Tag Archive: Hyper-v


I was asked last week to be a guest on the Veeam Communities Podcast , hosted by Rick Vanover. It was a nice change to be the interviewee rather than the interviewer. Rick , Doug Carson and I talked about Hyper V and its state of readyness for the real world ™

 

I also get put on the spot for the big three questions & you get to hear about the biggest IT “fail” of my career…

I’ve embedded the podcast below but head over to www.veeam.com/podcast for some of the other episodes !

 


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The Videos from the 3 Day Virtualisation Jumpstart for Vmware Pros have been finally released. In addition to the slides decks I linked in the previous posts , you can pick up all the Videos in HD From Technet Edge at the following URL. “Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals”

 

The Videos are also available for mobile devices at the Zune Market Place and on iTunes. Android users will just have to view them natively Winking smile

 

If you’d like  to jump to a specific chapter of the Jumpstart , here are some direct links.

 

o Virtualization Jump Start (01): Virtualization Overview

o Virtualization Jump Start (02): Differentiating Microsoft & VMware

o Virtualization Jump Start (03a): Hyper-V Deployment Options & Architecture | Part 1

o Virtualization Jump Start (03b): Hyper-V Deployment Options & Architecture | Part 2

o Virtualization Jump Start (04): High-Availability & Clustering

o Virtualization Jump Start (05): System Center Suite Overview with focus on DPM

o Virtualization Jump Start (06): Automation with Opalis, Service Manager & PowerShell

o Virtualization Jump Start (07): System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012

o Virtualization Jump Start (08): Private Cloud Solutions, Architecture & VMM Self-Service Portal 2.0

o Virtualization Jump Start (09): Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Architecture | Part 1

o Virtualization Jump Start (10): Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Architecture | Part 2

o Virtualization Jump Start (11): v-Alliance Solution Overview

o Virtualization Jump Start (12): Application Delivery for VDI

 

The Jumpstart was well attended and on the whole very well run – while I didn’t quite agree with the periodic competitive marketing nuggets , I would say there is certainly some good information in them, especially around SCVMM 2012.

For 3 days this week I’m adjusting my body clock to be able to attend the Microsoft Jumpstart for VMware professionals, a FREE 3 day series of webinars put on by Microsoft to explain the Redmond way of Virtualisation and how it might fit in better than we think with the VMware way of doing things. From what I’ve heard , over 1300 IT professionals attended the LiveMeeting based session yesterday , with similar numbers for Today ( Management ) and Tomorrow ( VDI ) Forecasted.

Apart from the odd time of day , I’m really impressed with the logistics of the course – sign up and connection was very straightforward, with a good level of interaction , via polling screens and Question and Answer.

What they hadn’t done , was to encourage conversation via social media , so being a fan of “talking at the back of class” – I started using the #msjumpstart hashtag To help report to those who might not have had time to join the whole session and hopefully to provoke some discussion around it.

The Presenters , Corey Hynes and Symon Perriman did a pretty good job of presenting objectively without too many “we’re better than VMware” comparisons , though I felt there were a few weaknesses of Hyper-V that were somewhat played down.

A good mix of slide decks , free conversation and live demo’s made up the majority of the first day , which was based around an introduction to the platform , showing off some features and attempting to translate common vSphere terminology into “Hyper-V speak” and vice versa. What I noticed were a number of things that as a VMware administrator, I take for granted as being an intrinsic part of the solution , that seemed to be a little bit more of a big deal to the Microsoft side. I think its because for an average windows admin , large scale clustered installations are much less common in a pre hypervisor world.

Storage seemed to be something “best left to the Storage guys” – I’m not quite convinced that’s the best message to use in order to break technology silos down. Again, I think many Windows admins ( myself included ) had very little exposure to storage design and technologies pre virtualisation , thankfully with the new breed of Storage Technology that’s hitting the market its is a lot easier for Average Joe Admin to provision some storage for his infrastructure , be it VMware , or Microsoft based.

