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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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Encryption of VMware vSphere 6.5 virtual machines and vMotion migrations. And their performance
Posted by Alex Samoylenko on January 26, 2017
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As many admins of virtual infrastructures know, for the first time ever, VMware vSphere 6.5 received the long awaited encryption feature of both virtual disks content and vMotion hot migrations.

The VMs encryption works based on AES-NI algorithm, and the key management is carried out based on KMIP 1.1 standard. When I/O operation comes to the disk of the virtual machine, it is immediately encrypted on-the-fly, which provides complete security against data security attack.

Virtual machine Encryption How it works

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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
3.33/5 (3)

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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Nano Server Image Builder tool
Posted by Romain Serre on November 15, 2016
4.5/5 (2)

Nano Server is a new way to deploy Windows Server in your datacenter or in the Cloud. Nano Server is a low footprint operating system which handles what you need and no more. When you create the Nano Server, you choose the role that you want to add to the image (Hyper-V, Storage, containers and so on). Nano Server doesn’t contain Windows Logon, 32-bit legacy or cannot be managed by GPO.

Currently, I don’t really like Nano Server for some jobs as Hyper-V or storage. Nano Server comes with the Current Branch for Business servicing model. So, to be fully supported, your Nano Server has to be upgraded two or three times in a year. You can imagine what happens with hundreds of Hyper-V/Storage nodes? Anyway, Nano Server can run other jobs as IIS and Containers, and in these cases, it could be fine.

In this topic, I’ll show you how to prepare a Nano Server image which will be deployed in a virtual machine. The operating system will be configured to run containers. To create the Nano Server image, I’ll use the Nano Server Image Builder tool which is a graphical interface to prepare the image in VHD, VHDX or WIM file format.

Nano Server Image Builder

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VMware Horizon FLEX. The architecture and the key features
Posted by Alex Samoylenko on October 20, 2016
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As far back as 2 years ago at VMworld Europe 2014 conference VMware announced the release of the VMware Horizon FLEX solution. It is a virtualization platform for desktops, which allows running virtual machines locally on users’ computers, both on Mac and with Windows, while connection to the company’s datacenter isn’t available. At the same time, the virtual machine utilized by the user can be Windows-based or have guest OS Linux inside.

Many virtual infrastructures administrators still remember that before VMware had VMware ACE and VMware View Local Mode products, which passed long ago and now have been replaced with FLEX technology. Since VMware Horizon FLEX 1.9 version, as well as the new versions of Workstation and Fusion desktop platforms, has been released just recently, let’s look closer at the FLEX solution and consider its key features.

VMware Horizon FLEX isn’t a standalone product, but a mixed technology based on three solutions:

three solutions of VMware Horizon FLEX

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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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Is NVMe Really Revolutionary?
Posted by Jon Toigo on August 19, 2016
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To hear advocates talk about NVMe – a de facto standard created by a group of vendors led by Intel to connect flash memory storage directly to a PCIe bus (that is, without using a SAS/SATA disk controller) – it is the most revolutionary thing that has ever happened in business computing.  While the technology provides a more efficient means to access flash memory, without passing I/O through the buffers, queues and locks associated with a SAS/SATA controller, it can be seen as the latest of a long line of bus extension technologies – and perhaps one that is currently in search of a problem to solve.

I am not against faster I/O processing, of course.  It would be great if the world finally acknowledged that storage has always been the red-headed stepchild of the Von Neumann machine.  Bus speeds and CPU processing speeds have always been capable of driving I/O faster than mechanical storage devices could handle.  That is why engineers used lots of memory – as caches ahead of disk storage or as buffers on disk electronics directly – to help mask or spoof the mismatch of speed.

latency comparison

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How to Deploy and Manage Storage Spaces Direct Cluster using SCVMM 2016?
Posted by Charbel Nemnom on August 18, 2016
4/5 (2)

Hyper-converged stack

Windows Server 2016 – Storage Spaces Direct Hyper-converged [image credit: Microsoft]

Introduction

With the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft is introducing Storage Spaces Direct (S2D), which enables building highly available Software-Defined Storage systems with local attached storage. This storage can be leveraged by VMs running on the same cluster (in hyper-converged mode) or the storage can be presented as a File Share (in disaggregated mode). The hyper-converged deployment scenario has the Hyper-V (compute) and Storage Spaces Direct (storage) components on the same cluster. Virtual machine’s files are stored on local CSVs. Once Storage Spaces Direct is configured and the CSV volumes are available, configuring and provisioning Hyper-V is the same process and uses the same tools that you would use with any other Hyper-V deployment on a failover cluster.

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Instant Clone functionality in VMware Horizon 7 – how quickly and efficiently it works
Posted by Alex Samoylenko on July 22, 2016
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As far back as at VMworld 2014, VMware announced VMware Project Fargo technology, also broadly known as VMFork. It allows to make a working copy of a running virtual machine on VMware vSphere platform very fast.

The VMFork technology involves on-the-fly creation of virtual machine clone (VMX-file and process in memory), which uses the same memory (Shared memory) that the parent VM does. At the same time, the child VM cannot write to the shared memory and uses the allocated memory to write its own data. With disks, it is just the same: with the Copy-on-write technology, the changes of the parent VM base disk are written to the child VM delta disk:

VMFork technology

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Comparing vSphere Distributed Switch and Cisco Nexus 1000v switch
Posted by Askar Kopbayev on July 7, 2016
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When time comes to deciding whether to go with vSphere Distributed Switch or Cisco Nexus 1000v it is hard to tell which product is superior and you find many different and quite contradictory opinions.

While quite often it is the political decision based on the answer to the question “Who is going to manage the virtual networking?” there are many other aspects you, as an infrastructure designer, should be aware of.

Recently VMware announced End of Sale of Nexus 1000v which caused some confusion amongst clients. I know customers who were pretty sure Cisco discontinued Nexus 1000v, but rest assured, Cisco is still fully committed to continue development of virtual networking and to support Nexus 1000v in the latest and future versions of vSphere.

Nexus 1KV Essential and Advanced Editions

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