Microsoft News – 16 February 2015

I was away on vacation for a little bit, photographing eagles in Poland. And then I came back and had to dive deep into Azure Site Recovery to prep a training class.

I’m back in the normal swing of things so here we go …


Windows Server

Windows Client

System Center


Office 365


  • How to Set Up Per-App VPN using Microsoft Intune: IT Professionals can specify which managed apps can use VPN on an Intune managed iOS device and makes the connection experience seamless for the user by abstracting the steps taken to connect to a VPN server when accessing corporate documents.
  • February update to Microsoft Intune: New Intune standalone (cloud only) features were made available as part of this service.


How Do I Plan And Size A Hyper-V Deployment – MAP 9.0

You measure and assess.  And Microsoft gives you a tool to do that called MAP.  They’ve been giving us this tool for many years, and it’s now on version 9.0 (just released).

When planning a traditional Hyper-V conversion (not a new bare-metal cloud) you can run MAP to identify the physical or virtual (VMware) servers that you want to convert to Hyper-V, measure their resource utilization, enter in potential Hyper-V host specifications, and then MAP will produce reports that size your environment.  It’s something you kick off, let it measure, and run the reports after (maybe – you choose) a week while you’ve been doing something else.

There’s some new stuff in MAP 9.0:

    • New Server and Cloud Enrollment scenario helps to simplify adoption: Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) is a new offering under the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that enables subscribers to standardize broadly on one or more Microsoft Server and Cloud technologies.  The MAP Toolkit 9.0 features an assessment scenario to identify and inventory SCE supported products within an enterprise and help streamline enrollment.
    • New Remote Desktop Services Licensing Usage Tracking scenario creates a single view for enterprise wide licensing: With an increase in enterprises deploying Remote Desktop Services (RDS) across wider channels, RDS license management has become a focus point for organizations.  With the new RDS Licensing scenario, the MAP Toolkit rolls up license information enterprise-wide into a single report, providing a simple alternative for assessing your RDS licensing position.
    • Support for software inventory via Software ID tags now available: As part of the Microsoft effort to support ISO 19770-2, the MAP Toolkit now supports inventory of Microsoft products by Software ID (SWID) tag.  SWID enhanced reports will provide greater accuracy and assist large, complex environments to better manage their software compliance efforts by simplifying the software identification process and lowering the cost of managing software assets.
    • Improved Usage Tracking data collection for SQL Server Usage Tracking scenario: As part of our ongoing improvement initiatives, Usage Tracking for SQL Server 2012 has been enhanced to use User Access Logging (UAL).  UAL is a standard protocol in Windows Server 2012 that collects User Access information in near real time and stores the information in a local database, eliminating the need for log parsing to perform Usage Tracking assessments.  UAL vastly improves the speed and helps to eliminate long lead times for environment preparation associated with running Usage Tracking assessments.

If you want to plan and size desktop deployment, Office deployment, RDS, Azure, Hyper-V, SQL Server, and more, then you need to be checking out the FREE (yes FREE!!!!) MAP 9.0.

Windows 8 Deployment Resources

These resources apply to Windows 8 but you could also use them in a Windows Server 2012 deployment or cloud.

Windows XP Support ends on 8th April 2014 AND THERE WILL BE NO EXTENSIONS no matter what the penguin-hugging activation-fearing “genius” you know at the bar says.  This means no more security patches or hotfixes for XP after that date, and also means that the support statements of 3rd parties will become meaningless.  It’s time to start planning an upgrade or become a breeding ground for malware.

Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit

A free tool that is an important first step in discovering what it is that you have on the network.  Honestly, it’s a good tool.  But, if your XP network is as shagged as many I’ve encountered, then remote admin will be broken on half the PCs and MAP won’t work.  I have found that the push capability of the System Center Configuration Manager agent will get you the same information via hardware audits and Asset Intelligence.

Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (Windows ADK)

This is a single free download that contains most of the tools you might use to plan, facilitate, and implement a Windows 8 deployment:

  • Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT): The Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) helps IT Professionals understand potential application compatibility issues by identifying which applications are or are not compatible with the new versions of the Windows operating system. ACT helps to lower costs for application compatibility evaluation by providing an accurate inventory of the applications in your organization. ACT helps you to deploy Windows more quickly by helping to prioritize, test, and detect compatibility issues with your apps. By using ACT, you can become involved in the ACT Community and share your risk assessment with other ACT users. You can also test your web applications and web sites for compatibility with new releases of Internet Explorer.
    Deployment Tools: Deployment tools enable you to customize, manage, and deploy Windows images. Deployment tools can be used to automate Windows deployments, removing the need for user interaction during Windows setup. Tools included with this feature are Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM) command line tool, DISM PowerShell cmdlets, DISM API, Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM), and OSCDIMG.
    User State Migration Tool (USMT): USMT is a scriptable command line tool that IT Professionals can use to migrate user data from a previous Windows installation to a new Windows installation. By using USMT, you can create a customized migration framework that copies the user data you select and excludes any data that does not need to be migrated. Tools included with the feature are ScanState, Loadstate, and USMTUtils command line tools.
  • Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT): The Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT) enables IT professionals to automate and centrally manage the activation of Windows, Windows Server, Windows ThinPC, Windows POSReady 7, select add-on product keys, and Office for computers in their organization. VAMT can manage volume activation using retail keys (or single activation keys), multiple activation keys (MAKs), or Windows Key Management Service (KMS) keys.
    Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT): Windows Performance Toolkit includes tools to record system events and analyze performance data in a graphical user interface. Tools available in this toolkit include Windows Performance Recorder, Windows Performance Analyzer, and Xperf.
    Windows Assessment Toolkit: Tools to discover and run assessments on a single computer. Assessments are tasks that simulate user activity and examine the state of the computer. Assessments produce metrics for various aspects of the system, and provide recommendations for making improvements.
    Windows Assessment Services: Tools to remotely manage settings, computers, images, and assessments in a lab environment where Windows Assessment Services is installed. This application can run on any computer with access to the server that is running Windows Assessment Services.
    Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE): Minimal operating system designed to prepare a computer for installation and servicing of Windows.

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)

MDT is a free download.  Think Ghost .. but with MUCH more functionality, e.g. capture user settings & files, blast the machine with a new image, install some software, patch it, and restore the user settings & files … all while you drink your coffee.  MDT is so good that it’s considered an essential extension to Microsoft’s corporate solution: System Center 2012 Configuration Manager SP1.

Free: who can argue with free!?!?!  Who needs Ghost!?!?!

Deploying Windows 8 with System Center 2012 Configuration Manager Service Pack 1

ConfigMgr + MDT gives you the best OS image deployment solution available.  It simply blows people away when they see it in action.

BTW, Microsoft has the driver thing sorted so you can do the single-image deployment that a sector-based image, such as Ghost, hasn’t a hope of matching.

Deliver and Deploy Windows 8

This is an aggregation of content from all across Microsoft.

Johan Arwidmark

The Deployment God of the North is a must-see if he’s presenting at an event near you.  This guy has forgotten more deployment wizardry than we mere mortals will ever learn.  He’s also the author of Deployment Fundamentals, Vol. 4 “Deploying Windows 8 and Office 2013 Using MDT 2012 Update 1” available on:

In fact, for just $9.99, I thought it was such good value that I’ve just bought the e-book myself Smile

Group Policy: Fundamentals, Security, and the Managed Desktop

You’ll want to manage and control those new deployments using GPO.  Jeremy Moskowitz writes the book on the subject:

That should be enough to get you started!

Microsoft Assessment & Planning Toolkit 7.0 Goes Live – Supports Windows 8 and Server 2012

I just received an email informing me that MAP 7.0 is live, and it now supports assessment to help you plan the deployment of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.  You can start planning now, with the products coming down the pipe soon.

