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System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) offers a ton of flexibility when centrally defining and managing Private Cloud network fabrics across multiple sites, subnets, VLANs and virtualized network address spaces. However, this added flexibility can sometimes make getting started with the basics of networking fabrics a bit overwhelming – because it looks like there’s so much to learn!
Virtual Network Fabrics in System Center 2012 R2 VMM – Lots of Flexbility, and Lots to Learn!
BUT … Getting started with networking in System Center 2012 R2 VMM can be really easy, too! By initially focusing on the core networking elements, you can be up and running in no time with a basic networking fabric that can be consistently applied across multiple hosts!
In this article, we’ll work through a guided step-by-step lab for configuring these core network elements to build a basic networking fabric. In addition, I’ll also provide details on how you can download the accompanying FREE 60-page Step-by-Step Lab Guide (with screenshots) for applying these steps in your own environment.
Baseball season has ended, but March is just around the corner! If you love Major League Baseball as much as I do, you’ll want to keep informed on the latest in MLB coverage with comprehensive up-to-date information, even during off-season. Alex Brown, a local developer in Arkansas, published the MLB Coverage app for Windows 8 to address this very need.
MLB Coverage for Windows 8
In this article, get the details and FREE download information for this Top Local App ...
This month, Yung Chou, Mitch Tulloch and I have published a new book on Hybrid Cloud Management with System Center 2012 R2 App Controller, titled Microsoft System Center: Cloud Management with App Controller. As part of a series of specialized guides on System Center, this book focuses on using App Controller to manage virtual machines and services across private and public clouds.
Inside this book …
Chapter 1: App Controller Essentials
Chapter 2: Managing Private Clouds
Chapter 3: Managing Public Clouds
Chapter 4: Managing Hybrid Clouds
Chapter 5: Automating App Controller
In this article, I'll provide an introduction to this book as well as the details for downloading your FREE copy ...
The FREE Windows 8 Games in this article have been recently published by local developers … They’re great games to keep your kids occupied during long Thanksgiving holiday trips, and it’s also a great way to show your support for our local developer community.
Download the games using the links in this article and feel free to leave comments for the particular games that are your favorites ...
Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 R2 has had a number of significant improvements, which we’ve been discussing in many of the articles throughout this series. However, there’s a particular new Hyper-V feature that, while very useful, has had significantly less fanfare: Guest Services.
Hyper-V Guest Services: At Your Beck-and-Call for VM File Updates
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of Hyper-V Guest Services and also step through a real-world example of how it can be used to perform out-of-band file updates inside running virtual machines ...
Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 has been completely retooled into a powerful multi-server management GUI tool that provides remote management of Windows servers and a health-check dashboard snapshot view to quickly verify that “all-is-well” across Windows servers within your datacenter.
Server Manager in Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2
But, the built-in management capabilities of Server Manager have also been built on an extensible framework. As a result, you can easily integrate your own management tools and PowerShell scripts into the core functionality of Server Manager to create your own customized management launchpad.
In this article, I’ll step through the task of extending Server Manager with additional management scripts. Along the way, we’ll create a simple, but useful PowerShell management script that inventories the UNC shared folders paths that exist across all managed servers on a network ...
Hyper-V Network Virtualization (HNV) is part of our Software Defined Networking (SDN) portfolio that is included inbox with Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. HNV provides the ability to present virtualized network architectures and IP routing domains to virtual machines (VM’s) in a manner that is abstracted from the existing underlying physical network architecture. By virtualizing the network layer with HNV, several important benefits can be realized around reduced networking complexity, improved configuration agility, enhanced routing performance in highly virtualized datacenters, cross-site Live Migration of VM’s, IP address space portability, and network layer isolation.
Hyper-V Network Virtualization (HNV) – Virtualizing the Network Layer
Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) also enhance the inbox HNV capabilities through a number of important additions. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of HNV that organizations are leveraging today, the new features present in the “R2” product releases and Step-by-Step resources that you can leverage to begin implementing HNV in your own lab environment ...
Want to learn more about the Cloud, but haven't had time yet to pull yourself away from the office? Tomorrow (11/12) , my good friends and colleagues, Brian Lewis and Dan Stolts, will be delivering a FREE Windows Azure IT Camp technical event online.
During the event, you'll learn how to:
For details and to register, be sure to visit http://technetevents.com/azureitcamponline/ today!
