First we take Redmond, then we take Berlin & Ede: Summits & Conferences


The traveling & speaking MVP

MVPs are a busy lot. They work, learn, travel & talk a lot. Why to share knowledge & experiences for the benefit of all. So in order to keep that reputation going I’ll be heading to SEATAC to attend the Global MVP Summit 2014 in Bellevue/Redmond. After that tech fest I return to Belgium where I’ll immediately head towards Berlin to present at the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014. After a weekend of rest I head north to The Netherlands to present at Experts Live.

No rest for the wicked. There is a a tremendous amount of things happening in IT right now. It takes a little bit of effort to keep up an asses the benefits and value butt once you’re doing that as part of your normal day to day operations it becomes a lot easier to map out  why it’s useful to you and what to use where, when and how.

All this is happening at a time that the information on “Treshold” or Windows vNext is becoming available if we can believe the rumors and the buzz on the internet. Don’t forget that TechEd Europe 2014 is on in the last week of October in Barcelona right before the MVP Summit in Redmond. Like Aidan Finn said, we could go on a 3 month presenting, training & consulting tour right now as the need for insights & skills is growing with the growth in Hyper-V adoption and with that all related technologies from networking, storage to Azure.

Now I can’t invite you to the MVP Summit but I can do that for both the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 and Experts Live. There will be a lot of international expertise at both events who have hands on expertise with the technology in real life production environments. I always pick up knowledge form them myself.

The Global MVP Summit 2014

Every MVP on this planet tries to make it to the MVP Summit. The face time with and access to so many intelligent people at MSFT is invaluable. Combine that with the opportunity to network experts form all over the globe and you realize why we spend the time effort and money to attend.

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So once more we hop on that great Boeing 747 and let BA fly us to SEA-TAC airport from where we’ll head to Bellevue/Redmond as the summit is spread between both locations.

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The MVP is NDA. So there will be tweets about the fun stuff with fellow MVPs but other than that we’ll be going dark. We have never and will never breach NDA. We’ll also make some time to meet up with old acquaintances, friends and fellow Belgians living & working around Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond.

Microsoft Technical Summit 2014

The moment I get back home I grab a change of clothes & a flight to Berlin.

The Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 is on in Berlin and together with a great number of fellow MVPs I have the distinct pleasure of presenting What’s new in Failover Clustering (Windows 2012 R2).

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It’s amazing to see how many of our community experts are actually from Germany, Austria & Switzerland (DACH) and I’ll be happy so see so many familiar faces I just saw on the other side of the big pond just a week before Smile

Experts Live 2014

On November 18th I’ll be in The Netherlands at Experts Live 2014 in Ede. This is a great event and if you know the brain power of the organizers & presenters this is no surprise. I’ll be presenting “The Capable & Scalable Cloud OS “ and showing some of the scalable capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 when combined with great hardware. image

So that’s the travelling & scheduling agenda for now. Perhaps I’ll see you at one of those events & if you’re a reader of this blog ping us if you’ll be there for a meet and great. Live is good Smile.

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.

DELL CIO Executive Summit


I’ve been invited and I’m attending the CIO Executive Summit with DELL’s Executive Leadership Team on Wednesday September 17, 2014 in Brussels. It’s an opportunity to meet and network with my peers and IT leaders.  It also provide the opportunities to discuss challenges with Dell executives and where they see DELL help us with those.

It runs parallel with DELL Solutions Tour 2014 Brussels (see http://www.dellsolutionstour2014.com/ for events near you) where I’m sure many will be looking at the recently released generation 13 servers & new Intel CPU offerings.

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I’ll be attending 2 “Strategic Deep Dive Sessions” that address some of critical challenges facing IT C-Level professionals. I’m doing the one on security. This is important as alone eternal vigilance, preparedness & situational awareness can help mitigate disaster. The technology is just a force multiplier.