The new version which you can download now allows you to:

  • Understand your readiness to deploy Windows Server 2012 in your environment
  • Determine Windows 8 readiness
  • Investigate how Windows Server and System Center can manage your heterogeneous environment through VMware migration and Linux server virtualization assessments
  • Size your desktop virtualization needs for both Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) and session-based virtualization using Remote Desktop Services
  • Ready your information platform for the cloud with the SQL Server 2012 discovery and migration assessment
  • Evaluate your licensing needs with usage tracking for Lync 2010, active users and devices, SQL Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012

You should know that I believe that assessment is a critical early step in a virtualisation project, be it XenServer, VMware, or Hyper-V.  Without it, you’re shooting blind, and you’ll end up being an anecdote in a presentation on how to do a crap project.

Planning Your Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Deployment

If you’re considering installation Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, or if you’re considering moving from vSphere to Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, then I have one very important question to ask you:

Do you want the project to succeed?

If the answer is yes, then go get your hands on the free Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP) 7.0, which just went into beta and will probably RTM when Windows Server 2012 does.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is a direct correlation between success of a virtualisation project and a pre-design assessment.  Why?  Because every time I’m asked in, and this only happens when things go bad, I ask for the assessment reports and I’m told that there are no reports.  I dig a little further and I find that there were mistakes with design that some due process may have eliminated.

Key features and benefits of MAP 7.0 Beta help you:

  • Determine your readiness for Windows Server 2012 Beta and Windows 8
  • Virtualize your Linux servers on Hyper-V
  • Migrate your VMware-based virtual machines to Hyper-V
  • Size your server environment for desktop virtualization
  • Simplify migration to SQL Server 2012
  • Evaluate your licensing needs for Lync 2010
  • Determine active users and devices

It’s free folks, so cop on!  Spend half a day installing it, doing the discovery, and starting the measurement, and 1 week later come back and run some sizings against different infrastructure specs.  Run some reports and you have a scientifically sized infrastructure.  Surely that’s better than the guesswork that you would have done instead?  Oh you must be the exception because you know your customer’s requirements.  If I had a Euro for every time I’ve heard that one …

If you can’t guess, this stuff makes me angry.  But never mind me; you probably know better than me, Microsoft, real VMware experts, etc.  If I had another Euro for every time I’ve heard that one …

Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 6.5.4228.0 Released

A new release of MAP is out

The Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit is an agentless, automated, multi-product planning and assessment tool for quicker and easier desktop and server migrations. MAP provides detailed readiness assessment reports and executive proposals with extensive hardware and software information, and actionable recommendations to help organizations accelerate their IT infrastructure planning process, and gather more detail on assets that reside within their current environment. MAP also provides private and public cloud planning assessments, and server utilization data for Hyper-V server virtualization planning; identifying server placements, and performing virtualization candidate assessments, including ROI analysis for server consolidation with Hyper-V. Other significant new features in MAP 6.5 include the discovery of active Windows devices, Software Usage Tracking for Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP), and the discovery of Oracle instances on Itanium-based servers with HP-UX to assist in the planning of migration to SQL Server.

I’ve said plenty about MAP in the past.  Here’s how I sum it up now: when people come to me with stupid questions or design issues, I already know what their answer will be when I ask for their assessment data – there will be none.  If you can’t figure that logic out, then you should go pick fruit instead of working in IT.

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Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit 6.5 Available

In The Great Big Hyper-V Survey of 2011, we found that just 42% of those who had deployed Hyper-V had done an assessment.  My own experiences reveal an interesting trend: those who have architectural, support, or performance issues with their deployment have not done an assessment.  They stuck a wet finger in the air, guessed at an infrastructure sizing and design, and their customer/employer paid the price.

By the way, the best VMware consultants will kick of the project using some assessment.