These days, users are growing more and more accustomed to expecting that they can accomplish productive work from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. As a result, IT Pros and organizations are increasingly faced with the challenge of balancing convenience with security to provide users with the necessary remote access to corporate applications and services that was previously available only from corporate-managed Active Directory Domain-Joined PC’s. As one method of addressing this growing need, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 provide a new BYOD management feature that lots of IT Pros have been excited about: Workplace Join. In addition, Workplace Join is also supported for Apple iOS mobile devices.
Workplace Join in Windows 8.1
Workplace Join in Windows 8.1
This month, we’re joined by Guido van Brakel, Principal Consultant and Subject Matter Expert at Enduria. As a frequent contributor to the IT Pro Community at-large, Guido is always eager to share new information. In this article, Guido will walk us through an overview of Workplace Join and how to configure this new feature in our labs so that we can begin evaluating it …
Windows Server 2012 R2 includes a new version of the PowerShell scripting language, PowerShell 4.0. One of the most interesting new features in PowerShell 4.0 is Desired State Configuration (DSC). DSC is a declarative management system inside Windows PowerShell 4.0 that enables servers to self-provision themselves during initial deployment and also self-remediate their configuration if it should fall out of compliance with their assigned “desired state”.
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of how DSC works, along with specific PowerShell code snippets that you can leverage and customize for use in your own environment. While DSC can be used for managing the configuration of many different server roles, my examples in this article will show how DSC can be leveraged to provision and manage the standard configuration of Hyper-V virtualization hosts within a datacenter ...
After upgrading to Windows 8.1, you should take time to build a new Recovery Drive on USB storage media. By building a new Recovery Drive, you’ll have an easy way to perform a system Reset / Refresh with the Windows 8.1 operating system bits, if needed to recover from an unbootable system situation down the road. Windows 8.1 makes it easy to create a new Recovery Drive by using the Control Panel | Recovery tool.
Windows 8.1 – Create a Recovery Drive using Control Panel | Recovery Tool
However, while I’ve been discussing Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 at recent events, I’ve encountered a few IT Pros that have been unable to Copy the Recovery Partition when creating a new Recovery Drive – for them, the option appeared to be disabled after upgrading to Windows 8.1. In this article, we'll walk through the process to diagnose and resolve this issue so that you can successfully create a new Recovery Drive ...
Build your very own Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 for FREE and Enter for a chance to win* one of the following fantastic prizes:
You could win a Microsoft Surface Pro or Certification Exam Voucher!
You could win a Microsoft Surface Pro or Certification Exam Voucher!
Enter to Win! Read the details in this article for the steps you'll need to complete to enter this exciting sweepstakes ...
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open only to IT Professionals who are legal residents of the 50 U.S. states or D.C., 18+. Sweepstakes ends November 30, 2013. For Official Rules, see http://aka.ms/CloudChallenge201311Rules.
STORAGE! For most IT Pros that I speak with, storage is a huge chunk of their IT budget – often accounting for as much as 30%-40% (more in some cases) of their annual capital IT costs. In Windows Server 2012 R2, we’ve made significant enhancements to enterprise storage capabilities using commodity hardware to help organizations better optimize their storage costs.
In this article, we’ll discuss building “Your Next SAN” – a configuration leveraging commodity hardware, Storage Spaces and SMB 3.02 Scale-out File Servers (SoFS) in Windows Server 2012 R2. This configuration can make virtualized storage accessible to multiple Hyper-V hosts over standard high-speed network connections, much like a SAN would traditionally deliver, on a much more affordable basis. With the tuning and load-balancing improvements made in Windows Server 2012 R2, we’re seeing performance results that are not only comparable to traditional SANs, but can now also achieve increased performance over traditional SANs, particularly when leveraging higher-speed 40Gbs Ethernet and 56Gbps Infiniband network interfaces.
As we progress through this article, I’ll also provide links to key step-by-step resources that you can leverage to build out “Your Next SAN” in your lab environment for further evaluation.
Thanks for attending my session today at the Ohio Business Technology Summit in Cincinnati OH! Below, I’ve posted a copy of my slide deck for your review and download. I’ve also included additional resources to assist in your evaluation of Microsoft’s Private Cloud and Hybrid Cloud solutions ...
Thanks very much for all of the passionate feedback and input on my original technical comparison article, VMware or Microsoft? Comparing vSphere 5.5 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V At-A-Glance! This article has most definitely been one of my most broadly reviewed and commented articles out of all articles I’ve published to-date with well over 30,000 views of this single comparison article alone.
Thank you for also sharing my comparison throughout your communities to help IT Pros evaluate the capabilities of each virtualization and Private Cloud platform in terms of their environment needs!