If you’d like to sign up to take part in the jumpstart , then head over to https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/WebCastEventDetails.aspx?EventID=1032479939&EventCategory=2&culture=en-US&CountryCode=US

 

I believe recordings of the sessions are going to be available at the Microsoft Virtual Academy http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/

The slide decks and recording are also available at : http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/hyper/m/hypercrmar2011/default.aspx

 

I look forward to Days 2 & 3 – if you’d like to join the conversation during the jumpstart , search for the hashtag #msjumpstart

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As a virtualisation professional , there seems an almost limitless choice of 3rd party software you can bolt into your environment. While VMware covers many of the bases with its own product lines in capacity planning , lifecycle management & reporting , some of them are missing a feature or two , or just too complex for your environment. Many vendors seek to address this problem with a multi product offering , but so far, I’ve only come across a single vendor who aim to address issues like these with a single product.

I spoke with Jason Cowie & Colin Jack from Embotics a few months ago , but was only able to secure a product demo last week – In some ways I wish I’d waited until the next release as it sounds like its going to be packed with some interesting features. I don’t really like blogging about what is “coming up in the next version” , so will be concentrating on what you can get today ( or in a couple of cases the minor release due any time ). This isn’t something specifically levelled at the Embotics guys who are most likely internally submersed in the “vnext” code so to them it is the current product.As an architect ,I’m just as guilty of evangelising about features of a product that is several months away form a deployment. Many vendors do the same to whip up interest around the product ( hyper-v R2 is a great example of this ) , but it doesn’t really show a level playing field to compare a roadmap item with an item that’s on the shelves today. When the 4.0 version of V-Commander is released , I look forward to seeing all of the mentioned features for myself !

 

So What is it ?

The Website really does define the V-Commander product as being all things to all men , that is to say if those men are into Virtualisation management ! They show how the Product can be used to help with : Capacity Management , Change Management , Chargeback and IT Costing , Configuration Management , Lifecycle Management , Performance Management and Self Service.

That’s a lot of strings to its bow – and certainly enough to make you wonder if its a jack of all trades, master of none type product. After a good look at the offering , I can safely say that’s not the case , but its defiantly stronger in some of those fields than others.

The “Secret Sauce” of the V-Commander product is its policy engine. Policies drive almost every facet of the product and they are what allows it to be as flexible as it is. Once connected to one or more vCenters , it will start gathering information right away. This is what they refer to as “0-Day Analysis” , For a large environment , the information gathering cycle for some capacity management products can take quite some time ( I’ve seen up to 36 Hours) as the appliance tries to pull some pretty granular information from vCenter. I wasn’t able to run the Embotics product against a large environment to see if this is the case.However, I have it from the Embotics guys  as an example, that to pull the information for 30 months of operation for a vCenter with 1200 machines took a couple of hours ;to me this is more than acceptable.The headline report that Embotics shows off as being a fast one to generate is one showing the number of deployed VM’s over time , which is a handy way of illustrating potential sprawl.

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The next key thing that V-Commander does is provide some more flexible metadata about a virtual machine. Entry of this data can be enforced by policy , for example you might want to say that all machines must have an end of use or set review date before they can be deployed. This really enforces the mantra of a cradle to grave lifecycle management application. The VM is tracked form its provision , through its working life and finally during the decommission phase. Virtual Machine templates can be tracked in the same way as Machines themselves – this sounds like an appealing way of ensuring you are not trying to deploy a machine from an old template. What is interesting is that the Metadata for an object can come in from other 3rd parties so there is potential to track Patching / Antivirus , so the appropriate integration be available.

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Policy enforcement is real time, so for example even if I attempted to power on a VM via an rCLI command that V-commander policies would not allow to be powered on , the product is fast enough to power it back off again before it left the BIOS. In addition to this an alert would be generated of the rogue activity.

