Build Windows: Windows Server 8

This is an IT pro session featuring Bill Laing (Corporate Vice President Server & Cloud Division) and Mike Neil (General Manager Windows Server) are the speakers.  This will be jam packed with demos.

“Windows Server 8 is cloud optimized for all business” – Bill Laing.  For single servers and large clusters.  The 4 themes of this server release:

  • beyond virtualisation
  • The power of many servers, the simplicity of one
  • Every app, any cloud
  • Modern work style enabled

Hyper-V headline features:

  • network virtualisation
  • Live storage migration
  • multi-tenancy
  • NIC teaming
  • 160 logical processors
  • 32 virtual processors
  • virtual fiber channel
  • Offloaded data transfer (between VMs on the same storage)
  • Hyper-V replicat
  • Cross-premise connectivity
  • IP address mobility
  • Cloud backup

Did they mention cloud yet?  I think not: apparently this release is cloud optimized.

A VM can have up to 32 vCPUs.  RAM can be up to 512 GB.  VHDX supports up to 16 TB of storage per vDisk.  Guest NUMA is where VMs are now NUMA aware … having 32 vCPUs makes this an issue.  A VM can optimize threads of execution VS memory allocation on the host.  A guest can now direct connect to a fibre channel SAN via a virtual fibre channel adapter/HBA – now the high end customers can do in-VM clustering just like iSCSI customers.  You can do MPIO with this as well, and it works with existing supported guest OSs.  No packet filtering is done in the guest.

Live Migration.  You can now do concurrent Live Migrations.  Your limit is the networking hardware.  You can LM a VM from one host to another with “no limits”.  In other words, a 1 Gbps connection with no clustering and no shared storage is enough for a VM live migration now.  You use the Move wizard, and can choose pieces of the VM or the full VM.  Live Storage Migration sits under the hood.  It is using snapshots similar to what was done with Quick Storage Migration in VMM 2008 R2. 

On to Hyper-V networking.  What was slowing down cloud adoption?  Customers want hybrid computing.  Customers also don’t like hosting enforced IP addressing.  The customer can migrate their VM to a hosting company, and keep their IP address.  A dull demo because it is so transparent.  This is IP Address Mobility.  The VM is exported.  Some PowerShell is involved in the hosting company.  Windows Server 8 Remote Access IPsec Secure Tunnel is used to create a secure tunnel from the client to the hosting company.  This extends the client cloud to create a hybrid cloud.  The moved VM keeps its original IP address and stays online.  Hosted customers can have common IP addresses.  Thanks to IP virtualisation, the VMs internal IP is abstracted.  The client assigned in-VM address is used for client site communications.  In the hosting infrastructure, the VM has a different IP address.

VLANs have been used by hosting companies for this in the past.  It was slow to deploy and complicates networking.  It also means that network cannot be changed – EVER … been there, bought the t-shirt. 

Cross-network VM live migration can be done thanks to IP virtualisation.  The VM can change it’s hosted IP address, but the in-VM address does not change.  Makes the hosting company more flexible, e.g. consolidate during quiet/maintenance periods, network upgrades, etc.  There is no service disruption, so the customer has no downtime, and the hosting company can move VMs via Live Migration as and when required.  This works just as well in the private cloud.  Private cloud = hosting company with internal customers.


  • Extensible virtual switch
  • Disaster recovery services with Hyper-V replicat to the cloud
  • Hybrid cloud with Hyper-V network virtualisation
  • Multi-tenant aware network gateway
  • Highly available storage appliances

And more:

  • SMB transparent failover
  • Automated cluster patching
  • Online file system repairs
  • Auto load balancing
  • Storage spaces
  • Thin provisioning
  • Data de-duplication
  • Multi-protocol support
  • 23000 PowerShell cmdlets
  • Remote server admin
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Multi-machine management

Server Manager is very different.  Very pretty compared to the old MMC style UI.  It has Metro Live Tiles that are alive.  Task/Actions pane is gone.  Selecting a server shows events, services, best practices analyser, performance alerts, etc.  You can select one, or event select a number of VMs at once.  A new grid control allows you to sort, filter, filter based on attribute, group, etc.  Makes cross-server troubleshooting much easier.  You can select a role, and you’ll see just the servers with that role.

