Experiences in a Virtual World

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Quick Tip: Quick and Dirty on When You Should Use Hyper-V Snapshots/Checkpoints.

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You should create a snapshot, or checkpoint (as they are called in System Center Virtual Machine Manager), right before you make any known change to your VM that would require some sort of system or application restore if the configuration, patch or application upgrade went wrong.

Snapshots are a recovery point that saves the state, data and hardware configuration of a VM. Now, With Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012, the creation and deletion of a snapshot happens without VM downtime. The process can be scripted, but it is most commonly done manually, either by an application owner or by a virtualization system administrator, before any changes are made to the VM. These types of snapshots are different from conventional host-level backups of VMs, but use the same underlying VSS Hyper-V Writer, which is installed when you enable the Hyper-V role, to prepare (quiesce) the memory and I/O state of the VM, in order to precisely capture its state at that moment. However, the outcome of these two processes differs.

When you create a snapshot…  Read the rest of the article HERE

Also see.. AVHD – WT…”A”?

Written by VirtuallyAware

May 3, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Recent Article: Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Storage Feature Shortcomings

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This is part two of my take on what is still missing from the next version of Hyper-V.  To read part one, go HERE.  The storage architecture of Windows Server 2012 has come a long way to benefit Hyper-V 3.0, but there are still some seemingly basic features that have been left out.  Part two focuses on these storage shortcomings and how I think they could be addressed by utilizing similar technologies now found within the product.

Microsoft revamped the Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V storage architecture, but there is still some room for improvement.

Storage has always been a weakness for Hyper-V. The process of shrinking, expanding, migrating and backing up virtual machines (VMs) creates a lot of difficulties in Hyper-V environments. But the new live migration and storage migration enhancements in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, including the seamless movement of VMs and virtual hard disks between physical storage volumes without downtime, could solve many of the lingering issues.

The methods proposed below would greatly reduce downtime and simplify Hyper-V management by eliminating several manual and tedious tasks.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

**TAKE THE POLL: At the end of each article, there is a poll on which absent feature you think is most glaring. Here are the current stats.  Vote and give your feedback.

Written by VirtuallyAware

July 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Recent Article: Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V missing features and potential fixes

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Windows 2012 server

Don’t get me wrong, Hyper-V within Windows Server 2012 includes some excellent additions. But, with every release, there are bound to be a few features that miss the cut.  My recent article looks at a few of these features that I wish would have made it in.

For all the new features and enhancements to Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, the virtualization platform still has its shortcomings.

Having worked with Hyper-V since the early betas, I appreciate the speed at which Microsoft adds new features. With each Hyper-V release, however, I still see a few areas of improvement that could add key functionality and ease administration. Below, I look at three of these shortcomings in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and offer some practical fixes.

Part one of this two part series looks at the following shortcomings that I still believe exist.

1. Poor Quick Migration between hosts with different processor architectures
2. Inadequate Live/Quick Migration of VMs between different Hyper-V version
3. Imperfect hot-add memory allocation with a running VM

Read details of the article HERE

**TAKE THE POLL: At the end of each article, there is a poll.  Are These Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Shortcomings a Deal Breaker? Here are the current stats.  Vote and give your feedback.

Written by VirtuallyAware

June 25, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Recent Article: Ten Easy Ways to Extend Virtual Host Resources on the Cheap

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These days, many IT professionals are asked to do more with less money, and increasing the efficiency of your virtual host resources may be the only answer in lean budgetary times. Luckily, there are numerous ways to squeeze more VMs into an existing infrastructure.

With that, here are 10 ways extend and expand virtual host resources on the cheap.

To see all the detail and my take in the article HERE.

1. Get lean

2. Shut down VMs

3. Forego hardware replacement

4. Extend support contracts and recycle hardware

5. Enforce usage policies

6. Adopt a new hypervisor vendor

7. Add memory

8. Use existing features

9. Switch Virtual Hard Disk type

10. Upgrade to the latest hypervisor version

Written by VirtuallyAware

May 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Recent Article: Top five Hyper-V 3.0 features that will excite IT pros

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Microsoft is adding some glamorous Hyper-V 3.0 features to the mix, including Hyper-V Replica, virtual Fibre Channel adapters and NUMA spanning. While these capabilities will allow for a more detailed configuration, how many administrators will view these options as a critical part of their Hyper-V infrastructure?

The top priority of many virtualization administrators involves reducing the number of scheduled virtual machine (VM) service disruptions and late-night hours on the job. The shiny, new capabilities are welcome, but some of the greatest Hyper-V 3.0 features were already present in previous versions and have just now matured.

For IT pros looking to make their lives a little easier, the following five new-and -improved Hyper-V 3.0 features should really excite them.

To see my Top 5 features for everyday virtualization administrators, click HERE.

Written by VirtuallyAware

April 19, 2012 at 3:15 PM

Advisory Board Question of the Month: Avoid Having to Sit Next to Creepy Uncle Bob

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This months Advisory Board question of the month looks at “How Virtualization Pros Can Land Their Next IT Job”  Here’s my take:

Targeted skills, relevant experience and a focused cover letter will land you an interview. But personality and attitude will most often get you a spot on the team. This is not only relevant for those hiring but also for those looking for an IT job. If the fit just isn’t there, then both parties should move on.

