System Center 2012 Technical Documentation Downloads

Smell that?  We’re getting close to release!  Microsoft has released a bunch of technical documentation downloads for System Center 2012:

And there’s a lot of related downloads available too:

  • Microsoft Security Compliance Manager: Take advantage of the experience of Microsoft security professionals, and reduce the time and money required to harden your environment. This end-to-end Solution Accelerator will help you plan, deploy, operate, and manage your security baselines for Windows client and server operating systems, and Microsoft applications. Access the complete database of Microsoft recommended security settings, customize your baselines, and then choose from multiple formats—including XLS, Group Policy objects (GPOs), Desired Configuration Management (DCM) packs, or Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP)—to export the baselines to your environment to automate the security baseline deployment and compliance verification process. Use the Security Compliance Manager to achieve a secure, reliable, and centralized IT environment that will help you better balance your organization’s needs for security and functionality.
  • System Center 2012 – Service Manager Component Add-ons and Extensions: Download and install add-ons and extensions for the System Center 2012 – Service Manager component.
  • System Center 2012 – Orchestrator Component Add-ons and Extensions: Download and install add-ons and extensions for the System Center 2012 – Orchestrator component.

And there are some new management packs too!  Check the catalog, read the documentation, prep, download, import, and configure as specified in that documentation you made sure to read first, rather than lazily importing the management packs via the import GUI and hoping for the best Smile

Hyper-V NU January 2012 Slide Decks, Including My One on Windows Server 8 Hyper-V Networking

The crew at have posted the decks from last week’s presentations.  My own deck, on the networking features of Windows Server 8 Hyper-V as announced at Build, is available to view on slide share:

System Center 2012 Licensing

Now you have pre-ordered your Microsoft Private Cloud book *cough*, you’ll want to figure out the licensing for System Center 2012.  Those details were announced tonight in the “transforming IT” webcast.

The good news: licensing for System Center is getting easier:


A big change is that you cannot buy individual SML products by themselves.  You must buy SML suites.  To be honest, people who run virtualisation have been typically buying a System Center Management Suite because it was cheaper than buying individual “2007” management licenses (MLs), so this isn’t a big deal (or a little on either).

You will now license it using one of two System Center 2012 suite editions, Datacenter and Standard.  They are referred to as Server Management Licenses or SMLs.  Datacenter gives you unlimited management rights for licensed hosts.  That’s perfect for virtualisation and private clouds.  The Standard edition is aimed at very small virtualisation deployments or physical servers. 


It is per-processor licensing based on physical (host) processors.  You can over-license a host, e.g. assign multiple Standard SMLs to a host.  You can see some examples here:


All System Center licensing with SA can upgrade to System Center 2012 SMLs.  Note that the System Center Management Suites include SA. 


Remember that you can also manage clients with System Center.  There is new licensing for these as well:


Microsoft has published a datasheet on System Center 2012 licensing.  There is also a System Center 2012 licensing FAQ.  Please contact your reseller, distributor, or LAR if you have any questions on this licensing.

Announcing the Microsoft Private Cloud Computing Book

Considering that Microsoft has just started their Microsoft Private Cloud/System Center 2012 campaign with their “transforming IT” production, it was thought that this was the perfect time to announce a new book, Microsoft Private Cloud Computing:


“Written by a team of expert authors who are MVPs and leaders in their respective fields, this one-of-a-kind book is an essential resource for IT administrators who are responsible for implementing and managing a cloud infrastructure. You’ll quickly learn how cloud computing offers significant cost savings while also providing new levels of speed and agility. Serving as a how-to guide, Microsoft Private Cloud Computing walks you through building a secure, internal cloud and delivering it as a service to your company suing Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012.

  • Discusses fabric management with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)2012
  • Examines how to provide network and storage with VMM 2012
  • Looks at the VMM library configuration
  • Discusses private cloud and cloud service management with Microsoft App Controller

Microsoft Private Cloud Computing is a must-have comprehensive resource that covers all aspects of implementing a private cloud”.

And just who are these “expert authors”.  Let me introduce them to you:

There’s a long story behind the book.  It started out with one concept that was talked over initially via email and a chat.  Then when we started to get to grips with the concept … well … everything took a left turn at Dundalk and went a different direction.  The size and complexity of the project literally blew up as we figured out what we really needed to write about.  That’s when we needed to add more expertise … and boy did we do that in style! 

Credit where credit’s due, after the initial concept development and planning, I stepped back a wee bit and took care of the intro chapters.  I had a l-o-n-g period of writing in 2010 and I wanted to take a break from it in 2011.  The meat of this book has been written by Patrick, Damian, and Hans.  Technical reviewing is being handled by Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP, Kristian Nese (@KristianNese), helped by the fact that he has already published a book called Cloud Computing in Norwegian.

FYI, the cover that’s available now is a preliminary artwork … hence my cloning out the author listing. It will be updated to reflect the work done by Hans, Damian, and Patrick.

It is estimated that Microsoft Private Cloud Computing will be available on May 22nd, 2012.  And yes, I would expect there to be ebook editions – just don’t ask me when.

Virtual Event: Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud

Microsoft has announced an event called “Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud” that will be held online on January 17th at 16:30 GMT (17:30 CET). 