The Web GUI of the product splits into 2 main views – in addition to the administrators view There is also a “self service portal” – I put this in quotes for the very good reason that there are other self service portals that have currently hit the market which are more self provisioning. At this point on time the product does not provide self provisioning , but it is thought to be high priority for the 4.0 release. That the portal does allow is a very fine grained control that could be passed directly to VM owners without requiring any underlying access to vCenter , which is a feature that has some legs. They can currently request a machine , complete metadata and manage that specific groups of machines within an easy to use interface.

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It is also possible to pull the data from V-Commander into the VI Client via a plugin to VI – this is defiantly aimed at the administrator rather than the VM Owner.

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Automation is the key here and there are many issues where the product highlights that very well. While there is a degree of automation currently within the product , I think the next version will sink or swim on how well that ability is provisioned. For example , when it comes to Rightsizing a virtual machine , identifying those machines that may need a CPU adding or removing is great, being able to update the hardware on those machines automatically is what would actually get used , particularly in a large environment. Smaller shops may have a better “gut feeling” on their VM’s, hence will quite possibly manually tune the workloads more often. The product doesn’t have a whole lot in terms of analytics of virtual machine performance – the capacity management policies are pretty simple metrics at the moment, its certainly another area for potential growth to put that policy based automation engine to use.

V-Commander is slated to support Hyper-V in the 3.7 release , which is out any time now. I shall be interested to see how it will interact with the Self Service Portal in the upcoming versions of SC:VMM. From what I’ve seen of the product it could sit quite neatly behind the scenes of your <insert self service portal product here> and provide some of the policy based lifecycle management – all it would need would be a hook in from that front end so that those policies can be selected accordingly.

You get a lot of product for your money – which depending on how you want to spend it could cost you a fixed fee + maintenance , or an annual “rental” fee. I’ve been weighing up the pro’s and con’s of each licensing model and it would look like the subscription based model is the easier one to justify. It also means that should there be a significant change in the way you run your infrastructure , you wont be left holding licences that you’ve paid for , but can’t really use.

 

So is this the only Management software you’ll ever need ? At the moment, no it isn’t. That said its got some really strong features which aligned with a good service management strategy could help align your virtual infrastructure with the rest of your business.

Nb. I’ve just had some clarification on the release schedule for hyper-v support.

“Given priorities and customer feedback (lower
than expected adoption rates of Hyper-V), we decided to do only an internal release of Hyper-V (Alpha) with 3.7 (basic plumbing), with a GA version of Hyper-V coming in the first half of 2011.  At the beginning of 2011 we will begin working with early adopters
on beta testing.”

If you have a hyper-v environment and would like to take advantage of the embotics product , I’m sure they would be keen to hear from you.

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After the successful release of the Capacity Management suite product at VMworld , its all been pretty quiet on the VKernel front , which usually means they are up to something.In addition to coding away like the clever chaps they are , they’ve also been growing the company , always a handy thing to do if you’d like to put food on the table.Its been a bumper year and a record quarter for them with the key Metric of their client sizes continuing to grow, showing that people are taking the problem of optimisation planning & chargeback seriously. When I was invited onto a call with Bryan Semple , CMO for VKernel last week I was looking forward to something new. Little did I know that I’d actually seen a sneak peak of it back in July with the Chargeback 2.0 release.

 

One of the key features within the new versions of the chargeback product is that is supports chargeback for environments running on Microsoft’s Hyper-V platform , and specifically the support for the Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal Toolkit (MSVMMSSP) . This allow the creation of self service portals to not only provision Machines according to a quote , but to be able to collect metrics for static or utilisation based chargeback of those machines. This starts to become increasingly relevant as enterprises move towards a “cloud” model ( presumably private with hyper-v at the moment ) VKernel has been selected as the primary chargeback vendor. Other partners providing support for the toolkit include IBM , Dell , EMC NetApp and HP

 

Ok so I almost went two paragraphs without using the “C” word – I could have been a lot worse! When looking at the kind of product that VKernel offers from a cloud provider perspective , the importance of the 3 sub products ( Capacity Analysis , Optimisation & Chargeback ) gets juggled around a bit. A service provider doesn’t really care as much about VM rightsizing as the end users are going to pay for it. A public cloud is also going to be looking at capacity from a slightly different point of view so while its important , I would imagine they may well use a different toolset.

