My Hyper-V Lab Is Recycled And What That Means

It’s a sad day as I say goodbye to a phase of my career. Long-time readers of my writings, attendees of my presentations, or followers of my social media, will know that I spent many years discussing and promoting Windows Server Hyper-V and related tech. This morning, I said goodbye to that.

Back in 2007, I was working as a senior engineer for one of the largest hosting companies in Ireland. I was building a new VMware platform for that company, and a local Microsoft evangelist targeted me to promote Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V. I was interested in the Windows Server content, but the timing sucked for Hyper-V because it would be another year before it was going to be released and I needed to get the virtualization platform into production ASAP. I ended up changing jobs the following year to work with a start-up hosting company and then I saw the opportunity for Hyper-V. And that started the ball rolling on all the Hyper-V content on this site that would eventually host over the years.

My first presentation on Hyper-V, at E2EVC (PubForum back then) in Dublin, was a bloodbath. The room was filled with VMware nuts, including one consultant that I had previously worked with who worked for the biggest sceptic company of Microsoft on the island. My 30 minute-long session was an hour of me being attacked. But eventually I learned to turn that around.

Eventually I was awarded as a Hyper-V MVP. I can remember my first year in Bellevue/Redmond, having serious jetlag at the MVP Summit. One morning I woke up in the early AMs and wrote a proposal for a new Hyper-V book. One year later, Mastering Hyper-V Deployment (co-authored with Patrick Lownds) was released … written using a Dell Latitude laptop and an eSATA disk.

A few years later, the same process started again, and Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V (co-authored with Patrick Lownds, Hans Vredevoort, and Damian Flynn) was released. I needed a much better lab for this book. I had an old PC that I used as a domain controller and iSCSI target, and I bought two HP tower PCs as Hyper-V hosts with extra RAM, storage, disks, NICs, and a 1 GbE switch – I also had access to  a 10 GbE RDMA rig at my (then) employer. A year later … the book was out. I was flattered when some of the Hyper-V team shared some nice comments both privately and on … the Hyper-V team bought copies of the book to educate new-hires!

This blog got lots of regular updates and lots of traffic. Content included System Center, failover clustering, Storage Spaces, Windows networking, etc … all related to Hyper-V. And then things started to change.

I was working in the small/medium enterprise market – the perfect early adopters for Hyper-V. Microsoft’s ambitions for Hyper-V started to change pre-2012. Publicly, they wanted to focus on Fortune 500 customers. Secretly, Microsoft was looking at their future in IT. Increasingly, the new stuff in Hyper-V was focused on customers that I had no dealings with. And then along came Windows Server 2019 … there was so little new for Hyper-V in there that I wondered if virtualization had plateaued. Support for flash storage on the motherboard, etc, are edge things. Getting 16,000,000 IOPS is like saying I have a car with 1,000 BHP – how many people really care? Virtualization had become a commodity, a thing under the covers, that supports other features. These days, you only hear “Hyper-V” when the media are wondering how new dev/security features are being enabled in Windows 10 preview builds.

And several years ago, my job changed. Windows Server, Hyper-V, and System Center was my job. But then Microsoft came in to meet my boss and me and told us “we need you to switch your focus to Azure”. And that was that – I learned Azure from scratch, and today I’m working with large customers on Azure projects. I sometimes joke with people that I get to work with the largest Azure clusters in the world (this is true – Azure was part of Microsoft’s change of focus for Hyper-V) but I don’t worry about the host stuff; instead I architect and deploy what sits on top of the hypervisor, the part that the business/customer actually cares about these days. I don’t care about NICs, BIOS,  drivers, and physical disks or worry about flashing lights in a data centre/basement – I design & deploy services.

If you’ve been reading my content here or on then you would have noticed the change. Part of the topic change was that there was less content in the Hyper-V world, less content that I could work with, and I was spending 100% of my time in The (real) Cloud.

And that leads me to what happened this morning. As I’ve posted before, I work from home now and part of that was setting up my home office. Two items became redundant; the pair of HP Tower PCs that I had set up as a budget Hyper-V cluster that I used as one of my labs for the “Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V” book. I had powered off those machines quite a while ago and they were stacked to the side of my desk, taking up space and gathering dust. This morning, I opened those machines up one last time, removed the OS disk, and put the machines outside to be collected by a recycling company.

A few hours ago, the van came around and collected the machines. They are gone. And that is the end of a significant era in my career – it helped my profile, I learned a lot, I made friends across the world, and it led to a job where I met my wife and started my family. So writing this now, I realise that associating sentimentality to a couple of black tower PCs is stupid, but they played a major role in my life. Their departure marks the end of the Hyper-V part of my career, and I’m well and truly into the subsequent phase, and even considering what’s next after that.

