Virtual machine load balancing in server 2016 cluster

If you’re virtualization expert (on Microsoft world Smile) you’re well aware above feature is possible when we implement System Center Virtualization Manager (SCVMM) to manage the HYPER-V cluster. Not every customer can afford to have System Center Datacenter SKU purchase right?

Virtual machine load balancing comes in exact time to help you do that without SCVMM. In a nutshell we can monitor the CPU and memory usage on the host an based on the pre-defined rules and allow VMs to move across the HYPER-V nodes in the cluster.

Do we have option to configure this parameter? Why not we can configure the aggressiveness of the this feature by using parameter ‘AutoBalancerLevel’. To control the aggressiveness run the following in PowerShell:

(Get-Cluster).AutoBalancerLevel = <value>

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VM auto balancing can be configured via GUI and PowerShell both.

In the cluster properties right-click on your cluster name and select the “Properties” option
Graphic of selecting property for cluster through Failover Cluster Manager
  1. Select the “Balancer” pane
    Graphic of selecting the balancer option through Failover Cluster Manager

From the PowerShell command point of view,

(Get-Cluster).AutoBalancerMode = <value>

Parameter values are,

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PS: VM autobalancing is enable by default in server 2016. If you use SCVMM 2016 to manage the cluster then this feature will be disabled.

Are you ready for the next big offer from Microsoft?

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Don’t we all love some hush hush news come in advance to our attention? Well Microsoft just did it again Smile If you’re a VMware customer then it’s time for you to pause your renewal and give attention to Microsoft direction and offering. Microsoft is ready to give away big surprise!!!

Ok let me make it short and come to the core story Smile 

If you switch from VMware to Hyper-V from during September 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, you can get free Windows Server Datacenter licenses when buying Windows Server Datacenter + Software Assurance. That ultimately means you only pay for Software Assurance.

All the latest information about this offer and how to calculate the TCO can be found in here. If you’re wondering what kind of enhancement HYPER-V 2016 can provide then you’ll be surprised too. Detail information can be found here.

So for my VMWare customers all I can say is don’t delay this opportunity, contact your Microsoft Account Manager and start engaging on this process.

When it comes to deployment or if you need support from the beginning stage then feel free to get in touch with Infront team

HYPER-V Production checkpoints

I already assume you’re aware and having Hyper-V experience knows the convenience / advantages of being able to take snapshots of VMs state before implementing a potentially disruptive change. But you also know the dangers of snapshotting for workloads such as domain controllers (DCs), Exchange Servers and SQL Servers: If you apply a checkpoint to a VM that’s replicating with others, it’s effectively sent back in time. That can cause AD corruption, password mismatches, missing group memberships and other data loss. But if you’re a developer then snapshot is a blessing for you to re-produce bugs…etc

With Server 10 (aka Server vNext) Microsoft is introducing new types of snapshots, called “Production Checkpoints”

Production_checkpoint

It uses the Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) from within the VM, because the VM is aware that it happened (it’s more like a backup operation), applying a checkpoint won’t disrupt workloads. Basically machine will boot in normal boot process be restoring the previous snapshot data. Enterprise level applications (SQL, Exchange) will be aware about this restore process. This is an option you can enable and if you still prefer previous snapshot method in your demo environment you can switch back. With production checkpoint enabled Microsoft has taken HYPER-V customers to whole new level.

Production_checkpoint_enable

You can find entire list of Server vNext improvements in here

HYPER-V VNEXT will support nested virtualization

This might be somewhat old news for some readers but just want to share Microsoft has given indication they will provide nested virtualization capability on next release. This has been highlighted on the Windows Containers: What, Why and How session on Microsoft Build Conference.

This is one of the features most of the HYPER-V fans requesting from Microsoft (Including HYPER-V MVP’s as well). With this feature enabled we can enable HYPER-V role inside the Virtual machines. This would be really cool when we carry out demo labs.

Best HYPER-V tools in my belt

Hi fellow blog readers, in this article I want to share with you all some of the common HYPER-V tools I use in my daily customer projects (Not all the tools used with one customer but vary). Again this is my list and your mileage can vary but share your comments and tools you use to make this article interactive and useful for other fellow readers.

1. Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) – The MAP Toolkit can help you ease the cloud-based migrations as well as local migrations. Before I do any P2V migration or virtualization project this is an important tool we use daily. One cool thing about this tool is it’s has been expand to assess your environment for readiness for Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Office 2013, Office 2010, Office 365, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 2012 R2, SQL Server 2014 as well. You can get more information about this tool from here.

2. Disk2vhd – One of the tool that still works for me. This tool is really simple but you have to do certain manual steps to get the VHD file cleansed. Not the best tool for mass VM migration but if you’re planning to do P2V, V2V in small numbers this tool works for you. More information about this tool can be found here.

3. 5nine V2V Easy Converter – As the name implies this nifty software do what is says effectively. Current version is 5.3. Free version would be more than enough for typical job. Why I like this tool so much is due to following reason

“Current version of 5nine V2V Converter supports conversion of Windows Server 2012 R2/2012/2008, Windows 8.x/7, Windows Server 2003 (x86 and x64), and most of Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Ubuntu and CentOS configurations. It also supports conversion to Gen1 and Gen2 Hyper-V Virtual Machines.”

So if your customer is still having Windows 2003 Server this is one tool you can rely on. But I have to warn ya HYPER-V will only support Server 2003 with SP2 and above and official support for OS is already over. Hint – Convince customer to move to Server 2012 or 2012 R2 Smile

4. IOMETER – We love to see how our VM can perform for certain workload before we jump into the installation of the software. We use this in our SAN testing as well and on VM testing. Nothing big I can say about this tool but one essential tool in my toolkit.

5. 5Nine Manager for HYPER-V – Not all my customers can afford to pay hefty price for System Center for  1- 4 HYPER-V host management. But still they want same manageability tools SCVMM used to provide. Well they won’t get 100% what they ask but 5Nine Manager is one definite tool I recommend to them. This software allows you to mange different versions of HYPER-V in single console. As a HYPER-V MVP I always stand for what is best method for HYPER-V deployment and server core is a must. not all the system administrators around the world is fancy about that ide and they prefer GUI. How to find the sweet spot on satisfy both requirement? Well expensive SCVMM do that and same goes with reasonable pricing 5Nine Smile You can find more details about the product in here.

That’s all from my side for now. In future articles I will share with you all what PowerShell commands I use to make my life easier when it comes to HYPER-V management.

Software-Defined Networking with Windows Server and System Center Jump Start

This is another invaluable session offered via Microsoft Virtual Academy on coming 19th March. I know most of the IT Pros have questions about SDN plus some VMware folks need to know how Microsoft world we do that 🙂 Well this is it then!

Is your infrastructure outgrowing your current networking strategy? Want to simplify the process for managing your datacenter? Software-defined networking (SDN) can streamline datacenter implementation through self-service provisioning, take the complexity out of network management, and help increase security with fully isolated environments. Intrigued? Bring specific questions, and get answers from the team who built this popular solution!”

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Most important part of this session is Q&A. So I would suggest you’ll do your homework and come-up with all the handy questions you have to shoot to these gentlemen plus the MVP group sitting invisibly to answer those questions.

Note: Click on the above picture to register for this event.

Force removal of virtual machine from HYPER-V cluster

This is a field experience I occurred few days back. Customer having HYPER-V cluster which consist of 4 nodes connected to two CSV volumes. One of the VM hosted in the cluster having a problem of not booting properly. It’s been in the saved state. Looking at VMM console I can see the same VM name visible 3 times! and each vm hosted in different HYPER-V host. Tried to delete the VM from the VMM console and received the following error,

failed to delete configuration: The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process. (0x80070020) (Virtual machine ID 9AF7EF4C-48EE-43C2-ADE7-E2D4D255B6F9) (Unknown error (0x8006)) “ <Please note VM specific details has been removed>

Tried to log into each hyper-v host VM manager separately and remove the VM but ended with the similar error. Further inspection revealed all duplicate VM names all tried to bind into the same VHD file and the config file in the CSV volume. The problem is all 3 hyper-v hosts holding to the files and cannot be deleted. It’s very clear only way to delete them is by force (Time to use the Jedi power force 🙂 )

From the VMM console you can open the PS (Yes the ultimate Power Shell) and type the following command,

$VM = Get-VM -Name <VM Name>
Remove-VM -VM $VM –Force

After that you can refresh the VMM console and see the troublesome VM has been disappeared.

Note: Prior to any of these task as a habit I make sure VM has been backup 🙂