Migrating A Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster In Another Active Directory Domain – PART 2


Introduction

In this blog series we’ll walk you through the process of migrating a Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster to a Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster in another Active Directory domain. You are now reading part 2.

  1. Migrating A Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster In Another Active Directory Domain – PART 1
  2. Migrating A Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster In Another Active Directory Domain – PART 2

The source W2K8R2 Hyper-V cluster is a production environment. To test the procedure for the migration we created a new CSV on the source cluster with some highly available test virtual machines with production like network configurations (multi homed virtual machined). This allows us to demonstrate the soundness of the process on one CSV before we tackle the 4 production CSVs.

We left off in part 1 with the virtual machines on the CSV LUN we are going to migrate shutdown. We’ll now continue the process of moving the CSV LUN from the old Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 cluster to the new Windows Server 2012 R2 cluster. After that we can import them and, start them up, test that all is well and finally make them highly available in the cluster. Don’t forget the upgrade the integration components when all is done.

Removing the CSV LUN from the the source W2K8R2 Hyper-V Cluster

Just leave the VMs where they are on the LUN, un-present that LUN from the old source W2K8R2 Hyper-V cluster and present it to the new W2K12R2 Hyper-V Cluster. In our case, with a dealing with a cluster so we use a CSV. So when the LUN is presented and added to the cluster don’t forget to add it to the CSVs. Well

In Failover Cluster Manager bring the CSV that you are migrating off line. Make sure you have the correct one (green circles/arrow) to avoid down time in production.

imageWhen asked if you’re sure, confirm this

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The CSV will be brought of line, which you can verify in Disk Management

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We’re going to do our clean up already. You could wait until after the migration but we want the old cluster to look as clean and healthy for the operations people as possible so they don’t worry. So we go and remove this LUN from Cluster Shared Volumes.

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Which you’ll need to confirm

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after which your disk will be move to available storage

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Do note that if you do this it brings the LUN back on line. As it’s still a clustered diskand  there is no IO (all VMS are shut down) that’s OK. We’ll remove it form available cluster storage (“Delete” isn’t a bad as it sounds in this context)

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The storage will be gone form the cluster and off line in disk manager.

On the SAN / Shared Storage

We create a SAN snapshot for fall back purposes (we throw it away after all has gone well). If you have this option I highly advise you to do so. It’s not easy to move back form Windows Server 2012 R2 to W2K8R2 in the unlikely event you would need to do so. It also protects the VM against any errors & mishaps that might occur, if you understand how to use the snapshot to recover.

On the SAN we un map the CSV LUN from the old cluster. We could wait but this is an extra protection against two clusters seeing the same storage.

On the SAN we map that CSV LUN to the new cluster. It will appear in disk manager.

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We add this disk to the new cluster

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We add it to the CSV on the new cluster, which brings it on line.

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It uses the default naming convention of clustered disks. So this is the moment to change the name if you need or want to do so.

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So now it’s time to go Hyper-V Manager and do the actual import.

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Navigate to the folder where you Hyper-V Virtual Machine Configuration lives. This location can be central for all VM or individual per VM, depending on how the virtual machines were organized on the old source cluster. In our example it is the latter. Also note that we only have one CSV involved per VM here, so it easy. Otherwise you will need to move multiple CSVs across together, all the ones the VM or VMs depend on.

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It has found a virtual machine to import.

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This is important, select “Register the virtual machine in-place (use the existing unique ID)”

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Click “Next” to confirm the your actions

If anything about your virtual machine is not compatible with your host, the GUI allows you to make fix this. Here we have to change the correct virtual switch as they are different from the source host.

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When done, just click next and in a blink of the eye your machine will be imported. You can start it up right now to see if all went well.

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As in Windows Server 2012 (R2) we can add running virtual machines to the cluster for high availability that’s the final step.

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We can import all virtual machines on the demo CSV in the same manner. Congrats, if you set up network connectivity right and done this manual migration procedure correctly you have now migrated a first CSV with VMs to the new cluster in another AD domain that can talk to to VMs that are still on the old cluster.  Cool huh! What scenarios? Well, a hoster that has clusters in a management domain that runs different workloads for different customers (multiple ADs) or a company consolidating multiple environments on a common Hyper-V Cluster or clusters in a management domain, etc.