For managers, these factors are critical, because a bad hire can lead to having to handle more personnel issues, which takes time away from the department initiatives.

In IT departments, the “team fit” is especially important, because you often spend a lot of time with the group during late hours or weekends, when problems often arise. Having someone on the other end of the phone or in the office with a similar mindset, and who genuinely cares about helping out, makes a huge difference when stress is high.

So work on your skills and let your personality prevail over your nerves. Joining an IT department is really like becoming part of a family. Making the right choice will help you avoid sitting next to that creepy aunt or uncle for years to come.

Read the responses from the other advisory board member HERE.

Written by VirtuallyAware

March 28, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Recent Article: The Hardware Requirements for Testing Hyper-V 3.0

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Testing Hyper-V 3.0 is a worthwhile side project, as it will help you attain valuable skills and experience before the official release of Windows Server 8. But, first, you need to assemble the proper hardware.

The hardware requirements for Hyper-V 3.0 are relatively mundane, making it easy to set up a Hyper-V 3.0 sandbox before its release.

The hardware requirements for a Hyper-V 3.0 sandbox

Your success with a production environment depends, in part, on your choice of hardware and associated technologies. But for a Hyper-V 3.0 test server, however, there is a broad range of hardware possibilities that you may already have at your disposal.

Most hardware from the last three years will likely support Hyper-V 3.0, so a spare server or desktop computer may suffice. Check out the following hardware requirements and recommendations to ensure compatibility with Hyper-V 3.0:

To see the rest of the Hardware Requirement details, click HERE.

Written by VirtuallyAware

February 22, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Recent Article: Hyper-V Replica: New VM replication tool for cost-conscious IT shops

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A walkthrough and my views of use cases for the new Hyper-V 3.0 Replica feature.  I have been impressed with its stability so far and for the price it has great potential in providing a cold copy of your VMs in an alternate location across the room or across the world for organizations unable to afford larger enterprise solutions.  Where do you see Hyper-V Replica fitting in?  As always feel free to leave comments below.


The pre-beta version of Hyper-V 3.0 boasts a number of new and improved features, including a virtual machine replication technology known as Hyper-V Replica. It uses the Hyper-V Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer to prepare a snapshot of the virtual machine (VM) on the primary host (which can remain active) and moves the data to the secondary host. This capability adds disaster recovery capabilities to Hyper-V 3.0, allowing a virtualization administrator to have cold, ready copies of VMs anywhere in the world.

Hyper-V Replica creates copies on a VM-by-VM basis.While it is possible to replicate every VM to an alternate host with Hyper-V Replica,  in my experience, the tool is better suited to replicating one-off line-of-business VMs that provide important infrastructure fault tolerance, rather than full virtual environments. As such, Hyper-V Replica may be impractical for large enterprises with hundreds or thousands of VMs. In these situations, administrators can use PowerShell to configure multiple VMs at once.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Written by VirtuallyAware

January 2, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Recent Article: Using SCVMM PowerShell Cmdlets To Customize Hyper-V Live Migrations

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As the sequel to my previous article "Overcoming Hyper-V Live Migration limitations with PowerShell cmdlets,”  here are some creative ways to exploit the SCVMM PowerShell cmdlet to make Hyper-V Live Migrations more friendly.

For small IT shops, PowerShell cmdlets improve on Hyper-V Live Migration functionality. But, with the addition of System Center Virtual Machine Manager and its PowerShell capabilities, those shops can precisely coordinate live migrations between nodes and Cluster Shared Volumes.

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) includes a robust graphical user interface (GUI) from which administrators can perform Hyper-V live migrations. Even so, you may feel that SCVMM lacks the granular control needed to administer a complex, Hyper-V virtual infrastructure.

SCVMM PowerShell cmdlets, however, provide increased flexibility when managing Live Migration, far beyond what is possible with the GUI. With the following SCVMM PowerShell cmdlets and scripts, for example, you can live migrate an entire host’s worth of virtual machines (VMs) to a specific node, or transfer VMs based on their Cluster Shared Volumes assignments.

For the rest of the article click HERE

Written by VirtuallyAware

December 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Advisory Board Question of the Month: Which new server virtualization technology are you most thankful for?

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For the annual Thanksgiving Advisory Board question, the simple snapshot makes a repeat appearance for my Hyper-V feature I am most thankful for, but this time it is because of its new live merging capabilities in Hyper-V 3.0.


I am thankful for a Hyper-V 3.0 feature, but it’s not the flashier, increased number of virtual CPUs, the mammoth amounts of virtual machine (VM) memory, the concurrent Live Migration capabilities, or even the new VM replication feature.

Building on last year, I am thankful for the updated snapshot feature. The ability to roll back to a previous point in time after a botched application upgrade has always been a welcomed feature. But it came with a caveat: After you deleted a snapshot, you needed to shut down the VM to merge the AVHD file changes into the parent Virtual Hard Disk.

This requirement caused unwanted downtime for the application. Hyper-V 3.0 snapshots still provide the same valuable rollback method as before. But now the merging process happens live, without the necessary downtime. Thus, it eases the direct administrator interaction during application upgrades.

See the responses from the other Search Server Virtualization Advisory Board members here.

Written by VirtuallyAware

November 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM


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