System Center Update Catalogs for Third Party Products

Ever notice how many problems are caused by drivers or firmware?  Ever notice how often Adobe releases a new version of Reader or Flash to solve a security issue, and how many legacy versions are running on your network – thus making your Windows Updates process pretty irrelevant?  Ever wish you had a way to centrally deploy fixes for those problems?

One of the nice things about System Center Configuration Manager and System Center Essentials is that up can potentially distribute updates for just about anything.  For example, SCE 2010 has a wizard for adding catalogs for Dell, HP and Adobe products.  That means their system updates become something that can be distributed via Windows Updates!

Note: You would not want to do this for Hyper-V hosts – remember to treat them like change controlled mainframes.  Use your ability to filter update approvals using groups to control which machines will receive these updates automatically via Windows Update.

You are not limited to catalogs from the above companies.  You can even create your own catalog using the System Center Updates Publisher.  And some companies like IBM provide catalogs that you can add using their provided URLs.

Event: Private Cloud Academy – W2008 R2 SP1

I’ll be presenting at this MicroWarehouse/Microsoft Ireland event on Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.  The focus will be on virtualisation/Hyper-V.  So that means Dynamic Memory.  I’ll talk about how it works, but more importantly, how you should implement it with the various workloads on your compute cluster.  DM is huge for VDI on Hyper-V (a core component of the Microsoft/Citrix VDI v-alliance).  So is RemoteFX.  And I’ll be talking about that too, as well as showing it being set up and configured on my laptop, “the beast”.  RemoteFX is a hot topic internationally because it opens up some interesting opportunities in server based or centralised computing.  You’ll see that if you attend – there won’t be a recording/webcast.

Intended audience: IT infrastructure architects, implementation consultants, engineers, virtualisation administrators.

The agenda is:

•Hello W2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1)

•Deploying SP1

•RemoteFX

–Demo

•Dynamic Memory

–Demo

–Guidance

•SCVMM 2008 R2 SP1

•If there’s time: ARP Spoofing Prevention

Office 2010 Service Pack 1 RTM Date

According to Microsoft, you can expect Service Pack 1 for Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 to RTM in the end of June.  “Initially, Service Pack 1 will be offered as a manual download from the Download Center and from Microsoft Update, and no sooner than 90 days after release, will be made available as an Automatic Update”.

Changes include:

  • Outlook fixes an issue where “Snooze Time” would not reset between appointments.
  • The default behavior for PowerPoint "Use Presenter View" option changed to display the slide show on the secondary monitor.
  • Integrated community content in the Access Application Part Gallery.
  • Better alignment between Project Server and SharePoint Server browser support.
  • Improved backup / restore functionality for SharePoint Server
  • The Word Web Application extends printing support to “Edit Mode.”
  • Project Professional now synchronizes scheduled tasks with SharePoint task lists.
  • Internet Explorer 9 “Native” support for Office Web Applications and SharePoint
  • Office Web Applications Support for Chrome
  • Inserting Charts into Excel Workbooks using Excel Web Application
  • Support for searching PPSX files in Search Server
  • Visio Fixes scaling issues and arrowhead rendering errors with SVG export
  • Proofing Tools improve spelling suggestions in Canadian English, French, Swedish and European Portuguese.
  • Outlook Web Application Attachment Preview (with Exchange Online only)
  • Office client suites using “Add Remove Programs” Control Panel, building on our work from Office 2007 SP2

Event – Private Cloud Academy W2008 R2 SP1

On May 20th, I will be presenting the 4th in the series of these events.  This event, focusing on what Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 brings to Hyper-V, will be co-sponsored by Microsoft Ireland and MicroWarehouse Ltd.  You can register now.

Content will focus on RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory.  As you may have gathered from the last couple of months, I probably have a lot to talk about the latter in this 3 hour long event.  I’ll also try to squeeze in time for some other topics.

KB2494016: Stop Error 0x0000007a Occurs on a Virtual Machine

Another hotfix for Hyper-V.  The title is “Stop error 0x0000007a occurs on a virtual machine that is running on a Windows Server 2008 R2-based failover cluster with a cluster shared volume, and the state of the CSV is switched to redirected access”.

“Consider the following scenario:

  • You enable the cluster shared volume (CSV) feature on a Windows Server 2008 R2-based failover cluster.
  • You create a virtual machine on the CSV on a cluster node.
  • You start the virtual machine on the cluster node.
  • You move the CSV owner to another cluster node, and you change the state of CSV to redirected access.
  • The connection that is used for redirected access is switched to another connection when one of the following scenarios occurs:
    • The cable for local area network (LAN) is disconnected.
    • The related network adapter is disabled.
    • The connection is switched by using Failover Cluster Manager.

In this scenario, you receive a Stop error message that resembles the following in the virtual machine:

STOP 0x0000007a ( parameter1 , parameter2 , parameter3 , parameter4 )
KERNEL_DATA_INPAGE_ERROR”.

Note

  • The parameters in this Stop error message vary, depending on the configuration of the computer.
  • Not all "0x0000007a" Stop error messages are caused by this issue.
  • You may also receive other Stop error messages when this issue occurs. For example, you may receive a "0x0000004F" Stop error message”.

Intel Sandy Bridge Processors Require W2008 R2 SP1 for Hyper-V

If you plan to run Hyper-V on machines that have Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs then you will need to deploy Service Pack 1, either in the form of the add-on or integrated build for Windows Server 2008 R2 or Hyper-V Server 2008 R2.  That’s according to a Microsoft blog written by “Blauge”.