You need to update the integration components of the virtual machines now running but other than that, you’re all set. Just move along with the next CSVs / Virtual machines until you’re done.

Closing comments

Note, what to do if you don’t have shared storage. Move the disks to the new host/cluster, copy the data over (do NOT export the VMs, as that will not work in this scenario, see part 1) or … use VEEAM Replica. It will do the heavy lifting for you and help minimize down time.. Read this blog post by our fellow MVP Silvio Di Benedetto  and for more information Veeam Backup & Replication: Migrate VM from Hyper-V 2008 R2 to 2012 R2.

Good luck. And remember if you need any assistance, there are many highly experienced Hyper-V MVPs /consultants out there. They can always help you with your migration plans if you need it.

Migrating A Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster In Another Active Directory Domain – PART 1


Introduction

In this blog we’ll walk you through the process of migrating a Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster to a Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster in another Active Directory domain. You are reading part 1.

  1. Migrating A Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster In Another Active Directory Domain – PART 1
  2. Migrating A Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster In Another Active Directory Domain – PART 2

The source W2K8R2 Hyper-V cluster is a production environment. To test the procedure for the migration we created a new CSV on the source cluster with some highly available test virtual machines with production like network configurations (multi homed virtual machined). This allows us to demonstrate the soundness of the process on one CSV before we tackle the 4 production CSVs. Do note that in this case the two clusters do share the same SAN. If not we can move the storage, copy the data, replicate between SANs or use VEEAM Replica (see part 2 for more info).

Preparing the source W2K8R2 Hyper-V Cluster virtual machines & Cluster

Before we begin, I always make sure I have no Hyper-V snapshots  anymore on virtual machines I migrate. It prevents any issues on that front an while Windows Server 2012 R2 is better than before dealing with snapshots I prefer to have a little possible points of concern before I start such an operation.

Go to Failover Cluster Manager

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and shut down the virtual machines on the CSV you want to migrate.

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You’ll see them pending whilst they are shutting down …

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And when they are fully stopped we’ll removed the form the cluster.

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To do so, delete (scary word) the virtual machines on our CSV that’s going to be migrated from the cluster, which makes them no longer high available

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To do so you’ll need to confirm that this is what you want to do.

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In Hyper-V Manager we see that the virtual machines are indeed of line. As the virtual machines reside on cluster / CSV the path to the hard disk, config files etc is indeed under C:\ClusterStorage.

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We just close the Hyper-V Manager GUI. We will NOT export the VMs to import them on the new cluster. Why?

  1. This is not necessary as since Windows Server 2012 and as such also in R2 we can import them with the option to register them in place. No export is needed for this.
  2. Due to the fact the the is no longer there you cannot import virtual machines that have been exported from Windows 2008 R2 directly into Windows Server 2012 R2. This is due to the fact that the WMI v1 namespace was deprecated in Windows Server 2012, and then removed in Windows Server 2012 R2.  When exporting a VM from Windows 2008 R2, the WMI v1 namespace was used that resulted in an .exp file to represent the exported virtual machine. In Windows Server 2012 (R2) a new WMI namespace (version 2 or root\virtualization\v2) leverages an improved import/export model. This allows for registering the VMs in place as said in point 1. In Windows Server 2012 the version 1 WMI namespace was still there which allowed for importing of Windows Server 2008/R2 VM’s. In Windows Server 2012 R2 the version 1 namespace has been removed. So YOU CANNOT import virtual machines that where exported from Windows Server 2008/R2 into Windows Server 2012 R2. The workarounds are described here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/rmilne/archive/2013/10/22/windows-hyper-v-2012-amp-8-1-hyper-v-did-not-find-virtual-machine-to-import.aspx.

