Kevin Remde's IT Pro Weblog

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  • Service Templates in System Center 2012 SP1 VMM: Build Your Private Cloud (Series)

    This guy is happily evaluating System Center 2012 SP1 as the foundation for his Private CloudToday’s installment of our “Build Your Private Cloud in a Month” series is the last of our 5-part mini-series we’re calling “Deploying Private Cloud Workloads”.  This week we (Tommy Patterson, Blain Barton and I) gave you the details and demonstrated some of the key areas in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager that support the foundational concepts and objects in your Private Cloud arsenal:

    1. Hardware Profiles (Monday)
    2. Guest OS Profiles (Tuesday)
    3. Application Profiles (Wednesday)
    4. VM Templates (Thursday)
    5. Service Templates (Friday) <—Today, by Blain Barton  

    To follow along, make sure you have installed a test lab with Windows Server 2012 and the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2012 SP1.  (Click the links and download the evaluations, please.)

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    Today my “Floridated” friend Blain Barton delivers our article on creating and using Service Templates in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager.  He shows you a very useful step-by-step, and leaves you with some very useful resources for further learning.

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE.

    Blain's Article

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    Have you found our series useful?  I hope so!  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, concerns, clarifications, or cheap shots at me or Microsoft.  (Hit me with your best shot!  I can take it! Smile)

  • (Episode 14) Windows 8 Tips: Productivity

    In part 3 of our Windows 8 Tips and Tricks series, Principal Technical Account Manager Lex Thomas and I show some improvements in Windows 8 that will help you be more productive.

     

    Download the Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation

    Download the Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation today and test your applications, hardware and deployment strategies with Windows 8.


    Resources:

    Download

  • (Episode 13) Windows 8 Tips: Mastering the Interface

    In part 2 of our Windows 8 Tips and Tricks series, Principal Technical Account Manager Lex Thomas and I dive deeper into the new modern user interface for Windows 8.

    clip_image002

    Download the Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation today and test your applications, hardware and deployment strategies with Windows 8.

    Resources:

    Download

  • High Availability and Live Migrations: 20+ Days of Server Virtualization (Part 12)

    The ultimate Live MigrationIf you’re a VMware user, you’re probably familiar with the “vMotion” capability; moving a live, running virtual machine from one host to another.  Until recently, that move had to take place among and between clustered hosts, but recently Microsoft Hyper-V (and later VMware in vSphere 5) allowed the live moving of virtual machines without clusters.

    Still, clustering is valuable for high availability.  I want some mechanism to detect when a host is having problems, and have machines move or re-started on another virtualization host automagically.

    In part 12 of March’s “20+ Days of Server Virtualization” series, my Milwaukeen friend Brian Lewis gives us a step-by-step on how to configure high availability using Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V, and NO ADDITIONAL COST*.

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE

    “Hey Kevin – you’re posting about articles that were released in March?  It’s April.  Where have you been?”

    Ah, you caught that, did you?  It’s been a crazy few weeks of travel, delivering IT Camps, a family vacation to Nashville, TN (which we loved!), and an Azure Bootcamp.  So, I’ll be playing catch-up over the next week or two.  You have been warned. 

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    * Take that, VMware. Smile

  • Host Clusters and Hyper-V: 20+ Days of Server Virtualization (Part 13)

    Windows Server 2012 evaluationYou may ask, “How easy is it to set up a cluster of virtualization hosts for Hyper-V virtual machine high availability?”

    “How easy is it to set up a cluster of virtualization hosts for Hyper-V virtual machine high availability?”

    I’m glad you asked.

    Short answer: Very

    Longer answer: Let’s let my friend Matt Hester show you in our 13th installment of “20+ Days of Server Virtualization”.

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE

  • A whole ‘nuther level of high availability – Guest Clustering: 20+ Days of Server Virtualization (Part 14)

    You can try out guest clustering by downloading the Windows Server 2012 evaluation Did you know that virtual machines can also be clustered? 

    “Really?”

    Yep.  We call it “guest clustering”, where a cluster of application-hosting computers, sharing storage, are actually virtual machines.  In this way we provide a “whole ‘nuther level of high availability” in the fact that if an application can benefit from and take advantage of being cluster-aware, then we can support that availability even while the application is running on virtual machines. 

    In part 14 of our “20+ Days of Server Virtualization” series, Keith Mayer describes the benefits and operations of virtual machine guest clustering in great detail, as well as some of the improvements to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 that make it even more powerful.

