UPDATE: New Test Lab Guide Released: Deploying Windows Server 2012 R2 Network Virtualization with System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager.
Network Virtualization, and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) at-large, have been getting a lot of attention recently. After reviewing the network traffic patterns in heavily virtualized datacenters, many IT Pros are beginning to realize that a substantial portion of datacenter network traffic is occurring between virtual machines running on the same virtualization host. In addition, organizations are beginning to evaluate options for defining network-level isolation between virtualized subnets in a manner that provides greater scalability and easier management than a traditional VLAN approach.
Based on this, it makes sense that the networking industry is moving towards bringing layer-3+ networking capabilities directly into the hypervisor. Essentially, network virtualization allows us to abstract routing and switching from a physical network infrastructure, extending benefits similar to what we’ve realized with server workloads via server virtualization.
At VMworld recently, IT Pros were initially impressed with the new network virtualization capabilities that VMware demonstrated in their early pre-release version of the VMware NSX product, based largely on the VXLAN overlay protocol. But, after walking away from the excitement of a big trade show event and pondering network virtualization as it pertains to their environment in more detail, I’ve also heard some early concerns expressed with VMware NSX, such as:
VMware NSX isn’t expected to be available until later this year, so in the meantime, consider evaluating alternatives for network virtualization that are actually shipping today. In this article, I’ve included a learning roadmap for understanding and evaluating our network virtualization solution, Hyper-V Network Virtualization in Windows Server 2012 ...
UPDATE: With the upcoming release of Windows Server 2012 R2, we've announced several changes to RDS CAL licensing. One of these changes is that, by next year, customers with Software Assurance (SA) will be able to leverage their existing RDS CALs with license mobility to apply to either an on-premises Remote Desktop Services installation or a deployment of Remote Desktop Services on Windows Azure. This new RDS licensing option, when available, will provide an additional choice for licensing RDS on Windows Azure, as an alternative to using RDS Subscriber Access Licenses (SALs) noted below in this article.
For more details on the RDS licensing changes in Windows Server 2012 R2, please see the Windows Server 2012 R2 RDS Licensing FAQ on the Microsoft Download Center.
In Part 1 of this two-part article series, we introduced Remote Desktop Session Virtualization on Windows Azure as an attractive alternative to traditional Desktop as a Service ( DaaS ) solutions. Remote Desktop Session Virtualization provides a high-density solution that requires provisioning and managing far fewer VMs than traditional DaaS, while still providing a robust and highly compatible method for delivery of high-fidelity remote desktop and remote application experiences to users.
In this article, we’ll step through the provisioning process for configuring a Remote Desktop Session Virtualization lab environment on the Windows Azure pay-as-you-go cloud platform. Our lab environment will consist of two VMs: one VM configured as an Active Directory Domain Controller and DNS server, and a second VM configured as a Remote Desktop Session Host, Web Access gateway, and Connection Broker.
Update for Windows 8.1: Note that System Image Backup in Windows 8.1 has been moved to the lower left corner of the File History tool in Control Panel as shown below.
In addition, the Windows 7 File Recovery tool in Control Panel has been renamed to the Recovery tool in Windows 8.1.
Have you recently installed Windows 8? In this article, we'll introduce you to the new options available for making Backup and Recovery in Windows 8 easier than ever, including Windows 8 File History, launching Windows System Backup and Windows 8 Refresh & Reset PC.
No matter which virtualization platform you may be using today to power your Private Cloud, storage is probably one of your biggest costs, and perhaps one of your biggest pain points, too. Virtualized environments are, by their very nature, dynamic environments where storage requirements from one VM to the next can grow and evolve over time. Traditional enterprise storage infrastructures, while offering flexibility in provisioning storage, are often built from a more static “set-it-and-forget-it” standpoint – provision your storage pools, LUNs, storage processors and SAN connectivity upfront with the expectation that storage needs on a workload-by-workload basis will not evolve.
When supporting Private Clouds, many administrators require ongoing dynamic control and automation for the storage platforms in use within an enterprise. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast the dynamic storage capabilities that I regularly use in the latest versions of two common enterprise virtualization platforms: VMware vSphere 5.5 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V.
Specifically, we’ll be reviewing the following dynamic storage capabilities for VMs in this article:
Along the way, we’ll find that Microsoft virtualization solutions can provide substantial cost advantages in this area, as well as provide better storage support for heterogeneous virtualization environments with more than one hypervisor platform …
At a recent community event, I met “Scott”, a savvy IT Pro who was in the process of planning the architecture for a new datacenter location at his company. Scott is an experienced datacenter engineer who manages several other virtualized datacenters. Although he is currently running VMware for the hypervisor platform in his existing datacenters, he was intrigued by Windows Server 2012 and the free Hyper-V Server 2012 enterprise-grade bare-metal hypervisor, primarily because he had been hearing good things about Hyper-V from peers who had been evaluating Microsoft Private Cloud in their organizations.
