70-659 Exam Prep Part 9

In this section I will cover managing and monitoring Virtual Machines.

Solve performance and resource issues

Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) is a feature that is activated when you integrate Operations Manager (OpsMgr) and VMM. PRO is designed to allow OpsMgr to monitor the VMM environment should any issues arise, and report back with PRO tips, possible solutions to correct the problem, or indicate a bottle neck was detected.

To enable PRO you will need:

· OpsMgr 2007 SP1 or 2007 R2, VMM 2008 R2

· OpsMgr agents must be deployed to all Windows systems in the VMM managed environment

· The VMM server, library and SSP, if installed, must also be managed by OpsMgr

· ESX hosts are monitored by proxy through VMM

· The VMM management pack for OpsMgr must be installed

· The SQL and IIS management packs for OpsMgr must also be installed

· A cross trust relationship must be configured between OpsMgr and VMM for security. If not, the integration may not function.

· The OpsMgr console must be installed on the VMM server. Note both the OpsMgr and VMM consoles can’t reside on the VMM server at the same time

· PRO can be enabled at three levels: Cluster, Host group, and the VMM server itself

This is a general overview. A more detailed explanation can be found on Technet.

Event triggers are configured in OpsMgr management packs. They launch alerts or PRO tips based on an event. For example, if a host is placed in maintenance mode, an alert will be triggered and alert the VMM admin and vise-versa.

Allocating resources is similar in VMM as in Hyper-V Manager. VMs all have the same resources, CPU, memory, network, and disks. All these resources are configured in the settings of the VMs. This was covered in a previous post.

When it comes to troubleshooting issues one of the first places to look is the Performance Monitor. You can create new collector sets and add counters related to disk, memory or paging. The Resource Monitor is another location to look when troubleshooting is needed. The Resource Monitor lets you get more detailed information as to how resources are being used, what processes are being used and what resources they are using.

MCSA and MCSE are back!!

Yes the title says it all. The MCSA and MCSE are back. However, they have been renamed and rebranded. This is to reflect the shift towards cloud solutions.

The MCSA is Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate

and

The MCSE is Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

As it stands now, based on the Microsoft Learning web site:

The MCTIP: Server 2008 Server Administrator (640, 642, 646) has now been renamed MCSA:  Windows Server 2008.

Based on info found here, the MCITP will not be updated. This goes for MCTS as well, which can be found here. Those who have MCITPs will be able to upgrade to MCSE. Basically, job role out (MCTS) and build and design in (MCSA).

I highly suggest reading the FAQs in the above links for more information.

Here is the link to see what is going on for the cloud certs: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-private-cloud.aspx

Hopefully MSL will update the statuses on transcripts to reflect these changes, for those who have passed the exams already.

As a side note: Until Jan. 31, 2013, exam 70-659 will be good towards the cloud exams, taking the place of 70-247.

System Center 2012 has RTMed!!

While surfing the partner network I came across this little gem:

sc2012

Looks like System Center 2012 has RTMed. It is available for download on the MS Partner Network, if you are a member. Get it while its hot and have fun.

70-659 Exam Prep Part 8

Create and Deploy Virtual Machines

VMM is the über-management software for virtual machine management. It has more options and capabilities than Hyper-V Manager. Creating VMs in VMM is done the same basic way as in Hyper-V Manager.

What is cloning? Cloning is the process of creating a new VM from an existing one. The source VM can be in either the VMM library or on an existing host. When a new clone is created, it retains the source’s original information: AD info, SID, name, and MAC. The source VM isn’t deleted. For a VM to be cloned, it first must be powered off or in a saved state. Be careful of having both VMs running at the same time because they might try to communicate on the same network; if they reside on the same network. For the best outcome, place the clone in the library. The clone can then be used as a backup.

Deploying VMs in VMM is a lot faster and easier than in Hyper-V Manager. Due to the fact that VMM is a datacenter level product, rapid deployment is essential. VMM makes use of host groups which are merely containers for quick provisioning. VMM also relies on an intelligent placement star rating system to help determine which hosts are best suited to host the desired VM. Since VMM can manage clusters, VMM can place VMs in clusters, making them highly available. In best practices, you would use the library to store templates, VHDs, scripts, etc. for quick deployment.

Creating VMs in Hyper-V Manager is pretty straight forward. Under the Actions click New and then Virtual Machine. A wizard will launch. The wizard will have you choose all the settings needed to create a new VM such as: location to store the VM, disk type, disk size, network to connect to, load an ISO, etc. Any additional settings you wish to make will be available in the VM settings after the VM is created.

The Self -Service Portal (SSP) is designed to allow an individual user the ability to manage and create their own VMs without involving the VMM admins too much. The VMs that self-service users create can be isolated to not impact a production environment. One of the best uses of the SSP is to allow developers to build their own VMs and to test software against them. There is no impact on the production in case something goes wrong with the software. VMM admins first setup the SSP, create the users or groups that have access to it, and set limits, if any, as to what the SSP user can do.

