house with a new ring for the award trophy and a new MVP Certificate. The trophy itself stands proudly on a cupboard in my parents living room. I might have earned the award, but they made sure I was given the little backpack with the values & the education to make that possible. And while they don’t really understand the technicalities of what I do, they think the world of it when I fly of to the USA because Microsoft likes to talk to me Smile.

While you get the MVP award for contributions over the past year to the community you must realize that being active in the community is a very rewarding endeavor in itself. No, it’s not like you can put a hard dollar amount on it, nor want to. The value is that you help out a lot of people and in return effectively crowd source your IT issues to a global community. It help other and yourself learn and grow. We constantly need to figure out a lot of things in our line of business. Studying, thinking, analyzing, designing, implementing & supporting a wide ever changing IT stack is not a one person or one team job. Sharing insights & experiences (both good and bad) with your peers helps a lot. You grow a global network of highly motivated, experienced & skilled people. A network you can leverage & consult when you need it. A network that you contribute to when you can, where you can. That’s what it’s about. The cost of participating is dwarfed by the return as many hand help make hard work easier. Good bosses & smart organizations have figured this out. During a panel discussion at Dell World Jonathan Copeland used the metaphor that it take a village to raise a kid. I added to it that one day that kid needs to leave the village and go out into the world. Being active in communities helps with both. I’ve also talked about this here.

I’m very happy with my 2014 MVP Award. I cherish the interaction with my fellow MVPs and Microsoft. The 2014 MVP Global Summit is already on my agenda. I’m grateful for the opportunities it brings and the continuous privilege of learning & sharing. See you all on line, at conferences, think tanks & community events & in Bellevue/Redmond.

DELL World 2013 – Tour Of the Acoustic & Storage Testing Labs & Presenting at the Dell TechCenter User Group


While at Dell World 2013, a group of us had the opportunity to visit the Dell offices as part of the Trends in Data Center Technology Think Tank. We saw advancements in fresh air cooling, a hot house,

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the storage lab and, new to me, the acoustic labs. Below is a picture of Chris Peterson, the acoustic Architect (he was involved in the design of the DELL VRTX, which is a unique solution and achievement in the industry). Like wise the also have thermal engineers and both of these expertises are closely related.

I will never look at acoustic / thermal engineering for servers & storage in the same way I used to and I have way more respect for the effort and a better understanding of what efforts go in to this research and why.

For some more information on the acoustic lab read this white paper Dell Enterprise Acoustics and watch these videos:

Dell thermal & acoustic engineers discussing the VRTX
Chris Peterson on Dell PowerEdge Generation 12 Server acoustics

Next to all that I attended briefings, had one to one conversations with network, storage & server managers & engineers. I had a lot of information, questions & request to share from our Microsoft MVP Community in regards to our needs & wishes for the best possible support for Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V, ODX, UNMAP, SMB Direct, SOFS, Management & cloud. I even jumped into an open source breakfast discussion on * cloud computing. Last but not least we joined fellow Rock Stars Jonathan Copeland (@VirtSecurity), Rasmus Haslund (@haslund) & Dell Tech Center’s community manager Jeff Sullivan (@JeffSullivan) to discuss what community & social media means to us.

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I also shared our experiences with Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V, DVMQ, vRSS & ODX at the Dell Tech Center User Group during Dell World 2013.

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Want to talk and demo DVMQ & vRSS? Start with the basics: RSS Smile 

To all my community buddies a very festive end of the year and a great 2014! If you want to know even more about how rewarding being part of a community can be, check out this blog Mindset of the community by Marc van Eijk (@_marcvaneijk)

TechNet Top Support Solutions From Microsoft Support Blog


As this year comes to an end I’d like to draw your attention to Microsoft’s new Top Support Solutions blog on TechNet. It was created this as part of their continuous efforts to keep the various  technical communities informed about the most relevant answers to the top questions or issues experienced with their products. They identify these top issues by analyzing the question in their forums and their other support channels.