Now the combination of point 1 and 2 is what is used by the Copy cluster roles wizard in Windows Server 2012 R2. That works within a domain but not across separate AD Domains as in our case. But don’t worry. All this means is that we need to do some work manually and that’s it. That’s what we’ll describe in part 2 of this blog. Do realize you want to do this in one go as that ensures you have the least possible down time. In production don’t do part 1 of the blog on Monday and part 2 on Thursday or so Winking smile.

Read on here Migrating A Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Cluster To Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Cluster In Another Active Directory Domain – PART 2

Reverting the Forest & Domain Functional Levels in Window Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2


Since Windows Server 2008 R2 and now with Windows Server 2012(R2)you can roll back the domain and forest functional level under certain conditions. This was not possible before with previous versions of Windows. In these cases you would have to revert to a restore from backup. Yup pretty hefty so raising functional levels has to be done with care.

Now this isn’t a free fire zone there are some conditions as listed in the table below.

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So you cannot have advanced features like the AD recycle bin enabled in some conditions. Enabling this is irreversible, so you cannot revert the Forest Functional Level of your environment to a level that supports the AD recycle bin when it has been enabled. Today that means from Windows Server 2012(R2) to Windows Server 2008 R2.

You also need Enterprise Administrator rights to do so, which I hope you’ll understand. It’s also a Windows PowerShell only feature (Set-ADDomainMode).

I used this information recently during an upgrade of an Windows Server 2008 R2 domain to Windows Server 2012 where they wanted to raise the domain and forest functional level. As they had a Forest Trust between the (now) Windows Server 2012 forest/domain and another Windows Server 2008 R2 forest/domain. They had enabled the Recycle Bin when still at Windows 2008 R2. They wanted to know if they would have issues with the trust and if so whether they could revert the levels in that case.

Well I could put their mind at ease. Look at the table. Yes you can go back to Windows 2008 R2 Forest Functional level as that’s a version that also supports AD Recycle bin so it doesn’t matter that is enabled.  And no, the forest trust capability is not affected by the forest functional level in this case as all you need there is to be at a minimum level of Windows 2003 to be able to do a forest trust. Forest Trust is enabled from and above Windows Server 2003 Forest functional Level. In a Windows Server 2000 Forest functional Level, Forest Trust is disabled. That means you can do them between forests at different functional levels a long as non of them is lower than Windows 2003. In this case it’s Windows 2008 R2 that’s the lowest, so again, not an issue.

How? Very simple:

Set-ADDomain Mode mydomain.com -DomainMode Windows2008R2Domain

Set-ADForestMode mydomain.com -ForestMode Windows2008R2Forest

Take a look at these TechNet Resources Understanding Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) Functional Levels  and Set-ADDomainMode for more information.

Live Migration Can Benefit From Jumbo Frames


Does live migration benefit from Jumbo frames? This question always comes back so I’d just blog it hear again even if I have mentioned it as part of other blog posts. Yes it does! How do I know. Because I’ve tested and used it with Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012 & 2012 R2. Why? because I have a couple of mantra’s:

  • Assumption are the mother of all fuckups
  • Assume makes an ASS out of U and ME
  • Trust but verify

What can I say. I have been doing 10Gbps since for Live Migration with Hyper-V. And let me tell you my experiences with an otherwise completely optimized server (mainly BIOS performance settings): It will help you with up to 20% more bandwidth use.

And thanks to Windows Server 2012 R2 supporting SMB for live migration we can very nicely visualize this with 2*10Gbps NICS, not teamed, used by live migration leveraging SMB Multichannel. On one of the 10Gbps we enable Jumbo Frames on the other one we do not. We than live migrate a large memory VM back and forth. Now you tell me which one is which.

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Now enable Jumbo frames on both 10Gbps NICs and again we live migrate the large memory VM back and forth. More bandwidth used, faster live migration.

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I can’t make it any more clear. No jumbo frames will not kill your performance unless you have it messed up end to end. Don’t worry if you have a cheaper switch where you can only enable it switch wide instead op port per port. The switch is a pass through. So unless you set messed up sizes on sender/receiving host that the switch in between can’t handle, it will work even without jumbo frames and without heaven falling down on your head Smile. Configure it correctly, test it, and you’ll see.