SSP requires IIS to function as SSP is web-based.

The IIS requirements are:

IIS 6 and above
IIS 6 Metabase Compatibility
IIS 6 WMI Compatibility
Static Content
Default Document
Directory Browsing
HTTP Errors
ASP.NET
.NET Extensibility
ISAPI Extensions
ISAPI Filters
Request Filtering

VMM admins can grant SSP users the following VM permissions:

Start Start VMs
Stop Stop VMs
Pause and Resume Pause and resume VMs
Checkpoint Create and manage VM checkpoints
Remove Remove VMs
Local Administration Grant local admin rights on VMs
Remote Connection Remotely connect to VMs
Shutdown Shutdown VMs

One other item to note, VMM can place quotas on SSP users. What this means is that SSP users can do only certain operations within the quota limit.

Using Powershell is another method for creating and deploying VMs. Now, I am not a programmer, but I will give this section my best shot. First thing to note is that VMM runs on top of Powershell. Everything you do in the GUI has an associated Powershell script or action. With that said, when you create a new VM in VMM you will see an option at the end of the wizard to view the Powershell script that will run to create the new VM. Just about everything has something similar to this. Being able to view the Powershell script also gives you the capability to copy and store the code for reuse. You can then edit/modify the code for other purposes. Once VMM is installed, the associated Powershell scripts will be available. The best advice I can give for this topic is to get familiar with the commandlets, what they do and how they work.

70-659 Exam Prep Part 7

Configuring Child Network Adapters

There are two types of network adapters that you can use in VMs; synthetic and emulated.

Synthetic network adapters are made available when the integration components are installed. Synthetic network adapters offer the best performance between the two available adapter types.

Legacy network adapters are emulated. This means that the processing is done by the VM worker process of the parent partition. Legacy network adapters have a few drawbacks however, slower performance due to processing and increased resource usage. Even with these drawbacks, there are still reasons you would use them. For example, in order to use PXE, you would need a legacy network adapter. Synthetic network adapters do not support PXE. Also some legacy operating systems don’t support synthetic network adapters, such as NT4.0.

In the settings for the VM, under Add Hardware, you will see Network Adapter (synthetic) and Legacy Network Adapter.

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To configure MAC spoofing, open the settings of a VM and go to the Network Adapter settings.

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You might use MAC address spoofing in a virtualized NLB scenario.

Configuring VLAN IDs was previously covered in a previous section.

What are Jumbo Frames? Jumbo Frames or Jumbo Packets allow for increased sizes of MTU packets. For Jumbo Frames to properly function, both ends of transmission must have this enabled. How does this effect Hyper-V? Larger packet sizes ensure more information gets to its destination. This also increases operation speed and performance. Good candidates for Jumbo Frames are virtual machine networking and cluster networking. Configuring Jumbo Frames is done within the NIC properties page; see below image.

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TCP Offloading Engine (TOE) or TCP Chimney allow for the physical NIC to take some of the processing load off of the CPU. This is configured in the properties page of the NIC; see image below.

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70-659 Exam Prep Part 6

Configuring Child Storage

So what is dynamic VM storage? Simply put, dynamic VM storage is a new capability found in Windows Server 2008 R2 that allows for installation and removal of ISCSI storage in a virtual machine. In order for this to function, the integration services must be installed on the guest OS.

Differencing disks are a type of VHD. Best practice states that they should not be used in production however, they are ideal for a lab environment. Differencing disks rely on a “parent” or master (template) VHD. “Child” VHDs are created based on the parent/master VHD. If the connection is broken between parent and child, the “child” VHDs will not work. Differencing disks have similar properties of dynamic disks; they start out small and grow as used or needed.

Pass-through disks are unformatted LUNs. No VHD is created. They can be assigned to a VHD and are presented as physical storage. Their purpose is to help off-load I/O intensive functions, for example an SQL database. In this manner, they gain 100% of the potential storage performance. They can have storage greater than 2048GB. A drawback of pass-through disks is that they don’t have the mobility of VHDs.

Snapshots can be created in a few ways; in Hyper-V Manager, using the VM Connection tool, and in VMM. In Hyper-V Manager, in the setting of a VM, you can specify where the snapshot will be stored, under Snapshot File location. Using the VM Connection tool for taking snapshots, you will be presented with a dialogue box for a file name of the snapshot, this also goes for VMM. Taking snapshots creates the following files: snapshot differencing disk (.AVHD), VM memory contents (.BIN), VM saved state (.VSV), and VM configuration (.XML). Snapshots can only be taken when virtual machines are in the following states: running, saved, or shutdown.

VM GUIDs are associated with the VM worker process, vmwp.exe. Using the Task Manager, you can see what GUID is associated with which vmwp.exe. To do this, open the Task Manager, select the Processes tab and add the Command Line column. Doing this will allow you to manage the GUIDs.

One method to managing LUNs is the ISCSI software target, now a free download from Microsoft. It can be found here. With the ISCSI software target you can create and manage LUNs quickly and easily.