The tool for a Hyper-V assessment is MAP, and Microsoft recently launched version 6.5 of it.  This new release adds:

  • Discover Oracle instances on Itanium-based servers for migration to SQL Server: useful for SQL Server migration projects when you tire of the price and virtualisation support of Oracle.
  • Assess your software usage and evaluate your licensing needs with the Software Usage Tracking feature, now updated with the Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) scenario: get your licensing right before and auditor does.
  • Accelerate planning for the private cloud with Microsoft Private Cloud Fast Track Onboarding: FAST is the Microsoft private cloud architecture for their big international partners.
  • Identify migration opportunities with enhanced heterogeneous server environment inventory: this stuff supports MySQL, Linux and VMware scanning.
  • Accelerate planning and migration with the new UI and usability updates in MAP 6.5: All new UI to lay out stuff more logically.

What’s nice about MAP is that you can assess even a large environment with just a small amount of effort.  You have empirical data that can scientifically calculate your environment.  From a Hyper-V perspective, this sizing is difficult to do without an assessment.  In fact, it would be a complete guess without something like the free MAP.  If you do the assessment then at least you and your customer (internal or external) can be sure that you did a scientific calculation that has some sort of backing instead of just assuming.

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Monster Servers, Intel Hyperthreading, and Hyper-V 2008 R2 Maximum Logical Processors

I’ll be honest, the number of 64 maximum logical processors in a host isn’t something I’ve worried about too much in the past.  I’ve never actually seen a Hyper-V host locally that had more than 2 CPUs/sockets with more than 24 total cores.  Other than doing some sizing for a VDI project and seeing a line on hyperthreading in a HP document, I’ve not cared about the 64 logical processor limit in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V (had to be clear with our new grey area with Windows Server 8 where it is 160/host).

First, what is Hyperthreading?  Wikipedia says:

“Hyper-threading is an Intel-proprietary technology used to improve parallelization of computations (doing multiple tasks at once) performed on PC microprocessors. For each processor core that is physically present, the operating system addresses two virtual processors, and shares the workload between them when possible”.

In Hyper-V world, a logical processor is a thread of execution.  With a 12 core AMD Opeteron CPU you will have 12 logical processors.  With an Intel 6 core CPU with hyperthreading disabled, you will have 6 logical processors.  With an Intel 10 core CPU with hyperthreading turned on (2 threads per core) you will have 20 logical processors.  Yoiks!  And that’s what’s brought be to this subject.

I’m working no a fairly sizeable project, that based on early numbers, seems to indicate that the ratio of CPU to RAM will be higher than normal.  After playing with the HP Power Configuration Utility, I found that the cost of owning X HP DL580’s with 4 * Intel E7 Xeons (10 cores each) was slightly cheaper than owning 2X HP DL380/5 servers with 2 CPUs.  The big box still cost more to buy/power, but it could require a much smaller network.  But all this is meaningless guessing without a MAP assessment/sizing (which is currently running).

But hold on … 4 CPUs, 10 cores each, hyperthreading turned on …. *bang* we have 80 logical processors and we’ve exceeded the 64 LP limit for W2008 R2 Hyper-V.

HP recommends disabling hyperthreading in their monster DL 980 G7 8 socket server.  Can you imagine this with 8 * 10 core CPUs?  it should be OK for Quake!?!?  But that spec would exceed the 64 LP limit so that sucks.  In server virtualisation, we’re told that leaving hyperthreading enabled in a modern CPU doesn’t hurt performance and can give a small boost – it can help quite a bit in VDI.  I’ll be disabling hyperthreading if our MAP 6.0 assessment says that a 4 * 10 core server is the way to go. 

Do you care about this?  These big core CPUs are becoming the norm.  If you’re using the usual 2 CPU hosts in a 3 host cluster, you won’t care.  By the time we get to 24 cores, we’ll probably be restricted by the 160 LP ceiling of Windows Server 8.  When I last compared a pair of 2 socket machines to a single 4 socket one, the 4 socket machine cost more to own. That has since changed.  If you’re looking at 4 * 2 socket hosts or more, you might consider fewer 4 socket hosts, and then the current 64 LP limit is a factor you have to keep in mind. 