Q&A Webinar with Ben Armstrong (Microsoft/Hyper-V)

Altaro are hosting an “AMA” webinar where you will get the chance to ask your burning questions to Ben Armstrong (previously known as The Virtual PC Guy), Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, and one of the brains behind Hyper-V … and thus the platform of Azure!

if you’ve ever wondered where some of my uber-detailed posts on odd little hyper-V details came from … it was from Ben. He’s got tonnes of stories, lots of info, and this shouldn’t be missed if you have the chance to tune in.

Year 10 as an MVP – Adding The Azure Expertise

Today was a stressful day – it was the annual date of my MVP renewal. The program has changed quite a bit in the last year, and this is the only renewal date from now on, so you might have seen more MVPs than usual sharing their nerves online.

I was extremely nervous, especially because my profile on the MVP directory went offline. I was sure that I was a goner. But later in the day my profile re-appeared, with a change.


To mark year 10 as a Microsoft Valuable Professional, I have been awarded with a double expertise:

  • Cloud & Datacenter Management (Hyper-V)
  • Microsoft Azure

And a little later in the afternoon, the notification email arrived:


My eldest daughter, who is 10 years old, had noticed my stress and wanted to congratulate me. I was banished from the kitchen and later I was presented with this cake – I’m a proud Dad:



These are fun times ahead for IT pros. My double status, with on-premises virtualization and public cloud, mirrors what’s going on in many of our careers, either already or pretty soon.  My career has changed so much over the years:

  • UNIX programmer
  • Have-a-go-hero Windows consultant
  • Re-inventing myself to be a better Microsoft engineer
  • Senior sysadmin in an international company
  • MVP in SCCM
  • Virtualization engineer
  • MVP in Hyper-V
  • Author
  • Technical sales
  • Writer
  • Lead on Azure IaaS
  • MVP in Azure

And now I can see somewhat of a return to development. I don’t see myself coding, but I’m heading to Ignite with the intention of spending as much time as posisble learning PaaS stuff, while trying to figure out what’s happening in Windows Server 1709, Azure IaaS developments, and soooo much more!

My Experience at Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany

Last week I was in Munich for the Cloud & Datacenter Germany conference. I landed in Munich on Wednesday for a pre-conference Hyper-V community event, and 2 hours later I was talking to a packed room of over 100 people about implementing Azure Site Recovery with Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V. This talk was very different to my usual “When Disaster Strikes” talk; I wanted to do something different so instead of an hour of PowerPoint, I had 11 slides, half of which were the usual title, who I am, etc, slides. Most of my time was spent doing live demos and whiteboarding using Windows 10 Ink on my Surface Book.


Photo credit: Carsten Rachfahl (@hypervserver)

On Friday I took the stage to do my piece for the conference, and I presented my Hidden Treasures in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V talk. This was slightly evolved from what I did last month in Amsterdam – I chopped out lots of redundant PowerPoint and spent more time on live demos. As usual with this talk, which I’d previously done on WS2012 R2 for TechEd Europe 2014 and Ignite 2015, I ran all of my demos using PowerShell scripts.

Media preview

Photo credit: Benedikt Gasch (@BenediktGasch)


One of the great things about attending these events is that I get to meet up with some of my Hyper-V MVPs friends. It was great to sit down for dinner with them, and a few of us were still around for a quieter dinner on the Friday night. Below you can see me hanging out with Tudy Damian, Carsten Rachfahl, Ben Armstrong (Virtual PC Guy), and Didier Van Hoye.

Media preview

As expected, CDC Germany was an awesome event with lots of great speakers sharing knowledge over 2 days. Plans have already started for the next event, so if you speak German and want to stay up to speed with Hyper-V, private & public cloud in the Microsoft world, then make sure you follow the news on

Talking Hyper-V & Azure At Upcoming Community Events

The last 12 months of my existence have been a steady diet of Azure. My focus at work has been on developing and delivering a set of bespoke Azure training courses aimed at our customers (MS partners) working in the Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) channel. As of last week, my calendar became a lot more … reasonable. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got meetings up the hoo-hah, but I’m not under the same deadline pressure as I was. And that frees up some time for some community stuff.

I’ve got three things coming up in April and May.

Lowlands Unite (Netherlands) – April 11th

A collection of MVPs from around Europe will be here for this 2-track event. I’ll be there presenting an updated version of the session that I did at TechEd Europe and Ignite 2015, The Hidden Treasures of Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V. This is a session where I like to talk and demonstrate the features in Hyper-V (and related) that don’t get the same coverage as the big ticket items, such as Storage Spaces Direct or Nano Server. And while these features don’t get those headlines, I often find that they are more useful for more customers.