RD Gateway Messaging Tab Windows Server 2008 R2 & 2012


Since Windows 2008 R2 and as such in Windows Server 2012 RD Gateway has a nice couple of new features in it’s properties under the tab Messaging.

System Message

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That’s great as now you can warn logged on users of the gateway of any impending maintenance actions that otherwise might be a disconcerting loss of connectivity to them. Just go to the messaging tab and type in your message. Set the start and end date/time and that’s all there is to it. A user that is logged or logs in during the specified time frame will see this window appear. I like the fact that we can communicate to the active users via the system message. It makes for a better experience of the service delivered.

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Logon Message

Another option you have under the messaging tab is to to specify a logon messageimage

You simply type this into text file that you then browse to and apply so that it will be displayed.image

You have to browse and apply every time you edit the text file. 

Below is a screen shot what a user logging on to a system via your RD Gateway would see. It all depends on the legal department of the manager what will go in here. Do note that you cannot continue until you accept the terms. This could be annoying to regular users after a while. That’s why you have the option of selecting “Do not ask again unless changes to the policy occur”. That should keep both legal and the users happy Smile.

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Installing & using the Windows Server Migration Tools To Migrate Local Users & Groups


Introduction

I was working on a little project for a company that was running TS Gateway on 32bit Windows 2008. The reason they did not go for x64 at the time was that they used Virtual Server as their virtualization platform for some years and not Hyper-V. One of the drawbacks was that they could not use x64 guest VMs. Since then they have move to Hyper-V and now also run Window Server 2012. So after more than 5 years of service and to make sure they did not keep relying on aging technology it is time to move to Windows Server 2012 RD Gateway and reap the benefits of the latest OS.

All in all the Microsoft documentation is not too bad, all be it that the information is a bit distributed as you need to use various tools to complete the process. Basically, depending on the original setup of the source server you’ll need to use the TS/RD Gateway Export & Import functionality, Web Deploy (we’re at version 3.0 at the time of writing) and the Windows Server Migration Tools that were introduced with Windows 2008 R2 and are also available in Windows Server 2012.

In a number of posts I’ll be discussing some of the steps we took. You are reading the second post.

  1. x86 Windows Server 2008 TS Gateway Migration To x64 Windows Server 2012 RD Gateway
  2. Installing & using the Windows Server Migration Tools To Migrate Local Users & Groups
  3. TS/RD Gateway Export & Import (Fixing Event ID 2002 “The policy and configuration settings could not be imported to the RD Gateway server "%1"" because they are associated with local computer groups on another RD Gateway server”)

As discussed in the first part we need to migrate some local users & groups on the TS Gateway (source) server as they are also being used for some special cases of remote access, next to Active Directory users & groups for the Remote Access Policies (RAPs) & Connection Authorization Policies (CAPs). The tool the use is the Windows Server Migration Tools. These were introduced with Windows 2008 R2 and are also available in Windows Server 2012.

Some people seem to get confused a bit about the installation of the Server Migration Tools but it’s not that hard. I have used these tools several times before in the past and they work very well. You just need to read up a bit on the the deployment part and once you have it figured out they work very well.

Installing the Windows Server Migration Tools on the DESTINATION Server

First we have to install the on the DESTINATION host (W2K12 in our case, the server to which you are migrating)). For this we launch Server Manager and on the dashboard select Manage and choose Add Roles & Feature.clip_image001

Navigate through the wizard until you get to Features. Find and select Windows Server Migration Tools. Click Next.clip_image001[4]

Click Install to kick of the installation.clip_image001[9]

After a while your patience will be rewarded.clip_image001[11]

Installing the Windows Server Migration Tools on the SOURCE Server

To install the Windows Server Migration Tools on the SOURCE server, you need to run the appropriate PowerShell command on the DESTINATION server. This is what trips people up a lot of the time. You deploy the correct version of the tools from the destination server to the source server, where you will than register them for use. Do this with an admin account that has admin privileges on both the DESTINATION & SOURCE Computer.

