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Specialize Windows Server Hyper-V guest OS automatically
Posted by Romain Serre on February 6, 2017
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Last year I have written a topic on Starwind to create VMs from PowerShell. That enables to automate the creation process without using a GUI, either from Virtual Machine Manager or Hyper-V Manager. But a VM deployment is not finished when the VM is created but when the application is deployed. Before deploying the application, the OS must also be installed and specialized. This topic shows you the method I use to deploy and specialize a VM without a single click.

Specialize OS from unattended file

If you read this documentation (Implicit Answer File Search Order section), you can see that we can specialize the OS from unattended file. This unattended.xml file will be placed in C:\Windows\Panther\Unattend. To prepare the unattended file, I use ADK (Assessment Deployment Kit). When you install the ADK, select Deployment Tools. Then you can open Windows System Image Manager.

Windows System Image Manager

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Windows Server 2016 Nano Server – Just enough OS model
Posted by Mikhail Rodionov on January 13, 2017
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Nano Server image

We are in 2017 now, and it’s about fourth month since Windows Server 2016 has been RTMed in September 2016. By now, everyone probably heard about one of the big new features of Windows Server 2016 – Nano Server, new installation option which you can’t select during setup 🙂 . But I think there is still a lot of “why” and “how” questions around Nano Server. In this blog post, I will try to provide a bit of a history and compare Nano Server with other installation types.

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Get started with Windows Containers
Posted by Romain Serre on January 10, 2017
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Windows Server 2016 has been released in October 2016 and comes with a new feature called Containers. Containers already exist in Linux world and enable to make OS virtualization. Basically, a container is an isolated place where an application can run without affecting the rest of the system and without the system affecting the application (MSDN definition).

Windows Containers and Hyper-V Containers

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The Virtualization Review Editor’s Choice Awards 2016
Posted by Oksana Zybinskaya on December 26, 2016
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awards

The Virtualization Review Editor’s Choice is a selection of the most outstanding virtualization products of 2016. It is based on the opinions and overlooks by the trusted experts in the fields of virtualization and cloud computing. This is not the “best of the best rating”. No criteria were applied to make the list. This is just the collection of individual choices of writers, who deal with the industry daily, so they have pointed out virtualization solutions they found especially interesting and useful.

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How to Deploy and Manage Software-Defined Networking using SCVMM 2016 – Part I
Posted by Charbel Nemnom on December 7, 2016
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Rack

Introduction

Software Defined Networking (SDN) in Windows Server 2016 provides a method to centrally configure and manage physical and virtual network devices such as routers, switches, load balancers and gateways in your datacenter. Virtual network elements such as Hyper-V Virtual Switch, Hyper-V Network Virtualization, and RAS Gateway are designed to be integral elements of your SDN infrastructure.

Please note that you must install Windows Server 2016 Datacenter edition for Hyper-V hosts and virtual machines (VMs) that run SDN infrastructure servers, such as Network Controller and Software Load Balancing nodes. However, you can run Windows Server 2016 Standard edition for Hyper-V hosts that contain only tenant workload virtual machines that are connected to SDN-controlled networks.

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Software Defined Networking (SDN) Stack in the Windows Server 2016
Posted by Oksana Zybinskaya on November 3, 2016
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Windows Server 2016 enables building a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) with new layers of security and Azure-related approach for hosting business applications and infrastructure. The new Software Defined Network (SDN) Stack  provides dynamic security and hybrid flexibility by enforcing network policy in the Hyper-V Virtual Switch using the Azure Virtual Filtering Platform (VFP) Switch Extension. Instead of programming network configurations into a physical switch,  the new Microsoft Network Controller delivers the network policy to the Hyper-V Hosts using the OVSDB protocol and is programmed into the VFP extension of the vSwitch by a Host Agent which enforces the policy.

VXLAN Encapsulation
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Deploy VM Fleet to benchmark your storage system
Posted by Romain Serre on October 25, 2016
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VM Fleet is a collection of scripts that enables to deploy virtual machines which perform I/O to stress the underlying storage system. To achieve I/O, the VMs leverages DiskSpd which is a Microsoft tool.

When you implement an infrastructure based on Hyper-V, you usually want to get the maximum IOPS and MB/s that your storage can deliver. This tool helps you to get this information by stressing your storage. In this topic, we will see how to deploy a VM Fleet to benchmark the storage system.

windows server administrator

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What is Key Storage Drive in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V?
Posted by Charbel Nemnom on October 13, 2016
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usb key

Introduction

Security is a critical requirement of any organization’s system. With the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft puts a lot of efforts around security and added a lot of new features. One hot feature that will add a lot of benefits to any small, medium and enterprise business environments is Shielded Virtual Machines and Key Storage Drive (KSD). Be sure that’s going to help you to increase the security whether you are a service provider or enterprise customer.

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Manage VM placement in Hyper-V cluster with VMM
Posted by Romain Serre on September 23, 2016
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The placement of the virtual machines in a Hyper-V cluster is an important step to ensure performance and high availability. To make a highly available application, usually a cluster is deployed spread across two or more virtual machines. In case of a Hyper-V node is crashing, the application must keep working.

But the VM placement concerns also its storage and its network. Let’s think about a storage solution where you have several LUNs (or Storage Spaces) according to a service level. Maybe you have a LUN with HDD in RAID 6 and another in RAID 1 with SSD. You don’t want that the VM which requires intensive IO was placed on HDD LUN.

Storage Classification in Virtual Machine Manager

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Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Backup Rises to the challenges
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on September 19, 2016
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Introduction

In Windows Sever 2016 Microsoft improved Hyper-V backup to address many of the concerns mentioned in our previous Hyper-V backup challenges Windows Server 2016 needs to address:

  • They avoid the need for agents by making the API’s remotely accessible. It’s all WMI calls directly to Hyper-V.
  • They implemented their own CBT mechanism for Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V to reduce the amount of data that needs to be copied during every backup. This can be leveraged by any backup vendor and takes away the responsibility of creating CBT from the backup vendors. This makes it easier for them to support Hyper-V releases faster. This also avoids the need for inserting drivers into the IO path of the Hyper-V hosts. Sure the testing & certification still has to happen as all vendors now can be impacted by a bug MSFT introduced.
  • They are no longer dependent on the host VSS infrastructure. This eliminates storage overhead as wells as the storage fabric IO overhead associated with performance issues when needing to use host level VSS snapshots on the entire LUN/CSV for even a single VM.
  • This helps avoid the need for hardware VSS providers delivered by storage vendors and delivers better results with storage solution that don’t offer hardware providers.
  • Storage vendors and backup vendors can still integrate this with their snapshots for speedy and easy backup and restores. But as the backup work at the VM level is separated from an (optional) host VSS snapshot the performance hit is less and the total duration significantly reduced.
  • It’s efficient in regard to the number of data that needs to be copied to the backup target and stored there. This reduces capacity needed and for some vendors the almost hard dependency on deduplication to make it even feasible in regards to cost.
  • These capabilities are available to anyone (backup vendors, storage vendors, home grown PowerShell scripts …) who wishes to leverage them and doesn’t prevent them from implementing synthetic full backups, merge backups as they age etc. It’s capable enough to allow great backup solutions to be built on top of it.

Let’s dive in together and take a closer look.

Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V backup
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