The other track is on future ready IT solutions. That means a lot different thins to many of us. The new capabilities and ever faster evolving IT places a financial and operational burden on everyone. I’m very interested to discuss how DELL will deal with this beyond the traditional answers. The need for fast, effective & cost effective solutions that deliver great ROI & TCO is definitely there but the move to OPEX versus CAPEX and the potential loss of ownership also introduces risk that can cost us dearly if not managed right. IT, is still more than a financial model of service billing, even if sometimes it looks like that. It’s important to keep the mix in balance & do it smart.

So on Wednesday I’ll be focusing on strategy and not action or tools. Something that get’s missed way too much by way too many way too often. Michael Dell will be there and if I get the opportunity I’ll be happy to give some feedback.

Dell generation 13 servers & Intel E5 v3 18 core CPUs are upon us in world where per core licensing is reality


As I watched the Intel E5 v3 launch event & DELL releasing their next generation servers to the public to purchase there is a clear opportunity for hardware renewal next year. I’m contemplating on what the new Intel E5 v3 18 core processors

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and the great DELL generation 13 PowerEdge Servers mean for the Hyper-V and SQL server environments under my care.

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For the Hyper-V clusters I’m in heaven. At least for now as Windows is still licensed per socket at the time of writing. vNext has me worried a bit, thinking about what would happen if that changes to core based licensing to. Especially with SQL Server virtualization. I do hope that if MSFT ever goes for per core licensing for the OS they might consider giving us a break for dedicated SQL Server Hyper-V clusters.

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For per core licensing with SQL Server Enterprise we need to run the numbers and be smart in how we approach this. Especially since you need Software Assurance to be able to have mobility & failover / high availability. All this at a time you’re told significant cost cutting has to happen all over the board.

So what does this mean? The demise of SQL Server in the Enterprise like some suggest. Nope. The direct competitors of SQL Server in that arena are even more expensive. The alternatives to SQL are just that, in certain scenarios you don’t need SQL (Server) or you can make due with SQL Server Express. But what about all the cases where you do really need it? You’ll just have to finance the cost of SQL Server. If that’s not possible the business case justifying the tool is no longer there, which is valid. As the saying goes, if you can’t afford it, you don’t need it. A bit harsh yes, I realize, but this is not a life saving medicine we’re talking about but a business tool. There might be another reason your SQL Server licensing has become unaffordable. You might be wasting money due to how SQL Server is deployed and used in your environment. To make sure you don’t overpay you need to evaluate if SQL Server consolidation is what is really needed to save the budget.

Now please realize that consolidation doesn’t mean stupidly under provisioning hardware & servers to make budget work out. That’s just plain silly. For some more information on this, please read Virtualizing Intensive Workloads on Hyper-V, Can It Be Done

So what is smart consolidation (not all specific to SQL Server by the way):

  • You have to avoid physical SQL Server sprawl with a vengeance.
  • You need to consolidate SQL Servers aggressively.
  • Virtualize on a dedicated SQL Server Hyper-V cluster if possible
  • Favor scale out over scale up in the Hyper-V scenario to keep node costs reasonable and allow for affordable expansion.
  • Use 2 socket servers and replace the hardware faster to keep the number of needed cores down.
    • This allows to leverage modern commodity, high performance storage, networking and compute where you can in order to optimize workloads & minimize costs.
    • It helps save on power consumption & cooling
    • More nodes with lesser cores (scale out approach) reduces VM density per node but also keep the cost of adding a node (with SQL Server per core licensing, or when it comes to that for the OS as well), which is your scaling block with a fixed cost under control. It’s all about balance and it isn’t as easy as it seems.
  • Play the same game with storage. This can be a harder sale to make internally. Traditionally people hang on to storage longer due to the high CAPEX. I have said it before, storage vendors have to deliver more & better. Even the challengers & hyper converged systems are still too expensive to really get into a short renewal cycle for most organizations.