Start up the Windows Server Migration Tools from Server Manager, Tools.image

This launches the Windows Server Migration Tools PowerShell window.image

Our SOURCE server here is the32 bit (X86)  Windows 2008 TS Gateway Server. The documentation tells us the correct values to use for the parameters /architecture and /OS to use.

SmigDeploy.exe /package /architecture X86 /os WS08 /path \\SourcerServer\c$\sysadmin

Now before you run this command be sure to go to the ServerMigrationTools folder as the UI fails to do that for you.

Also this is PowerShell so use .\ in front of the command otherwise you’ll get the error below.image

While you want this:image

Now you have also deployed the correct tools to the SOURCE server, our old legacy TS Gateway Server. Next we need to register these tools on the SOURCE Server to be able to use them. You might have gotten the message already you need PowerShell deployed on the SOURCE Server as documented.

If you have PowerShell, launch the console with elevated permissions (Runs As Administrator) and run the following command: .\SmigDeploy.exeimage

Congratulations you are now ready to use the Windows Server Migration Tools! That wasn’t so hard was it? Smile

Using the Windows Server Migration Tools To Migrate Local Users & Groups

To export the local users and groups from the source TS/RD Gateway server you start up the Windows Server Migration Tools on the SOURCE server (see the documentation for all ways to achieve this) and run the following PowerShell command:
Export-SmigServerSetting -User All  -Group –Path C:\SysAdmin\ExportMigUsersGroups –Verboseimage

As you can see I elected to migrate all user accounts not just the enabled or disabled ones. We’ll sort those out later. Also note the command will create the folder for you.

To import the local users and groups to the target RD Gateway server you start up the Windows Server Migration Tools on the Destination server (see the documentation) , i.e. our new Windows Server 2012 RD Gateway VM.

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and run the following PowerShell command:

Import-SmigServerSetting  -User Enabled  -Group -Path C:\SysAdmin\ExportMigUsersGroups -Verbose

Do note that the migrated user accounts will be disabled and have their properties set to "Next Logon". This means you will have to deal with this accordingly depending on the scenarios and communicate new passwords & action to take to the users.image

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Do note that the local groups have had the local or domain groups/users added by the import command. Pretty neat.image

You’re now ready for the next step. But that’s for another blog post.

KB2770917 Updating Host & Guest Integration Services Components – Most Current Version Depends on Guest OS


As after installing http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2770917 on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V hosts the integration services components are upgraded from 6.2.9200.16384 to 6.2.9200.16433. Windows Server 2012 guest get that same upgrade and as such also the newer integration services components. The guest with older OS version needed a different approach. So I turned to all the great PowerShell support now available for Hyper-V to automate this. Pretty pleased with the results of our adventures in PowerShell scripting I let the script go on Hyper-V cluster dedicated to test & development. As such there are some virtual machines on there running Windows 2003 SP2 (X64) and Windows XP SP3 (x86).  Guess what, after running my script and verifying the integration services version I see that those VM still report version 6.2.9200.16384 . No update. Didn’t my new scripting achievement “take” on those older guests?

So I try the install manually and this is what I get:

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Why is there no upgrade for these guests?  Are they not needed or do I have an issue? So I mount the ISO and dig around in the files to find a clue in the date:

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It looks like there are indeed no update components in there for Windows XP/ W2K3. So then I look at the following registry key on the host where I normally use the Microsoft-Hyper-V-Guest-Installer-Win6x-Package value to find out what integration services version my hosts are running:

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Bingo, there it seems indicated that we indeed need version for XP/W2K3 and version for W2K8(R2)/W2K12 and Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8. Cool, but I had to check if this was indeed as it should be and I’m happy to confirm all is well. Ben Armstrong (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/virtual_pc_guy/) confirmed that this is how it should be. There was a update needed for backup that only applied to Windows 8 / Windows Server 2012 guests.  As this fix was in a common component for Windows Server 2008 and later they all got the update. But for the older OS versions this was not the case and hence no update is need. Which is reflected in all the above. In short, this means your XP SP3 & W2K3SP2 VMs are just fine running the version of the integration services and are not in any kind of trouble.

