Using Riverbed Steelhead WAN Optimization Appliances with Hyper-V Replica

Microsoft have recently published a whitepaper that captures the results of bandwidth optimization experiments conducted in the Microsoft® Engineering Excellence Center (EEC) lab by using the Riverbed Steelhead appliance WAN optimization devices with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Replica.

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Replica allows asynchronous replication of Virtual Machines across Wide Area Networks. By utilizing a WAN optimization appliance, like the Riverbed Steelhead, you can improve your overall replication strategy and provide bandwidth effective WAN efficiencies. The de-duplication of the devices abilities is certainly something that provided very interesting results, which I highly recommend reviewing.

You can download the whitepaper here.

Microsoft Hyper-V R2 SP1: Application Workload Performance

Recently, I came across this white paper where the Enterprise Strategy Group Lab provided an excellent summary on virtualizing Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. The white paper covers the technical architecture utilized within the lab, with detailed performance tests and workload scalability graphs. Each section provides an excellent summary and a set of highlights.

I recommend reading this white paper for some insight into the scale that Hyper-V R2 SP1 provides to these applications.

The white paper can be downloaded here.

Windows 8: New Hyper-V 3.0 Features

Microsoft recently announced at the WorldWide Partner Conference (WPC 2011), a number of new exciting features in Windows 8. Windows 8 will be packed with over 100 new features. Some of key Hyper-V 3.0 features will include the following enhancements:

Memory

Network

  • Router Guard
  • DHCP Guard

 Storage

  • New VHDX format
  • Support for more than 2TB VHD’s – up to 16TB !
  • Virtual Fibre Channel Adapter
  • Storage Resource Pools

Processor

  • Support for more than 4 Virtual CPU’s

Hyper-V Replica

  • Ability to replicate Hyper-V Virtual Machines asynchronously within the same site or over to another physical site over the wire. The options are endless, and the possibility to create replicas in the Cloud.
  • Hyper-V Replica works with any hardware vendor, storage vendor and any nework vendor.
  • Microsoft’s next steps may include Hyper-V Replica options with the Windows Azure Platform

Windows 8 Client

  • There are rumours that Hyper-V 3.0 may also be built into the Windows 8 client. If this is the case, this is will be an ideal integrator for software development environments.

SharePoint 2010 Virtualized Infrastructure

Recently one of my colleagues discussed SharePoint Infrastructure sizing with me and we were discussing Virtualizing an entire farm. There are a number of factors that need to be considered which I will update here regularly.

This blog is intended to send you directly to the relevant information for planning, design and implementation.

Starting Point

It is important to understand the basics first prior to moving ahead with your deployment. These articles and references are a good starting point to review:

There is no doubt that SharePoint can run on a virtualized platform. I would recommend reviewing this KB for planning your virtualized SharePoint 2010 environment: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff607968.aspx

Here is Microsoft’s support policy for Microsoft Software running on non-Microsoft hardware http://support.microsoft.com/kb/897615

Reference this KB to review which Microsoft Products are supported in a virtualized environment: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/957006

Since I am only discussing Hyper-V on my blog, you can review the Hyper-V Planning guideance on TechNet here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee344841(WS.10).aspx

Hyper-V Getting Started Guide: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732470(WS.10).aspx

It is important to review the SVVP: http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/svvp.aspx?svvppage=svvp.htm

Infrastructure Planning

Apart from the solution, Infrastructure Planning is one of the the most important components to get right. The core reason is the investment made in server and network infrastructure will likely be based on a 3-5 year replacement plan.

Performance

Important references for Performance tuning :

  1. Windows 2008 R2 Performance Tuning Guide: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg463392.aspx
  2. Troubleshooting Performance tuning problems in SQL Server 2008   http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd672789.aspx

Virtualization: Hyper-V Background

Amazing isn’t it !!

Throughout my career I’ve seen so many changes in the way deploy our systems, but when I first started working with virtualization technologies in 1999, specifically desktop virtualization and then server virtualization in 2004, it was one of the most exciting technology advancements I had ever seen up to that point in my career. I remember showing a colleague of mine a laptop running Windows XP and windows server 2003 as my development platform for infrastructure projects, and he agreed, it was in his terms “Blimey, thats the best thing that I’ve seen in IT for a long while”.

Moving ahead, current day, I will writing articles specifically on the platform that I am certified for, Microsoft Hyper-V and SCVMM.

Microsoft first added the Hyper-V hypervisor to Windows Server 2008 as an add-on via a Microsoft update. it was included in later release builds as standard. Wow! A hypervisor part of an operating system with High Availability when utilized with clusters. For Microsoft, this was a big step which was long awaited for in the industry. Windows 2008 R2 enhanced the functionality of the hypervisor to allow for additional, most welcomed improvements. Some of the core improvements introduced in R2 were:

1) Processor Architecture migration across the same family of processors.

2) Improvements in the performance of dynamic vhd’s (a 95% increase in performance)

3) The ability to specify a management network which would not be utilized for Virtual Machine Network Adaptors (the option is to share a network adapter if required)

4) Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV): the ability for multiple cluster nodes to access the same logical unit number in a SAN or Shared disk subsytsem – excellent for live migration

5) Live Migration: the capability to migrate a VM from one cluster node on the same cluster without any VM down time

Licensing

Microsoft allow 4 virtual machines running on Windows Server 2008/R2 Enterprise Edition. Basically you purchase the hardware, Operating System and can install up to 4 VM’s without requiring an additional OS license. How is that for saving money. Also, if you purchase Windows Server 2008/R2 DataCenter, you can run as many VM’s as you like on the platform. What a huge saving !

Maturity

The maturity of the hypervisor use to be something some people were concerned about. Personally I had no concerns simply because I had used Virtual Pc and Virtual Server 2005/R2 for several years before Hyper-V. In fact during my days as a Senior Consultant, I had a laptop running several VM,s for customer demos, personal training, and product development and testing. Prior to deploying solutions on customers sites, I was able to POC the environment on a fresh set of VM’s to ensure the solution was practical and sound from an architectural perspective. Nowadays there is no concern over hypevisor maturity, it’s without a doubt the way to go to build your datacenter.

What about certified hardware and software?

Microsoft have a very extensive Windows Server Virtualization Validation Program where vendors must conform to Microsoft’s certification rules. Ensure you visit the site when your purchasing the hardware for your Hyper-V environment to ensure it is an approved and certified hardware platform.

You can also visit this Microsoft KB to determine which Microsoft products can be installed in a virtualized environment.

I will be writing more articles and adding news flashes on Microsoft Hyper-V in the near future.