Last year, Nirmal Sharma wrote a fantastic article on this blog titled 23 Best Practices to improve Hyper-V and VM Performance. This sparked up a very lively discussion in the comments section; some were very strongly in favor of some items, some very strongly opposed to others. What I think was perhaps missed in some of these comments was that, as Nirmal stated in the title, his list was specifically “to improve Hyper-V and VM performance.” If squeezing every last drop of horsepower out of your Hyper-V host is your goal, then it’s pretty hard to find any serious flaws with his list.
Dynamic Memory is one of Hyper-V’s most misunderstood and underutilized technologies. Many people believe that it’s not working when it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to. Too many won’t use it at all based on incorrect assumptions. Most don’t understand the conditions in which it will operate. Unfortunately, there’s really not a simple guide to using it properly, or you’d find articles on it everywhere. If you want to squeeze the most out of your virtual environment, you’re going to need to get your hands dirty with some of the grease that’s down in the guts of your systems
Native adapter teaming is a hot topic in the world of Hyper-V. It’s certainly nice for Windows Server as well, but the ability to spread out traffic for multiple virtual machines is practically a necessity. Unfortunately, there is a still a lot of misunderstanding out there about the technology and how to get it working correctly.
Late last year, we published an eBook about licensing Microsoft server operating systems in a virtual environment. This was followed up with a webinar by Thomas Maurer and Andrew Syrewicze. Toward the end of that session, they took some questions. Since then, we’ve received a few more. We’ll use this article to answer those questions and to further expand on some of the ideas in the eBook.
In our article on common Hyper-V deployment mistakes, one item we discussed was the creation of too many Hyper-V virtual switches. This article will expand on that thought and cover various Hyper-V virtual switch deployment scenarios. One Switch will Usually Suffice The first and most important point to make is the same as mentioned in the earlier article: one virtual switch is enough for most Hyper-V hosts. We’ll start by showing how advancements in Windows and Hyper-V technologies address problems that necessitated multiple virtual switches in earlier versions. Native OS Teaming is Now Available In 2008 R2 and earlier, you could only team network adapters by using software provided by the network card manufacturer. This software was often buggy and unstable. Furthermore, Microsoft would not officially support any system that used such teaming. In those situations, Hyper-V administrators would often choose to leave the physical adapters unteamed and create multiple… Read More»
One of the great things about the Hyper-V virtual switch is that it can be used to very effectively isolate your virtual machines from the physical network. This grants them a layer of protection that’s nearly unparalleled. Like any security measure, this can be a double-edged sword. Oftentimes, these isolated guests still need some measure of access to the outside world, or they at least need to have access to a system that can perform such access on their behalf. There are a few ways to facilitate this sort of connection. The biggest buzzword-friendly solution today is network virtualization, but that currently requires additional software (usually System Center VMM) and a not-unsubstantial degree of additional know-how. For most small, and even many medium-sized organizations, this is an unwelcome burden not only in terms of financial expense, but also in training/education and maintenance. A simpler solution that’s more suited to smaller… Read More»
New year, new products! Some time in 2015, we’re all going to be graced with the newest edition of Windows and Windows Server, and along with them, Hyper-V. I wish I had a slick code name to give you, like “Viridian”, but it seems like most in-progress Microsoft products are now just code-named “vNext”. I’ve spent some time going over the published feature list. Some of the introductions will be very welcome. Some make me a bit less than enthusiastic. Sole Sourcing I’ve been burned more than once by writing about pre-release features and software conditions, even within a few months of release. The next version of Hyper-V is still quite a ways away, so there is still time for significant change. To that end, I’m only going to work with the officially published material on Hyper-V. Even that material could still be considered malleable at this point, but, in… Read More»
Hyper-V is no longer the newcomer in the virtualization space. After springing forth from its Virtual Server parent, it’s now had over half a decade to mature into the reliable, enterprise-grade hypervisor that it is today. As with any complex software, Hyper-V is composed of many parts, like the branches and leaves of a great tree. Like a tree, some of those branches form into major trunks that define the tree’s silhouette. Others become a twisted impediment to the proper growth of the larger organism and must be pruned away for its overall well-being. In Hyper-V, one of those latter branches is the pass-through disk. Many of you are already aware of this fact and have long since moved on. The reasoning behind this post is that there are still a handful of people out there clinging to this old tech, wishing that branches that were solid in 2008 weren’t… Read More»