So, Scott decided to go on a “shopping trip” to explore what would be involved with implementing the Private Cloud solution he was looking for in his next datacenter. What Scott found really surprised him in terms of capabilities and dramatic cost differences when leveraging Microsoft Private Cloud vs the related VMware offerings. Read on to learn about Scott’s findings … you may be shocked too!
This article provides a summary of Scott’s interesting journey and reports on his findings from his research on implementing Private Clouds using Microsoft Private Cloud vs VMware vSphere, vCenter and vCloud offerings ...
VMware vSphere 5.x includes automated server workload balancing in the vSphere Enterprise and Enterprise+ premium suites via two feature sets: Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Distributed Power Management (DPM). DRS and DPM together are intended to provide an automated method for balancing compute capacity and reducing energy consumption in a highly virtualized datacenter. It does this by addressing five key technical areas:
These capabilities are important to ensure that an organization is efficiently leveraging virtualization host capacity in a manner that provides greatest performance benefits while reducing ongoing operating costs. However, research has shown that 65% to 70% of organizations are running more than one hypervisor. As a result, it’s necessary to provide these capabilities universally on every hypervisor platform in use – not on just the most expensive editions of a single hypervisor.
In this article, we’ll briefly describe each of these key technical areas and contrast with how these same capabilities are delivered in Windows Server 2012, our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012 enterprise-grade bare-metal hypervisor, and System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) across multiple hypervisors in a heterogeneous Private Cloud. As we discuss each area, you’ll also see that some of these capabilities are integrated into the core of Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012, and as such, those capabilities can be delivered at significantly less cost for organizations seeking to standardize on Hyper-V.
Research has shown that approximately 65% to 70% of organizations today have more than one hypervisor deployed. This presents a large opportunity for IT Professionals to increase their technical differentiation and value in the IT marketplace by supporting multiple hypervisors. Using this free eBook and the "Early Experts" study program, IT Professionals can easily extend their professional knowledge and skills to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Hyper-V on a flexible schedule as time permits.
In this article, get started down your path as an "Early Expert" on Windows Server 2012 R2 ...
In talking with IT Pros about potential cloud use cases, Desktop as a Service ( DaaS ) has been a popular discussion topic for being able to deliver end-user Windows desktop and Windows applications from a cloud service. Some IT Pros are interested in taking this approach to deliver Windows desktops cost-effectively to their “road warriors” in the field. Others are evaluating it as a disaster recovery option in the event that physical access to primary work facilities is interrupted.
Desktop as a Service ( DaaS ) is most often associated with cloud-based delivery of a virtual desktop infrastructure ( VDI ) solution, where each user is provided with their own discrete virtual machine to host their personal desktop experience. Based on typical DaaS designs, the infrastructure requirements to host, manage and deliver a consistent desktop experience from all these VM’s can be large and costly.
In this article, I’ll review a cost-effective alternative that the Windows Azure cloud platform provides for delivering remote end-user Windows desktops and applications via cloud-hosted Remote Desktop Services Session Hosts, previously known as "Terminal Services" hosts. I’ll also provide resources that you can leverage to get started when building your Remote Desktop Services lab in the cloud.
August 27th - UPDATED: Added new topic in Module 1 - What is a Private Cloud? ...
August 23rd - UPDATED: Added new topic in Module 3 - Deploy & Upgrade ...
August 20th - UPDATED: Added new module ...
My fellow Technical Evangelists and I have authored a content series that steps through building your very own Private Cloud by leveraging Windows Server 2012, our FREE Hyper-V Server 2012, Windows Azure Infrastructure Services ( IaaS ) and System Center 2012 Service Pack 1. Week-by-week, we walk through the steps to envision, plan and implement your very own Private Cloud to take your existing data center to the next level and give you the tools and time back in your day for improving IT services and being able to change and shift with your business / IT needs.
In this article, I introduce this series and provide a weekly breakdown of each topic that we've written to help you build your own Private Cloud ...
Las week, Brad Anderson, CVP for Windows Server and System Center, announced Windows Azure Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) as a Cloud-integrated Disaster Recovery solution on his In the Cloud blog. Be sure to get the full details in Brad's article, and then come back here to walk through the technical details for evaluating and configuring HRM in the Guided Hands-On Lab.