    CHECK OUT HIS EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE

  • The Replica Broker: 20+ Days of Server Virtualization (Part 15)

    FREE Hyper-V Server also supports Hyper-V ReplicaBack in October of last year, in Part 5 of our “31 Days of our Favorite Things” series, I wrote about Hyper-V Replica.  “With Hyper-V Replica you can easily create and maintain an off-line copy – a replica – of a virtual machine on a separate virtualization host.  This means, for example, that if your main location or host for an important virtual machine goes down becomes unavailable, you can easily fail-over to the replica.”

    “Is it necessary to use quotes if you’re just quoting yourself?”

    I don’t know.  Better safe than sorry.  I don’t want to get into trouble with myself.

    Anyway, when using Hyper-V Replica capability in a clustered set of virtualization hosts, there is an additional consideration: Where does the replica come from?  Where does it go to?

    What I mean is – a set of virtual machines running on clustered hosts could be running on any of those hosts at any given time.  So how do I refer to the cluster, whether as the source or destination of the replication, as an individual entity?

    The answer: The Replica Broker.

    In part 15 of our “20+ Days of Server Virtualization”, my friend Yung Chou gives us a great rundown of what the Replica Broker is, what it does, and how to configure it for using Hyper-V Replica in a clustered environment.

    READ HIS ARTICLE HERE

  • BREAKING NEWS: Windows Azure Infrastructure Services are in GA today!

    “Georgia?”

    No!  GA means General Availability!  It’s like RTM, but better. 

    Celebrate!  Windows Azure VMs are now a reality!We’ve been talking about Windows Azure virtual machines, and using Azure as “Infrastructure-as-a-Service” (IaaS) for many months now.  We’ve been promoting the heck out of the 90-day free trial of Windows Azure to IT Pros all over the world; but with the caveat that the capability to create (or upload) virtual machines with persistent storage and high availability up in Windows Azure datacenters was still “in preview”.  Well, the preview is at an end.  We’ve “shipped” it! 

    Starting today, Windows Azure Infrastructure Services are ready for production.

    “I can start using it in a supported way, for my production workloads?”

    Yes.  You have my permission.  And Microsoft’s. 

    “So.. will I see any changes today?”

    Well.. one thing that was pointed out to me (Thank you, David Tesar) was that the word “preview” has come off of the screen when you create a new virtual machine…

    Sweet!

    …so that’s pretty cool. 

    Another thing that has changed is that the prices are now official; and are not the same as what they were during preview.  THEY’RE LOWER!  I hope that’s not too much of a shock.  Smile 

    And if you’d like a really simple summary of Windows Azure Infrastructure Services, check out this video:

    “Bring it!”

  • Hardware Profiles in System Center 2012 SP1 VMM: Build Your Private Cloud (Series)

    This guy is happily evaluating System Center 2012 SP1 as the foundation for his Private CloudToday’s installment of our “Build Your Private Cloud in a Month” series is the first of a 5-part mini-series we’re calling “Deploying Private Cloud Workloads”.  This week we (Tommy Patterson, Blain Barton and I) are going to detail and demonstrate some of the key areas in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager that support the foundational concepts and objects in your Private Cloud arsenal:

    1. Hardware Profiles (Monday) <—Today!
    2. Guest OS Profiles (Tuesday)
    3. Application Profiles (Wednesday)
    4. VM Templates (Thursday)
    5. Service Templates (Friday)

    To follow along, make sure you have installed a test lab with Windows Server 2012 and the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2012 SP1.  (Click the links and download the evaluations, please.)

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    Today’s topic is Hardware Profiles in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager.

    What is a Hardware Profile?

    According to TechNet, “..a hardware profile is a library resource containing hardware specifications that can be applied to a new virtual machine or a virtual machine template. A hardware profile can contain specifications for CPU, memory, network adapters, a video adapter, a DVD drive, a floppy drive, COM ports, and the priority given the virtual machine when allocating resources on a virtual machine host.”  So, like any template, it’s a starting point.  It’s a named definition that represents some desired configuration that can be applied to a new virtual machine or virtual machine template.

    Why are Hardware Profiles Useful?

    As you’re creating many new virtual machines, you probably have a pretty good idea of what the hardware should look like.  Particularly with items like the network adapter or video configuration, you’re likely going to be defining them in a consistent way among many different machines.  Doing this once in a named configuration (a profile) and then using it over and over again is certainly much more efficient than having to re-specify those configurations each and every time you build a new virtual machine. 

