Insufficient data from Andrew Fryer

The place where I page to when my brain is full up of stuff about the Microsoft platform

February, 2011

  • SQL Server and dynamic memory with Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 sp1

    Running SQL Server in a virtual machine is a good thing for many reasons however there are two basic rules:

    • don’t over commit processors
    • use fixed or pass through disks (i.e. not dynamic one)

    The guidance from the SQL CAT (SQL Server Customer Advisory Team) doesn’t extend to memory as up until now you can’t do much with memory in Hyper-V except allocate a fixed amount to each virtual machine which can’t be changed while its running.

    However with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2 sp1 it is now possible to make use of dynamic memory.  This allows you to set a minimum amount of memory need to start a vm and then each vm can be accorded a number of properties to make use of any unused memory on a give physical server:

    • the maximum RAM
    • the percentage of memory that Hyper-V should try to reserve as a buffer (the free memory in the virtual machine)
    • the memory priority (form low to high)

    The interesting thing here is that the amount used by the physical OS is controlled by Hyper-v unless you hack this in the registry (with the obvious word of caution implied in doing this).

    You can still assign static memory to a virtual machine, so should you use dynamic memory with SQL Server?

    The answer is probably yes with one caveat; the extra memory hyper-V will hand over once a virtual machine has started will appear to SQL Server as memory that has been hot added while the server is running.  Only certain version and editions of SQL Server have the capability to recognised hot-add memory -Only Enterprise and DataCenter editions for SQL Server 2005 and later.

    If you use dynamic memory with other editions and versions the memory will still be there but SQL Server itself simply won’t recognise it.

    For more on this check KB 956893

  • EduGeek

    I reckon the IT Professionals working in education have some of the most demanding jobs in in the IT industry, they have to contend with all sorts of privacy and security problems, a multitude of software and with only one or two per school they need to be real Jacks (or Jills) of all trades.  Clearly they aren’t in for the money either, so I got to spend a day with them yesterday to find out what makes them tick and understand a little of their world. 

    They have a big not for profit community  complete with its own portal (#Edugeek) which is now growing beyond the UK and they decided to visit Microsoft for their grand day out. 

    I wanted to break up the more day to day stuff on Office 365, System center and licensing with a look at what  Microsoft are working on in the near and distant future, and this is bit like being a Londonner;  you really ought to know what to see and where to go in  your own city but you don’t always make the effort until friends or relatives  turn up.  So I had to do some digging around.

    The big stuff worked on by Microsoft labs and Microsoft Research is pretty much all in the space of natural interfaces.  Kinect and Surface are good examples in this space and the new Surface 2 (the Samsung SUR40) has now made this exciting device more of a commodity and integrated more into the Windows fold.  The Kinect SDK for windows will do the same for this device and I may well be able run my future PowerPoint presentations using gestures rather than a mouse.

    I also found a public video of StreetSlide Microsoft Research’s approach to showing the detail of roads integrated into Bing Maps.  This has already addressed the problem of making the view visually appealing and easy to navigate, the other change is privacy to avoid the concerns this technology has raised in the past.

    In between this blue sky stuff I also wanted to call out the interesting free stuff that might be useful in schools like Live Photo Gallery with its fuse function to clean up you photos


    and photosynth, to stitch together a 3d composite which can then be geotagged on Bing maps


    They loved all of this stuff and so hopefully I’ll get an invite to the next one, in the meantime if you are in education you might wish to sign up for EduGeek (it’s free) and share problems with your hard working peers.

  • Moving virtual machines in parallel or in serial?

    If I want to copy 10 files from server A to server B it doesn’t matter whether I copy them one at a time or try and launch 10 copy processes at once, both methods will take about the same amount of time and the limiting factor is the network bandwidth I have.  Now imagine I want to migrate ten virtual machines from Node A to Node B on a cluster -  it shouldn’t matter whether I choose to sequence them or let them all move in parallel.

    However what is being copied is not a static file but the memory state of each virtual machine and the the migration process tracks which blocks of memory have changed while the copy is made and then recopy those changed blocks.  During this second copy yet more blocks will have changed (but not so many this time ) and so those in turn need to be recopied. This recopying continues until this  the memory on node B is in synch with Node A and the process will complete.  The longer the migration takes the more of this recursive copying of changed blocks will be required as the virtual machine changes during the process.

    If several virtual machines are migrated in parallel the memory copy process is open for each virtual machine for the entire time of the migration, and if they are copied in serial the copy process for each virtual machine is only open for just the time need to migrate that machine.   So copying virtual machines in parallel takes longer than doing each one in sequence because they are all migrated for a longer time and so more blocks will have changed in that time that need to be recopied.

    Of course the sharp eyed virtualisation experts reading this will tell me that you can’t copy virtual machines in parallel using Live Migration in Hyper-V.  Correct and my point is why would you want to have this if it takes longer? 

    Or have I missed something?

