Using Azure Automation and Hybrid Worker to automate SCVMM tasks


Azure Automation and Hybrid Runbook workers are fun to play with and today I wanted to try something like automating System Center VMM tasks,

I read Markus Lassfolk´s post about changing VM´s network adapters MAC from dynamic to static which is the prefered setting that you should use for your Hyper-V VM´s. So How could I utilize this with Azure Automation runbooks instead of an script that is run on the VMM server?

In my runbook I have a VMM Automation account declared as a credential and I connect to the VMM server with that to be able to reconfigure the VM´s. If I do not use a -PSCredential for the inlinescript the Runbook worker will try to use the system account of the Worker server and that does not work so well on the connection to the VMM server,

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Either start it from powershell console if you have Azure PowerShell module installed or within the GUI and I used only one input parameter and that can be used for an explicit VM or “All” VM´s.

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And as you can see in the VMM log I have changed the VM´s NICS, and also if a VM have two or more NICS all of them get a static MAC configured :

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Hope that you see the potential in Azure Automation and Happy automating!


Download SysCtr TP3 evaluation VHD´s with PowerShell

Earlier this week Microsoft released Windows Server Technical Preview 3 and System Center Technical Preview 3 to the masses.

There is also a way to easily test the System Center bits instead of installing everything with prereqs and stuff and that is to use the preinstalled VHD´s that Microsoft and the System Center team provides.

You can find the eval VHD´s here on the download site:

Or you can use my powershell script to download them and import into your Hyper-V server and start playing once downloaded :-D. If there are issues during download you can just start the script again as I check if the file already been downloaded so you will only download each file once and as I use the BITS engine the file appears in the download folder when it is completely downloaded….

Happy playing!!

New sponsor: VirtualMetric – cool monitoring and reporting for hyper-v

I am very proud to tell you that I have a new sponsor on my blog and that is VirtualMetric.

Have you not heard about them then it is time to go and check out their website at to learn more because they have an awesome monitoring and reporting platform for your Hyper-V environment!. It is agentless and it also reports Hardware status for the hosts via IPMI.


There will be a more thorough post about how to get the platform up and running and how to use it later on!

Hyper-V Cluster Heartbeat for MDT ref VM goes bananas or?

I have been helping a customer with their environment and we had a problem that took me a while to figure out.

They were baking reference images for their SCCM environment and the best and easiest way is to use VM´s of course. The problem that occurred was that when the image was being transferred back to the MDT server the VM rebooted after half of the image had been uploaded….

So what was doing this crazy behavior? It took me a little while before I realized what it was all about and it had to do with the Hyper-V cluster platform and resilience and heartbeat functionality!

So at first the build VM boots from the MDT image, no integration tools yet then but then it restarts to install applications and stuff within the OS and as the customer works on a Windows 7 image you can see it starts to send heartbeat to the host.


As you might know, clients and servers since Windows Vista and 2008 have integrational services by default in them although best practice is to upgrade them as soon as possible if the VM shall continue to reside in Hyper-V.

The interesting part in this case was that the OS rebooted within itself when it was finished with sysprep to start the MDT image for transferring the WIM back to the MDT server and the cluster/hyper-v did not notice this and thus it thought that the heartbeat stopped.


And as it was a cluster resource this heartbeat loss was handled by default, and guess what, rebooted!

So what settings in the cluster resource does this madness? First of all, the Heartbeat setting on the cluster vm resource properties



This can be read on the technet site about Heatbeat setting for Hyper-V clusters:

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And then you have policy what the cluster should do after it thinks the vm has become unresponsive:

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There are different ways to stop the cluster from rebooting the machine and one of them is to disable heartbeat check and another is to set the response to failure to do nothing,

The customer uses mostly VMM console and for them when building a new VM for MDT reference builds they can set the integrational services to disable heartbeat check and thus not get their work postponed by unwanted reboots.


During the search for why I checked Host Nic drivers as I thought that it might have something with a transfer error but could not find anything, positively the hosts got up on the latest nic firmware and drivers 😉 . My suspicion that it had to be the cluster was awaken after I had spun up a test VM that was not part of the cluster and that one succeeded in the build and transfer.

This is a rare case and I would say that in 99% of the cases you want the default behaviour to happened as a VM can become unresponsive and then the cluster can try a reboot to regain into operations..

Clarification: If you spin up a VM with a OS or pxe image that does not have integrational services it will not reboot the VM after the cluster timeout, the OS has to start sending heartbeat to the Hyper-V host and then it will be under surveillance and managed by the cluster until properly shut down!