    How do I create a Hardware Profile?

    Hardware Profiles are found in the Virtual Machine Manager Library section under Profiles.

    Hardware Profiles

    Create a new Hardware Profile by using the “Create” tool, or by right-clicking Hardware Profiles and selecting Create Hardware Profile

    When you first create it, you’re really only required to give your new Hardware Profile a name. 

    New Hardware Profile

    Other than that, you could just leave the default hardware configuration as it is.

    “But what would that be good for?”

    Exactly.  You’ll want to click on Hardware Profile on the left, and then modify the definitions found there.  (NOTE: I’ve collapsed the five sections in the list so that you can see all of them before we dive into each one.)

    image

    Notice that at any time we can create new hardware objects such as virtual SCSI adapters, DVD drives, or Network Adapters to include in our profile.  And we can also click View Script to view the current contents of the actual PowerShell Script that will be launched to create the hardware profile when we click OK.

    Click on and expand Compatibility, and click on Cloud Capability Profiles.  I’m going to select HYper-V. (and you should, too)

    Compatibility & Cloud Capability Profiles

    Cloud Capability Profiles are used to help limit the options when rolling out a new virtual machine.  For example, if I say that a machine based on this profile is only meant to run on vSphere, then those hosts are the only ones that have the capability to run this “hardware”.   Note that you aren’t limited to just those three.  Like Hardware Profiles, you can add your own custom Capability Profiles and use them to specifically allow or limit how or where machines can be deployed.  (See Capability Profiles just two up the list from Hardware Profiles?)

    Now let’s click on and expand General.

    General

    Under General we have options for pre-defining how many virtual processors and how much memory (with startup memory and the range of dynamic memory) this virtual machine requires, plus options for other virtualized hardware.  It’s important to remember here that, not only are we defining what machines based on this profile will have, but we’re also helping to determine to which virtualization hosts the machine is able to be created on or later migrated to.  For example, if this VM requires 8 virtual CPUs, then I’m not going to be able to run it on a host with only 4 logical processors; and that host won’t be a valid candidate when looking at the intelligent placement results.

    In my example, I’m going to say that this machine needs 2 processors, will be able to migrate between different processor versions (my lab laptops are all Intel-based, but have different processors), and I’m going to enable and configure Dynamic Memory.  I’m going to leave the other hardware as it is.

    General - Memory

    Now click on and expand Bus Configuration.

    image

    This is where you can add or remove hardware that supports storage devices.  By default this profile says that I’ll have a virtual DVD drive in machines based on this profile, but there is no media associated with it.  You can add as many as four IDE DVD Drives and four SCSI Adapters by clicking either option above next to “New”.  And as this silly screenshot example shows, you can use this to be more specific about the the SCSI adapter type, also.  (Remember, this isn’t actually only limiting you to 4 iSCSI disks.  Each SCSI adapter can have as many as 64 disks, giving you a maximum of 256 drives!)

    SCSI Adapter Types

    You can use this area to pre-define associations with physical DVD drives or mounted .ISO files, but you can’t use this for pre-creating or connecting to hard disks. 

    For my Hardware Profile I’m going to leave these settings as they are by default.

    Now let’s click on and expand Network Adapters.

    image

    Here is where you can specify the number of NICs your VMs based on this profile will have.  Notice in my example that I have one adapter, and that I’m specifying that these machines will connect to a previously defined “Contoso” network, getting their IP addresses from a static pool of addresses associated with that network. 

    “Hey Kevin.. What’s a ‘Port Profile’?”

    Port Profiles

    That’s a good question, and is a bit beyond the scope of this article.  “A native port profile for virtual network adapters specifies capabilities for those adapters, and makes it possible for you to control how bandwidth is used on the adapters. The capabilities include offload settings and security settings. ”  I recommend you look at THIS ARTICLE under “Native port profile for virtual network adapters” for more details.

    Now let’s click on and expand the Advanced area.

    Advanced

    The settings under Advanced have to do with various performance and reliability requirements for machines based on this profile.  In the screenshot above, you see that not only can I require that this machine only be deployed to clusters (because it must be “highly available”), but I can also give it a priority relative to other VMs on the  same host as far as how quickly this machine should restart.