I’ve seen a lot of questions from those who have recently deployed Hyper-V for the first time. Some just need a few pointers to iron some minor glitches, but some are in really bad shape. Here are some of the common deployment mistakes and their solutions. 1. Mis-Provisioning Resources in Hyper-V There are a lot of ways to get the hardware wrong. This is usually the result of not having system profiles or by taking advice from people that don’t have to write the checks for your systems. Improper Balance of CPU and Memory You are almost guaranteed to run out of memory resources long before you run out of CPU. Don’t be one of those poor souls that buys dual 20-core CPUs with 64GB of RAM. Memory can’t be shared. Even though you can use Dynamic Memory to squeeze in more VMs than might otherwise fit, the memory that… Read More»
As an IT Professional, you might find yourself blessed with the unfortunate scenario of working on a Hyper-V server that is not able to authenticate to the domain and the cached domain credentials are no longer working. In addition to this predicament, you learn that there is no documentation for the local administrator password. Either the client who you’re working for doesn’t know the local administrator password or the previous engineer who built the server is no longer working for your company and the standard passwords aren’t working. A 3rd party password cracker application will allow you to reset the local administrator password. The drawback is you have to pay for it and in my experience they don’t always work. Follow the steps below and use the Ease of Access Exploit to change the local administrator password. The Ease of Access Exploit modifies the windows system files to enable you… Read More»
Quite some time ago, we wrote a post about taking live backups in Hyper-V. Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 really changed the mechanics of backup. This post examines how those changes have affected live, or hot, backups. Until 2012 R2, backup was strictly based on VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) operations. Backup applications trigger VSS in the host. For standard backup operations of the file system, VSS responds by flushing buffers and pausing I/O. It also notifies any applications that had registered with VSS that a backup was about to occur, granting those applications the ability to perform any additional preparations necessary. One such application is Hyper-V. Hyper-V in these earlier versions would simply use the Integration Services, specifically the backup service, to notify the guest’s VSS of an impending backup operation. It would perform the same operations as VSS in the host by preparing its own operating system and registered… Read More»
In the sister article to this piece, we talked about choosing Hyper-V Server over Windows Server as the management operating system. In this one, we’re going to go down the other road and make the case for Windows Server instead. A Clear Definition of Hyper-V Terms The earlier article had a section devoted to clearing up the terminology around Hyper-V. For your convenience, here’s that chart again: Term Meaning Hyper-V “Hyper-V” is Microsoft’s hypervisor technology. There is no way to get Hyper-V all by itself. You must choose one of three possible delivery methods. When using the term “Hyper-V”, you are referring specifically to the hypervisor. Hyper-V Server “Hyper-V Server” is a standalone product available as a direct download from Microsoft. Despite the awkward placement of the download, it is not an evaluation product download. This is one of the three delivery methods for Hyper-V. It is based on Windows… Read More»
For the server edition of Hyper-V, you have a choice in management operating systems. You can use the free, no-GUI Hyper-V Server or you can use the full-fledged Windows Server. This will be the first of two articles in which I will argue both sides of the debate. In this installment, I’ll take the position that you should use Hyper-V Server. A Clear Explanation of What Hyper-V Server Is There’s a lot of confusion around all the various terms for Microsoft’s hypervisor. Microsoft takes no small part of the blame for that, as they use overlapping product names and terms. Some of it is just a natural consequence of the delivery methods. Some of the blame lies with the community, though, as many writers don’t do a great job using non-arbitrary product descriptors. I always cringe when I read an otherwise great article that refers to “Hyper-V Core”. There have… Read More»
We’ve had a long run of articles in this series that mostly looked at general networking technologies. Now we’re going to look at a technology that gets us closer to Hyper-V. Load-balancing algorithms are a feature of the network team, which can be used with any Windows Server installation, but is especially useful for balancing the traffic of several operating systems sharing a single network team. Part 1 – Mapping the OSI Model Part 2 – VLANs Part 3 – IP Routing Part 4 – Link Aggregation and Teaming Part 5 – DNS Part 6 – Ports, Sockets, and Applications Part 7 – Bindings We’ve already had a couple of articles on the subject of teaming in the Server 2012+ products. The first, not part of this series, talked about MPIO, but outlined the general mechanics of teaming. The second was part of this series and took a deeper look at teaming and the aggregation options available.… Read More»
When it comes to ease of installation, Windows has always had a sketchy history. By the time Windows 2000 came out, most enthusiasts and professionals had learned to adopt a strategy of “installation by any means necessary”. What that meant was that we would take any steps, no matter how drastic, just to get the OS installed. It was almost always easier to clean up any problems after the first boot than it was to try to rectify them during installation. With the newer versions of Windows, that’s diminished somewhat. Part of it is that each successive version has removed decision points that could introduce problems. The last couple of versions ask for no interaction except for an acceptance of the license agreement, entering of a product key, operating mode, and which disk will receive Windows. Even though the process has gotten a lot smoother, that doesn’t mean we’ve seen… Read More»