Hyper-V Community (Munich) – May 3rd

This is a special pre-event day being organized by Hyper-V (Cloud & Datacenter Management) MVP, Carsten Rachfahl. Starting at midday, sessions will be presented by Ben Armstrong, Allesandro Pilotti, Didier Van Hoye, and myself. My session is a progression of the “When Disaster Strikes” session, moving into a more technical session on using Azure as a DR site for Hyper-V. I have a demo rig all set up, and am looking forward to showing it off with lots of practical advice.

Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany (Munich) May 4th/5th


I spoke at this event last year, and it was easily the best run conference I’ve been to in Europe, the one with the best speakers & content, and the event with the best food (ever & anywhere). If you’re working in the Microsoft space (Windows, Server, Azure, Office, and more) and you can speak German then this is definitely the event for you. It’s an all-star cast of speakers, encouraged to talk and demonstrate tech, over 4 tracks spanning 2 days. I will be speaking on day 2 (Friday) and doing my new The Hidden Treasures of Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V session.

Podcast Recording: Talking WS2016 on AnexiPod

I recently recorded a podcast with Ned Bellavance of Anexinet, where we talked about Windows Server 2016 for nearly an hour. Tune in and hear what’s up with the latest version of Microsoft’s server operating system, Hyper-V, storage, cloud, and more!


Microsoft Makes vSphere Look Like A Toy Once Again

Microsoft has increased the maximums once again for Hyper-V, with the upcoming release of Windows Server 2016. They’re leaving VMware not just in the dust, but somewhere so far behind that they’re over the horizon.


How does vSphere 6.0 stack up against the superior Hyper-V?


Ouch! Enjoy, vFanboys!

I can’t wait for the angry tweets!

Webinar Recording – Clustering for the Small/Medium Enterprise & Branch Office

I recently did another webinar for work, this time focusing on how to deploy an affordable Hyper-V cluster in a small-medium business or a remote/branch office. The solution is based on Cluster-in-a-Box hardware and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and Storage Spaces. Yes, it reduces costs, but it also simplifies the solution, speeds up deployment times, and improves performance. Sounds like a win-win-win-win offering!


We have shared the recording of the webinar on the MicroWarehouse site, and that page also includes the slides and some additional reading & viewing.

The next webinar has been scheduled; On August 25th at 2PM UK/Irish time (there is a calendar link on the page) I will be doing a session on what’s new in WS2016 Hyper-V, and I’ll be doing some live demos. Join us even if you don’t want to learn anything about Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V, because it’s live demos using a Technical Preview build … it’s bound to all blow up in my face.

KB3172614 To Replace/Fix Hyper-V Installations Broken By KB3161606

Microsoft released a new update rollup to replace the very broken and costly (our time = our money) June rollup, KB3161606. These issues affected Hyper-V on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 (WS2012 R2).

It’s sad that I have to write this post, but, unfortunately, untested updates are still being released by Microsoft. This is why I advise that updates are delayed by 2 months.

In the case of the issues in the June 2016 update rollup, the fixes are going to require human effort … customers’ human effort … and that means customers are paying for issues caused by a supplier. I’ll let you judge what you think of that (feel free to comment below).

A month after news of the issues in the update became known (the update rollup was already in the wild for a week or two), Microsoft has issued a superseding update that will fix the issues. At the same time, they finally publicly acknowledge the issues in the June update:


So it took 1.5 months, from the initial release, for Microsoft to get this update right. That’s why I advise a 2 month delay on approving/deploying updates, and I continue to do so.

What Microsoft needs to fix?

  • Change the way updates are created/packaged. This problem has been going on for years. Support are not good at this stuff, and it needs to move into the product groups.
  • Microsoft has successfully reacted to market pressure by making a special emphasis to change, e.g. The Internet, secure coding, The Cloud. Satya Nadella needs to do the same for quality assurance (QA), something that I learned in software engineering classes was as important as the code. I get that edge scenarios are hard to test, but installing/upgrading ICs in a Hyper-V guest OS is hardly a rare situation.
  • Start communicating. Put your hands up publicly, and say “mea culpa”, show what went wrong and follow it up with progress reports on the fix.


RunAsRadio Podcast – Hyper-V in Server 2016

I recently recorded an episode of the RunAsRadio podcast with Richard Campbell on the topic of Windows Server 2016 (WS2016) Hyper-V. We covered a number of areas, including containers, nested virtualization, networking, security, and PowerShell.