    Under BIOS

    BIOS

    …we have the ability to choose the startup order of virtual bootable devices or methods, plus determine whether or not the all-important Num Lock is enabled. 

    “’All-important’?  Really?”

    I was being sarcastic.

    Under CPU Priority

    CPU Priority

    …we can specify relative priority for CPU resources for these machines.  So, if the host hardware is being heavily utilized, machines with a higher relative priority will get earlier access to resources than those of a lower priority.   And using the choices under Resource Control will further specify a minimum and maximum percent of CPU cycles these machines should have.

    Clicking on Virtual NUMA

    NUMA

    …reveals the choice to either allow Hyper-V to optimize (and allow the OS and applications to optimize) thread allocations based on NUMA topology on the hardware, or to be more specific about processors and virtual NUMA nodes for these machines.

    Check out this TECHNET MAGAZINE ARTICLE – Virtualization: Optimizing Hyper-V Memory Usage for a good description of NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) and how it is used to improve a virtual machine’s performance.

    And finally, when we click on Memory Weight

    Memory Weight

    …we see that we can further prioritize the memory that these machines will need to run.  When memory resources on a virtualization host are running low, this is a good way to help ensure that your most important machines are able to run; even at the potential exclusion of other less important machines.

    So that’s it!  I click OK, and now you can see my new hardware profile in the list. 

    Right-Click on the profile, and select Properties

    image

    …you see that there are some additional options that you can configure now that weren’t a part of the original creation of the profile.

    I can, for example, see if there are any detected dependencies.  For example, if I had decided to attach a library-based .ISO file as disk in the virtual DVD drive, we would have seen it in this list of dependencies.

    If we click on Access

    Access

    …we can add self-service users or roles here to grant use-rights for this profile.

    (For more information about Self-Service Users and Roles, CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE on Configuring Self-Service in VMM)

    And finally, we can click on Validation Errors

    image

    …to see if there are any, um, validation errors.  Smile  If something in the configuration is not quite right, or something that this profile depended upon has been removed or is otherwise unavailable, you might be able to troubleshoot it by looking here.

    And that’s it! 

    To use my new profile, I’ll create a new virtual machine called Contoso-SQL-01.

    Notice that when I get to the Configure Hardware portion of the wizard, I’ve selected my Contoso SQL Server Profile profile from the drop-down selection. 

    Configure Hardware

    This is where I now have the ability to add and define virtual hard disks to my IDE and SCSI bus adapters, or add additional devices.

    In any of these areas I can also change my choices.  That’s important.  The Hardware Profile is just a starting point, but it doesn’t mean I can’t make individual tweaks and changes for the sake of the virtual machine or the VM template that I’m creating with it.

    I complete the wizard, watch the job complete, and presto!..

    Machine Created

     

    For More Information

    For more details, I recommend the following articles and locations for expanding your knowledge of System Center 2012 SP1, Virtual Machine Manager, and VMM Hardware Profiles:

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    Was this useful?  I hope so!  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, concerns, clarifications, or cheap shots at me or Microsoft.  (Hit me with your best shot!  I can take it! Smile)

  • Guest OS Profiles in System Center 2012 SP1 VMM: Build Your Private Cloud (Series)

    This guy is happily evaluating System Center 2012 SP1 as the foundation for his Private CloudToday’s installment of our “Build Your Private Cloud in a Month” series is the second of a 5-part mini-series we’re calling “Deploying Private Cloud Workloads”.  This week we (Tommy Patterson, Blain Barton and I) are going to detail and demonstrate some of the key areas in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager that support the foundational concepts and objects in your Private Cloud arsenal:

    1. Hardware Profiles (Monday)
    2. Guest OS Profiles (Tuesday) <—Today!
    3. Application Profiles (Wednesday)
    4. VM Templates (Thursday)
    5. Service Templates (Friday)

    To follow along, make sure you have installed a test lab with Windows Server 2012 and the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2012 SP1.  (Click the links and download the evaluations, please.)

    ---

    Today’s topic is Guest OS Profiles in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager.

    What is a Guest Operating System Profile?

    Similarly to we discussed yesterday when I told you about Hardware Profiles, a Guest Operating System Profile “specifies the operating system settings that you want the virtual machine to use when a virtual machine is created and deployed.”  It’s a named definition that represents some desired configuration that can be applied to new virtual machine templates.