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So if you need to find answers for your self or your customers go take a look at the "Top Solutions Content" blog. Changes are you’ll find valuable information about the Microsoft top support solutions for several of their popular products in Server and Tools. It might save you and your clients or manager a lot of time, effort and money. It’s also a great resource to make your colleagues, community, user group or clients aware of.

Attending The Global MVP Summit 2013 (November 18-21)


We have Windows 8.1 running on our desktops & laptops and meanwhile Windows Server 2012 R2 is crunching numbers in our (virtualized) data centers. So it’s time to grab one of those magnificent British Airways Boeing 747 aircraft seats once again and make my way to SEATAC. No rest for the wicked. BAS7400066

Yup, but for now I’ve parked myself in LHR whilst waiting for my flight. Soon I’ll be in the air again for the long haul to the USA. I’m off to Washington State, Seattle to be exact, and from there to Bellevue/Redmond. You might have guessed where I am going already, indeed to the Microsoft campus. I’m attending the Global MVP Summit 2013, November Edition. image

Apart from that magnificent educational & networking opportunity I will spend a lot of the “free” time discussing technology, visions & strategies with my peers and Microsoft employees. I’d like to thank the latter for their patience with me when bugging them with questions Smile. To my buddies, acquaintances & connections, I’ll see you soon. We have a lot to learn & discuss. That’s one of the reasons I’m off a bit earlier. It helps with the jet lag but it also gives me time to meet up with friends and acquaintances I’ve made in the Puget Sound area and talk shop. This helps to keep in touch with what’s happening over the world and to understand where their priorities are, what’s keeping them occupied. While I’m a firm believer in remote and teleworking there is value in getting your boots on the ground every now and then. It prevents tunnel vision and helps avoiding  teleology in our views while enhancing early detection of small trend changes to whole sale tectonic shifts. This is not to be confused with thinking you have a crystal ball or anything.

To my readers & community members I’d like to extend the invitation to pass along feedback to Microsoft. They do listen. So leave a comment, send me a mail (contact via Blog) or ping me on Twitter.

In case you don’t know, everything discussed at the MVP Summit is under NDA, even for MVPs of another expertise. So basically bar some tweets to find our where other MVPs I’ll be going dark.

E2EVC Rome 2013–Attending & Speaking


I’m attending and speaking at the E2EVC (Experts2Experts Virtualization Conference) in Rome, November 1-3.

I’ll be doing a talk on networking features in Windows Server 2012 R2 & Hyper-V. The good, the bad & the ugly. And no, no SDN talk. It’s about the other stuff.

“Session Topic: Networking Options For Virtualization in Windows Server 2012 R2
Short description: In Windows 2012 R2 there are many networking options available to optimize for both speed & redundancy. Let’s talk about some of them and see where and when they can help. The biggest problem is thinking you need  all of them or wanting all of them. Others are knowledge& complexity. Join us for a chalk & talk discussing all this. Some fellow MVPs will be there and we all have different experiences in different environments.
Presenter: Didier Van Hoye, Microsoft MVP”

It will be an interactive chalk & talk based on testing & experiences with these features & demos if the internet holds up.

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It’s a suburb non-commercial, virtualization community Event. It brings the best real life  virtualization experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. Lots of presentations, Master Classes and discussions going on both the attendees, vendors product teams & independent experts.

Now this is a conference where marketing & marchitecture is shot down fast & hard. But always in a friendly way. These people are all working in the sector and they have to keep it real. They have a business & a livelihood that depends on them delivering results, not fairy tales & management pleasing BS. These people tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear.

