BSOD and kernel panic in virtual machines running vSphere or Hyper-V on Intel E5-v2 & E7-v2 CPUs

There is a serious issue with virtual machines running on vSphere or Hyper-V on hosts with Intel’s Ivy Bridge, Ivy Town, and Haswell processors (E5 v2/v3 and E7 v2/v3).

Virtual machine might randomly crash showing a Blue Screen of Death BSOD (Windows clients and Windows Server) or a kernel panic for Linux systems.

This issue occors on  Intel Xeon E5-2400v2, Intel Xeon E5-2600v2, Xeon E5-4600 v2, Intel Xeon E7-4800 v2, or Intel Xeon E7-8800 v2 Processors.

This issue does NOT affect servers configured with Intel Xeon E5-2400 series, Intel Xeon E5-2600 series, or Intel Xeon E5-4600 series processors. 

Microsoft reported this issue in this blog.

Microsoft provides a microcode update for Intel processors in Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1). This update improves the reliability of x64-based versions of Windows Server that use certain Intel processors. A hotfix for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 will be available in September, 2014.

Download the update here.

 

VMware reports the issue on this KB. Advised solution is to update the BIOS. When no BIOS update is available  change the virtual machine’s MMU mode on the affected host to Software. Instructions on changing the  virtual machine monitor mode (1036775) as described  here.

Taken from the HP site:

Intel has identified a processor issue where Virtual Machines (VMs) running on VMware ESX 5.x or Microsoft Hyper-V may experience a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) in a Windows virtual machine or a kernel panic in a Linux virtual machine when using VMware ESX 5.x or Microsoft Hyper-V. This issue affects Intel Xeon E5-2400 series v2, Intel Xeon E5-2600 series v2, Intel Xeon E5-4600 series v2, Intel Xeon E7-4800 series v2, and Intel Xeon E7-8800 series v2 processors.

Intel has released an updated microcode for impacted processors that addresses this issue. Updated revisions of HP ProLiant System ROMs for impacted servers include this microcode. This issue is NOT unique to HP ProLiant servers and could impact any system utilizing affected processors if the updated microcode is not utilized.

This issue does NOT affect servers configured with Intel Xeon E5-2400 series, Intel Xeon E5-2600 series, or Intel Xeon E5-4600 series processors.

Dell has an update available here.

Someone experienced this issue on HP DL380 Gen8 servers. Update of the BIOS resolved the issue.

ICT-Freak.nl has a blogpost on this issue.

Gartner releases Magic Quadrant for x86 server virtualization. vSphere and Hyper-V lead, Citrix drops

As every year in early July, Gartner released its Magic Quadrant (MQ) for x86 server virtualization. This document provides an analysis of the market for x86 server virtualization. Again VMware is the clear leader as it has been since 5 year. Microsoft Hyper-V is the only other solution in the leaders quadrant. Citrix XenServer is dropping each year as the company is now targeting cloud virtualization and desktop virtualization.  It is now positioned in the ‘niche player’ quadrant.

The distance between VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V is in the MQ for 2014 about the same as in the MQ for 2013.

New in the 2014 MQ  is Huawai. Their x86 hypervisor is called FusionSphere and according Gartner it is mainly used in Brazil, Russia, India and China. FusionSphere is mainly running on Huawai serverhardware and primarily in China.

The full report can be read here.

See my post on the release of the Magic Quadrant 2013 here.

gartner-mq-2014

Looking for a cost effective way to manage Hyper-V? Introducing 5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V

For managing Hyper-V servers, virtual networks, storage and virtual machines customers are required to buy the complete Microsoft System Center Suite. System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which is used for management of Hyper-V, is not available as a separate product. Customers have to buy the complete suite including backup, monitoring and deployment tools.

For small organizations the costs of System Center can be unattractive especially because they get functionality they probably either already have or will not need. Not every organization needs Configuration Manager or Operations Manager.

5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V is a nice alternative to buying the full blown System Center suite . Version 5 has been released end of June. Even if Hyper-V is not used this product is usefull. If Windows Server Core (no GUI) is used 5nine Manager offers a GUI to manage those servers.

The product has some unique features like the ability to manage the Hyper-V role installed on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 which Microsoft Hyper-V Manager nor SCVMM is able to.

5nine-hyperv-5-2

Another very nice feature is the ability to manage the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server. This software once installed does not come with a graphical userinterface. Basic configuration can be done in a command prompt. Advanced configuration needs to be performed using tools like PowerShell.  5nine Manager offers a graphical userinterface for Hyper-V installs without a GUI.

It is available in three editions:

  1. 5nine Manager free edition
  2. 5nine Manager
  3. 5nine Manager with antivirus.

