Microsoft give more info about VMware on Azure


Intro

Microsoft recently announced their plans to start running VMware software natively within the Azure cloud. This caused much interest in the tech world as well as some angry words from VMware!

You can read more about the initial announcement here

After the initial blog post, Microsoft went very quiet and had no more to say on the subject. I attended a webinar about VMware & Azure but this just covered the Azure Migrate tool – Microsoft’s new way of converting on-premises VMware VMs to Azure VMs running in the cloud…a great offering but not the super interesting part really!

Some news!

Today (December 19, 2017) Microsoft have given us a bit of an update, in a new blog post.

They tell us that they’re working with multiple VMware partners and will run the solution on existing VMware certified hardware:

preview hardware will use a flexpod bare metal configuration with NetApp storage

This will allow organisations to continue running the VMware software they have invested in – both in terms of money and time – and that they trust to run their business, but also allow them to have L3 network connectivity with Azure services such as:

  • Azure Active Directory
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Azure Functions

Microsoft are in discussions with these VMware partners – and also VMware themselves – and aim to:

make this offering generally available next year

VMware’s Angry Words

Interestingly, VMware angry words have become less angry.

There initial blog post was quite confrontational but has since been updated and now ahs a more reconciliatory tone. For example:

Original Post:

Recently, Microsoft announced preview of VMware virtualization on Azure, a bare-metal solution that is stated to run a VMware stack on Azure hardware, co-located with other Azure services in partnership with VMware-certified partners. No VMware-certified partner names have been mentioned nor have any partners collaborated with VMware in engineering this offering. This offering has been developed independent of VMware, and is neither certified nor supported by VMware.

Revised post:

Recently, Microsoft announced a preview of VMware virtualization on Azure, a bare-metal solution that is stated to run a VMware stack on Azure hardware, co-located with other Azure services in partnership with VMware-certified partners. This offering is being developed independent of VMware, however it is being offered as a dedicated, server-hosted solution similar in approach to other VMware Cloud Provider Partners (VCPP). The deployment is on VMware certified hardware consisting of FlexPod. VMware is in the process of engaging with the partner to ensure compliance and that the appropriate support model is in place.

The original post also said:

Microsoft recognizing the leadership position of VMware’s offering and exploring support for VMware on Azure as a superior and necessary solution for customers over Hyper-V or native Azure Stack environments is understandable but, we do not believe this approach will offer customers a good solution to their hybrid or multi-cloud future.

This is now nowhere to be found in the updated blog post!

A better relationship between the two vendors will surely make for a better experience for customers who take up this new offering as closer ties should mean better support.

Next steps

They say they’ll share more info on plans for General Availability and partners “in the coming months” and if you’d like to take part in the preview – contact your Microsoft account manager.

Further reading:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/blog/vmware-virtualization-on-azure/

https://blog.cloud.vmware.com/s/content/a1y6A000000aFlgQAE/vmware-the-platform-of-choice-in-the-cloud https://www.itassetmanagement.net/2017/11/28/vmware-azure/

Microsoft Sharepoint 2010 and VMWare Error


I installed Sharepoint 2010 on a Virtual Server last week, set up some new site collections and then when I came to use it, got a very strange error:

”The trial period for Sharepoint Foundation has expired”

Strange because this wasn’t a trial and because it wasn’t Sharepoint Foundation…it was full server 2010!

I did a little searching round the web and saw something on the Microsoft forum that suggested it might be related to Windows Web Server. I checked and yes, our System Admin had built the VM with Windows Web Server…but than itself was weird…why did he do that?

I went downstairs and asked him…he didn’t make a web server, it was Windows Server Std 2008 R2 but by the time it got to me, it had magically morphed into a Web server…WTF?

The media being used was from MSDN and contained Std, Ent & Web in one image and you choose which one you want during the installation. The Sys Admin built a Svr Std machine, converted it to a VMWare template, deployed it again and gave it to me…and there was the problem. We tried again and this time, COPIED it to a template (rather than converting) and hey presto, it all worked perfectly. The VM was a Svr Std box and, after re-installing it, Sharepoint 2010 was up & running straight away Smile

I don’t know if this is a known problem and perhaps it seems really obvious to some, but it had me stumped for a while so I thought I’d share it on here…just in case.

