Ben Armstrong Interviewed by Carsten Rachfahl on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V


During the 2013 Global MVP Summit Carsten Rachfahl (@hypervserver) interviewed Ben Armstrong (@VirtualPCGuy.) who is the senior program manager for Hyper-V and as such the guy who has the honorable job of herding us cats Smile during the MVP Summit (he does an excellent job). Click the picture below to view the interview or visit Videointerview mit Ben Armstrong über Hyper-V

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This interview took place at the CenturyLink Field stadium in Seattle (home of the Seahawks) where we had our little summit party and turned out to be a real gem and we have to thank Carsten for his efforts and Ben for giving the interview. Watch it all to the end to see that we’re all pretty convinced about the qualities of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V!

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Yahoo’s “Physically Together” is Management Failure


I’m awaiting boarding at SEATAC and browsing the news. I suggest you read “Physically Together”: Here’s the Internal Yahoo No-Work-From-Home Memo for Remote Workers and Maybe More and consider the quote below.

“… Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home  …”

If I was working for Yahoo I’d be jumping the ship. That mentality just doesn’t compute. If anything I have seen the working conditions become worse and worse in offices over the past decade. All the new open/flex work office plans with the continuous interrupts, office chit chat & gossip, noise and countless never ending meetings (I guess partially to escape the lousy desk experience) are probably very good for the bottom line but all the rest of it seems to be working out a lot less well.

Granted, part of that is because of bad execution. It works if you can and will adopt that culture. But more often than not they just transplant the old ways into the new office environment with disastrous results. But the savings are there; so they don’t really mind. Just like they don’t mind outsourcing or consultants. Those don’t come into the office either but they do help reduce head count and CAPEX, whatever helps the Excel sheet look better. Speed and quality can often suffer as well in these cases but then the response is to have better governance and processes, not to drag them all into the landscape office meadow.

And as far as speed and quality … I’ll be crystal clear, I’m not buying that for one second. If I had not been responding to alerts (we have no on call) on weekends the company would no longer exist. It would have lost it’s entire infrastructure a couple of times with little or no hope of recovery. If they force me to be at the office between 08:30 and 17:30 every day they would not get that commitment and I would work a lot less hours. The same goes for my team. We expect a lot and we give a lot. Checks and balances. How are you supposed to build a top notch team on mediocre management practices is beyond me. We put in the effort because that’s what we give back to our employers in return for a lot of flexibility and freedom on how we organize ourselves and the team.

Some middle management that wants hot bodies in the seats to respond to every question they have is very worrying to me and those people have no sense of real priorities. Perhaps of self importance, yes, but not priorities Look organize yourself any way you need to to deliver what ever it is but the above quote executed across the board is sad in it’s simplification and denial of realities.

But go ahead. Sacrifice your agility and flexibility to be able to keep operations going during snow storms, flu pandemics and go on wasting time and resources commuting during peak traffic hours. The trick to making all of this work is to make it part of the normal way of working. The ratio of type of flex and telework might change during such times but that’s it. Any organization who cannot see this, act on it and leverage the new possibilities technology offers us is a victim of management failure. These across the board decisions are a clear sign of that and make me list Yahoo on the “Unsuitable Employers” list. Their speed and quality may very well suffer from this decision.

Are you perhaps saying your employees are goofing of at home and are under performing? Well if physical presence is the only way to make sure they are doing a good job you’re really in trouble. You have many other and more serious problems I think and good luck to you if you think pulling then back into the office will fix this. Probably this is really the issue. They’ve lost insight in who does what and why. End states are not defined, lack of accountability, … or otherwise put: management failure.

Or are you a serious professional who can’t stand the idea of your senior engineer sitting in his pajamas writing code or building a cluster at 10:00 or 22:00 hours? You think he needs to be in khakis and shirt? If it’s the pajama image you could consider hiring super models as engineers, the idea will become a lot more pleasant,  I guarantee it Winking smile. Or are you worried about the odd working hours and the impact on the well being of your employees? Changes are they’ll do that anyway or even more when having to be in the office. They can’t get the real work done when having to sit in that sub optimal cube all day and dealing with all the senseless interrupts.

