Introducing Microsoft ‘Project Honolulu’
Posted by Nicolas Prigent on November 7, 2017
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Project Honolulu image

Microsoft continues to invest and expand its PowerShell Scripting Environment but sometimes it is necessary to use a graphical interface in order to manage systems. This is the reason why Microsoft also develops a new management tool called “Project Honolulu”. Honolulu is the modern evolution of traditional MMC, first introduced in 2000. Now, it’s time to update our management tools!

So, Microsoft has introduced the Technical Preview of Project Honolulu at MSIgnite, a new way for managing your Windows Servers from a new browser-based graphical management tool with HTML5. Microsoft said “Our vision is to deliver a secure platform. […] For us, modernizing the platform means giving users greater flexibility in how and where they deploy and access the tools. […] Some Windows Server capabilities, which were previously manageable only via PowerShell, now also have an easy-to-use graphical experience”.

In this article, I will describe how to download and install Honolulu.

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Deploying SQL Server 2016 Basic Availability Groups Without Active Directory. Part 1: Building the Platform
Posted by Edwin M Sarmiento on October 31, 2017
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Introduction

When Availability Groups were introduced in SQL Server 2012, they were only available in Enterprise Edition. This made it challenging to move from Database Mirroring to Availability Groups, especially if you’re running Standard Edition.  To upgrade and migrate from Database Mirroring in Standard Edition, you either choose to upgrade to a more expensive Enterprise Edition license and implement Availability Groups or stick with Database Mirroring and hope that everything works despite being deprecated.

SQL Server 2016 introduced Basic Availability Groups in Standard Edition, allowing customers to run some form of limited Availability Groups. Customers now have a viable replacement for Database Mirroring in Standard Edition. However, unlike Database Mirroring, Availability Groups require a Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC). SQL Server database administrators now need to be highly skilled in designing, implementing and managing a WSFC outside of SQL Server. Because the availability of the SQL Server databases relies heavily on the WSFC.

SQL Server 2016 logo

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How to configure a Multi-Resilient Volume on Windows Server 2016 using Storage Spaces
Posted by Vitalii Feshchenko on October 24, 2017
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Introduction

Plenty of articles have been released about Storage Spaces and everything around this topic. However, I would like to absorb all actual information and lead you through the journey of configuring Storage Spaces on a Standalone host.

The main goal of the article is to show a Multi-Resilient Volume configuration process.

How it works

In order to use Storage Spaces, we need to have faster (NVMe, SSD) and slower (HDD) devices.

So, we have a set of NVMe devices along with SAS HDD or SATA HDD, and we should create performance and capacity tier respectively.

NVMe tier is used for caching. When hot blocks are written to the storage array, they are written to the caching tier first (SSD’s or NVMe):

Data in Performance Tier

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SMB Direct in a Windows Server 2016 Virtual Machine Experiment
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on October 12, 2017
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Introduction

Ever since Windows Server 2012 we have SMB Direct capabilities in the OS and Windows Server 2012 R2 added more use cases such as live migration for example. In Windows Server 2016, even more, workloads leverage SMB Direct, such as S2D and Storage Replication. SMB Direct leverages the RDMA capabilities of a NIC which delivers high throughput at low latency combined with CPU offloading to the NIC. The latter save CPU cycles for the other workloads on the hosts such as virtual machines.

Traditionally, in order for SMB Direct to work, the SMB stack needs direct access to the RDMA NICs. This means that right up to Windows Server 2012 R2 we had SMB Direct on running on physical NICs on the host or the parent partition/management OS. You could not have RDMA exposed on a vNIC or even on a host native NIC team (LBFO). SMB Direct was also not compatible with SR-IOV. That was and still is, for that OS version common knowledge and a design consideration. With Windows Server 2016, things changed. You can now have RDMA exposed on a vSwitch and on management OS vNICs. Even better, the new Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) allows for RDMA to be exposed in the same way on top of a vSwitch. SET is an important technology in this as RDMA is still not exposed on a native Windows team (LBFO).

