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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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Hyper-V backup challenges Windows Server 2016 needs to address
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on September 12, 2016
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Introduction

Personally I have been very successful at providing good backup designs for Hyper-V in both small to larger environments using budgets that range in between “make due” to “well-funded”.  How does one achieve this? Two factors. The first factor is knowing the strengths and limitations of the various Hyper-V versions when you design the backup solution. Bar the ever better scalability, performance and capabilities with each new version of Hyper-V, the improvements in back up from 2012 to 2012 R2 for example were a prime motivator to upgrade. The second factor of success is due to the fact that I demand a mandate and control over the infrastructure stack to do so. In many case you are not that lucky and can’t change much in already existing environments. Sometimes not even in new environments when the gear, solutions have already been chosen, purchased and the design is deployed before you get involved.

Windows Server 2008 (R2) - 2012 Hyper-V Backup
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Don’t Fear but Respect Redirected IO with Shared VHDX
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on August 25, 2016
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Introduction

When we got Shared VHDX in Windows Server 2012 R2 we were quite pleased as it opened up the road to guest clustering (Failover clustering in virtual machines) without needing to break through the virtualization layer with iSCSI or virtual Fibre Channel (vFC).

First of all, you need to be aware of the limits of using a shared VHDX in Windows Server 2012 R2.

  1. You cannot perform storage live migration
  2. You cannot resize the VHDX online
  3. You cannot do host based backups (i.e. you need to do in guest backups)
  4. No support for checkpoints
  5. No support for Hyper-V Replica

If you cannot live with these, that’s a good indicator this is not for you. But if you can, you should also take care of the potential redirected IO impact that can and will occur. This doesn’t mean it won’t work for you, but you need to know about it, design and build for it and test it realistically for your real life workloads.

active guest cluster node is running on the Hyper-V host

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Why moving from Windows Server 2012 R2 to 2016 for Hyper-V
Posted by Romain Serre on August 16, 2016
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Windows Server 2016 will be released the next month said Microsoft the last month. Windows Server 2016 brings a lot of new features compared to the last Windows Server version for Hyper-V, networking and storage. In this topic I will try to convince you to move from prior Windows Server edition to Windows Server 2016 with eight reasons.

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Shared virtual hard disks in Hyper-V 2016
Posted by Oksana Zybinskaya on August 9, 2016
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Datacenter

A new feature called VHD Set for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2016 has been introduced by Microsoft. It allows sharing virtual hard disks between several servers in order to implement guest cluster easily without using complex technologies such as NPIV, virtual HBA, or virtual SAN.

As VHD Set, Shared VHDX enables sharing a virtual hard disk between multiple virtual machines. This feature is useful for implementing a guest cluster where shared disks are required (e.g., SQL Server AlwaysOn/FCI or File Servers).

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How to Deploy Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) Using SCVMM 2016?
Posted by Charbel Nemnom on August 5, 2016
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Windows Server 2016 - Switch Embedded Teaming with RDMA       Windows Server 2016 – Switch Embedded Teaming with RDMA [image credit: Microsoft]

Introduction

With the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft is introducing a new type of teaming approach called Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) which is a virtualization aware, how is that different from NIC Teaming (LBFO), the first part it is embedded into the Hyper-V virtual switch, that means a couple of things, the first one you don’t have any team interfaces anymore, you won’t be able to build anything extra on top of it, you can’t set property on the team because it’s part of the virtual switch, you set all the properties directly on the vSwitch. This is targeted to support Software Defined Networking (SDN) switch capabilities, it’s not a general purpose use everywhere teaming solution that NIC Teaming was intended to be. So this is specifically integrated with Packet Direct, Converged RDMA vNIC and SDN-QoS. It’s only supported when using the SDN-Extension.

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