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.

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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.

Summary

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.

Test

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.

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Conclusion

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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Error dialog when opening VMM console after update to VMM 2012 R2 UR5

I have updated a VMM server with the latest UR5 and now when opening the console the following error appears

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This was quite easily handled as you can see the folder is there but looking a bit further I found that authenticated users of the had no NTFS rights on the particular folder.

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After updating and adding authenticaded users as described in the release notes of the UR5 and giving it access to HostSIdeAdapters I did not get any error messages after starting the console

VM Storage Migration in VMM 2012 R2 leaves unwanted leftovers

I have been playing around with a case where we have been upgrading and creating a new Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V cluster and adding CSV volumes to it, and when first volume became full we started to storage migrate the VM´s to another volume but for some reason the files where left behind so I created my own PowerShell function to handle that as the built-in does not have that parameter and for some reason leaves leftovers?!

As you can see when I have done a live storage migration within a Hyper-V host with the GUI in VMM it leaves both vhdx and xml of the VM, and that can be troublesome when someone tries to import that VM while the other is already running and also you do not gain that space you thought would be reclaimed because you did a live storage migration.

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No problem to move but as you can see in the volume that I migrated from:

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And the volume that I migrated to:

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I have been reproducing the migration with either just folders or both folders and vhdx/xml files still at the source..

When I run my function it cleans the source if i use the parameter -deletesource

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Here is the PowerShell function for you to try:

Good luck in your automation :-)

Mass-VDI reconfiguration on vSphere with PowerCLI

A colleague asked me if there was an easy way to reconfigure VM´s that was on different hosts with PowerCLI, for some reason the VM´s had been configured with too many vCPU´s and the customer wanted a way to reconfigure the running VM´s.

I made a very easy PowerCLI script to solve this, maybe there is other solutions that might be better/more beautiful but this one solved the issue :-)

You save this as a script and then run it with the starting name of the VM´s you want to configure, and as you can see you have to already have connected to the vcenter with Connect-VIServer before running it:

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happy automating :-)

New version of Microsoft Assessment and Planning 9.2


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Yesterday Microsoft released a new version of Microsoft Assessment and Planning toolkit 9.2 and the new key features are

  • Azure VM Capacity assessment to include assessment for A8 and A9 Azure VMs
    MAP 9.2 updated Windows Azure VM Capacity assessment to include assessment for A8 and A9 Azure VMs. A8 and A9 Azure VMs are processor intensive and thus have a base processor of an Intel Xeon E5-2670 2.6 GHz.
  • Included Windows Server 2008(x86/x64) under Legacy Server Discovery
    Windows Server 2008(x86/x64) included under Legacy Server Discovery in addition to Windows Servers 2000, 2003 and Itanium. For example, before MAP 9.2 the discovery of the Legacy Servers which were added are Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003(x86/x64) and Itanium Windows Server. Now MAP 9.2 includes the discovery of Windows Server 2008(x86/x64) as well to the collection of Legacy Server Discovery.
  • Improved Legacy Server Discovery reporting by including OS Architecture
    In this version of MAP we included OS Architecture(32 or 64 bit) as an expansion in the Legacy Server Discovery reporting.
  • Collection of additional performance counters and included CPU speed
    In this version of MAP we added four new performance counters Disk Queue Length, Disk Read Queue Length, Disk Write Queue Length, Disk Bytes/sec and expanded performance collection process to accomodate the new counters and assessment process. Added CPU Speed(GHz) to Performance Metric Summary report.

You can download the new version from the Microsoft download here.

Handy way to use PowerShell with VMM 2012 R2

After working with a customer and showing them the PowerShell scripts and functions I had made for automating their VMM 2012 R2 environment I realized that I needed a way to actually let them easily get them loaded and ready for use.

As you might know, you can store scripts within your VMM Library and also run them from the same place! So I thought of saving the functions there and making an initiator script that would load the functions that I had created so they could use them right away.

Really easy script that looks in the functions folder and import all functions, and as it is dynamic it will load all functions available in the folder at the time it is executed:

And when you put it in your VMM library it looks like this, I have added some description to make it more clear what it does 😉

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And you can then run it from the console with the Run button and once the PowerShell console is loaded you can see which functions have been loaded and what names they have :-)

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And in the folder I have added the files containing the functions that I made with .psm1 ending ( I am converting some of the scripts that I made earlier to functions and will add them later, that is why it is quite few yet). You will also have to check and edit the permissions on the share and the SCVMM_Library folder so the user trying to run the script will be able to.

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Also, I added the server in trusted sites otherwise I got this digital signed error and I do not at this moment have a cert to sign the scripts

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So to get around that one you add in Internet Explorer Trusted SItes: *://vmm02.vmmserver.se (or of course what your VMM server FQDN is)

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Last of all, to be able to run some of the functions that need elevation you can start the VMM GUI Console with “Run As Administrator” but you still use your Windows Credentials:

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Happy automating within VMM :-)

And yes SMA has been thought of but right now the customer do not need that extra complexity with WAP,SMA,SPF and runbook workers…..

Download the new DPM 2012 R2 UR4 Eval VHD with Powershell and BITS

I was at a customer today and we decided to evaluate System Center DPM for their Hyper-V platform.

I was going to download the Eval VHD that so nicely have been updated with the latest UR4 but I got an irritating error, I reached out on twitter and it was not just me and the internet connection/Firewall I was using causing this as others where also having the same issue :-(

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I later tried this evening and now it worked, they had changed the file extension for download to .ZIP instead of VHD

By using powershell you can just send your req to BITS and sit down and relax until it is finished and then you can evaluate DPM :-)

Happy backuping and ” Real Men don’t take backup! – Or do they? ”

 

 

 

HyperV local storage available for placement in SCVMM

I have been working with a customer and was going to do an upgrade of one of their Hyper-v clusters to 2012 R2. During my preparations and looking at the particular hosts I found several VM´s that was residing on local storage on the hosts and not on the cluster storage.

The reason for this was two things, first of all that it was allowed to put VM´s on local disks and second that when someone created the VM´s forgot to use the appropriate HW-template that makes them highly available by default. If you create a new VM with a new HW profile make sure that it is configured correctly under the Availability tab.

The Hyper-V hosts have been deployed with Bare-Metal deploy from VMM and that is why they have a D:\

Looking at the properties for a host you can see what storage that is available for placement:

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and as you can see the VM is not configured as highly available and have the virtual disk on local storage:

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I have made a simple script that configures all hosts within a cluster and set all storage that is not cluster shared to not available for placement.

And now when trying to deploy a VM with a new HW profile that is not set to highly available I cannot deploy it as the local disks have been unchecked as available for placement.

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The reason for just configuring this for hyper-v nodes that belong to a cluster is that there might be a single hyper-v host that actually should be able to provision the VM to local disks.