Microsoft & Citrix “Rescue for VMWare VDI” Promotion


Alongside the new RDP/VDI enhancement, there is a new promo being kicked off called:

Rescue for VMWare VDI

For customers currently using VMWare view:

“eligible customers can trade-in their VMware View licenses with same number of Microsoft VDI Standard Suite subscription and Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual licenses, up to a maximum of 500, at no cost

At no cost!!! There are of course caveats and restrictions:

“Customers with existing VMware View licenses for desktops covered by Microsoft Core CAL or Enterprise CAL suites with Software Assurance through Select, Enterprise & CASA (Campus & Schools Agreements)   family of agreements can take advantage of this offer. Determination of eligibility will be done by Citrix and Microsoft sales representatives”

*(bold mine)

So:

Customers on:

  • Open
  • Open Value Perpetual
  • Open Value Subscription

cannot take part in this promotion…which seems a little odd to me. I’d be interested to hear the reasoning behind this…

Also, even if you are on one of the chosen licensing schemes but have chosen to purchase CALs individually, you are unable to take part.

For those who are eligible, this promo is available until December 31 2010.

You can see more on this, and other joint efforts, over at:

http://www.citrixandmicrosoft.com/

Impressions of VMWorld


As you may know, this week is VMWorld 2009, VMWare’s virtualization event for partners and customers. I’m not attending but I am following a great number of people on Twitter who are there and I have to say, it’s not doing VMWare much good in my eyes.

The first mark against them was the furore over the restrictions placed on Microsoft & Citrix. Yes-they’re competitors but:

  • Banning them from sponsoring the event
  • Restricting them to 10×10 booths
  • Stopping them from doing demo’s of their product
  • Stopping local hotels from renting conference rooms to them

just strikes me as childish and only serves to make VMWare look worse.

Now I’ll admit that I’m a big Microsoft fan and not much of a VMWare fan but I think even VMWare supporters must be having second thoughts 🙂

In one of the sessions today VMWare displayed a slide to demonstrate Microsoft driver crashes but the slide was 3 years old, and the data was 4 years old!

This attitude of “don’t show competing products", don’t use these rooms, don’t do this, don’t do that” is the same attitude that Microsoft were guilty of displaying a few years back. Microsoft saw a lot of people turn against them, both partners and customers, and it set them back in many areas. Microsoft had to make a real effort to change their corporate attitude from the top down and thanks to that, and the large number of loyal partners/customers, they were able to turn it around…these days MS are recognised by (nearly) everyone as much more open and accommodating to competitors and their products.

I’m not sure that VMWare will be able to make a similar change and, if they do, I don’t think it will be in time to save their market position…

New features and Improvements in Microsoft Hyper-V R2


As I’m sure you’ve heard on the old internet, Microsoft’s Hyper-V R2 is done and dusted. The main new feature is Live Migration, meaning MS can now match the “VMotion” feature offered by VMWare, but there is a whole host of new features and improvements in the latest version. Let’s take a look:

 

Hyper-V Compare

Hyper-V R2 also includes:

(a) High availability and live migration for managing a dynamic IT infrastructure

(b) Support for 64 logical processors future proofing our customers to scale up with the hardware

(c) Support for running up to 384 virtual machines with up to 512 virtual processors

(d) Processor compatibility mode for live migration across different processor SKU’s from the same vendor

(e) Hot add/remove virtual storage

(f) Networking enhancements (VMQ, Chimney, support for Jumbo Frames)

(g) Simplified management using sconfig

(h) Boot from flash

See the original post here.

Microsoft Virtualization Questions


Hi!

Through the awesomeness that is Twitter, I’ve managed to connect with some of the Virtualization experts who work at Microsoft HQ in Redmond. They’ve very kindly offered to answer any and all questions that you guys can think of…as long as it related to Microsoft virtualization 😉

The main thing people think of with this is Hyper-V and, while that will be a big part of this, there are other elements too. Things such as:

  • Application Virtualization (App-V)
  • Presentation Virtualization (TS/RDS)
  • Desktop Virtualization (VDI)
  • XP Mode
  • MED-V
  • Virtual PC

However, as well as product/feature specific questions, if you’re wondering about Microsoft’s long term strategy etc-please ask too.