    Notice that I didn’t say “you can apply a Guest Operating System Profile directly to a new virtual machine”.  These profiles are first associated with Virtual Machine Templates, from which virtual machines can then be created.  You won’t have an option to add a Guest OS Profile to a machine that you’re creating from scratch (unlike you could with the Hardware Profiles we talked about yesterday).

    Why are Guest Operating System Profiles Useful?

    Think of a scenario where you need to create many (several, dozens, hundreds, thousands) of virtual machines that all are pretty much going to be doing the same thing.  They all have the same OS, have similar names, administrator passwords, product keys.  They are all web servers which require various features of IIS to be installed.  They all join the same domain.  These items “in common” relating to the configuration of the virtual machine’s operating system are perfect reasons to use Guest OS Profiles.

    IMPORTANT: Let’s consider what this implies.  Unlike other virtualization solutions that would require me to pre-build and install separate disk images containing various optional operating system configurations, each with roles and features installed differently, I now have the ability to use just one disk image, or one generic OS installation, and then apply different configuration choices dynamically, and at the time of VM creation and deployment.  We can define these differences in the Guest OS Profile section of the virtual machine’s properties as we’re creating them, and we can pre-build these Guest OS Profiles to represent those different machine options.  That’s huge.

    How do I create a Guest Operating System Profile?

    Guest Operating System Profiles are created in the Profiles area of the Library section in Virtual Machine Manager.

    Guest OS Profiles

    Right-Click on Guest OS Profiles to launch the creation of your new Guest OS Profile.

    General 

    As you can see from the name and description, I’m creating a common Guest OS profile for Contoso’s web servers.

    After you’ve given your profile a name, click on Guest OS Profile, and you can see all the areas we are going to potentially configure.  (I’ve collapsed all but the first area to make it easier to see what we’re talking about.)

    Operating System

    The General Settings area allows you to configure the items you see here.  For example, the Guest Operating System selection you make here will shape how the rest of this configuration works for you.  For example, if I select Windows XP, I’m not going to be able to add Roles or Features.  It doesn’t make sense.

    Expand the list to see the many choices that you have.  I’m going to leave “64-bit edition of Windows Server 2012 Standard” selected.

    Under Identity Information

    Identity Information

    …we can specify the name we want to give our computer.  This name is the actual machine name (and just not the VM name used in Hyper-V Manager or Virtual Machine Manager); which means it should probably be unique.  And which is why you have a wildcard ‘*’ option for allowing VMM to generate a new unique name with each new machine based on this Guest OS Profile. 

    But that’s not the only option.   You can also use ### characters to set up a portion of a recognizable name to have a numeric incrementing value to make them unique.  In my case, I’m going to use Contoso-WEB-## to generate computers named Contoso-WEB-01, Contoso-WEB-02, and so on.

    Under Admin Password

    Admin Password

    …I’m going to use my pre-defined Run As account “Admin” to be configured and used as the administrator account on these new machines.  Notice that you also have the option of not specifying an account, or defining one for the local Administrator specifically here.

    (For more information about Run As accounts in VMM, CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE – Configuring Run As Accounts in VMM)

    Click on Product Key

    Product Key

    …which is (you guessed it) where we can add a product key for this operating system.  This is optional.  And no.. I’m not going to show you my product key.  Sorry.

    That “Product key provided by answer file.” option is greyed-out because I haven’t added an answer file under the Scripts section.  If I had done that, we could then check the box to grab the product key from that answer file.

    Time Zone

    Best Time Zone

    …is of course where we can set the time zone for this machine.  Personally, I’m partial to the BEST place to live: The GMT -6:00 Central Time Zone (US and Canada). 

    Okay.. now let’s click on and expand Roles and Features.

    image

    This is where, in my opinion, things get really interesting.  We can actually pre-determine which roles and features are to be added to a machine.  If machines based on this Guest OS Profile are going to need certain .NET framework versions installed, or have IIS installed, I can define that here.  The image or installation that I base the deployment of these machines on doesn’t have to have these pre-loaded.

    NOTE: the configuration of roles and features here is only used if this Guest OS Profile is used in a VM Template, which is in turn used in a Service Template.  You will get a warning reminding you of this if you configure these here, and then try to create a VM directly off of the VM Template.  The proper way to get this to work is to create a Service Template.  Even if you only have a one-machine Service Template, the deployment of the service will configure the roles and features you’ve specified (along with adding applications and SQL Server configurations, which we’ll talk about tomorrow); whether coming from the Guest OS Profile, or directly in the VM Template.

