Does this scare you?
This, if you don’t know, is Hyper-V Server 2008 R2. No proper GUI, pretty-much command-line oriented, and without doubt, in my eyes, the optimal way to deploy Hyper-V into businesses of all sizes. Why this, over the GUI version of Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V? Well, there’s less going on, reduced patches, reduced services, and it’s kind of like the Ronseal version of Hyper-V – it does exactly what it says on the tin (that’s more for the UK guys!) i.e. it’s Hyper-V, and Clustering, and no other roles. Sure it has the driver model, and the core kernel, but that’s pretty much it. It’s still manageable and deployable like your normal Windows OS’s, it’s just, well, smaller. Best of all, is it’s free for everyone and unlike others, we don’t skimp on the features of our free version. Live Migration, High Availability, Hot-Add and more, it’s all in there, for free.
Question is, how to you deploy it, configure it, and manage it, and how quick can you do it?
Answer – watch this video, and be up and running in about an hour!
In this one-off video, I walk through a bare-metal installation of Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (RC) on 2 physical nodes, hook them up to an iSCSI SAN, configure the SAN storage, and then, from a Windows 7 (RC) laptop, validate, and build a Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (RC) Cluster. The end result? A Highly Available, Live Migratable, Virtual Machine!
Duration: 48m 34s
Download the video, and more, from the VirtualboyTV site
For those of you not familiar, the SVVP, or Server Virtualisation Validation Program, enables end Customers, and Partners to understand what is, and isn’t, from a Microsoft perspective, supported in virtual environments. These virtual environments could be Microsoft, VMware, Citrix, or another. The current, complete list of SVVP certified virtualisation solutions are as follows:
Hyper-V isn’t on the list, as this program is to certify non-Microsoft platforms only.
So, my hypervisor of choice is on the list (or is Hyper-V :-)). What does that mean?
Well, it means that this KB article: 957006 becomes very important, as it shows all the Microsoft Server applications, like SQL, or SharePoint, that are supported in a virtual environment, providing the virtual environment is on that list above…
You could quite easily use this list to check your support status, however, an SVVP Wizard has been released to ease the process. It’s a simple 3-part process:
Select the Microsoft product you are interested in virtualising…
Choose your platform and guest OS…
then receive your support statement! :-)
It even gives you information, related to that product as to what is, and isn’t supported – very useful indeed me thinks!
You can access the SVVP Wizard for yourselves, here!
“PoundHost is a fast-growing hosting service provider in Maidenhead, United Kingdom, that embraced server virtualization as a way to curb hardware costs and lower hosting prices. However, the high cost of VMware and lack of management tools hurt competitiveness. PoundHost replaced VMware with Windows Server® 2008 R2 Datacenter and Hyper-V™ technology to reduce licensing costs by 80 percent and add new services. Using Hyper-V in conjunction with Microsoft® System Center datacenter solutions, PoundHost now offers customized online ordering and delivers configured servers in less than an hour. Between a dramatic increase in virtual-machine sales and reduced licensing costs, PoundHost has increased profitability by 55 percent. Automated server provisioning has reduced IT costs by more than U.S.$50,000 annually, and proactive server monitoring increases server availability.”
I’m not going to say anything more about this case study, apart from the fact that you should spend 5 minutes reading it. It isn’t the fact that they’ve moved from VMware to Hyper-V that I’m most pleased with, it’s the reason why they’ve moved, and what their new technologies, particularly System Center, is enabling them, as a business, to do, that they simply couldn’t do on the VMware side on it’s own:
“Once customers have completed their server configuration (through the online portal), the order is validated through the PoundHost billing system and passed to Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007. The PoundHost staff use the Windows® PowerShell™ command-line interface and scripting language to create scripts that automate the construction of the virtual machine to the customer’s exact specifications. Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 creates the virtual machine on the host server, and System Center Configuration Manager 2007 installs the operating system, configures the appropriate Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and installs the customer’s business software and all necessary security updates.
When the server is ready—in 20 to 60 minutes—System Center Configuration Manager 2007 notifies the PoundHost billing system, which sends the customer an e-mail message announcing that the server is ready. The message provides the IP address of the server, instructions on how to log on to the server, and support information. “When our virtual-server offerings were based on VMware, customers could only select prepackaged configurations because VMware didn’t have the back-end tools necessary to dynamically configure and build servers,” says Steve Belton, Software and Systems Architect for PoundHost and BlueSquare Data Group. “Once the customer’s order was submitted, we had to build the server manually. With Hyper-V, we can offer customers much greater flexibility, and the System Center solutions build the server automatically.”
Great stuff guys.