The free edition only allows to do basic management. Actions like performing a Live Migration or a Storage Migration are not enabled in the free edition. However it offers some features not available in Microsoft Hyper-V manager console.
5nine Manager commercial edition has all features you want as an administrator.
5nine Manager with antivirus has all features of 5nine Manager including agentless antivirus for virtual machines.

A feature compare can be seen here.

What’s new in 5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V

  • Automated virtual machine (VM) provisioning
  • Enhanced cluster management
  • VMs Guest connection views through FreeRDP or Microsoft controls
  • Support in the GUI for configuration of Hyper-V Replica which enables failover of production workloads to a secondary site for disaster recovery
  • Group operations for multiple VMs
  • Applications Logs

Additionally, 5nine Manager for Hyper-V performs the following features that are absent in the
standard MS Hyper-V management tool:

  • Own graphical user-friendly interface – file manager with built-in transfer virtual hard drive with a capacity up to 127 Gb for exploring files and network shares, even on Windows Core and Free Hyper-V.
  • Quality of Service management – setting of minimum and maximum Input Output operations per second (IOPS) throttling for the virtual hard disk attached to a virtual machine (applies for hosts with Windows Server 2012 R2)
  • System Status Report presented in the intuitive graphical form. Available in the full version of 5nine Manager for Hyper-V.
  • Failover cluster manager function, such as VM migration between nodes. Available in the full version of 5nine Manager for Hyper-V.

qualityofservice

5nine Manager 5.0 for Hyper-V is available immediately. It is priced per host, and pricing begins at $199

The administrators guide (for version 4.2) can be found here.

Microsoft licensing explained (a try)

Microsoft licensing is hard and complex. Many options are offered by Microsoft for the right to use their software.

It is a skill to be able to provide the best advise and to implement licensing the correct way. First there are many different agreements, plans and programs. Secondly there are many rules, small letters, exceptions and not so obvious restrictions documented in not always very well known documents.

In this blog I will provide a highlevel overview of Microsoft licensing. When you understand the basics, Microsoft’s  detailed information on all the agreements and enrollments will provide the details.

Buy or lease agreements

The right to use Microsoft software can be obtained via two ways:

  1. as a retail boxed software. Customers buy a box with the software on DVD and the license to use the software.
  2. as part of Volume Licensing. Customers receive a license. Software is downloaded from a Microsoft portal. Customers which agree in a Volume Licensing agreement get discount and other benefits.

Volume Licensing  can be either purchased, leased or leased/purchased. Depending cash position, dynamics of the organization a lease or purchase is the best option.  Agreements for organizations with over 5 computers are part of the Microsoft Volume Licensing. There are programs for organizations with 5-250 computers and for organizations with over 250 computers.

For Service Providers Microsoft has a pay-as-you-go model available. A service provider is only charged for the actual usage of a product. This can even be a single hour.

Volume Licensing has three important components which you should be aware of.

  • agreements or programs
  • enrollments
  • software assurance

An agreement is an procurement contract. In the contract Microsoft and the customer agree on many things. It has information on processes like True-Up and defines the length of the contract, the payment, term for additional product license acquisitions, subsequent orders and perpetual rights.

Enrollements are available as part of enterprise agreement and select licensing programs. Enrollments are contracts about the ordering of software. The customer promises to buy a certain quantity of software and certain types of software. In return the customer receives discount.

Enrollments are a Microsoft way to push customers to a certain direction. This can be towards purchasing Software Assurance or towards purchasing Hyper-V, standardize on Office or consume cloud services like Azure.

Software Assurance (SA) is a kind of maintenance contract. Customers have the right to use the latest version software. Another benefit is the right to move license to other servers or to cloud environments. Microsoft is constantly moving benefits which were included in the  license to SA. Cost of SA is about 25% of the license price paid each year.

For some agreements the customer can decide to buy SA as addition to the license. In many agreements SA is included. SA has been introduced by Microsoft to guarantee a steady cashflow. Before SA Microsoft got a lot of revenue after the release of a new version of software. Then the revenue dropped to be increased at the next release. With SA Microsoft monthly gets money from customers on SA.

The reference guide explains it all.

Available Agreements 

The image below shows the major agreements available to corporate . There are also agreements for government, education, charity, service providers and partners of Microsoft.

These programms are all focussed on on-premises software usage. They offer however the possibility to use Microsoft cloud services as well.

Pricing for all agreements are very different. Organizations with over 250 users/computers get a better price than those with a few users. Organizations with many desktops get better discounts than with few desktops. Schools get about 80 % discount for licenses.