    Click on and expand Networking.

    Networking

    This is where, if I choose, I can pre-define the domain membership that machines using this Guest OS Profile should have.  In my example I am again using my pre-configured Run As account “Admin” to join these machines to my Remde.home domain.

    (For more information about Run As accounts in VMM, CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE – Configuring Run As Accounts in VMM)

    Finally, click on and expand Scripts.

    Scripts - Answer File

    Here is where I can point to an answer file that might have been built manually, or by using the Windows System Image Manager tool (a part of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Toolkit (ADK)).

    The [GUIRunOnce] Commands

     

    …give you the powerful opportunity to add a command or script to be launched the first time a user logs on to machines based on this profile.  So, if there is further customization or other scripted installations that need to take place once the machine is first used, you can have that launched automatically by configuring it here.

    When I finally click OK, I now have my new Guest OS Profile. 

    Right-Click the new profile and select Properties to make changes or view other information about the profile.  For example, you have a Dependencies area…

    Dependencies

    …which shows you if there are any items that this profile is dependent upon.  (Hence the name.)  In my example I used the Admin RunAs account two times in the profile, so this is reminding me that that definition needs to remain in place for this Guest OS Profile to function properly.

    The other new area is Access

    Access

    …which, like it did in Hardware Profiles, allows us to add self-service users or roles here to grant use-rights for this profile.

    (For more information about Self-Service Users and Roles, CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE on Configuring Self-Service in VMM

    Creating a Virtual Machine Template

    To use my new profile, I’ve created a new virtual machine template called Contoso-WEB-Server Template, which uses a modified version of the Hardware Profile we created yesterday, and the Guest OS Profile that I created just now.  In the creation of the VM, I also pointed to the Windows Server 2012 evaluation .VHD as the base image for this machine.  (You can start playing with this evaluation .VHD by choosing the “Download the Evaluation VHD” option on my Server 2012 evaluation download page.)

    In the interest of keeping this blog post short (?!), I’m going to leave the details of working with VM Templates to my friend Tommy Patterson’s post this coming Thursday.

    Creating a Virtual Machine

    If you’re looking at the Templates area under Library, you can now create a new virtual machine by right-clicking on the template…

    Create Virtual Machine

    …and selecting Create Virtual Machine.

    For the Virtual Machine’s Identity

    Identity

    …I can leave it blank.  If you do that, it will create the name from what you’ve specified in the “Configure Operating System” area of the wizard (which, as you’ll see, we’re going to get from our newly created Guest OS Profile).

    Click Next

    For the Hardware Profile, I’ll select one that I recently created (based on the one we built yesterday). 

    Configure Hardware

    Click Next

    For the Guest OS Profile, I’ll select our new Contoso Web Server Profile.

    image

    Click Next.

    destination

    For the Destination, I’m going to put my new machine on a host.  Notice that I could also choose to deploy to a supporting Cloud, or to the library as a stored machine.

    Click Next.

    The Intelligent Placement algorithm kicks in and, for my machine, determines that there are only two of my three servers that are viable candidates to host my machine.  I’ll choose the first option.

    Host Placement

    Click Next.

    Reviewing the settings let’s me see what the defaults were that are about to be assigned, and gives me an opportunity to change them.

    Configure Settings

    For example, I had tested this deployment before, so the computer name ## was incremented higher than I wanted.  Otherwise things look good.

    Click Next.  I’m going to leave the Add Properties alone.  I’m fine with those defaults.  Click Next again…

    Summary

    … and then click Create.

    Several minutes later, you should have a new virtual machine!  Notice that it completed with warnings – mainly reminding me that because I used a VM Template (and not a Service Template) to directly create the virtual machine, it wasn’t able to modify the roles or features as I had specified in my Guest OS Profile.

    Warning

    When start up, connect to my machine, and log-on, I can see that it has joined the domain as I had configured in our Guest OS Profile…

    Server Manager

    …and all is as I expected!