What if people don’t flee you because of this policy but just zone out. They show up for whatever mandatory time they need to. When shuffled like cattle into their cubicles and or pastures (open landscape offices) they’ll put on their noise cancellation headsets, run of to meetings (anything to escape the chaos and interrupt hell the modern office environment has become. Their talent, engagement, motivation and zeal will go to what they love to do and those organizations will end up as mediocre players putting in the bear minimum. Well played. Look, today we’re expected to be able to work from anywhere at any time and indeed technology has enabled this for a significant amount of people. A lot of us do that and we’re very flexible about it as we commit to our jobs and working lives in ever more flexible ways. Now on top of that they expect us to show up on the clock and proof attendance in a rather than creating a win-win situation?

On top of that they do this in a time where managers claim that talent will flee companies that do not allow BYOD or other consumer IT.  Really, but having old school office organizations wont? Flexibility works both ways. Employees can be very efficient and committed. But any manager looking to extract every last ounce of profit or plays power games because they can’t deal with end state management will loose more then they will ever gain. A BYOD device policy cannot attract and retain the best of the best. Trust me, those fine employees will figure out very fast that they’ll choose flex time, telecommuting, better pay and extra paid holidays over that stupid iPad or iPhone. Consumerization of ICT means they don’t need your technology and devices. They’ll buy their own and use it for their own advancement and interest and you’ll be left in your holding the short end of the stick. You shouldn’t care that your  employees make you money while stepping on a cross trainer at home or even from their bath tub.

I really don’t buy into the fact that this is all complicating the creation of products or the delivery of services. It also doesn’t ruin any long term supportability. People will go where they think they are best off.  So what is this move? A need to reduce head count and trying to achieve this by people calling it quit voluntarily? So basically you’re even unable to fix performance issues with your feedback/planning and evaluation system? Oh boy. So what if your best quit and the worst show up at the office? Yahoo’s in a pretty bad state it seems.

Is it a power play and about limiting options for people to see how obedient they are? If all the “our employees are our biggest and most important resource” is true some things would be really different. For one your employees would tell you to stop considering and treating them a resource to move around at will. After all this is not an national crisis and this is not the military at war. In a real war for talent employees would interview you whether to see if you’re even worth working for. Most companies don’t like the power to shift to the employees to far. They have seen this for short periods of time in certain professions and they still haven’t recovered from that shock to their system. They’d rather have less of it, not more. It’s all way to complicated for them to handle and manage. It also costs them more.

Heading Home after the 2013 MVP Global Summit


The 2013 MVP Global Summit has come and gone already. I’m very happy to have attended and I was once again emerged in a culture of sharing knowledge and helping out our fellow MVPs and friends. Thank you Carsten!

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We shared a lot of experiences we had running Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V in production. We met up with new MVPs and veteran attendees. To all my fellow MVPs and the people at Microsoft I’d like to say that it has been an honor and a privilege to have been able to talk shop with so many highly skilled, intelligent and engaged people. What ever their background they all share a level of commitment to be all they can be in their expertise. Thank you all for taking the time and putting in the effort. I hope to see you all next time!

My Impressions on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Cookbook


Having read Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Cookbook I can safely say that if you need get up to speed with Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 this is a great book for this purpose.

Having met Leandro Carvalho that’s not a surprise. What is pretty impressive is how he managed to get all you need to know to get going inside of one book that you can still lift with one hand. Now this is not going to make you a veteran Hyper-V enterprise architect over the weekend but it will help you get a well set up and functional Hyper-V environment running, monitored and protected. If you are already familiar with Hyper-V form previous Windows versions this book will also get you up to speed on a lot of the most important new features and improvements.

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Cookbook

Now a mere 305 pages are not enough to go into depth on every subject but this book will make a fine learning tool to set up a lab and take your first Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V servers / clusters into production. It also tackles some of the more intimidating stuff to some people like in place upgrades of Hyper-V clusters and disaster recovery. Details like CSV cache, Port ACL and their significance in the new Hyper-V version are not forgotten. I like that attention to detail. Knowing the vastness of what’s new in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V I’m impressed at how well organized and effective the information is presented. So if you need to get started with Hyper-V, do it here with this book. It will make for a fine foundation to build on and move on to investigate the numerous network configurations, the VHDX format, SMB 3.0 goodness etc.

