Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sorting things out in the library

With all the new features in VMM 2012, you will most likely use the library more intensive than in VMM 2008 R2.

The library will contain some very interesting stuff this time.

·         Templates

Service Deployment Configurations – When you have created your service templates (a group of machines that work together) you will have the templates ready for deployment, stored here.

Service Templates – Includes machine definitions as well as applications (Supported application types are Web Apps (MSDeploy), Virtual Apps (Server App-V), and Database Apps (SQL DAC)

VM Templates – Yes, it`s the good old traditional template. If you have basic VM templates, with no applications configured (your syspreped VMs), you will store them here.

(An important note: Your templates are the starting point for services and source of truth since they specifies machine and connectivity requirements. Deployed services are always linked to their templates. Updated to services must be applied by changing the template first).

If we dive deeper into the library, we will also find the Profiles. This is also new in VMM 2012. The great thing with all this is that you can customize and define the settings and applications you would like, and use it over and over again.

·         Profiles

Application Profiles – Application deployment and servicing can be customized using scripts. These will be executed within the guest OS. You can specify the compatible OS for the application (Web App, SQL App, Virtual App, App script, and script – which would basically let you do whatever you want. Link your packages, and put in the executable that is required.

Capability Profiles – This one has 3 default profiles. ESX, Xen, and Hyper-V.
If we take a closer look at one of those, we will see that the Hyper-V profile shows us some well-known information – containing CPU range (1-4), Memory Range (8MB to 64GB) etc. This indicate the limits and behavior of the three different Hypervisors we`re dealing with, so the VMs can understand and take advantage of.

Guest OS Profile – Create a guest OS Profile that your VM templates can take advantages of. This will include Adm pwd, product key, time zone, OS version, domain/workgroup info, and optionally an answer file. You can even select roles and features.

Hardware Profiles – Select ‘cloud capability’ – meaning which Hypervisor this profile is compatible with, CPU, RAM, network, VHDs, and so on. If you want to create a basic SQL server VM template, start with a proper hardware profile, and segment the data and log VHDs for example.

Host Profiles – The host profile is for defining the physical server. Meaning – the bare metal deployment. Configure HW, OS, and Host Settings.

SQL Profiles – It`s very common that every important part of your business uses a SQL server today. Why not configure a SQL profile, so you can deploy it simply, customized for your needs? You`ll do this in this profile. Configure media source, SQL admins, security mode, and also enable TCP/IP and named pipes for remote connection. If you require extra configuration, you can attach a SQL configuration file. Finish the profile and specify the service accounts.

Ok, let`s move further towards the Library server and the library shares.
It`s really simple to add library shares and to create folders for grouping the different resources.
Another option is to create a ‘Resource Group’.

What is a resource group?
In System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2012, you can group equivalent file-based library resources together as a resource group. For example, if you have a Windows Server 2008 R2-based virtual hard disk (.vhd) file that is stored in library shares that are located in two sites, such as Seattle and New York, you can use a resource group to indicate that the two resources are considered equivalent. Then, when you create a template for a new virtual machine, you can specify the resource group .vhd instead of a site-specific .vhd. This enables you to use a single template across multiple sites.”
The resources in a group must be of the same file type. Group your VHDs, SQL Apps, Virtual Apps, and sort things out – clean and simple.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Optimize your cluster with VMM2012

Optimize your cluster with VMM2012

“In VMM2012, Dynamic Optimization replaces the host load balancing that is performed for Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) by the PRO CPU utilization and PRO Memory Utilization monitors in System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 R2.”

VMM brought us a lot of new stuff. We will take a closer look at the optimization options this time.
We have ‘Dynamic Optimization’ and ‘Power Optimization’.

To support dynamic optimization, you must have a well configured cluster that also supports live migration.

For power optimization, the computers must have a baseboard management controller (BMC) that enables out-of-band management.  (Power optimization is an optional feature of dynamic optimization).

So what`s the benefits here, and why should you care?
The answer is short: Server utilization.

My guess, is that if you`re interested in VMM2012, you already have a cluster in your environment/production. And as we stated earlier, your cluster must support Live Migration.

How do we enable Dynamic Optimization?

1.       Navigate to the ‘Fabric’ and select a host group
2.       Select ‘Folder’ and ‘Properties’
3.       In the host properties, select ‘Dynamic Optimization’.
4.       Check the ‘Automatically migrate virtual machines to balance load’

What next?
We should configure the resource thresholds for this as well, to define when the magic should kick in.

Dive into your fabric again, select your host group, and open its properties.
Here you`ll find the Resource Usage tab.

Configure the resources that are most suitable for your environment, and document your changes!

To configure Power Optimization, navigate to fabric, select host group, select properties, dynamic optimization, and enable Power Optimization.
Here you`ll be able to schedule the power optimization, and when the servers should power on/off.
In my case, I pretend that Wednesday is one important day for our business.

Yes this is server utilization, and yes, this is also another step stone for the cloud 'thing' to have your resources on-demand. Green IT and save yourself some money.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It`s our baby

Personally, I did not like kids before. I mean, I did not dislike them, but I rather did not care about them either.
It definitely changed when I got my own kids. I love my own kids. Just like you. You love your own kids, I`m sure.

And that`s what Windows Azure is for Microsoft. It`s their baby. And they expect everyone else to love their baby, just as I do, with my own kids. Off course everyone else like my kids. Right?