This is a great chance to get your feedback directly to MS HQ and to get those burning questions answered straight from the horses’ mouth 🙂 We’re hoping to get this Q & A done by the end of this month (August) so please, add your questions in the comments below and we’ll get started!!!

Cheers

Rich

Hyper-V 2.0


Hyper-V 2.0 features are already being discussed. Microsoft’s already great Virtualization product is going to get even better!

The next version of Microsoft’s Hyper-V is going to include:

·         Live Migration (utilising a new Clustered Shared Volumes technology)

·         32 Logical Proc Support

·         Hot Add/Remove Storage

·         Second Level Address Translation – Leveraging new Virtualisation technology built into next generation of Intel/AMD chips

·         Dynamic Memory

·         Boot from VHD

·         Networking Improvements

·         Virtualised I/O

As I get more info, I’ll let you know..I saw the above over at VirtualBoy.

For me, the Live Migration will be a great addition as that’s one of the main differences between Hyper-V and ESX and I think it gives some people the impression that Hyper-V must be lacking elsewhere too (which isn’t the case). The addition of LIve Migration will certainly help increase the adoption rate of Hyper-V..

It looks like we’re quite close to the beta’s being available..

Cheers

Rich

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 Released


Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 has been Released To Manufacturing (RTM’d)!

An evaluation version can be downloaded here.

Zane Adam, Senior Director of Virtualizatio Strategy over at MS Redmond said:

“They are seeing the many cost reduction and management simplification benefits of Hyper-V and the SCVMM 2008 integration with the rest of System Center.   Now that RTM is official, I fully expect the rate of Hyper-V deployments to further accelerate.  Through the SCVMM 2008 console, administrators can see the entirety of their data center infrastructure – physical or virtual. SCVMM 2008 facilitates key functions like P2V (physical to virtual) migration, Intelligent Placement (selecting the best virtual host for a VM), and managing Hyper-V host clusters, to name just a few.  SCVMM 2008 works closely with its siblings – particularly SC Ops Mgr – in identifying consolidation candidates and in Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO), a new feature in which SCVMM 2008 can alert and recommend solutions to administrators about failing virtual machines or hardware.  As I mentioned above, this comprehensive view extends throughout the data center as SCVMM 2008 is capable of seeing and managing VMware ESX infrastructure through Virtual Center.”

The full transcript is here.

This is really great. SCVMM is always an integral part of conversation I have with customers artound Hyper-V and once the new version is available (1st of November 2008) I agree that many projects will start moving and being implemented.

Watch a silverlight demo and see the features yourself.

I saw this via Clive Watson’s blog.

What will SCVMM 2008 do over SCVMM 2008?

Virtual Machine Manager can manage multiple VMWare ESX VirtualCenter licences from one place, something that even VMWare can’t do !VMWare are working on it but it will be just a web console and not as fully featured as Microsoft’s VMM.

Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) is another key feature that puts VMM over ESX. Matt McSpirit explains it well:

“Take an example of a virtualised Exchange Server.  If a service crashes inside that VM, and that service is an Exchange related service, and that service crash results in a CPU spike.  The VM is still running, but now, it’s consuming more resource, so DRS chooses to move it.  It does the same on it’s new host, so DRS moves it again.  SC Operations Manager would identify the crash as being an Exchange issue, and fix the crash, rather than move the VM, even if that VM is running on a VMware infrastructure”

Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD)


Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD) is a unique way to licence Windows OS on virtual machines (VM’s) as part of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

The desktop OS (Operating System) images are held on a server and users access them via PC or Thin Clients*. You can have an unlimited number of OS instances on the server, these can be Vista or downgraded to XP, it is licensed by Device and you can have 4 virtual instances per access device at a time.

VECD is priced on a per device per month basis (so 100 users = 1200 units x price) for a minimum of 1 year.

A link to the Microsoft page which includes various datasheets can be found here.

Running Virtual Instances on the desktop is becoming more and more common and, of course, poses it’s own problems when it comes to licensing. You must have a separate OS licence for each VM as well as the OS licence for the physical machine.