The definition, business value, and technology benefits of the “the cloud” have been hotly debated in recent months. Most agree that cloud computing can accelerate innovation, reduce costs, and increase business agility in the market. In 2012, cloud computing will transition from hype and discussion, to part of every enterprise’s reality, and IT is uniquely positioned to lead this transformation and help business reap the benefits of cloud computing.

Join us for a virtual event designed to help you explore your cloud options. It’s your chance to interact with Microsoft experts and with IT leaders like yourself, who have been putting cloud technology to work in their own organizations. You’ll be among the first to hear the latest private cloud news from Microsoft.


Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud

Approx. Start Time

Private cloud discussion with Microsoft executives: Insights and news

  • Satya Nadella, President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft
  • Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Management and Security Division, Microsoft
8:30AM PST | 16:30 UTC

Executive panel and Q&A: Guidance and best practices

  • Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Management and Security Division, Microsoft
  • Jacky Wright, Vice President, IT Strategic Services, Microsoft IT
  • Rand Morimoto, Chief Executive Officer, Convergent Computing
9:00AM PST | 17:00 UTC
Envisioning Your Private Cloud: A scenario based demonstration from the Microsoft Technology Center in Redmond, WA. 9:30AM PST | 17:30 UTC

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. 

Results & Report on The Great Big Hyper-V Survey of 2011


I am pleased to present the results and a report on The Great Big Hyper-V Survey of 2011, that was conducted by myself, Hans Vredvoort, and Damian Flynn.  We conducted this report over the last few weeks, asking people from around the world to answer 80 questions on:

  • Their Hyper-V project
  • Their Hyper-V installations
  • Systems management
  • Private cloud
  • Their future plans

Note that this survey had no outside influences.  Microsoft found out about this survey by reading blog or twitter posts at the same time as the respondents.  I have deliberately chosed not to try get a sponsor for my report to further illustrate its independence.

Some of the results were as expected, and some of them were quiet an education.  Thank you to all who completed the survey, and to all who helped to spread the word.  And now, here’s what you have been waiting for:

  • Here is a report that I have written over the last 2 days.  I dig into each of the 80 questions, analysing the results of each and every question that we asked.
  • For those of you who want to dig a little deeper, here is a zip file with all of the raw data from the survey.  You will find reports and spread sheets with different views and selections of data.  I also created an additional spread sheet that was used to create the report.

Whether you are a sales person, a Hyper-V customer, a potential customer, or an enthusiast, I think there is something here for you.

Now the conversations and debates can begin.  Have a read of the report and then go over to see what Hans Vredvoort, and Damian Flynn thought of the data.  We have deliberately not shared our opinions with each other; this means we can all have unique view points, and possibly see something that others don’t.  For example, I work in the software sales channel with a background in consulting and engineering, Damian is an enterprise systems administrator/engineer, and Hans is an enterprise consultant.  We each have a different view of the IT world.  And after you read their opinions, it’ll be your turn: we want to hear what you think.  Post comments, tweet (#GBHVS2011), blog, or whatever.

Great Big Hyper-V Survey 2011 Is Now Closed

I closed the Great Big Hyper-V Survey of 2011 this morning at 10:05 (Dublin time, 11:05 CET, 5:05 EST).  Thank you to all who completed the survey.  Myself, Damian Flynn (another Hyper-V MVP), and Hans Vredevoort (Failover Clustering MVP) will be sharing the results on this Wednesday (7th September, 2011) at 10:00 Dublin time, 11:00 Amsterdam time (05:00 EST, 19:00 Sydney).

The Great Big Hyper-V Survey of 2011

The survey is now closed and the results can be found here.

As a blogger/author/speaker, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of assuming that everyone works in a similar way and environment as I do.  My experiences are based on:

  • When I was managing Hyper-V/System Center directly in a hosting environment
  • Talking to people online
  • Helping people as a consultant, or in my current role as a partner technical advisor

Most of my experiences are in Ireland, and it’s rare to see a virtualisation cluster of more than a few nodes in these parts.

And this is why me, Damian Flynn (another Hyper-V MVP), and Hans Vredevoort (Failover Clustering MVP), have joined forces to bring you the …


The goals are:

  • We learn a bit more about what everyone is up to
  • We can share the findings with everyone so you can learn what everyone else is up to

This survey will run from this morning until 5th of September.  We want to publish the results later that week, which just so happens to be the week before the Build Windows conference.  We’ll be publishing the percentages breakdowns, and also trying to figure out trends.

In the survey, we ask about:

  1. Your Hyper-V project/environment
  2. Your Hyper-V installation
  3. Systems management
  4. What you considering to do in 2012

There is no personal information, no company specific information.  Microsoft has zero involvement.  They’ll see/read the results the same way you do, on the blogs of myself, Damian, and Hans (

The whole thing will take just 5 minutes; the more people that contribute, the more we will all learn about what people are up to, and the more we’ll be able to tweak blog posts, speaking, training, writing, etc, to what is really being done.  If this goes well, we’ll do another one in 2012, 2013, and so on.

So come on …. give the greater community 5 minutes of your time.


Please spread the word of this survey: blog, (re)tweet, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, even MySpace/Bebo it!