Sizing Tool for Hyper-V Assessment Using MAP

You are typically not too concerned about the SQL requirements of the Microsoft Assessment and Planning toolkit for the typical Hyper-V deployment.  You can use SQL Server Express and the 2008 limit of 4 GB database or the 2008 R2 limit of a 10 GB database won’t be an issue.  Network traffic is usually not a big concern either, but it might be if you decide to assess branch office machines across the WAN, or assess hundreds of machines at once.  Anyone dealing with a larger farm may want to plan for disk space, using SQL Server Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter, and the potential impact on the LAN/WAN.

I decided to put together a spread sheet based on the details that are shared by Microsoft.  I’ve taken the details, put in the formulas, and all you need to do is enter 3 figures:

  • Number of machines to discover
  • Number of machines to assess (do the performance monitoring)
  • Length of time in hours to run the assessment

The spread sheet will give you four figures:

  • The size of the resulting SQL database, allowing you to decide between the SQL Express that is included with MAP, and other editions of SQL Server.
  • The network impact of the discovery process (maximum – because this is variable depending on the amount of WMI data returned)
  • The network impact of starting an assessment
  • The continuing network impact of the assessment every 5 minutes

You can download this spread sheet from here.

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Comparing 3 CPU Types in Hyper-V Assessment Hardware Sizing

Measure twice and cut once.

I’m assisting with a very large Hyper-V sizing process at the moment.  It’s a rare one where CPU appears to be the bottleneck instead of RAM.  As such, I’m spending some time comparing the traits and sizing of different CPUs.  Before the real assessment starts, I’ve fired up a small lab just to do a few comparisons between:

  • 2 * AMD Opteron 6180 12 core CPUs
  • 2 * Intel Xeon X5690 6 core CPUs
  • 2 * Intel E7 Xeon E7-4870 10 Core CPUs

The positives for AMD, they have the plus of having more cores (logical processors) with a lower price.  The positives for Intel are that they have 2 threads of execution per logical processor, but that does come at a higher cost.  Who wins?  I’ll let MAP 6.0 decide that:

I came up with 3 server specifications, each using one of the above processor configurations.  I assessed 4 virtual machines and then ran the MAP 6.0 Server Consolidation Wizard to see how much of the host hardware would be utilised by the VMs.  The results were:

2 * AMD Opteron 6180 12 core CPUs


2 * Intel Xeon X5690 6 core CPUs

Not surprisingly, the 12 core AMD CPU beats the Intel 6 core CPU.  But the margin is very small.  Those 2 threads of execution per logical processor gives Intel more BHP per core.


2 * Intel E7 Xeon E7-4870 10 Core CPUs

This is Intel’s latest CPU.  With it, the VMs are using 2.25% less of the CPU than the AMD 12 core CPU, and 2.36% less than the Intel 6 core CPU.


I’m wondering if this CPU going to have the same hardware microcode issues that were associated with Nehalem and Westmere CPUs when running Hyper-V.


I’m not recommending a CPU based on this tiny virtual lab.  What I actually aimed to illustrate was that the sizing feature of the assessment can be used with different hardware profiles to find the right host specification for your environment.  In my real world example, I’ll be doing a week-long performance gathering during what the customer believes will be a busy period, followed by sizing with multiple different host specifications, combined with application support statements (from the discovery) to rule out invalid candidates, and maybe even breaking Hyper-V up into several clusters with different hardware specs.

What you can learn from this post is that you shouldn’t assume anything.  When you assume, then assume that you are wrong. 

And remember, this is a software tool.  It will give us an estimation of physical host utilisation compared to what is measured.  It won’t be perfect, but it’s better than the usual “we know your/our requirements”, “here’s the usual spec for this size site” or “wet finger in the air” because it is scientific.  These other approaches are no better than waiting to see if a rodent sees it’s own shadow when it comes out of a hole.

Remember to add some spare host capacity:

  • Host fault tolerance
  • Future growth & free space for spikes