No. It does not work that way. Microsoft need to explain and show the rest, why somebody else should give a damn about their baby.
And I think that they have succeeded. I mean, how many have not started with their Azure projects, after a session with the enthusiastic evangelists from Microsoft Corp?
Even companies that does not have the benefit, or need to scale out their applications have moved their legacy applications over to Azure. And many new companies have started to develop on this platform right from the start.  

Personally, I would prefer a rich traditional desktop application. And I`m only 25 years old. I suppose I should rather prefer everything that is new, and a bit more technically complex than how it used to be.
But lately, this has also changed for me as well. I would rather prefer to spend my time with a more user friendly application, hosted in a secure and accessible datacenter. At least, that`s what my customers want. And I have to give it to them. Either through Azure, or from our own private cloud.
With new stuff like Codename Concero and VMM 2012, things are moving further toward the cloud and the PaaS model - also for the IT-pro. It`s all about applications. It has always been, and it`s time for me to realize that.
Has Microsoft done a good job with my mind? I`m afraid they have. My focus would from now on be on the applications, and not to cuddle with my VMs. Meaning that the VMs and hypervisors should be alive and up, and have a great time. But to serve the clients with innovative applications, I have to prepare for that and support this development.

Things are just starting to get a bit more complex for the IT-administrator. Or maybe not. We have totally control of the underlying resources, and we have a solid understanding of the rest - the applications.
No wonder why Steve Ballmer shouted ‘developers..Developers..DEVELOPERS’.
I just made this ridiculous blog post just before bed time.

Hopefully you`ve had e nice reading and something to think on.

We have a solution!

Ok, then we needs to find a problem..

Recently, there was a thread in the Hyper-V forum.
It was all about the cloud stuff in VMM 2012, and if they should implement this in their production. I mean, not implement the Beta in their production but in the long term, should they plan to use this one.

So what is this stuff about the private cloud anyway?
In VMM 2012, you can get a clear picture of it. If you have had trouble to understand how Windows Azure works, you might get a better understanding of it if you`ve touched VMM 2012.

Let`s summarize a bit. In VMM 2012, the Cloud concept is a subset of the underlying hardware resources (or all of it), that you define and configure in the ‘Fabric’. These fabric-resources can be used by the clouds that you create. You can segment your resources, clusters, hosts, LUNs, networks, VLANs etc, and put it into a ‘cloud’. And to underline the entire concept, you are able to define how much CPU, RAM, I/O and network the cloud should have access too. Isn`t that what the cloud is all about? I mean, to scale, automatic, and on demand?


But for an IT-pro, it`s important to know that there is something that is more important than the Hypervisor and the Virtual Machines. Off course it`s important to have all the underlying components properly configured and available. But you do not get any richer by deploying VMs for no reasons.
This leads us towards the thing that really matter (for the clients/customers) – the applications.

And VMM2012 Is all about the applications, and services. Deploy application templates, service templates, SQL templates and so on. These are the things that should scale, and that`s why you want a cloud. To scale UP – not out. Careless of where the workloads run.

If you do not need to scale, you may be OK with a simple deployment solution. And VMM 2012 works very well for that to.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Explaining the difference between the Web Role and the Worker Role.

Today, I spoke with mr David Platt. Yeah, the software legend.
This week is all about Windows Azure, SQL Azure, and AppFabric.

David Platt is a guy who knows how to explain things. Even the most complex scenario may end up with a simple metaphor, with a laughing audience.

Here`s an example.

When you go to the store to buy a fish, you are welcomed by a nice pretty lady. She takes the order, and handles it back to the person who cut the fish. This pretty lady does not know anything about how you cut a fish. And the person, who is cutting the fish, does not know anything about customer service. So to clarify it for you. The nice pretty lady is the Web Role, looking good, and is visible and accessible for the customer. The person who cuts the fish, is the Worker Role. He/she does not have to be good looking at all, but needs to know what he/she`s doing to get the process done.”

I`m really looking forward to the rest of this week, and we already agreed today that the VMRole should not be considered as an IaaS. (So it should not be any misunderstandings about this point by know, since THE software legend himself stated this. J )

Thursday, April 7, 2011

TechDays in Norway

Recently, Microsoft Norway arranged TechDays (MSDN/TechNet Live).

The content included everything from VDI deployment and LYNC server to Silverlight and HTML 5.
I was lucky to participate twice during the TechDays – holding the keynote in Bergen, and represented Microsoft in Oslo to answer questions related to virtualization, to take the Hyper-V vs. VMware discussion with the visitors, and to run demoes.

And I had a lot of great discussions with the visitors, since most of them were using VMware as their hypervisor J
I had a little secret that day. I brought my laptop that I connected to my test-lab, and was able to demonstrate conversion of VMs from VMware to Hyper-V with VMM2012 – on the fly.
And the response was great. I`m sure that some of the visitors went straight home to download and evaluate the VMM2012 Beta.
I was also witnessing some interesting expressions in some of the visitors face. You see, many people are telling me that the reason why they are running VMware is functionality like vMotion. But after a conversation with me, they are leaving the room with knowledge of how Hyper-V works. And that everything they need, is included in the operating system.

(Nice T-shirt?)

I will take a deep dive into VMM2012 and Azure next week. That should generate some more activity on my blog.