Hope that this helps for someone out there wondering what happens…



Exclude VM´s from dynamic optimization in SC VMM

In a case where we had a VM that was a bit sensitive with an application that does not like the ping loss during live migration between hosts in a cluster we wanted to exclude the vm from the automatic dynamic optimization. It might not be totally clear where you find this setting for the VM´s you want to exclude from this load balancing act.

First of all, do you know where you set up automatic dynamic optimization in System Center VMM 2012 R2? For some reason you set it up on the hosts folder and not on the cluster object in VMM:

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So where do you exclude VM´s from this optimization? If you look under a VM´s properties you can check the actions and there you see the magic checkbox :

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And now when the automatic job runs my sensitive VM will stay on the host.

SC VMM Error 803 after restoring a duplicate VM with alternative name

I was at a customer today testing some backup/restore scenarios with their backup providers software and where we got an interesting error: 803 “Virtual Machine restore-Test5_gen1 already exists on the virtual host other cluster nodes” Recommended Action: “Specify a new name for the virtual machine and then try the operation again”



In the Backup/restore console we wanted to do a restore to alternative place and an alternative name as we had not deleted the original VM (for instance if you need files or just verify some state or something), in the configuration of the restore job we checked that the restore process would create a new VM Id which was the first thing we thought that was why VMM complained.

The thing was that this error only appeared when we did a restore to another hyper-v host, if we restored to the same where the original VM was residing there was no error..

As you can see after the restore both the original VM and the alternate had the same “#CLUSTER-INVARIANT#” id but different VMId´s, and when we tried to refresh VM´s we got the error above.

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The solution was not so farfetched and can be read about in the KB2974441 although that case is about RDS VDI but still, and as can be read about why the ID is in the notes field from the beginning: “VMM adds a #CLUSTER-INVARIANT#:{<guid> } entry to the description of the VM in Hyper-V. This GUID is the VM ID SCVMM uses to track the VM.”

For the VM not showing up in VMM console we just went into the notes field on Hyper-V Manager and removed that specific “#CLUSTER-INVARIANT#” id and after that VMM generated a new for that VM and it appeared in the VM list on the VMM server.

So why was it no problem when we restored to that same host? For some reason VMM managed to see the duplicate residing on the same host and generate a new id in the notes field for that and thus appearing in the VM list without any massage..


Hyper-V Powershell module now with 211 cmdlets in build 10041

I have upgraded my windows 10 to the latest build 10041 and activated Hyper-V.

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In this build I can see that there are now 211 cmdlets in the hyper-v PowerShell module:

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And comparing it to the PowerShell module that was released in Windows 8.1/2012 R2 you can see the following new cmdlets, although the Windows 10 is in preview and things can change before it is released!

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I will dig into the new preview release and maybe there will be a followup post on my findings!

Review of the new 5nine Manager 6.1

I have used both Hyper-V Manager and System Center VMM from the early beginning of Hyper-V in 2008. If you wanted to use a tool with several Hyper-V hosts either that was standalone or in cluster you had to use VMM, especially if using the deploy functionality with templates and OS customization.When System Center 2012 was released they decided to sell it as a whole product with different roles which means you have to buy either a System Center Standard (for single managed server hosting up to 2 VM´s) or a System Center Datacenter (Virtualization hosts using 2pCPU with unlimited managed VM´s on that licensed host). There are though some alternative and one of them is the 5nine Manager.


5nine Manager has been evolving for some version since they first saw daylight and now they have added some really cool features making it a real competitor to VMM and if you do not use the other System Center roles this could be a good buy.

part of the new 6.1 version, these new features exist:

  • Graphical Monitoring Plugin and Alerts 
  • New Optimizer Notifications 
  • Increased Scalability through Multiple Console Instances 
  • Simplified VM Management with Sortable Table Parameters 
  • Enhanced VM Templates 
  • Integrated Sysprep Tool 

The gui can be run on a Hyper-V Core server so no excuse here now to not use that for your virtualization hosts! I actually have had some discussions with customers why they do not want to run core because if the host would be disconnected and they would need to do some debug and analysing they thought that it would be to difficult when using core instead of the full gui. With the 5nine Manager you can manage and check your VM´s in a GUI but within the Core session :-)

To get it working in your environment you need to install it on a Windows box. The nice thing here is that you can run it on a Windows 8.1/8/7 and connect to the different Hyper-V versions.

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Once installed you need to add Hyper-V hosts/clusters to manage them.

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The GUI in the console is quite easy to use and as you can see, I can right click on a VM and convert it as a template to be able to provision new VM´s. Another really nice feature which you can see in the list is “Set IP address” and this uses the functionality of the integrational services and sets the IP on the vNic inside the VM!!