This does leave me with an another task. I was planning to do enhancements to my script like feedback on progress, some logging, some better logic for clustered and non clustered environments, but now I have to also address this possibility and verify using the registry keys on the host which IC version I should check against per OS version. Checking against just for the one related to the host isn’t good enough Smile.

Hyper-V Guest Storage Performance: Above & Beyond 1 Million IOPS


Making a million IOPS possible in a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V VM

A lot of you will have seen the demos of a Hyper-V guest with VHDX disks running on Windows Server 2012 doing a million apps, if you haven’t yet, take a look here. While some quickly dismissed this as “irrelevant boasting” without real life relevance, I respectfully disagree. This is smart future proofing by Microsoft and provides a hypervisor ready for the future hardware capabilities and capable to handle the most demanding workloads today & in the years to come. Sure such a demo is under lab/ideal conditions and does not reflect the majority of real life environments but it’s nice to see what a hypervisor is capable of if and when you might need it. Remember there was a day that 4GB was a lot of RAM and 2TB sounded gigantic. Also remember that some people have larger needs than others.  Until Windows Server 2008 R2 you had some limitations in storage IO performance that would not allow for a million IOPS. These had to be addressed or all the efforts with regards to capabilities and performance in regard to storage, CPU, networking and memory would just hit those particular bottlenecks. So it is addressing real needs and indeed also smart future proofing.

Capabilities of virtual machine storage IO throughput in Windows 2008 R2

The capabilities listed below dictate the IO capabilities in virtual machines running on Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V:

  1. Limited to one IO channel per virtual SCSI Controller
  2. 256 queue depth/SCSI for all devices attached to that SCSI adapter.
  3. There was one fixed vCPU (0) dedicated to handling IO.

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The picture above illustrates these limits. You see two virtual SCSI Controllers each having 2 VHD virtual disks attached. Each disk shares the one channel the controller it is attached to has.

These limits could become a bottle neck but that was never was too big of a problem with a maximum of 4 vCPUs in Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V. If needed for performance we might have attached VHDs to different virtual SCSI controllers for the best possible performance in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V .

With 64 vCPUs and ever more demanding workloads these limitations would become a (serious) issue so this needed to be addressed. If not, despite all other efforts in regards to the 4 big resources (memory, storage and network) in Windows 2012, this would remain the limiting factor of IOPS inside a virtual machine on Windows 2012.

Windows Server 2012 improvements to virtual machine storage IO scaling

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The picture above illustrates the improvements in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V IO Scaling:

  1. There is now 1 channel per 16 vCPUs, per virtual SCSI device, per controller. So that means you have 4 channels, per VHDX attached to a virtual SCSI Controller when you have 64 vCPUs in the virtual machine. Compared to before, this is a significant improvement and a much needed one with the 64 vCPUs capability there is now.
  2. IO interrupt handling is now distributed amongst all vCPUs and this process is NUMA aware. This is a huge improvement!
  3. There is now a 256 queue depth/device attached to a specific SCSI adapter. That’s another big improvement.

That people, is how you get a virtual machine to handle a million IOPS. Nice! The questions or doubts whether Hyper-V can deliver the capacity, throughput & performance have been wiped of the table, yes also for virtual storage IOPS. You can now go straight to how it will address your business needs. From my experience it does so brilliantly and very cost effectively. Life might not be perfect but it is very good Smile

Some SAN Storage Fun


At the end of this day I was doing some basic IO tests on some LUNs on one of the new Compellent SANs. It’s amazing what 10 SSDs can achieve … We can still beat them in  certain scenarios but it takes 15 times more disks. But that’s not what this blog is about. This is about goofing off after 20:00 following another long day in another very long week, it’s about kicking the tires of Windows and the SAN now that we can.

For fun I created a 300TB LUN on a DELL Compellent, thin provisioned off cause, I only have 250 TB Smile

I then mounted it to a Windows 2008 R2 test server.