  • Normal Service has been resumed

    I’ve just got back from 5 weeks off in NZ to celebrate my 50th lap of the sun, hence the guest posts on here recently. Just before I went away  the UK TechNet team setup  Tech Days Online


    .. based on a chat Simon and I had about what 2011 holds for the IT Professional which you can watch here

    We recognised that its hard for you to give up complete days of your time to come and learn this direct even if you manager signs of your expenses, so we thought 1 hour focused bite sized chunks on core topics woudl be the way to go. Simon has done a couple of sessions while I was away and my debut is next Tuesday (22nd Feb) on exactly what Microsoft’s Hyper-V cloud is.  The full list of events in this series is:

    08 February The Modern Desktop

    15 February Microsoft cloud for the IT Professional

    22 February What is Hyper-V cloud

    08 March Practical Deployment

    15 March Creating Your Own Private Cloud

    22 March Security integration with the cloud using Active Directory Federated Services (ADFS)

    05 April Desktop Virtualisation

    12 April Automation and the Private Cloud

    19 April Managing the cloud

    03 May Deployment with the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP)

    10 May Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

    17 May Office 365 for the IT Professional

    07 June The Dynamic Duo, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7

    14 June Mixing and moving services between the private and public cloud

    21 June Governance Risk & Compliance in the cloud

    We’ve put some clues in the videos to enable you to enter a competition to win some useful tech stuff like a Samsung 42inch plasma TV, Canon EOS 1000D camera and an LG DVD home cinema system, but the real value of these is to enable you to stay on top of Microsoft’s current thinking which should translate into being a more valuable member of your IT team. If you can’t make the dates then the registration pages will also give you access to the recording after the sessions.

    Hopefully by Tuesday the jetlag will have worn off,  the email backlog will clear and the memory of these guys will still be fresh..


  • System Center Essentials and the Self Service Portal

    I was looking at the Self Service Portal (SSP),  a free add-on to System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), recently and wondered if this would work alongside System Center Essentials 2010 (SCE) to create a basic private cloud.  If you haven heard of  the SSP it enables business users to request services run up virtual machines etc. and to be charged monthly for the amount of resources they use.

    I did get it all working after quite a bit of work, but I am pretty sure it’s not supported, so I have decided not to post the videos at the moment or to include it in the series I did on SCE Sunday. If you want to try it yourself you’ll need to do the following, and it should work for you:

    1. Get the SSP from here

    2. Install the Message Queuing (MSMQ) feature with Directory Services Integration enabled.

    3. Run some PowerShell to

    #create a host group

    New-VMHostGroup MyHostGroup

    # add my VM host to it

    Move-VMHost –VMHost MyHost –ParentHostGroup MyHostgroup

    as SCE doesn’t understand the concept of host groups, and this works because hidden under the covers of SCE, pretty much all of SCVMM is there except the user interface, and the SSP is essentially a solutions accelerator with PowerShell scripts to work its magic.

    If this is of interest I will do some more research, and you should also put your comments on Microsoft Connect

  • Getting Started with SharePoint and SQL Server Reporting Services – a guest post by Jess Meats

    One of the capabilities of SQL Server is the ability to create and publish rich reports on your data. One of the capabilities of SharePoint Server is the ability to store, manage and provide a portal to documents. Those documents could be your reports. So you have one system letting you create reports and the other letting you share them afterwards, delivering your data into the hands of the users who need it. In theory, this should mean that your users should be able to find the data they need in existing reports, be sure they’re looking at the most recent information and not request new reports when the data already exists in others. I say in theory because I have less faith in users doing this than I have in the capabilities of the software to deliver this functionality.

    In order to get to this situation, you need to do some configuration on both sides. This article on TechNet describes the steps clearly to get the initial configuration working. One of the main steps is that you need to install the Reporting Services add-in for SharePoint 2010, which includes the admin screens for Reporting Services inside SharePoint.

    Once you’ve done your configuration, you can give people the ability to view reports through SharePoint. This is done using the SQL Server Reporting Services Report Viewer web part – quite a mouthful! This allows you to point to a specific report on your SQL Server and display it through the browser.

    To add this web part, go into edit mode in SharePoint, by going to the Page tab of the ribbon in the SharePoint site in question and clicking the Edit button. As with adding any other web part, you can go to the Insert tab that appears in the ribbon and clicking on the Web Part button. When the integrated mode is set up, the Miscellaneous folder in the menu includes the option for the Report Viewer web part. This inserts the web part, but it starts off blank. So do you connect it to a specific report?

    You configure this by opening the tool pane. In the tool pane, you have the option to browse through SharePoint libraries to find reports that have been published. So now you can display SSRS reports in a SharePoint page, perhaps showing team reports in a team site or as part of a dashboard alongside other BI elements.

    So now you can combine the rich power of Report Builder Reports with all the other capabilities that SharePoint provides.

    Configuration article -


    Jess is a partner technology advisor specialising in SharePoint an BI working for Microsoft in the UK

  • SCE Sunday the boxed set

    I have now completed my tour of Systems Center Essentials (SCE) 2010 and here is the complete list of videos and posts for this series:

    Part 1 installation
    Part 2 Post installation Configuration

    Part 3 Post setup administration

    Part 4 Computer Administration

    Part 5 Monitoring

    Part 6 Managing updates

    Part 7 Software deployment

    Part 8 Authoring

    Part 9 Authoring continued

    Part 10 SCE Backup  

    Part 11 Restoring SCE

    Part 12 Virtual Machine Management

    Part 13 Reporting

    Hopefully that’s all of some use and shows how SCE can provide a comprehensive view of your IT infrastructure to ensure you know about any problems and can respond to them before the help desk phones start ringing. SCE is included in  the TechNet Subscriptions  here or you can get a time bombed trial version here and I would also recommend looking at the SCE deployment guide and SCE Operations Guide which will enable you to get going in the real world.