Editing VHDs is done through either Hyper-V Manager or VMM. Whichever you choose, the options will be the same. To edit a VHD, simply open the settings of the VM.

How do you copy a physical disk to a VHD? At this point there is only one way, and that is to use Disk2VHD. This is a tool created by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell of Microsoft’s Sysinternals. Disk2VHD will copy the contents of a selected volume and copy them into a VHD file. Disk2VHD can be found here.

70-659 Exam Prep Part 5

In this section I will cover configuring child settings.

Configuring Child Resources

When it comes to configuring disks, networks, CPUs, and memory settings, these are all done within the VM settings; whether that is in Hyper-V Manager or VMM.

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IDE drives are required as the OS, can only boot from an IDE disk. They cannot be added dynamically while the VM is running. ISCSI disks on the other hand can be dynamically added while the VM is running.

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The Network Adapter section allows for setting the virtual network to use, the MAC address settings, and VLAN ID, if needed.

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The Processor section allows for setting the virtual processor settings including:

Processor (Number of logical processors to use)
VM reserve (this reserves an amount of the physical processor for VM usage)
VM limit (here you can set the maximum processor power of the virtual CPU that is attached to the VM)
Relative weight (here you can set the priority VMs will have for CPU resources)

Processor compatibility (these two settings are used if you are using different CPUs in your environment or older operating system)

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The Memory section allows for setting the memory assigned to the VM. Memory can be set to either Static or Dynamic. Dynamic memory also has the option of Memory buffer, which allows you to reserve a percentage of the memory to use. Memory weight prioritizes how much available memory will be available to the VM compared to other VMs.

MMS 2012 Bound!!

Well its confirmed. I’m MMS bound. My employer at Enhansoft, has told me that I am head to MMS with the rest of the company. This should be a lot of fun. I’m all booked up for some of the instructor led  and hands on labs, some private cloud sessions, and Configuration Manager sessions.

Hope to see you all there.

70-659 Exam Prep Part 4

Configuring Storage

So, what is MPIO? MPIO is short for Multipath I/O. When installed, it is responsible for providing redundant paths to storage. Should one path to the storage array fail, MPIO will redirect traffic to the storage array through another path. As an example of its use, when you connect to a storage array, you might see in Disk Management two copies of the same storage location show up. This is not what we want to see. To solve this, install MPIO. Once installed, MPIO will create a virtual representation of the shared storage, making it look like one disk instead of two. Note also that MPIO is a feature not a role.

Installing MPIO on a Server Core install is straight forward. Use the following from the command line:

start ocsetup MultipathIo

Multipath I/O has a control panel in Server Core which can be accessed by running mpiocpl.exe.

Use mpclaim.exe to manage the MPIO configuration.

Mpclaim is responsible for taking control of storage devices.

To claim ISCSI devices, open the MPIO control panel. Click Discover Multi-Paths tab, select Add support for ISCSI devices, and then click Add. Restart the computer. When the system restarts, new hardware IDs will be listed under the MPIO Devices tab in the MPIO control panel.

Dynamic I/O redirection is a function of CSV. I/O is dynamically redirected based on an available path.

The ISCSI Initiator is used to connect to an ISCSI target. It is available for both the Windows client and Server products.

Iscsicli.exe is the command line version of the ISCSI Initiator. Iscsicli.exe should be run from a command prompt with elevated privileges. This way you display the syntax of the program withiscsicli.exe /?. Since there is too much info and too many switches available to list, it would be best to run the previous command to get a full listing of what can be done.

70-659 Exam Prep Part 3

Configuring Virtual Networks and VLAN Security

In this section we will cover Virtual Networks and VLAN Security.

Hyper-V Manager allows for MAC address ranges to be set to dynamically and be assigned to VMs. This can be found in the Virtual Networks page, Global Network Settings option.

Network locations are usually determined by Network Location Awareness. However this can be overridden and needs to be done for ESX hosts. You will need to open the properties page of the host; choose the Hardware tab and choose a network adapter for which you want to configure. On the properties page, choose the Override discovered network location check box, then enter a new location in the text box. You can also set a network tag, under the Networking tab. Network tags help in distinguishing multiple virtual switches on the same logical network.

When it comes to VLANS, there are 2 places that you can configure the VLAN settings. The first is in the settings of the VM in the properties of the VM’s network adapter. This is an individual VM setting.

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The second place is in the Virtual Network Manager. This is a global VLAN setting for all VMs connected to the same virtual network.

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VLAN Security can be achieved by isolating the host and VM networks’ physical network security; for example using a dedicated NIC for host management, and using VLAN tagging.

The Virtual Network Manager is where you configure the network settings for VMs. There are 3 types of networks you can setup: External, Internal, or Private. External gives the VM access to everything. Internal restricts VM access to only the host and other VMs for internal communications. Private restricts VM access to private communications only with other VMs. For both Internal and Private settings there is no external communications outside the VMs.