Heading Towards The 2013 Global MVP Summit


Hello people, I’m making my way to Seattle at the moment to attend the 2013 Global MVP Summit. I’m really looking forward to this as I have a lot of feedback and questions on using Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V in real live. That and the fact that we’ll get to discuss all this amongst each other and with the product teams. There are not many opportunities where you get to meet up with so many enthusiastic subject matter experts from all over the world.

Last month I checked my Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) papers and made sure my passport was valid.  So after packing my bag it’s now traveling time as I need to get myself to SEATAC. One of these below works just fine for that purpose I know from experience. While awaiting boarding time I’ve parked myself in LHR. If it’s anything like last year this could be considered a long-haul MVP flight Smile.

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I’m eager to meet up with friends and acquaintances again to talk shop and some fun. So Hyper-V, Cluster, Storage, Network PMs … my fellow MVPs and I are on our way. See you all very soon!

My TechDays 2013 Agenda Recommendations


As you all know by know the TechDays 2013  are approaching fast.  I have mentioned this before. There is still time to secure yourself a seat and attend this event. People for far and away are coming over for this so why not you?

You’ll gain insights into a lot of new technologies. You can decide to go deep or broad or any combination of these two options. The idea is that you can return to your desk and have a better understanding of Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V, Windows 8, System Center and what a private cloud can do for you and your business.

I know several speakers and they are aiming to offer you some practical knowledge so you can get a head start with these technologies. Understanding the concepts about and the principles behind sometimes abstract subjects is important. This is also true for a healthy mix of real life experiences, tips on how to get thing working and what to look out for. I hope the local community speakers can help you out there. But to do so you need to show up Smile. Sure you can watch on line sessions and download presentations. But consider being able to talk to the speakers and experts at the Microsoft boot, to have the opportunity to sit down for a talk about real live experiences and openly discuss your needs and concerns. No, it’s not free consultancy, it’s talking amongst peers who are often dealing with the same issues as you are which can help you decide what routes to explore further.

The complete agenda is available on line here.

Tuesday 5 March

Register for the track of your choice here. Hard choice between the security track and Exchange 2013 but I’m leaning towards the latter. Scott Schnoll & Michael Van Horenbeeck (Belgian MEET member and MVP for Exchange) are presenting.

Wednesday 6 March

08:45 – 10:15

This slot is easy, grab the keynote to set the tone for the TechDays.

IT Pro Keynote

10:45 – 12:00

Systems Center user and ready for Windows Server 2012? Attend  Vijay Tewari’s session.

What’s new System Center 2012 SP1, VMM

13:00 – 14:15 & 14:30 – 15:45

Easy choice. Windows 8 is not weird or hard to learn at all.For the small effort of educating yourself on this subject by attending these two sessions by a very knowledgeable MVP and great presenter Tom Decaluwé, you’re ahead of the pack, reaping the benefits while ignoring the drama.

Windows 8 Client Part 1 "The OS internals for IT-Pro’s"

Windows 8 Client Part 2 "The Application internals for IT-Pro’s"

16:15 – 17:30

I’m torn here. Chris Jackson is the guru on this subject and if you’re still running on XP and need to move to Windows 8 or even Windows 7 attend his session and learn how to thrive and not just survive such an project!
App Compat for Nerds

Hyper-V is very dear to me and it’s an interesting subject so if you are using or considering to use Hyper-V go listen to Bryon Surace and learn why dynamic memory is a lot more & better than over commitment!

Hyper-V Dynamic Memory in Depth

17:45 – 19:00

This is a Inovativ (Kenny Buntinx, Dieter Wijckmans, Kurt Van Hoecke) tidal wave of knowledge it seems with a twist of Mike Resseler (always a good thing)

What’s new and improved in Service Pack 1 for the System Center 2012 suite

19:00 – 21:00

Grab the people you think could help your with that question burning inside your head. Don’t be shy! Mingle amongst your peers and engage in some tech talks.

Ask the Experts and Networking

Thursday 7 March

09:00 – 10:15

Start of the day with a true scholar and gain knowledge & understanding on Active Directory in Windows Server 2012. If you were not awake yet, you will be 5 minutes into this session as John Craddock knows how to captivate an audience.