Look at the turnout for this event, this twitter list reads as the “Who’s Who In Virtualization”: @pcrampton, @joe_elway, @shawnbass, @ThomasMaurer, @Andrea_Mauro, @hansdeleenheer, @drtritsch, @WorkingHardInIT, @HelgeKlein, @JimMoyle, @neilspellings, @andyjmorgan, @KBaggerman, @CarlWebster, @bsonposh, @gilwood_cs, @E2EVC, @KristianNese, @_POPPELGAARD, @barryschiffer, @RemkoWeijnen, @IngmarVerheij, @WilcovanBragt, @david_obrien, @Microspecialist, @virtualfat, @LFoverskov, @virtuEs_IT, @stibakke, @granttiller, @Easi123, @ChrisJMarks, @arbeijer, @znackattack, @ShaunRitchie_UK, @Rob_Aarts, @StefanKoell, @EHouben, @crachfahl, @JeroenTielen, @plompr, @Gkunst, @drmiru, @espenbe, @marcdrinkwater, @DocsMortar, @AlBayliss, @wedelit, @pzykomAtle, @LoDani, @fborozan, @JeffWouters, @mrpickford, @smspasscode, @schose, @rvanderkruk, @TimmBrochhaus, @HansMinnee, @JZanten, @Sargola, @JaspervanWesten, @airdeca_nl, @danielBuonocore, @PeppelT, @TondeVreede, @pcortis, @ConorScolard, @CarstenDreyer, @arnaud_pain, @RoyTextor, @saschazimmer, @abstrask, @loopern, @PulseITch, @joarleithe, clarecoops9, @rfolmer, @wimoortgiesen  …

Here’s the conference agenda: http://www.e2evc.com/home/Agenda.aspx

See you there Smile and I’m looking forward to seeing my community buddies!

Update Your KMS Service Key To Activate Windows Server 2012 R2 And Windows 8.1


It’s a great day as Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 bits have gone GA (“General Availability”). So it’s of to the Volume License Servicing Center to get the bits and the keys.

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Before we start the roll out we need to either bring up a Windows Server 2012 R2 (or Windows 8.1) KMS host or upgrade the existing one that runs Windows Server 2012 or lower. In this example our KMS Service is running on Windows Server 2008 R2 so we need to do a couple of things.

Install the following update: KB 2885698: Update adds support for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 clients to Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012 KMS hosts (see Windows Server 2012 R2 & Windows 8.1 KMS Service Activation).  If you don’t install this hotfix registering a Windows Server 2012 R2 KMS key will throw an error:

0xc004f015: The Software Licensing Service reported that the license is not installed.
SL_E_PRODUCT_SKU_NOT_INSTALLED

So grab the hotfix and install it from an elevated command prompt. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine Smile

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Once you’ve clicked “Yes” the installation will start

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When the installation has finished you will be asked to restart the server. You need to do so. Just restarting the KMS service ("net stop sppsvc" and "net start sppsvc") doesn’t seem to suffice.

When your server comes back up you’ll be ready to install and activate the Windows Server 2012 R2 KMS key.

First we take a look at the current situation:

slmgr.vbs /dlv => clearly the Windows 2012 KMS key
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Uninstall the current KMS key using slmgr.vbs /upk, please use an elevated command prompt Winking smile

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Now you can install the new Windows 2012 R2 KMS key. If you run in to any issues here, restarting the KMS Service can help (("net stop sppsvc" and "net start sppsvc") . Try that first.

slmgr.vbs /ipk PIRAT-ESARE-NOTGE-TTING-AKEY!

Be patient, it’s not instantaneous.

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The key listed here is for all you wannabe pirates out there, sorry, this is the navy. If you’re, looking for illegal keys, cracks, keygens, activators or dodgy KMS virtual machine for Windows  8.1 activation and such this is not the place Winking smile.

You now need to activate your brand new KMS key running slmgr.vbs /ato

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Show what’s up and running now by running slmgr.vbs /dlv again and as you can see we’re in business to activate all our Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 hosts. I’m happy to report that our users will be enjoying Windows 8.1 on the clients in 2014 & the infrastructure in the data center will be benefiting form the goodness Windows Server 2012 R2 brings.

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Windows Server 2012 R2 & Windows 8.1 KMS Service Activation


As with all new versions of Windows since 2008 / Vista we need to set up the KMS (Key Management Service) to support the newest versions. Our KMS servers are running on Windows Server 2012 now. But perhaps yours are still running on a Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 or even a Windows 7 or Windows 8 host That’s not a problem.