    For More Information

    For more details, I recommend the following articles and locations for expanding your knowledge of System Center 2012 SP1, Virtual Machine Manager, and VMM Guest OS Profiles:

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    Was this useful?  I hope so!  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, concerns, clarifications, or cheap shots at me or Microsoft.  (Hit me with your best shot!  I can take it! Smile)

  • Application Profiles in System Center 2012 SP1 VMM: Build Your Private Cloud (Series)

    This guy is happily evaluating System Center 2012 SP1 as the foundation for his Private CloudToday’s installment of our “Build Your Private Cloud in a Month” series is the third of a 5-part mini-series we’re calling “Deploying Private Cloud Workloads”.  This week we (Tommy Patterson, Blain Barton and I) are going to detail and demonstrate some of the key areas in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager that support the foundational concepts and objects in your Private Cloud arsenal:

    1. Hardware Profiles (Monday)
    2. Guest OS Profiles (Tuesday)
    3. Application Profiles (Wednesday) <—Today!
    4. VM Templates (Thursday)
    5. Service Templates (Friday)

    To follow along, make sure you have installed a test lab with Windows Server 2012 and the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2012 SP1.  (Click the links and download the evaluations, please.)

    ---

    Today’s topic is Guest OS Profiles in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager.

    What is an Application Profile?

    From the TechNet entry on the subject: “An application profile provides instructions for installing Microsoft Server Application Virtualization (Server App-V) applications, Microsoft Web Deploy applications, and Microsoft SQL Server data-tier applications (DACs), and for running scripts when deploying a virtual machine as part of a service.”

    So, there are three Application Profile application types, and each will be used (and re-used) when we want to add a deployable Web Application, Server App-V application, and SQL Server DAC to virtual machine templates that are being deployed as a part of a service template.

    And that last part – service template – is important.  Like some of the properties of the Guest OS Profile we talked about yesterday, Application Profiles will only be deployed when used in a virtual machine is a part of a service deployment.

    Why are Application Profiles Useful?

    Just like any other template, if we have a way to define and implement  something that will be used over-and-over again, there is a benefit of creating it once and then re-using as needed.  It saves time, and reduces the opportunity for user-errors.  (PEBKAC*, or ID-10-T** errors.)

    How do I create an Application Profile?

    We’ll find Application Profiles under the same section of the Library as we did the other two profiles we’ve discussed.

    Application Profiles in the Library

    Right-Click it, and create a new one.

    Give your Application Profile a name and a description…

    New Application Profile

    Notice that under Compatibility you have some choices:

    • For deploying any application type, or a combination of Web Apps, Virtual (Server App-V) Apps, or SQL DAC apps, leave the default selection, General.
    • For deploying SQL Server DAC packages or SQL Server scripts to an existing SQL Server in your environment, click SQL Server Application Host.  (If you click SQL Server Application Host, you can add only SQL Server DAC packages and SQL Server scripts to the application profile.)
    • For deploying web applications to a server running Internet Information Services (IIS), and if you are running System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1), click Web Application Host.  (If you click Web Application Host, you can add only Web Deploy packages and associated scripts to the application profile.)

    For this example, I’m going to choose General.

    Now click on Application Configuration

    App Configuration

    …and notice that I’ve already selected “64-bit edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise”.  You of course will choose the operating system version onto which this application will be installed.

    Now click Add

    Add an Application

    …and you’ll see that I can add any of our three application types, plus add some scripting.  And in fact, because I selected “General” Compatibility earlier, I can add more than one of these to the same application profile.

    For the rest of this example, I’m going to open up a pre-built Application Profile to show you how one might be configured for a Web and then an App-V application.  Here is one for the web tier of a sample “Stock Trader” application..

    ST Web Application Profile

    You can see that this Application Profile includes two web applications (Trade Web and Config Web), one each of pre-install and post-install scripts for the Trade Web application, and one pre-install script that will run before anything else runs. 

    NOTE: I have application packages that have been saved in the VMM Library, and clicking on Browse allows me to select the packages or custom resources required.  The creation of the applications, packages, and custom resources are beyond the scope of this article. 

    Settings for an application are surfaced here and variable values can be edited.  In some instances, you’ll use placeholders so that, when the service is finally being deployed, you can fill in values that will be used when the applications are finally installed or the scripts are finally run.

    Notice what options you have for configuring this script…

    Script Options

    I can specify the type of script command it is, from a number of options.  I also enter what the executable program will be (in this case just the command engine cmd.exe), command parameters, and a script resource package.  I also specify the Run As account – which is the security context that this command should be run in.

    Let’s look at an example of an Application Profile that defines the installation of a Server App-V application:

    App-V App

    This is an application that was packaged using Server App-V that I pulled from the library.  (Click the link for details on Server App-V).  Again, this is an application that contains variables that will contain values during the configuration of the application.   And we’ve also defined some scripting to configure the server with the application; both pre and post-installation.