What’s new in Windows Server 2012 Active Directory?

10:45 – 12:00

If you’re going to deploy SCVMM 2012 SP1 you absolutely have to attend this session. Really, I mean it! Vijay Tewari presenting.

Network Management in System Center 2012 SP1 – VMM

13:00 – 14:15

You need it, you want it, you love it in Windows 2012. What? PowerShell of cause and Kurt Roggen will show you why.

The Power of PowerShell: Advanced

14:30 – 15:45

Some of the great additions to the capabilities of virtualization in Windows Server 2012 evolves around the support Active Directory. Better & saver than ever with a lot less fine print. Join Wim Henderyckx & Benjamin Logist.

Forbidden fruits of Active Directory – Cloning, snapshotting, virtualization

16:15 – 17:30

You’ll just have to understand that for practical reasons I have to kind of attend my own session. It’s the nature of presenting.

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Networking Evolved

Understanding Virtual Machine Priority and Preemption Behavior


Introduction

By reading Aidan Finn his blog You Pause A Clustered Hyper-V Host And Low Priority VMs are QUICK MIGRATED! you will learn something about how virtual machine priorities work during the pausing and draining of a clustered Hyper-V host. They are either Live or quick migrated depending on the value of the MoveTypeThreshold cluster parameter for resources of the type “Virtual Machine”. By default it’s at 2000 and that happens to be the value of the virtual machine priority “Low”.

Changing this value can alter the default behavior. For example setting the MoveTypeThreshold value to 1000 using PowerShell

Get-ClusterResourceType “Virtual Machine” | Set-ClusterParameter MoveTypeThreshold 1000

makes sure that only VMs with a priority set to “No Auto Restart”  are quick migrated. The  low priority machines would than also live migrate where by default they quick migrate.

  • Virtual Machines with Priority equal to or higher than the value specified in MoveTypeThreshold will be moved using Live Migration.
  • Virtual Machines with Priority lower than the value specified in MoveTypeThreshold will be moved using Quick Migration.

Virtual Machine Priorities
3000 = High
2000 = Medium
1000 = Low
0 = Virtual machine does not restart automatically.

Another Scenario to be aware of  to avoid surprises

Note that al this also comes into play in other scenario’s. One of them is when you attempt to start a guest that requires more resources than available on the host. Preemption kicks in and the lower priority virtual machines go into a saved state.  If you didn’t plan for this it could be a bit of a surprise, causing service interruption. What’s also important to know is that preemption kicks in even when there is no chance that putting lower priority virtual machines into saved mode will free enough resources for (all) the VMs you’re trying to start. So that service interruption might do you no good. If this is the case the Low priority VMS come back up when there are sufficient resources left.  Do note however that the ones set top “No Auto Restart” remain in a saved state. Look below for an example on how this could happen.

How does this happen?

Let’s say you have a brand new VM that has gotten 16GB of RAM as requested by the business. When that large memory guest starts it will fail due to the fact that there are not enough memory resources available on the host that only has 16GB available. But as it attempts to start, the need for memory resources is detected and preemption comes into play. The guests with “Low” and “No Auto Restart” priorities are put into a saved state as the large memory VM has the default medium priority and the MoveTypeTreshold is at the default of 2000. You need to be ware of this behavior. Preemption kicks in and the machines are still saving while starting the large memory VM has already failed as they couldn’t free enough resources anyway.

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The good new is that, as you can see below, is that the low priority guest starts again after starting the large memory guest has failed. No use keeping it saved as it can run and service customers. So the service interruption for this VM is limited but it does happen. Please also note that the guest set to No Auto Restart doesn’t come up again as it’s priority status says exactly that. So, this one becomes collateral damage.

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As you can see it’s important to know how priorities and preemption work together and behave. It also good to know that changing the threshold come into play in more situations that just pausing & draining a host of during a fail over. While the cluster will try it’s best to keep as many VMs up and running you might have some unintended consequences under certain conditions. A good understanding of this can prevent you from being bitten here. So build a small cheap lab so you can play with stuff. This helps to gain a better understanding of how features work and behave. If you want to play some more, set the priority of the memory hungry VM to high you’ll see even more interesting things happen.