Microsoft just released KB 2885698 Update adds support for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 clients to Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012 KMS hosts 

This update extends the Key Management Service (KMS) for Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012 to enable the enterprise licensing of Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.
KMS provides support for the following KMS client activations:

  • Windows Vista
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows 8
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

KMS uses a KMS host key to activate itself on a KMS host and to establish a local activation service in your environment. This update extends support for KMS to provide activation for Windows 8.1 and for Windows Server 2012 R2.

Just grab the package you need via the links in this KB article.

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Install it before you update the KMS key to avoid any error thrown at you. When our KMS keys are available I’ll be doing an upgrade and will blog about it. For now you can read how this went for us with Windows Server 2012 here.

UPDATE: Well Windows Server 2012 R2 has gone GA on October 17th 2013 and you can read about updating the KMS Service key for that and Windows 8.1 right here.

KMS Client Setup Keys For Windows Server 2012 R2 & Windows 8.1

For those of you looking for the client setup keys; you can find them here:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj612867.aspx as they have already been added to our trusted Appendix A: KMS Client Setup Keys in the Volume Activation documentation on TechNet.

Automatic Virtual Machine Activation With Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter

One more thing. If you’re doing lots of virtualization in various scenarios please take note of Automatic Virtual Machine Activation. Basically this means that your VMs will automatically activate if you’ have the hosts activated properly. Just one more improvement that will make live a bit easier for legal use in certain scenarios. I support that 100%. I just don’t like it when I, the paying customer, have to jump through hoops. I like it when I get great service, easily accessible. Compare it to shopping in  a supermarket. Make it to hard for the paying customers to fend of theft and you’ll see them leave for place where there are more welcome and have a better experience.

ODX Speed Up VHDX Creation Times On Windows Server 2012 (R2)


Some technlogies you just need to see in action instead of reading about it. I have posted a video on Vimeo that shows ODX in action on Windows Server 2012 R2 and a DELL Compellent SAN running Storage Center 6.3.10 firmware that supports UNMAP & ODX. Watch the video here or on Vimeo itself for a better experience. It’s a rerun of the demo scripts used in my TechNet Belux Live Meeting of this week.

We demonstrate the amazing speeds at which we can create VHDX files on both a traditional clustered disk and a Cluster Shared Volume. If you have ever tried to create a lot of fixed VHD/VHDX files, especially larger one, then you really need to check out ODX and its potential. If you have a SAN or think about acquiring one make sure you get this feature and be sure that it works as advertised.

I hope you enjoy it and inspires you to look where you can leverage this technology in your own environments.

Join me for aTechNet Live Meeting: Hyper-V Storage Efficiencies & Optimizations in Windows Server 2012 R2


So you have been  playing with or down right seriously testing Windows Server 2012 and perhaps even Windows Server 2012 R2. That’s great. Many of you might have it running in production or are working on that. That’s even better.

Windows Server 2012 has brought us unseen capabilities & performance enhancements that make it a future proof fundament for many versions to come and it is ready for the ever accelerating pace of hardware improvements. R2 has fine tuned some points and added improvements that are stepping stones to better today and even greater in vNext. I’d like to invite you to a free TechNet Live Meeting on Hyper-V Storage Efficiencies & Optimizations in Windows Server 2012 R2 and look at some of these capabilities with me.

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As a virtualization guy two subjects are very dear to me and that is networking & storage, and this event is about a subset of the storage improvements. You might have heard about ODX and UNMAP but you have not had the change to play with it. You have read about the tremendous scalability of the IOPS in a VM and about large sector support for the next generation of hard disks drives. Well some of these we’ll demonstrate (ODX, UNMAP, Dynamically expanding VHDX performance) if the demo gods are with us. Others we’ll discuss so you’ll know where this comes into play and how you’ll benefit from them even without realizing you do. So without further delay register for the free TechNet Live Event here.