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 And as you can see there are some more options in the bar with optimizer,monitor, reporting best practices and Hyper-V logs. I really like the GUI and that it is easy to find the different options and tasks not having to jump around between different views forever. Having a single pane of glass when searching Hyper-V hosts for failing VM´s or hardware issues through logs then this Manager is great.


As described above, If you do not use more than System Center VMM in your virtualization environment and the list price for System Center R2 Datacenter is about 3600 $ and the 5nine Manager would cost from 199 $ per host then there is not so much to argue about! There is also a free version of the 5nine Manager that you can use combined with VMM on your Windows Hyper-V Core hosts.

Unitrends Enterprise backup v8.0 for Hyper-V

I have been looking at some different backup software solutions and now the turn has come to check out Unitrends Enterprise Backup.

They have a new version 8.0 that supports not only VMware but also Hyper-V virtualization platforms and also several different OS such as Mac OS and HP-UX, which can run in physical or virtual machines. There are either virtual or physical appliances of the backup solution so it is quite easy to get the backup solution up and running as you can start with the virtual appliance and get into a protected state within just an hour or so. And if you start with a virtual appliance you can later add a physical at another site and use it as a replication target.

Some nice features are:

  • Unitrends Bridge for Hyper-V, with:
    • Windows Instant Recovery from any physical or virtual guest to a Hyper-V VM.
    • Hyper-V Instant Recovery – running a hypervisor level backup instantly from the backup storage.
  • NDMP support for enterprises.
  • Support for Mac OS 10.9 and HP-UX 11.
  • Guest level protection for Shared VHDXs.
    • Note this is an important feature of 2012 R2 for HA that Unitrends can support and other Host OS backup solutions cannot because you cannot do hypervisor level backups of this config.
  • Improved SQL performance and deduplication.
  • Unified Baremetal.


I wanted to test and see how easily I could get it up and running on my Hyper-V environment and how can I could use it for moving VM´s/workloads from physical or VMware?

First of all you download either an iso or an vhd packed as an EXE from the web page and then you deploy it to an hyper-v host:

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Then when it has been deployed, it has to be configured with IP and other settings and once that is completed you can test and see that you have succeeded with the right settings:

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One important thing is when deployed as a virtual appliance, add vhdx´s to store the backups on, as usual it is quite smart to think twice where you put these and not in the same storage as the protected VM´s as the idea is to survive if you have a failure :-). Initially when the appliance is deployed it has a system disk on a vhdx that is dynamic and can expand to 200 GB.

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The Console GUI then is accessible through a flash-enabled browser and it is really easy get started. As you can see on the following screen dump you can add several appliances and use them either as a local backup system or a vault:

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After initiating and installing the agent on the Hyper-V host I could see it in the console and also see all VM´s running on the host:

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First off I tested to backup and restore a simple VM, which of course worked flawlessly:

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And then I wanted to test to backup and restore a generation 2 CentOS VM:

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Last off I wanted to test the functionality of instant recovery and doing a v2v from vmware to hyper-v. I installed an UEB agent in the OS on the VM in the VMware VM and configured instant recovery in the UEB console to a Hyper-V host.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 19.39.45


The Unitrends Enterprise Backup is really easy to get started with and you are instantly up and running with your backups of the virtual and also physical environment from one virtual backup appliance. With the different features you can use it for both backup and also for instant recovery. Only thing I would like to see is that the flash GUI would be exchanged to a full HTML5 GUI instead, and of course a PowerShell module would make it complete 😉

Hyper-V VM´s BIN files, to be or not to be in clusters

If you create lots of VM´s with large amount of RAM memory assigned to them and start to wonder why you have used some of the storage on the volumes then this is because if you have set up a VM without changing anything you get a bin file in the VM folder that corresponds to the size of the allocated RAM. This file is used to save the VM`s RAM to disk when the VM is going into saved state!

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In an environment where you have all VM´s as clustered resources you will not need to be able to use the saved state when shutdown the host as you will live migrate the VM´s when doing stuff with the HW.

The setting is easily found in Hyper-V Manager for an already deployed VM:

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It is not so easily found in System Center VMM when checking the VM properties, but when deploying a new VM you find it in the wizard:

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If you want to change the setting for your VM´s running in a cluster via VMM you will have to use PowerShell and it is quite easy to do that with a one-liner, first you see the setting with the PowerShell command Get-SCVirtualMachine and then you can configure it with Set-SCVirtualMachine :

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And now when checking the folder for the VM the BIN file has magically shrunk to 4KB :-)

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