Implementing an effective Disaster Recovery and Business Continuance plan ... can be a really complicated and expensive ordeal for some Private Clouds. In many cases, competing solutions either don't meet the Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) that an organization may require, or are super-expensive to implement because they rely on costly site recovery management software and/or proprietary storage appliances at multiple sites. For instance ... with a paid software license that includes VMware vSphere Replication, your smallest possible RPO today is 15-minutes - forcing many IT Pros that need more granular control of their "data-at-risk" window into much more expensive hardware and software products. In addition, even when purchasing a more expensive site recovery offering, many of the products available today do not address one of the most pressing needs of a disaster recovery plan - storing an actionable disaster recovery plan in an location that is physically outside the datacenters being protected. Many solutions still store their "recovery plans" in an on-premises location, which, of course, may not be accessible when real disasters strike.
In this article ... I'll provide an introduction to Hyper-V Replica and Hyper-V Recovery Manager and a Guided Hands-On Lab that allows you to step through the process of protecting your Private Cloud with a Recovery Plan ...
UPDATE: Cloud Spectator recently released an independent study using standard Unixbench testing - Comparative IaaS Report: Analysis of 5 Large IaaS Providers - that concluded the following verbatim results regarding Windows Azure Infrastructure Services:
"On average, the highest-performance provider over the test period is Windows Azure, and the lowest performance provider is Amazon EC2."
"The difference in performance: Windows Azure scores 3 times higher than Amazon EC2 on average"
"Windows Azure, the highest-value provider in this scenario, provides 5x more value than on average throughout the 5-day test period than the lowest-value provider, Rackspace"
If you're using another IaaS Cloud Provider today, be sure to leverage the steps and hands-on walk-through below to see how you can easily move to Windows Azure and begin capitalizing on these benefits for your applications!
Today, in the next episode of our Build Your Private Cloud in a Month series, I'll walkthrough another round of virtual machine migration steps. This time, I’ll review the process for migrating existing Cloud VMs from Amazon AWS ( or other cloud providers ) to Windows Azure Infrastructure Services.
Using these steps, you'll be able to quickly migrate to Windows Azure to take advantage of the key benefits that other IT Pros are already seeing around cost savings, strong SLA, VM portability and unified cross-premises management.
If you’ve supported enterprise IT solutions for as long as I have, at some point in time you have most likely witnessed The 3 Immutable Truths of IT Patch Management. Respect these truths, and you’ll enjoy a stable, manageable datacenter environment. Ignore these truths, and … well … let’s not even think about those possibilities!
In this article, we'll discuss Cluster Aware Updating (CAU) as an included core feature (FREE!) in both Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012. CAU provides an easy-to-implement solution that offers orchestrated patch management for Hyper-V hosts and clustered application workloads - perfect for maintaining up-to-date patches in a continuously available datacenter!
At the end of this article, I'll also provide a list of prescriptive step-by-step resources that you can leverage to get a jumpstart on leveraging CAU in your shop ... Let's get started!
Do you need to migrate to Hyper-V to gain significant benefits in your datacenter from Windows Server 2012? Not necessarily! Windows Server 2012 can provide key advantages in one of the areas that is near-and-dear to every VMware administrator's budget: Storage!
In this article, we'll explore the storage enhancements that Windows Server 2012 offers, and along the way, we'll see how it can help to "right-size" your VMware storage costs so that you have more budget for strategic IT investments ...
UPDATED: Updated to reflect new IP Address Ranges introduced in July 2013
Do you need to setup your firewall to communicate with the Windows Azure datacenters for the virtual machines and applications that you are building? Below is a list of the public IP ranges for each Windows Azure datacenter region to help you with setting up your firewall access lists.
Today, Blogging Windows announced that the final release of Windows 8.1 will be available on October 18th!
Windows 8.1 will be available, beginning October 18th as a free update to customers running Windows 8 via the Windows Store. In addition, Windows 8.1 will also be available for retail purchase and on new devices starting on this same date.
There's approximately 9-weeks between today and the world-wide launch of Windows 8.1. Below is a learning roadmap that you can complete over the next few weeks to help you get ready ...
When I’m speaking with IT Pros about the great multi-server management enhancements in Windows Server 2012, I’m frequently asked about ways in which servers can be programmatically added to the new Server Manager tool. This can be very useful when building many new servers and you’d like to make sure they are all added into the Server Manager console in an automated fashion.
In this article, we’ll step through the method of doing exactly this with PowerShell 3.0 and Server Manager together!
Hope you enjoy!