Once again …”starting with Windows 8 the preferred install is Server Core”.  We’ll be the judge of that Winking smile  We ruled against MSFT on Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2 on that subject.  New add/remove roles wizard.  You can install a role to a live server or to a VHD!  This is offline installation of roles for pre-provisioning native VHD or VM VHD images.  You can even choose to export the settings to an XML file instead of deploying.  That allows you to run a PowerShell cmdlet to use the XML to install the role(s).  PowerShell now has workflows.  It converts a PSH function into a workflow that can work across multiple machines.  For example, deploy IIS (using install-windowsfeature & the XML file), deploy content, test content (invoke-webrequest), across many machines in parallel – big time saver instead of doing 1 machine at a time.  Great for big deployments, but I really see s/w testers really loving this.

Data Deduplication allows you to store huge amounts of data on a fraction of the disk space by only storing unique data.  We see a demo of terabytes of data on 4% of the traditionally required space.  This is single instance storage on steroids.  Only unique blocks are written by the looks of it. 

Native NIC teaming has come to Windows Server.  No more third party software required for this, increasing stability and security, while reducing support complexity.  In a  demo, we see a file share stored SQL VM with perfmon monitoring storage performance.  The host has 2 teamed NICs.  One is busy and one is idle.  The active NIC is disabled.  The idle NIC takes over automatically, as expected.  There is a tiny blip in storage performance … maybe 1-2 seconds.  The VM stays running with no interruption. 

Now we see a  high availability failover of a VM using a file share for the shared storage. 

On to applications:

  • Symmetry between clouds
  • Common management
  • Common developer tools
  • Distributed caching
  • Pub/Sub messaging
  • Multi-tenant app container
  • Multi-tenant web sites
  • Sandboxing and QoS
  • NUMA aware scaling for IIS
  • Open Source support
  • Support for HTML5

Note: I can’t wait to do a road show on this stuff back in Ireland. 

  • Greater density with IIS8
  • Scalable apps for public/private clouds
  • Extension of programming tools
  • Websocket extensions

Work style improvements:

  • Remote sessions, VDI or apps.
  • USB devices support
  • Simplified VDI management: badly needed
  • RemoteFX for WAN!
  • User VHDs
  • RDP 3D graphics and sound
  • Claims based file access
  • And more

Controlling access to data, discretionary access controls (DACLs) that we use up to now are difficult.  Dynamic Access Control allows you to specify AD attributes that dictate what objects can access a resource: e.g. AD object with “Accounts” in a department attribute gets access to the Accounts file share.  Done in Classification tab for the folder.  Who populates to attributes?  Doesn’t a user have a lot of control over their own object?  Good thing: it is very flexible compared to DACLs.

When a user is denied access to content, they can click on Request Access but to ask an admin for access.  No need for helpdesk contact. 

Automatic classification can search content of data to classify the data in case it is accidentally move to a wrong location.  It removes the human factor from content security.

Next up: RDP.  Metro UI with touch is possible with 10 touch points, rather than 30.  Lovely new web portal has the Metro UI appearance.  RemoteApp is still with us.  Favourite RDP sessions are visible in Remote Desktop.  Locally cached credentials are used for single sign-on.  3D graphics are possible: we see a 3D model being manipulated with touch.  We see a Surface fish pond app with audio via RDP and 10 touch points.  Seriously IMPRESSIVE!  You can switch between RDP sessions like IE10 tabs in Metro.  You can flip between them and local desktop using Back, and use live Side-by-Side to see both active at the same time. 

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