Quick Demo Video Of Site Failover With KEMP Loadmaster Global Balancing


Here’s a quick video that demonstrates how you can achieve site failover with via the KEMP Loadmaster Global Balancing feature. As long as you know what this can do for you and realize that it about site failover and high availability and not continuous availability without a second of service interruption you can deliver nice results with this technology across city campuses or between cities.

In our scenario we normally connect to the primary data center (weighted round robin) and fail over to the DRC when the primary site fails for some reason.

It’s very busy at the moment but I hope to address this topic a bit more in detail in the future. All of this runs virtualized on Hyper-V and performs just fine.

I’m Attending Ignite, Are You?


Great news in was announced today in It’s here! The Microsoft Ignite Session Catalog. Basically the Ignite session catalog is available as of this moment! That means we can start planning to make sure we make the most of our time there. If you need some tips on what’s the value of a conference and how to make the most of it than please read a previous blog of mine on the subject Why I Find Value In A Conference

But MSFT is also organizing an #IgniteJam on Twitter on February 3rd, 9:00 am Pacific Time (That’s 18:00 in GMT+1). Join them and get your questions answered.

esigs

I know a good many of people in my global network that will be there so that’s great news. Networking and exchanging information is a big part of what makes a conference a success. The right people being there makes a huge difference. Whilst on that subject, here’s a tip to the vendors in the expo hall: make sure you have technical people there as well, only sales and marketing isn’t good enough. Go for the right mix.

Follow @MS_Ignite on twitter for the latest news and developments about the conference. Go to the registration page to secure your ticket and consider add one of the Pre-Day session to the agenda to optimize your investment in time. See you there!

Windows Server vNext Soft Restart – A way to speed up reboots? Not in Technical Preview 9841


As you all probably know I’m also playing around with and testing Windows Server vNext Tech Preview and one of the nice new features in there I have my eye on is Soft Restart.

image

There is little information on this feature out there right now but from the description “Soft Restart” looks like a way to get faster Windows boot times by cutting down on device firmware initialization. When it’s not needed that would be a great thing to have as with > 10gbps live migration speeds the boot time of our hardware loaded (DRAC, NICs, HBA, BMC, …) servers is what makes it the longest single step per node during cluster aware updating. Interesting if this is indeed what it’s there for.

But let’s find out if this is indeed what we think it is Smile. First of all the installation of this feature requires a restart. Keep this in mind.

There are 2 ways to kick it off that I know of but to me there must be more … it would be a shame not to have this integrated as an option into Cluster Aware Updating for example.

Option 1: via shutdown

image

So let’s try shutdown /r /soft /t 000.  No joy, doesn’t make one bit of difference and nothing logged or so to indicate an issue.

Option 2: PowerShell via Restart-Computer –Soft

No joy here either …

image

What could be the problem?

So I figured I needed enterprise grade server hardware with some FC cards & lots of NIC and memory to notice the difference. On a VM it might do nothing, but I assure you I doesn’t do anything on the PC based home lab either. So I dragged a DELL PowerEdge R730 with exactly that into the game. But still no joy. Then I thought some more and decided it might integrate with the hardware capabilities to do so of I went to install the latest and greatest DELL Server Manager software to see if that make a difference. But again, no joy.

It’s probably not lit up yet in this release of the Technical Preview 9841. For now I’ll be content with the 28-30% improved reboot speeds the DELL R730 UEFI brought us. I’d love to speed things up a bit as time is money and valuable Winking smile but we’ll have to wait for the next code drop to see if and how it works …

Workshop Datacenter Modernization -Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 Germany (Berlin)


While speaking (What’s new in Failover Clustering in Windows Server 2012 R2) and attending the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 I’m taking the opportunity to see how Microsoft Germany and partners are doing a workshop which is based on the IT Camps they have been delivering over the past year. There is a lot of content to be delivered and both trainers Carsten Rachfahl (Rachfahl IT-Solutions GmbH) and Bernhard Frank (Partner Technology Strategist (Hosting), Microsoft) are doing that magnificently.

One thing I note is that they sure do put in a lot of effort. The one I’m attending requires some server infrastructure, a couple of switches, cabling for over 50 laptops etc. These have been neatly packed into road cases and the 50+ laptops had been placed, cabled and deployed using PXE boot /WDS the night before. Yes even in the era of cloud you need hardware especially if you’re doing an IT Camp on “Datacenter Modernization” (think private & hybrid infrastructure design and deployment).

image

Not bypassing this aspect of private cloud building adds value to the workshop and is made possible with the help of Wortmann AG. Yes the attendees get to deploy storage spaces, Scale Out File Server, networking etc. They don’t abstract any of the underlying technologies away, I like that a lot, it adds value and realism.

I’m happy to see that they leverage the real world experience of experts (fellow Hyper-V MVP Carsten Rachfahl) who helps hosting companies and enterprises deploy these technologies. Storage, Scale Out File Server, Hyper-V clusters, System Center and self service (Azure Pack) are the technologies used to achieve the goals of the workshop.

image

The smart use of PowerShell (workflows, PDT) allows to automate the process and frees up time to discuss and explain the technologies and design decisions. They take great care to explain the steps and tools used so the attendees can use these later in their own environments. Talking about their own experiences and mistakes helps the attendees avoid common mishaps and move along faster.

image

The fact that they have added workshops like this to the summit adds value. I think it’s a great idea that they are held on the last day as this means that attendees can put the information they gathered from 2 days of sessions into practice. This helps understanding the technologies better.

There is very little criticism to be given on the content and the way they deliver it. I have to say that it’s all very well done. Perhaps they make private cloud look a bit too easy Winking smile. Bernard, Carsten, well done guys, I’m impressed. If you’re based in Germany and you or your team members need to get up to speed on how these technologies can be leveraged to modernize your data center I can highly recommend these guys and their workshops/IT Camps.

Microsoft Keeps Investing In Storage Big Time


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

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

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

Storage Quality of Service

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

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

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

It’s right there in the OS.

Storage Replica

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

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

and as we read on ..

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storage Spaces

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

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

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

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

Win a free ticket to Experts Live 2014


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

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

image

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

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

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

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.

747-BA-02

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.

image

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).

image

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.