Now that SharePoint Server 2013 has been released, I frequently get asked about ways in which a SharePoint 2013 lab environment can be easily built for studying, testing, development, demos and/or performing a proof-of-concept. You could certainly build this lab environment on your own hardware, but due to the level of SharePoint 2013 hardware requirements, a lot of us may not have sufficient spare hardware to implement an on-premise lab environment.
This makes a great scenario for leveraging our Windows Azure FREE Trial Offer to build a free Dev/Test lab environment for SharePoint 2013 in the cloud. Using the process outlined in this article, you’ll be able to build a basic functional farm environment for SharePoint 2013 with your free trial subscription for Windows Azure ...
This week at our Worldwide Partner Conference 2013, Jensen Harris, Director of Program Management for Windows User Experience, delivered an outstanding demo-heavy session that showcased end-to-end enhancements in Windows 8.1 Preview, providing an exceptional experience with all device form factors: phone, tablet, notebook, desktop and gaming console. These 28 demos show some of the productivity, efficiency and consistency gains that you can expect from Windows 8.1 when it ships, across all devices that you may use in your daily routine.
In this article, I’ve posted the recording for this session along with an index to each of the demos for convenient viewing. I’ve also included resources at the end of this article for you to use when evaluating Windows 8.1 Preview in your own lab.
At our Build 2013 conference in June, we formally announced the availability of Windows 8.1 Preview and Windows RT 8.1 Preview. If you’re interested in evaluating this pre-release of Windows 8.1 on non-production PCs, you can obtain the Preview bits at http://preview.windows.com.
Although much of the Build conference was targeted towards developers, lots of IT Pros are interested in the ways in which Windows 8.1 will improve enterprise end-user and management scenarios. John Vintzel, Senior Program Manager on the Windows team, delivered a great session on the new features in Windows 8.1 for business organizations.
In this article, I’ll provide a summary of John’s session along with a clickable video index to the recording of this session ...
Today, Yung Chou and I are back in our Build Your Private Cloud in a Month series to discuss virtual machine migration steps – specifically, we’ll review the process for migrating existing VMware VMs to Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and Windows Azure Infrastructure Services. This provides a super-easy path to begin leveraging your new Private Cloud and/or Hybrid Cloud fabric with existing VMs.
Tune in as we showcase the FREE tools that are available to assist in this process, such as the Microsoft Virtual Machine Converter ( MVMC ) and the Windows Azure PowerShell Module. We’ll also walk through an end-to-end virtual machine migration process so that you can see the tools in action!
In May, my fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists and I have authored a new articles series on 20 Key Scenarios with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services. Each scenario is based on how we’ve seen IT Pros successfully leveraging Windows Azure in the field. In this article, I’ve provided a complete index to all 20 scenarios … just in case you missed any the first time around!
Didn’t make it to TechEd this year? Don’t worry! This month, we’ll be releasing a new article series that highlights the Best of TechEd announcements and technical information for IT Pros.
In today’s article, I’ll provide details on the FREE hands-on labs from TechEd that you can complete remotely in the comfort of your own office or home to improve your skills on Windows Server 2012 across a range of technologies, including:
We formally announced the release of Windows 8.1 Preview yesterday during the BUILD conference keynote and showcased TONS of exciting new features around the enhanced user and developer experiences that Windows 8.1 will provide across all device form factors for ALL users.
If you missed the keynote, you can catch the recording and watch all the cool demos at: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2013/1-001
As experienced users upgrade to Windows 8.1 Preview to evaluate the new capabilities, I've seen several questions arise in relation to DisplayLink driver support ... in this article, I provide the download link to a BETA version of the DisplayLink driver for Windows 8.1 ...
UPDATE: Now includes System Center 2012 SP1 CU2 along with the following new articles ...
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1 ( “ConfigMgr 2012 SP1” ) offers lots of great new capabilities for IT Pros, but building a lab to evaluate, test and study ConfigMgr can be challenging if you don’t have spare hardware capacity in your data center. In this Step-by-Step Guide, I’ll walk through the steps that I used to build my ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 demo and study lab in the cloud on the Windows Azure platform.
This makes a great scenario for leveraging our Windows Azure FREE Trial Offer to build your lab environment for FREE in the cloud!
Lab Scenario: ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 in the Cloud
Didn’t make it to TechEd this year? Don’t worry! This month, we’ll be releasing a new article series that highlights the Best of TechEd announcements and technical information for IT Pros. Today’s article focuses on a new, much-heralded enhancement to Windows Azure Infrastructure Services to make it more cost-effective for spinning VMs up and down on-demand on the Windows Azure cloud platform.
In this article, I'll provide more details on the scenarios that this enhancement best fits, and I'll also review the new options and considerations that we now have for performing safe shutdowns of Windows Azure VMs.