To be able to start an agreement organizations must meet certain conditions. For example a minimum purchase or have all workstations installed with the latest Office version.

It is perfecty possible to have a customer use various agreements.

Microsoft license agreements

Agreements for small orgs with 5-250 computers or users 

  • Open License
  • Open Value
  • Open Value Subscription

Open License is just buying the license. This provides the customer the right to use to software as long as he wants. There is no rental available. A maitenance program called Software Assurance can be purchased if the customer wants to upgrade to the most recent version software. Software is paid upfront.

Open Value is including Software Assurance. The customer can annualize their billing over 3 years or they can pay upfront. After three year no more payments and the license belongs to the customer. Licenses can only be added to the agreement. So if your organization shrinks you might have to pay for more licenses than needed.

Open Value Subscription means the customer rents the software. When the rental period has expired and is not extended the software may not be used anymore. Licenses can be added (True Up) or removed from the agreement (True down)

These agreements can be sold by any Microsoft partner.

Agreements for large orgs with over 250 computers or users

  • Select and Select Plus
  • Enterprise Agreement
  • Enterprise Agreement Subscription

Select Plus is a purchase programm with an option to buy SA. To qualifiy for Select Plus customers have to buy an initial order of 500 points per product pool. Microsoft products are groups in three pools: applications, systems, and server.  500 points equals for example 250 Office licenses. The more points a customer has, the better discount.  More on Select Plus here.

Select Plus is being replaced by  a new agreement for midsized organisations called Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA). A FAQ here. The general rollout of MPSA licensing is planned for late 2014 which is when all enrollments will be expected to start following the MPSA model. Microsoft describes the MPSA as blending elements of the Microsoft Business and Services Agreement, Select Plus licensing and Microsoft Online Services subscriptions. A compare between Select Plus and MPSA is here.

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement can be purchased at a Microsoft Licensing Solution Provider  only. The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement allows organizations with more than 250 PCs, devices and/or users to purchase  Microsoft licenses  and cloud services over a three-year period at the best available pricing. As Software Assurance is included customers have the right to use the most recent version. At the end of the three years the license becomes a perpetual license. This means the customer can use it as long as he wants. Customers cannot reduce the number of licensed software during the three year period.

Microsoft Enterprise Subscription Agreement is a pay-as-you-go model. It is a rental agreement for three year which includes Software Assurance. Customers have the ability to decrease the number of licensed software each year during the True-Up process. There is no initial CAPEX. Costs are booked as operational costs. Licenses in this agreement are  nonperpetual (or subscription) licenses, which provide the right to use a particular licensed product until the end of the license-agreement term.  A requirement is that all desktops of the customer are standardized on Office, Windows or the Core CAL.

More info here. 

The difference between both is explained here.

MOSA Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement

MOSA is a dedicated licensing agreement for using Microsoft Online Services like Office 365. After signing the MOSA customers can purchase subscriptions under the  Microsoft Online Subscription Program (MOSP). This is a subscription-based Microsoft Volume Licensing program for organizations with one or more users that want to subscribe to, activate, provision, and maintain services seamlessly and affordably. The services available in this program  include Office 365, Windows Azure Platform, CRM Online, and Intune

Agreements for Service Providers

  • Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA)

Agreements for Education

  • School Enrollment
  • Campus and School Agreement (CASA) = Specifically for qualified academic institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, including research facilities, interested in purchasing five or more licenses.
  • Enrollment for Education Solutions (CASA+EES or OVS-ES).
  • Microsoft Campus Agreement for higher education
  • Microsoft School Agreement for primary and secondary education institutions.

Enrollments

An enrollement is an extension of some agreements like the Enterprise Agreement. The target of an enrollment is to stimulate customers to buy a number of licenses or standardize on Microsoft products. In return they get discount.

For Enterprise Agreements the following enrollements are available:

  • Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE). The most recent enrollment which replaces the ones listed below.
  • Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP)
  • Enrollment for Core Infrastructure  (ECI)
  • Enrollment for Windows Azure (EWA)

Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) covers datacenter products both on-premises and in the cloud. It  includes SQL Server, SharePoint, Biztalk, the Core Infrastructure Suite, Visual Studio and Azure.  There is no growth of licenses required but a minimum purchase of licenses is required. For example to meet SCE requirements customers must purchase minimum of 50 SQL Server core licenses or 5 SharePoint licenses. Also customers needs to cover the entire Enterprise server footprint with SA.
More info on SCE

Enrollment for Application Platform contains SQL Server, Visual Studio, SharePoint and Biztalk. It provides up to 40% discount but a license growth is expected to be 20-30% over a baseline.