Be smart about it. A great DBA can make a difference here and some hard core performance tuning is what can save a serious amount of money. If on top of that you have some good storage & network skills around you can achieve a lot. Next to the fact that you’ll have to spend serious money for serious workloads the ugly truth is that consolidation requires you find your peak loads and scale for those with a vengeance. Look, maxing out one server on which one SQL Server is running isn’t that bad. But what if 3 SQL Servers running a peak performance spread over a 3 node Hyper-V cluster dedicated to SQL Server VMs might kill performance all over!

The good news is I have solid ideas,visions, plans and options to optimize both the on premise & cloud of part of networking, storage & compute. Remember that there is no one size fits all. Execution follows strategy. The potential for very performant, cost effective  & capable solutions are right there. I cannot give you a custom solution for your needs in a blog post. One danger with fast release cycles is that it requires yearly OPEX end if they cannot guarantee it the shift in design to solutions with less longevity  could become problematic if they can’t come up with the money. Cutting some of the “fat” means you will not be able to handle longer periods of budget drought very well. There is no free lunch.

So measure twice & cut once or things can go wrong very fast and become even more expensive.

You might think this sounds a bit pessimistic. No this is an opportunity, especially for a Hyper-V MVP who happens to be a MCDBA Winking smile. The IT skills shortage is only growing bigger all over the planet, so not too much worries there, I won’t have to collect empty bottles for a living yet. The only so called “draw back” here could be that the environments I take care of have been virtualized and optimized to a high extend already. The reward for being good is sometimes not being able to improve things in orders of magnitude. Bad organizations living in a dream world, the ones without a solid grasp of the realities of functional IT in practice, might find that disappointing. Yes the “perception is reality” crowd. Fortunately the good ones will be happy to be in the best possible shape and they’ll invest money to keep it that way.  Interesting times ahead.

SQL Server Days 2014–Belgium


The Belgian SQL Server User Group (SQLUG) has been organizing the SQL Server Days for a while now and they have quickly established themselves as a very good event with both quality speakers and content. SQL Server Days 2014 is the 7th edition of this event

SQL Server Days 2014 Main Banner

Learn form the best, from and with your peers. There will be deep drive training with international speakers & hard core technical sessions on database administration, development and business intelligence.

If you’re in traveling range of Belgium and a SQL Server professional this is an event that you should seriously consider attending! I have done it in the past and I try to get my own DBA’s to go as well. Why. It’s great quality but more than that it’s all about lifelong learning, getting out of the house to prevent tunnel vision and learning what challenges your peers are facing and how they deal with those.

In a time of cut backs, austerity, tax increases, economic doom and gloom there is still a lot to learn, opportunities to seize and a better, prosperous future to build. The community is there to help those that want to help themselves improve professionally and personally without breaking the bank.  So get registered and prepare to learn and network.

More info:

SQL Server Days 2014
September 30 – October 1
Day 1 = precon / Day 2 = conference
Where: San Marco, Schelle

Fixing “Windows cannot find the Microsoft Software License Terms. Make sure the installation sources are valid and restart the installation” Or "Windows installation encountered an unexpected error. Verify the installation sources are accessible, and restart the installation. Error code: 0xE0000100"


When trying to install a Windows 2012 (R2) or Windows 8(8.1) VM you can encounter the following error:

"Windows cannot find the Microsoft Software License Terms.  Make sure the installation sources are valid and restart the installation."

Right after selecting the operating system.image

or perhaps even this error

"Windows installation encountered an unexpected error. Verify the installation sources are accessible, and restart the installation.

Error code: 0xE0000100"

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The main reason for this on Hyper-V is that you have been to conservative on memory allocation and it could pass some checks. You can hit these errors when you did not assign enough memory to the virtual machine or accepted the default. The default is 512MB and I’ve noticed that on Windows Server  2012 (R2) Hyper-V this can be to little.

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So the fix is a easy as upping the assigned amount of memory. I went for 1024MBimage

Now start the VM again, hit any key to boot form the virtual DVD to start the setup. After selecting the OS version to install you’re now greeted by the screen to accept the license terms instead of a warning.

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So click next and install your VM.