 

VKernel has integrated with Microsoft’s “cloud” product , but what will it do with VMware other than the existing integrations , I would suspect they are keeping a very careful eye on the vCloud Director API and how they can best plug into that for example to track the costs of a vApp in a hybrid cloud situation as it moves from the private to public datacenter.

It seems barely a paycheck goes by without a new release from VKernel , which of course is a great thing, no one wants a software company to stand still , and there is certainly no moss on their rolling stone !

The latest release is an update to one of their existing products – Chargeback. This was actually the first main release by the firm a couple of years back and in some respects was a little ahead of its time , addressing a challenge that many end users wouldn’t have hit yet.

Chargeback is a core piece of the puzzle for any self respecting cloud provider , but before “the cloud” was quite such a buzz it was probably the last things many shops were thinking about – Initial infrastructure design and persuading the business to virtualize production workloads were much higher up the agenda.

Speaking on my own experience of chargeback , it was quite a struggle to come up with an initial model that would ensure that the costs incurred in building out a virtual infrastructure for our application teams were suitably recovered, so we ended up with a much more static model of a fixed cost per vm/ per month.

VKernel has recognised some of these challenges and has shifted the core focus of the product from chargeback to “showback” – rather than being used as a tool to directly bill end users , it can be very effective at showing what they would have been charged at an external service provider for example.

Chargeback costs can be shown in one of 2 keys ways – allocated & measured. If a team has the view of they want to be able to use all their allocated resources and not worry about a variable cost each month then an allocated cost model is appropriate. Should they wish costs to be allocated on a more pay as you go basis , then measured costs can be shown. Both figures could be shown on a report to give end users an idea of over allocation – e.g.. You have been billed $100 for this VM in this charging period , but only actually used $30 of resources. This kind of figure could help drive a shift towards a fully measured model for virtual machine cost recovery within a private cloud.

Virtual machines can be grouped into applications / custom groups , which can then be allocated a cost centre. Each group can have its own rate for chargeback to reflect perhaps a lower tiered storage or denser overcommitted model in a non-production environment.. What would be nice is for those custom groups to be carried across into the other VKernel core products to be able to generate optimisation / capacity planning reports for that same group of applications. Brian Semple , CMO for VKernel has assured me this is a feature they like the sound of too – watch this space for further details. Reports can be automated and mailed to the relevant users in a variety of formats from Excel to Acrobat.

The biggest change with the 2.0 product is that it is no longer restricted to collecting reports from a VMWare environment. VKernel has been selected by Microsoft as a Key Chargeback Provider for the System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal ( easily shortened to SCVMMSSP ;) )  Key Metrics from the Microsoft System center products – Operations Manager and Virtual Machine Manager can be pulled into the Chargeback appliance to generate the same level of reports and to integrate that functionality into the Self Provisioning portal built into SCVMM.

From a strategic point of view this does extend the relationship between VKernel and Microsoft and I suspect as time goes on we’ll see cross hypervisor support for more and more of the VKernel product line – Particularly as VKernel and VMware seem to be clashing horns a little. What I find interesting is does this represent a shift from Microsoft into integrating a virtual appliance based solution to management ? I’ll do a little bit of digging and follow up if possible. Personally I see the use of the virtual appliance as more of a function of the underlying development structure. VKernel’s dev team clearly specialises in the Java route , which as we know works great in a VMware based environment. By contrast Veeam rely on Microsoft .NET code in their products which I’d have thought would have potentially been a better fit from the Microsoft point of view.