Enrollment for Core Infrastructure offers discounts for a bundle of  Windows Server and System Center. Two bundles are available. The Core Infrastructure Suite Datacenter and Core Infrastructure Suite Standard. Discount of 20% is given on bundle as compared to product licenses individually

More info on ECI and EAP

This image compiled by Enpointe.com clearly shows the differences in enrollements

enrollment programs

Legal documents

When the agreement has been signed the customer should comply to certain Microsoft published documents. These documents explain how licenses should be applied.

The Microsoft Business and Service Agreement (MBSA) is the perpetual umbrella agreement that dictates the basic terms for all signed licensing agreements between your organization and Microsoft. This master agreement defines contract terms common to Microsoft licensing, service, and support agreements. MBSA is applicable for Select, Select Plus and Enterprise Agreements.

An important document for on-premises software is the Product Usage Rights. Service Providers have to use the Services Provider Use Rights (SPUR)  document. These are frequently published by Microsoft. The PUR describes per Microsoft product how the license should be used.

The Product List is another important document. It has info on avilability of new products, point values, product migration paths and Software Assurance benefits.

Both are binding documents. The customer should apply to what is written in those documents.

It is important to understand to what license the PUR applies. An excellent post at microsoftlicensereview.com about the PUR states:

  • For customers that elect to leverage downgrade rights, the Product Use Rights for the version licensed, not the version running will apply.

 

Some terms being used

Microsoft uses various terms in licensing documents. Some are explained here.

True-up
Customers with an Enterprise Agreement or Open Value contract agree to use a certain number of licenses. The customer is allowed to use more licenses than agreed. Once a year the customer reports the number of licenses in use. The difference between the number of licenses in the EA or Open Value and the actual usage is the True-up. Reporting the true-up once a year is mandatory.

Level and No Level
Microsoft provides discount when customers purchase a certain number of licenses. If the number of license is below a threshold this is called no Level. Level means the customer has acquired more licenses than the threshold and will get more discount. So LEVEL licenses are always cheaper than NOLEVEL

Levels in some products have numbers like Level C or Level D.

Pricing levels 
For enterprise Agreements there are pricing levels. Starting at Level A which provides the lowest discount to Level D which offers the highest discount. Governments always get Level D discount. The numbers in the second column shows the number of desktops in use by the organization.

EA level A 250 – 2.399
EA level B 2.400 – 5.999
EA level C 6.000 – 14.999
EA level D 15.000 +

Step-up licensing 
customers with a volume agreement including Software Assurance can upgrade the edition of software for a reduced price. For example they can upgrade from Windows Server Standard Edition to Datacenter Edition.
more info here 

Points
Some agreements like Select Plus use points to determine if a customer qualifies for the agreement. Each Microsoft product has points. These are documented in the Product List.

Pricelist

Many pricelists are available on Internet. Prices are hard to understand as you will see different prices for what looks like the same product. As you have learned the price depends on type of organization, agreement, enrollment, number of licenses in use etc.

This is a pricelist of Kernel Software

 

System Center, Hyper-V , Azure Meat(ing) June 26 the Netherlands

If you like System Center, Hyper-V, Azure as well as meat, don’t forget to register for System Center Summer Night “The MasterChef edition” which is rapidly approaching. This event is held in Culemborg, the Netherlands at June 26.

Do not worry about the Worldcup, the Netherlands is not playing. Below the games scheduled for June 26.

wc-soccer

At June 26 nine experts, seven of them are MVPs, will present five interesting presentations.

Because we have plenty of space left we invite those who have registered to bring a friend without additional cost. If you haven’t registered yet, please do and have a great afternoon which is completed with a nice barbecue.

 

Date of event

June 26th

 

Program

15:00 – 16:15 How many System Center fits on one grill by Ronny de Jong / James van den Berg [MVP] / Helmer Zandbergen / Marc van Eijk [MVP] / Dieter Wijckmans [MVP]

16:15 – 17:30 How Service Manager can do everything you need – a best-of-the-best Swiss cheese selection by Marcel Zehner [MVP]

17:30 – 17:45 Break

17:45 – 19:00 Light up the fire on your Hyper-V by Hans Vredevoort [MVP] & Peter Noorderijk on Hyper-V Architecture

19:00 – 20:15 Become a Masterchef on Microsoft Azure Automation by Maarten Goet [MVP]

20.15 BBQ time

This event is organized by SCUG.nl and Hyper-V.nu

 

Registration

Please register at https://www.eventbrite.nl/e/tickets-system-center-summer-night-2014-9265847399

 

Location

Unieplaza
Multatulilaan 12
4103 NM Culemborg

Google map here