Here’s the link: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Case_Study_Detail.aspx?CaseStudyID=4000004741
Just under a month ago, I blogged about the beta release of the MAP tool, which, for those not familiar, is is an integrated planning toolkit that makes it easier for Microsoft customers and partners to quickly identify what servers, workstations, and network devices are in their IT environment. This agentless and scalable toolkit has the ability to discover all computers within Active Directory and workgroup environments. It performs key functions that include hardware and device inventory, hardware compatibility analysis, and generation of actionable, environment-specific IT proposals for migration to most major Microsoft technologies.
I’m pleased to say that version 4.0 of the tool has now hit RTM, so you can start using it now!
For those who need a recap on what MAP can actually do, read on…
What’s New with Version 4.0?
The Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 4.0 has the following new features:
Saves Pre-Sales and Planning Time. For most IT consultants and Microsoft Partners, a detailed network inventory and assessment of servers and desktops often takes days of manual labour. With the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit, they can conduct an environment inventory of up to 100,000 computers in a matter of hours instead of days, giving customers and partners extra time to focus on critical planning or presales tasks. In addition, for IT professionals, this toolkit can significantly reduce the time it takes to gather the information necessary to make the business case for client, server, and virtualisation projects.
Provides Actionable Recommendations and Reporting. This toolkit provides valuable inventory and readiness assessment reports with environment-specific upgrade recommendations and virtualisation candidate reports, making it easier for IT migration and deployment projects to get off the ground and running.
Covers Wide Range of Scenarios - from Desktops to Servers. This toolkit offers technology assessments and planning recommendations for many Microsoft desktop and server products including Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, 2007 Microsoft Office, SQL Server 2008, Forefront Client Security, Network Access Protection, Microsoft Application Virtualisation, and more.
In support of the upcoming Windows Server 2008 R2 campaign, the Solution Accelerators Team has updated the following guides in the Infrastructure Planning and Design series to reflect new features and capabilities available in Windows Server 2008 R2:
Download the entire IPD series of guides or download an individual guide here. Download now.
These guides outline the critical infrastructure design elements that are crucial to a successful implementation of Windows Server 2008 R2. The reader is guided through the multi-step process of designing components, layout, and connectivity in a logical, sequential order. Following the steps in these guides will result in a design that is sized, configured, and appropriately placed to deliver the stated business benefits, while also considering the performance, capacity, and fault tolerance of the system.
Infrastructure Planning and Design streamlines the planning process by:
Some interesting comments too, so worth a read…
For those of you in the know, Microsoft has worked closely with both Novell, and Red Hat, to help optimise SUSE and RHEL respectively, to run as guest OS’s, on Hyper-V. However, customer’s want more. Customers would like to run other flavours of Linux, like Ubuntu, on Hyper-V too. This can be achieved today, but these OS’s run in an emulated fashion, which isn’t as optimised as a paravirtualised, or enlightened guest OS, like Windows Server. OS’s like Ubuntu just aren’t tuned to run on Hyper-V.
As of today, that changes. LinuxIC is a collection of kernel drivers that enable Linux to recognize that it is running on Microsoft's Hyper-V and optimize accordingly, resulting in an "enlightened version of Linux”, This is great news for the Linux community, and great news for those holding off Hyper-V, and going down the VMware route, because of this lack of support for other Linux distributions.
REDMOND, Wash., July 20, 2009 — Today, in a break from the ordinary, Microsoft released 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community. The code, which includes three Linux device drivers, has been submitted to the Linux kernel community for inclusion in the Linux tree. The drivers will be available to the Linux community and customers alike, and will enhance the performance of the Linux operating system when virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V or Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V
From IDC: “Although Microsoft has open sourced the code and submitted it to the Linux Driver Project, it is not yet part of the main Linux kernel. The code will have to be reviewed and tested by the community and then submitted for official inclusion into the Linux kernel tree. Assuming all goes well, these integration components should eventually get accepted and make its way into nearly every Linux distribution, commercially supported and free. Exactly when that happens will be unpredictable, since it depends on when and what version of the kernel it gets accepted into, and when the various distros pick up the new kernel from the tree.”
“Until the new drivers trickle through the system, users wishing to leverage the components will have to compile their own Linux kernels or driver modules, making the process more complicated, and along the way moving into an unofficial kernel configuration This primarily applies to the unpaid Linux market, as commercial providers Novell and Red Hat will (or already have) integrated these components and support them”
Support is always a funny one when talking about the whole Microsoft & VMware saga. VMware will actively market that they ‘support more versions of Windows than Microsoft’ to which I say, “Do you though?”. The key thing about supporting an OS, is that typically, you have to be the one that makes the OS, to support it. When I say support, I mean, hotfix, bug, update type support, which is not the same as providing VMTools for OS’s. This is compatibility. As an example, take Windows NT for example. Can you run it on VMware? Yes. Do VMware provide VMtools for it? Yes. Does that mean it’s supported? No. Can you run it on Hyper-V? Yes. Do Microsoft provide Integration Components for it? No. Does it mean it’s supported? No. The end result is the same. Windows NT is out of lifecycle support, so there is little value in investing in producing Integration Components for the OS. Same goes for Windows Server 2003 SP1, XP SP1, and the list goes on. Microsoft provides IC’s for the OS’s that customers can call up, and ask for help with. These are the OS’s that Microsoft support, in the true sense of the word. So, when I see images like this in blog posts:
I sigh and think, yes, that list is longer, but can I call VMware and ask them to support me with anything OS-related on say, Ubuntu. Probably not. What about Asianux? Probably not. Debian? I’ll check the forums. NT 4.0? Let’s not go there… Compatibility, yes, support, no.