This is because of a new AVX instruction in the CPU.  It seems that a VM will fail to start on a host with this CPU type without SP1.  You’ll get this error:

<VM Name> could not initialize

The fix is to install SP1.

According to Wikipedia, the AVX “instruction set is an advanced form of SSE and is suited for floating-point-intensive applications.  The two-operand instruction limit is increased to three operands, and advanced data rearrangement functions are included.  New features include mask loads, data permutes, increased register efficiency and use of parallel loads, as well as smaller code size.  The AVX instruction provides up to double peak FLOPS performance compared to using SSE4 instructions on CPUs”.  That’s Martian to me, to be honest, but it sounds like more CPU horsepower.

KB2531907: Validate SCSI Device Vital Product Data (VPD) test fails after you install W2008 R2 SP1

This one is a continuation on yesterday’s post.  Microsoft did post KB2531907 on the net – and that’s a good thing.  I’d recommend this patch becomes a part of your standard build for Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 failover clusters.  Test before you deploy.

“Consider the following scenario:

  • You configure a failover cluster that has three or more nodes that are running Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1).
  • You have cluster disks that are configured in groups other than the Available Storage group or that are used for Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV).
  • These disks are online when you run the Validate SCSI Device Vital Product Data (VPD) test or the List Potential Cluster Disks storage validation test.

In this scenario, the Validate SCSI Device Vital Product Data (VPD) test fails. Additionally, you receive an error message that resembles the following:

 

Failed to get SCSI page 83h VPD descriptors for cluster disk <number> from <node name> status 2

The List Potential Cluster Disks storage validation test may display a warning message that resembles the following:

Disk with identifier <value> has a Persistent Reservation on it. The disk might be part of some other cluster. Removing the disk from validation set.

The following hotfix resolves an issue in which the storage test runs on disks that are online and incorrectly not in the Available Storage group.

The error and warning messages that are mentioned in the “Symptoms” section may also occur because of other issues such as storage problems or an incorrect configuration. Therefore, you should investigate other events, check the storage configuration, or contact your storage vendor if this issue still occurs after you install the following hotfix”.

KB2487341: Cannot Safely Remove Volume After VSS Backup on Hyper-V Host

Microsoft released this hotfix for Hyper-V on March 8th but it just appeared in my feeds. 

“Consider the following scenario:

  • You enable the Hyper-V role on a computer that is running Windows Server 2008.
  • You connect a removable disk to the computer. For example, you connect a USB flash drive to the computer.
  • You perform a Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) backup operation for a volume of the computer. The volume contains some virtual hard disk (VHD) files for some running virtual machines (VMs).
  • You try to safely remove the removable disk after the backup operation is completed.

In this scenario, you cannot safely remove the removable disk. Additionally, you receive a message that states that the volume is being used.

This issue occurs because of a handle leak in the storage VSP driver (Storvsp.sys)”.

Having Cluster Validation Issues After Upgrading to W2008 R2 SP1?

It’s been a bit of a hot topic on TechNet: people who upgraded to Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 on 3+ node clusters started having issues with cluster validation.  Before the upgrade there was no issue.  Didier Van Hoye (follow him!) pinged me to alert me to a new KB (KB2531907) that should be out today to fix the issue.  Eldin Christensen (one of the seniors behind Failover Clustering) posted on the TechNet forums to alert us.

In the post, Eldin says:

“A hotfix is now available that addresses the Win2008 R2 service pack 1 issue with Validate on a 3+ node cluster. This is KB 2531907. The KB article and download link will be published shortly, in the mean time you can obtain this hotfix immediately free of charge by calling Microsoft support and referencing KB 2531907”.

It’s a pity that you cannot just download it like other publicly available KBs.  This is an issue that will cause support issues if you call MS CSS with other clustering problems; remember that CSS supports clusters that pass the validation test.

BTW, this linked article by Didier includes some more fixes to be aware of for W2008 R2 SP1 clusters.

EDIT: Microsoft did post the hotfix online so you can download it.

Performance Issue with W2008 R2 Hyper-V on Intel CPUs

This KB article (KB2517329) for Windows Server 2008 R2 (including SP1) hosts with Intel Westmere or Sandy Bridge processors just popped up in my feeds.

“Consider the following scenario:

  • You have a Windows Server 2008 R2-based computer that has a large amount of physical memory and that has Intel Westmere or Sandy Bridge processors.
    For example, you have a computer that has Intel Xeon 5600 series processors and that has 48 gigabytes (GB) physical memory.
  • You install the Hyper-V role on the computer.

In this scenario, the performance of the computer may decrease.
For example, the following performance issues may be encountered:

  • The CPU usage is high and the server responds slowly when you copy large files on the computer. For example, you copy a 10-GB file.
  • The disk I/O performance of the virtual machines (VMs) is slow.
  • Windows takes a long time to start.

This issue occurs because the hypervisor supports only eight variable range Memory Type Range Registers (MTRRs). Additionally, the hypervisor cannot access the additional variable MTRRs that are introduced on recent Intel processors. Therefore, some regions of system memory are set to the default Uncacheable memory type, and the performance of the computer significantly decreases.

Notes

  • MTRRs are processor model specific registers (MSRs) that control the default caching for ranges of physical memory.
  • Intel Westmere and Sandy Bridge processors introduce additional variable MTRRs to enable systems to use a large amount of memory”.

There is a link to a hotfix on the page.  If it is applicable test it and then deploy.  Then I’d recommend (assuming your tests results are OK) making it a part of your standard host build.