    How do I USE an Application Profile?

    For my example, I’m going to build the Middle Tier VM Template of a four-tier service.  And I’m going to include the “ST Order Processing” Application Profile as I build the machine template.  (I’ll also use a Hardware Profile and Guest OS Profile that I’ve already created.)

    And then when I’m done building the VM Template, I’ll create a new Service Template that includes all four of my VM Templates. 

    VM Templates are found in Templates, at the very top of the Library section (above Profiles):

    VM Templates

    I’ll start by creating a brand new VM Template that uses the Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Evaluation as its source .vhd image.

    Select Source

    Click Next.  in the VM Template Identity form, I’ll name my VM Template “Stock Trader Mid OP Tier”, since it will be the template that builds the machines running the middle-tier Order Processing application in my Stock Trader service.

    VM Template Identity

    Click Next.  Here’s where the work of the last couple of days pays off.  For the description of the hardware, I can use a previously created Hardware Profile.  Mine is called “Stock Trader Server HW Profile”.  It has everything about the hardware for the VM pre-configured; including the networking configuration.

    Configure Hardware

    Click Next.  Similarly, I can pull in a pre-created Guest OS Profile that I named “Stock Trader Guest OS Profile”. 

    Configure Operating System

    You can see that it comes pre-configured with OS, Administrator account, product key and domain membership information already defined.  Note that in my desire to keep the Guest OS Profile more generic, I didn’t enter anything unique about the Computer Name in the profile.  But now that I’m using the profile for a specific machine type, I can edit it here.  I’m going to use “ST5MidOp###”, so that the machines will all be named uniquely but similarly, and will have incrementing 3-digit numbers at the end of their names.

    Computer Name

    Notice also that I didn’t add any roles or features in its definition.  This is fine for this VM Template, but there are others (the Web Tier machine, for example) that I have added things like Application Server and IIS components.

    Click Next.  Here’s where I can select and use my ST Order Processing Application Profile

    Configure Applications

    I’ll click Next, click Next again to skip over the addition of a SQL Server application to this template, and then on the Summary page I’ll click Create.

    The Jobs window opens, and in short order the “Create Template” job completes successfully.  And hen I look back at my list of VM Templates, I now see this:

    VM Templates

    Now I’m ready to use these in the creation of my Stock Trader Service Template, and then to deploy the Stock Trader Service based on that service template.

    Wow!  A Service Template

    See “Creating Service Templates in VMM” for more information on how that’s done.

    For More Information

    For more details, I recommend the following articles and locations for expanding your knowledge of System Center 2012 SP1, Virtual Machine Manager, and VMM Guest OS Profiles:

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    Was this useful?  I hope so!  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, concerns, clarifications, or cheap shots at me or Microsoft.  (Hit me with your best shot!  I can take it! Smile)

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    * “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair”

    ** Telling the user it’s an “ID 10 T” error is just another way to call them an ID10T.

  • VM Templates in System Center 2012 SP1 VMM: Build Your Private Cloud (Series)

    This guy is happily evaluating System Center 2012 SP1 as the foundation for his Private CloudToday’s installment of our “Build Your Private Cloud in a Month” series is the fourth of a 5-part mini-series we’re calling “Deploying Private Cloud Workloads”.  This week we (Tommy Patterson, Blain Barton and I) are going to detail and demonstrate some of the key areas in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager that support the foundational concepts and objects in your Private Cloud arsenal:

    1. Hardware Profiles (Monday)
    2. Guest OS Profiles (Tuesday)
    3. Application Profiles (Wednesday)
    4. VM Templates (Thursday) <—Today, by Tommy Patterson
    5. Service Templates (Friday)

    To follow along, make sure you have installed a test lab with Windows Server 2012 and the Virtual Machine Manager component of System Center 2012 SP1.  (Click the links and download the evaluations, please.)

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    Today’s article, written by my friend and ATL-based coworker Tommy Patterson, goes into detail about Virtual Machine (VM) Templates, and gives us detailed a step-by-step on how they are created and used in System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager.

    CHECK OUT HIS ARTICLE HERE

    VM Templates

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    Have you found our series useful?  I hope so!  Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, concerns, clarifications, or cheap shots at me or Microsoft.  (Hit me with your best shot!  I can take it! Smile)