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The documented limit of a Volume in Windows 2008 R2 is 256TB when you use 64K allocation size. So I tested this limit by trying to format the entire LUN and create a 300TB simple volume. I brought it online, initialized it to an GPT disk, created a simple volume with an allocation unit size of 64K and well that failed with following error:

Failed Format300TB

There is nothing unexpected about this. This has to do with the maximum NTFS volume size supported on a GPT disk. It depends on the cluster size that is selected at the time of formatting. NTFS is currently limited to 2^32-1 allocation units. This yields a 256TB volume, using 64k clusters. However, this has only been tested to 16TB, or 17,592,186,040,320 bytes, using 4K cluster size. You can read up on this in Frequently asked questions about the GUID Partitioning Table disk architecture. The table below shows the NTFS limits based on cluster size.

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This was the first time I had the opportunity to test these limits I formatted part of that LUN to a size close to the limit and than formatted the remainder to a second simple volume.

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I still need get a Windows Server 2012 test server hooked up to the SAN. To see if anything has changed there. One thing is for sure, you could put at least 3 64TB VHDX files on a single volume in Windows. Not too shabby Smile. It’s more than enough to put just about any backup software into problems. Be warned, MSFT tested and guarantees performance & behavior up to 64TB in Windows Server 2012, but beyond that you’d better do your own due diligence.

The next thing I’ll do when I have a Windows Server 2012 host hooked up is, is create 64TB VHDX file and see if I can go beyond it before things break. Why, well because I can and I want to take the new SAN and Windows 2012 for a ride to see what boundaries we can push. The SANs are just being set up so now is the time to do some testing.

Failover Cluster Node Names in Upper & Lower Case In Window 2012 with Cluster.exe, PowerShell & GUI


 

Cluster Node Names Can Be Inconsistently Named

A lot of us who build failover clusters are bound to run into the fact that the node names as shown the Failover Cluster Management GUI is not always consistent in the names format  it gives to the nodes. Sometimes they are lower case, sometimes they are upper case. See the example below of a Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 cluster.

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Many a system administrator has some slight neurotic tendencies. And he or she can’t stand this. I’ve seen people do crazy things like trying to fix this up to renaming a node in the registry. Do NOT do that. You’ll break that host. People check whether the computer object in AD is lower or upper case, whether the host name is lower or upper case, check how the node are registered in DNS etc. They try to keep ‘m all in sync at sometimes high cost Smile But in the end you can never be sure that all nodes will have the same case using the GUI.

So what can you do?

  1. Use cluster.exe to add the node to the cluster. That enforces the case you type in the name!  An example of this is when you’d like upper case node names:
    cluster.exe /cluster:CLUSTER-NAME /add /node:UPPERCASENODE1
  2. Some claim that when you add all nodes at the same time and they will all be the same. But ‘m not to sure this will always work.

Windows 2012

In Windows 2012 PowerShell replaces cluster.exe (it is still there, for backward compatibility but for how long?) and they don’t seem to enforce the case of the names of the node. For more info on Failover Clustering PowerShell look at Failover Clusters Cmdlets in Windows PowerShell, it’s a good starting point.

Don’t despair my fellow IT Pros. Learn to accept that fail over clustering is case insensitive and you’ll never run into any issue. Let it go …. Well unless you get a GUI bug like we had with Exchange 2010 SP1 or any other kind of bug that has issues with the case of the nodes Smile.

If you want to use cluster.exe (or MSClus) for that matter you’ll need to add it via the Add Roles and Features Wizard / Remote Administration Tools /Feature Administration Tools / Failover Clustering Tools. Note that there are not present by default.

clusterdotexe

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On an upgraded node I needed to uninstall failover clustering and reinstall it to get it to works, so even in that scenario they are gone and I needed to add them again.

MSClus and Cluster.EXE support Windows Server 2012, Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 2008 clusters. The Windows Server 2012 PowerShell module for clustering supports Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2, not Windows Server 2008.

For more information see the relevant section at Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server “8” Beta (dsforum2wiki). You’ll have to live with the fact that a lot of documentation still refers to Windows Server 8. As of his post, it’s only been a week that the final name of Windows Server 2012 was announced.

 

 

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