Mellanox InfiniBand Router

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The importance of IeeePriorityTag with converged RDMA Switch Embedded Teaming
Posted by Didier Van Hoye on September 27, 2017
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Introduction

If you read my blog on Switch Embedded Teaming with RDMA (for SMB Direct) you’ll notice that I set the -IeeePriorityTag to “On” on the vNICs that use DCB for QoS. This requires some explanation.

When you configure a Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) vSwitch and define one or more management OS vNICs on which you enable RDMA you will see that the SMB Direct traffic gets it priority tag set correctly. This always happens no matter what you set the -IeeePriorityTag option to. On or Off, it doesn’t make a difference. It works out of the box.

mapped RDMA vNIC to their respective RDMA pNIC

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Hyper-V VMs on an NFS share on Windows Server 2016 – is that real?
Posted by Sergey Sanduliak on September 26, 2017
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A few years ago, we have tried to place a VM on an NFS share. We used Windows Server 2012 because Hyper-V is a native hypervisor from Microsoft.

Now we have decided to reproduce the experiment on Windows Server 2016. Just because of boundless curiosity 😊

So, we have 2 nodes: S3n11 serves as NFS Fileserver and S3n12 takes the Hyper-V server role.

We will do exactly the same thing as we did before, but this time on Windows Server 2016 on both VMs.

Let’s start!

Hyper-V VMs on an NFS share on Windows Server

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Installing Exchange Server 2016 on Windows Server 2016 with GUI
Posted by Karim Buzdar on September 5, 2017
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You can install Exchange Server 2016 on Windows Server 2016 with either PowerShell or Graphical User Interface (GUI). However, in this article, I’ll focus on installation with the help of GUI.

Installing Prerequisites

To get started, join the server machine with domain and then install the latest update (which is KB4034661 at the time of writing this guide) on Windows Server 2016. You can check the update history from the following location:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4034661

Open Windows PowerShell with administrative privileges and run the sconfig utility. Write number 6 and then hit Enter from the keyboard.

Windows PowerShell with administrative privileges and sconfig utility

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Free SMB3 File Server on Hyper-V 2016
Posted by Ivan Ischenko on July 28, 2017
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Disclaimer: 

This series of articles will guide you through creating a free SMB 3.0 file server in Microsoft Windows Hyper-V 2016. Hyper-V 2016 is an absolutely free GUI-less version of Microsoft Windows Server for virtual machines.

Hyper-V 2016 Server has been specifically developed and created only for virtual machines. According to Microsoft EULA, StarWind does not recommend repeating the steps below, because this process is a violation of the license agreement. The reason why we can create SMB File Share on Hyper-V 2016 is simple: all Windows servers require SMB 1/2/3 to work, and Hyper-V 2016 is not an exception. But it does not mean you should create any unsupported Microsoft services on GUI-less Hyper-V 2016.

Introduction

As I mentioned before, Windows Hyper-V 2016 supports SMB3 file server. However, the license agreement states that users are prohibited from doing that. For example, if you really need fast SMB 3.0 file server for your home lab, you can repeat the steps below, but only for testing purpose. So, let’s start creating SMB3 file server on Microsoft Hyper-V 2016.

SMB 3.0 file server creation

 

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Microsoft Azure Stack in General Availability (GA) and Customers will Receive it in September. Why is this Important? Part I
Posted by Augusto Alvarez on July 18, 2017
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Microsoft’s Hybrid Cloud appliance to run Azure in your datacenter has finally reached to General Availability (GA) and the Integration Systems (Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo for this first iteration) are formally taking orders from customers, which will receive their Azure Stack solution in September. But, what exactly represents Azure Stack? Why is this important to organizations?

Microsoft Azure Stack logo

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Windows Server 2016 Core configuration. Part 1: step-by-step installation
Posted by Alex Khorolets on July 14, 2017
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This series of articles will guide you through the basic deployment of Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Core version, covering all the steps from an initial installation to the deployment of Hyper-V role and Failover Cluster configuration.

The first and the main thing you need to double-check before installing the Windows Server 2016 Core is whether your hardware meets the system requirements of WS 2016. This also is very important in the process of planning your environment, in order to be sure that you have enough amount of compute resources for running your production workload.

Windows Server installation

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