However, I’ve also seen some areas of misconception building in the online community … Apparently, certain readers have misunderstood my original comparison article as being some sort of "attack" on VMware solutions. Quite the contrary – as I called out in the summary of my original article, there’s a lot to be gained from both solution offerings for customers, but … when evaluating and deciding on appropriate solutions, I’ve found that IT Pros also want to dive into the details to better understand potential limitations and additional considerations that they should be evaluating to see if it's important in their environment – simple checklists don’t do the trick ...
This article is a follow-up to my original article with the intention of addressing the common misconceptions I’ve seen repeated in the online community after publishing my comparison. I’ve bucketed each area of misconception in its own section below, with additional technical commentary based on my experience with both solution offerings in an attempt to correct these misconceptions and provide a bit more background than I was able to provide in the original comparison article.
As always, please feel free to leave additional comments below with any additional points-of-view that you may have! Truly one of the great things about social collaboration is the benefits we derive by expanding the scope of our own experiences when learning from the experiences of others.
This month, my team of fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists are publishing a series of articles on Why Windows Server 2012 R2? that highlights the key enhancements and new capabilities that we're seeing driving particular interest in this latest release of our Windows Server operating system in the field. This article has been updated now that Window Server 2012 R2 is generally available.
I’ve been speaking with lots of IT Pros over the past several weeks about the new storage improvements in Windows Server 2012 R2, and one feature in particular has gained a ton of attention: Automated Storage Tiers as part of the new Storage Spaces feature set.
In this article, I'll briefly discuss the benefits of Storage Tiers in Windows Server 2012 R2, and then I’ll step through the process of building an Automated Tiered Storage lab for the purpose of evaluating and demonstrating the functionality of Storage Tiers in a Windows Server 2012 R2 lab environment.
Our FREE Windows Azure Trial Subscription offer provides a tremendous opportunity to gain hands-on experience with Windows Server 2012 R2 and the cloud – it provides up to 30 Days or $200 USD of “cloud credit” to use as you see fit for building new cloud-based lab solutions involving Cloud Storage, Virtual Networks and Virtual Machines.
Using the 5 easy steps provided in this article, you’ll be able to activate a FREE Windows Azure Trial Subscription, suitable for building your Lab in the Cloud for Windows Server 2012 R2 or Linux without the need for local on-premises lab hardware ...
UPDATES: Based on strong feedback from the community, I've made the following updates to this article ...
Thanks for sharing your feedback to make this technical comparison a more useful resource!
There’s been lots of buzz on the enterprise hypervisor front over the past month … In August, Microsoft announced the RTM version of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, the latest major releases of the Windows Server and System Center families. In addition, at VMworld this year, VMware announced the latest edition of their vSphere hypervisor platform: VMware vSphere 5.5.
IT Pros have been very interested in learning about the pros and cons presented by each offering – particularly because the total cost of Windows Server 2012 R2 + System Center 2012 R2 can be quite attractive in comparison to VMware’s offerings.
With so many features called by differing names in each virtualization platform, comparing Microsoft and VMware solutions can sometimes seem a bit like comparing apples and oranges But, I’ll try to boil things down to a real-world perspective based on my experience implementing both solutions in the field throughout my career. In this article, I’ll provide a summarized comparison of the virtualization and Private Cloud feature sets provided by each of these latest releases using the currently available public information from both Microsoft and VMware as of this article’s publication date ...
Aloha! I'll be out-of-office exploring the beauty of Maui for the next 10 days, but feel free to explore the articles and resources below while I'm away. I look forward to connecting with you when I return.
In the meantime, if you have IT Pro questions relating to Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 or Windows Azure, please feel free to connect with one of my fellow IT Pro Technical Evangelists. I know they'll be happy to assist!
If you'd like to follow my adventures in Maui, please feel free to connect with me on Facebook, as I'll be sharing updates on our travels on my Facebook wall.
When evaluating public and hybrid cloud services, carefully inspecting a cloud-provider’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) is an important step in understanding the level of availability you can expect. Of course, we all want our applications and VMs to be as close to 100% available as possible, and at an initial glance, the SLA’s of many cloud-providers look deceptively similar. When diving into the details of cloud-provider SLA’s, important differences can surface that may impact availability and cost-effectiveness of your deployed applications and VM’s in the cloud.
In this article, we’ll compare key differences between the Service Level Agreements for Microsoft Windows Azure Infrastructure Services and the recently announced VMware vCloud Hybrid Service ( vCHS ) …
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 ...