If VECD isn’t an option for whatever reason, you can run OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)/FPP (Full Packaged Product) inside the VM to give you the OS licences. However if your corporate standard is still XP (as it is with many companies) it gets a bit trickier! You won’t find an OEM or FPP copy of XP now so you will have to start with Vista and downgrade to XP:

1) Buy a volume licence for Vista= NO. The Desktop OS volume licence is UPGRADE ONLY and as a VM is a clean machine, yo’re not eligible to install an upgrade.

2) Buy an OEM Vista licence= NO. Although OEM licences of Vista Business/Ultimate give downgrade rights, you’re not eligible for OEM licensing as they’re not being installed on a “new” physical machine.

3) Buy an FPP copy of Vista and enrol it in to Software Assurance (SA)= YES. Enrolling an FPP licence into SA** grants you Downgrade Rights, so you can take Vista down to XP and it’s a full copy so you can install it in a new clean VM.

* PC’s MUST be covered with Software Assurance (SA) to be eligible for VECD.

**You have a time limit to enrol the FPP copies into SA. 90 days for Open Licensing, 30 days for Open Value/Select/Enterprise Agreements.

Virtualization-what is it and why bother?


Microsoft & VMWare are the two big names in Virtualization at the moment, and it’s a topic everyone is talking about. Manufacturers, resellers, consultants, analysts, end users, Jeff down the pub..they’ve all got something to say about Virtualisation. There are all kinds of facts and figures going around, some of which seem contradictory but as with most things it all depends on viewpoint..

You might be wondering why I think it’s time to add my voice to the crowd so let me tell you. At work I see a number of people, our sales guys and our customers, who know the should be thinking about virtualization and talking about virtualization, but they don’t know what they’re supposed to think and say..they know that people can virtualize..but they don’t know why, or how. They know it reduces costs but if someone asked them, the would have to hope that “Err, erm, well..” translates into something better in one of this world’s many languages!! 😉

So in a nutshell, I hope this post/blog will become a safer, calmer haven for people to take a look at virtualization without the often deafening clamour of their colleagues, bosses and suppliers. I’ll say straight away that I’m a Microsoft Partner and supporter so I will lean towards Hyper-V but I will aim to keep everything well balanced and as neutral as possible 🙂

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization has been around since the Mainframes of the 70’s but has only become a general topic relatively recently (around 2005 it really took off).

A very common, entry level example of Virtualization is hard drive partitioning. You have one physical drive, but you can divide it up into 2 or more virtual drives and that’s what the computer sees.

The big buzz around Virtualization is…

Server Consolidation.

These days, many companies suffer from “Server Sprawl”, where they have large numbers of servers, often performing just a single task (Exchange Server, File Server etc) and wasting a lot of internal resources such as RAM, storage space and processing power as well as external resources like floor space, cooling and power.

This is where Server Virtualization comes in. Tools such as Microsoft Hyper-V, VMWare ESX, Citrix XEN and more all allow you to consolidate these various servers onto one physical server running multiple virtual instances or Virtual Machines (VM’s).

Each VM has it’s own Operating System (OS) and applications installed on it and is completely separate to the other VM’s, just like physical servers. (The “One Point of Failure” discussion is later..). It’s widely accepted that most physical servers are running at about 10% utilization, so each server is wasting 90% of it’s storage, RAM, processing power etc..all things that you’ve paid (and are still paying) for. This means you could put say 7 of those servers onto one box, and that machine would then run at around 80% utilization…immediately increasing your Return on Investment (ROI). If you can go from 7 to 1, you can go from 70 to 10 which all of a sudden is a huge difference…

Getting rid of all those servers will reduce the amount of cooling and power you use in your server room/data centre too. This leads us to..

Green IT:

Gartner say that the average company spends 4%-7% of their total IT budget on energy costs such as power and cooling. If your budget is £500,000 that’s £20,000-£35,000 a year, so if you can reclaim say 40% of that and add £8000-£14000 back into your budget straight away, that’s got to be a good thing. With the continued increase of energy prices at the moment, just this aspect on it’s own can be a compelling reason to move to a virtual environment.

A virtual infrastructure can be a lot easier to manage as well. It reduces the amount of time administrators spend on repetitive tasks such as provisioning & configuring servers. If you need a new server quickly, you can simply boot up a pre-configured Virtual template and you have a new machine up and running in minutes.

There are a number of management tools such as VMWare Virtual Center and Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager which make administration even easier.