Again, from IDC, in summary:
“Microsoft still has to figure out a support structure and certification for unpaid Linux. Novell and Red Hat remain the only officially supported Linux guest OSes on Hyper-V, while VMware officially supports a much larger list of guest OSes. The problem is that many of the Linux distros have no official support organization behind it, leaving no one for Microsoft to create a cross support and certification agreement with. Realistically, VMware faces this same support issue, so its support only extends to ensuring that the virtual hardware emulates real hardware and validation efforts to test that the OS runs correctly”
So, in a nutshell, I think this is a good move by Microsoft. Streamlining the experience of non-Microsoft OS’s again shows how forthcoming Microsoft is being when it comes to heterogeneous environments, and follows in the footsteps of other technologies like SCVMM and SCOM, both of which have heterogeneous capabilities. From the IT Admin’s perspective, it opens the door to a more centralised administration experience, which, again, can only be a good thing. Let’s just hope the LinuxIC’s end up in the kernel!
This landed in my inbox this morning courtesy of the TechNet Flash Newsletter so I thought I’d share it, as there’s a bit of virtualisation in there!
As we move closer to the launch of Windows 7, a number of organisations are starting to think about their next desktop. What hardware will I use, Fat or Thin? Will I have a physical, or virtual desktop? Where does Terminal Services or Remote Desktop Services fit in? What about my applications, installed or streamed? All these questions, and more, aim to be answered in the latest Infrastructure Planning and Design Guide, focused on the Windows Optimised Desktop Scenario Selection Tool v1.1.
“Organisations today face the challenge of maintaining rigorous controls over their computing environments while providing the power and flexibility users need to be productive. User and IT goals can sometimes appear to be in conflict. Optimising the corporate desktop environment resolves this conflict by providing IT the manageability it requires while giving users the varying levels of power and flexibility they need.
The Windows Optimised Desktop Scenarios relate the business requirements (IT and user) for a flexible, efficient, and managed desktop environment to sets of complementary Microsoft technologies by defining and using five standard user scenarios that map business requirements to technology solutions. These core scenarios are: Office Worker, Mobile Worker, Task Worker, Contract/Offshore Worker, and workers who need to Access from Home”
So, ask yourself, inside your organisations, what categories do your workers fit into? Some organisations will have a complete workforce who fit into 1 category, whereas other organisations will have a wide mix. Either way, there are technologies out there, that when implemented, can give you the right fit for the right worker. Some of this may involve virtualisation, whilst some of it won’t. Microsoft aren’t a virtualisation company, they’re a software company, and hence, we don’t push you to ‘virtualise everything’ when it actually might not be the right solution for every worker.
The Windows Optimized Desktop Scenario Assessment Guide describes the five user scenarios defined for the Windows Optimised Desktop and further describes the Microsoft products and technologies that underpin each scenario solution. These include: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, App-V, MED-V, Hyper-V, and Remote Desktop Services. This document guides you through an assessment of user groups in your organization to identify the scenario or scenarios that best fit your environment.
You can get all the information, and more, from here.
I’ve been desperate to get these videos out for weeks now, but the editing seems to have taken forever! Oh, and there was other work to do too, obviously!
That said, all 5 parts of the Windows Server 2008 R2: Remote Desktop Services Series are online now, over at TechNet Edge, and on Virtualboy TV, But I'll dedicate a couple of posts on here to them too, so you know where to find them specifically. Now, without further adoo, on to part 1!!
Part 1: RDS Session Host - Installation & Configuration
In this video, I walk through the initial installation and configuration of the RDS Session Host (traditional Terminal Server) in a Windows Server 2008 R2 environment. I enable the role, set up the initial bits, and then go on to show some of the different ways I can deploy RDS Applications, also know as RDS RemoteApp.
Duration: 39m 12s
Download the video, and more, from the VirtualboyTV site.
RDS Web Portal - Installation & Configuration
In this video, we build on part 1, by introducing an alternative way to access the different RDS applications and sessions using the Web Portal. We'll also take a look at some of the new functionality introduced in 2008 R2 such as User Assignment.
Duration: 15m 08s