New TechNet Radio – How Microsoft IT Utilizes System Center 2012 Configuration Manager and Windows Intune

Join me as I welcome Sr. Program Managers Bryan Allen and Mike DeGooyer to this edition of TechNet Radio as we discuss how Microsoft IT uses System Center 2012 Configuration Manager and Windows Intune to help deploy Unified Device Management at Microsoft. Listen in as we chat about how Microsoft IT addressed change management concerns and how they planned for and implemented their solution for this BYOD scenario that affects many IT organizations today.

• [6:54] What is Unified Device Management (UDM) and what are its benefits to an IT organization? • [9:00] How does UDM address concerns for config admins who feel they may be losing control of the devices their organization supports? What management tools are available to them? • [11:56] How would you administer app certification in this scenario? • [14:56] What about helpdesk readiness and user readiness training?

Virtual Processor Scheduling – How Vmware and Microsoft Hypervisors Work at the CPU Level

Have you ever wondered how virtual machines get access to the physical processor cores in the server?  Ever wonder why one or two VMs run slow sporadically?  The topic today is Virtual Processor Scheduling.  There are no good books to read on this subject, trust me I’ve looked.  Maybe in 10 years as a look back at the history of virtual computing, but not today.  So let’s try to shed some light on the subject for today’s article in our VMware or Microsoft? – The Complete Series.  

First things first.  It is fairly simple to schedule against physical processors when the virtual machines each have a single virtual processor and there are plenty of physical cores to go around.  We (VMware and Microsoft) can send the workload to the first physical core that is available, easy.  There are algorithms for figuring out the best processor core to send the workload too, but I will not go into advanced crazy algorithm mathematics today.

Now the trick/challenge/opportunity/problem (hey whatever you want to call it) that really comes into play when you have multiple virtual CPUs inside the virtual machines.  The original architecture of operating systems made a perfectly good assumption that basically says “Ok I see 4 CPUs, I own all 4, period.  I mean who else is close by to use them?  No one. I’m lonely, but all powerful.”  Isn’t that nearly always the case?  Take Lord Voldemort for example, sure he had resources, but no one really wanted to be near him.  <voice from overhead> Virtual processing is the subject Tommy. </voice from overhead> Oh right, sorry folks, continue on.

So when VMware re-introduced virtualization into the market, handling the single CPU wasn’t a big issue. However, bigger workloads call for more processors and therefore in order to scale, a new way to schedule CPU cycles against any given processor core was necessary.  This is where Gang Scheduling comes into play.  VMware, drawing upon the methods generated by the older Unix technology, uses a Gang Scheduler approach.  What this means in basic terms is this:  When a multi-vCPU machine requires processor time, all of the vCPUs are “ganged” together and scheduled to perform work against the physical cores. This is done in order to streamline the process, and attempt to keep the processing synchronized.  In other words, like networking, we don’t like a lot of packets arriving out of turn on a load balanced network, the same stance is assumed in the VMware CPU scheduling process. 

Hyper-V does things a bit differently.  Virtual processors Read more

Become a Virtualization Expert Series – Part 3 – Virtual Memory Management – Dynamic Memory Much Different than Memory Over Commit

Dan Stolts brings us the latest installment in our series where he breaks down the importance of dynamic memory, and then compares it to the way that other Hypervisors might perform similar functions.

http://itproguru.com/expert/2013/03/virtual-memory-management-dynamic-memory-much-different-than-memory-over-commit-become-a-virtualization-expert-part-3-of-20/

His comments on ballooning I don’t necessarily agree with fully(except for from a security perspective which I think was his main point).  Ballooning maybe ok in some cases where you have tremendous disk speed but disk speed comes at a high premium and is not a resource I like to allocate toward something that could be fixed with proper configuration of the virtual environment.   All in all, just stay away from paging, ballooning, and swapping if at all possible or you will eventually find yourself at the bad end of help desk ticket.  I wrote an article on the topic some time ago, which can be found here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/tommypatterson/archive/2012/10/29/are-your-windows-virtual-machines-playing-a-secret-hunger-games-part-i-questions-to-ask-your-vmware-admin.aspx

In this article I show the questions we should be asking ourselves or our VMware admins.  Part II gets into the next steps of the process.

Migrating Hyper-V Virtual Machines from Server 2008R2 to Server 2012 – Part 10 of the Migration and Deployment Series

As part of our Migration and Deployment Series today we shift the focus to Hyper-V migrations.  First let’s start with a chart on what is possible for upgrading in place:

Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter editions of Windows Server running Hyper-V are supported as either source or destination servers.

Upgrading to the stand-alone product “Microsoft Hyper-V Server” is not supported, however importing VMs via Read more

Migration and Deployment Series: Step by Step – Installing the Migration Tools to Migrate Server 2003 to 2012

Are you still on Windows Server 2003 and want to migrate to Server 2012?  This article outlines how the Server 2012 migration tools can make this process as simple as possible, and better yet, the tools come with Server 2012. Read more here at Matt Hester’s blog:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/matthewms/archive/2013/02/13/migration-and-deployment-installing-the-migration-tools-part-8-of-19.aspx

 

FREE Hands-on “Virtual Study Halls” with Live Expert Q&A

There’s so many cool features to explore in the latest Windows infrastructure offerings that it’s hard to find time to explore all of them.  Beginning February 8th, you can block time on a weekly basis between 10AM and 3PM Eastern Time to join a Virtual Study Hall and work through real-world hands-on activities with assistance from a field-experienced IT Pro Technical Evangelist!

What is a Virtual Study Hall?

A Virtual Study Hall is an “open lab” time where you can Read more

Early Experts Program Now Launching In the Southeast!

Windows Server 2012 “Early Experts” Challenge

The Windows Server 2012 “Early Experts” Challenge provides a FREE online study group with certification exam preparation materials for quickly learning about the latest version of Windows Server! The Challenge involves a series of Knowledge Quests – starting with the Apprentice Quest below – and each Quest ends with a special completion certificate for you to promote your new knowledge! To make it easy to participate, each Quest is developed in a modular format that you can complete based on your own schedule and availability.

The first five Knowledge Quests are available now – Apprentice, Installer, Explorer, Networker and Virtualizer. These Knowledge Quests target the objectives in Exam 70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012. Coming soon, we’ll be continuing on to provide study materials for the other exams in the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification track. Learn more about this here.

Installing Windows Server 2012 in Core Mode – Step by Step – Part II

In the last article we installed Windows Server 2012 in Core Mode but we still need to configure the server.  Now we are going to walk through various options and configuration methods.  You will want to take note of two commands right away, since the only window you will see in Core mode by default is the command prompt.   By typing in “help” at the prompt then hitting “enter” you will find a list of commands available for general system maintenance.  The command I will be focusing on in this lesson is “sconfig.cmd”.

Important note:  Read more