vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: affinity and anti-affinity rules

This posting is one in a long series of blogpostings in which I compare various features of VMware vSphere 5.1 with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.

This posting will compare the affinity and anti-affinity rules available in both products. Actually, those rules to keep VMs together or separate on hosts is run by VMware vCenter Server and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1. SP1 is expected to be released begin 2013.

Other postings in this serie are:

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V compared to VMware vSphere 5.1
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: storage integration
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V:management
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: high available VMs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Resource metering for chargeback
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: costs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: hybride cloud
VMware vSphere 5.1 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: replication

In a dynamic environment like server virtualization and cloud IT-management need some control over the placement of virtual machines and virtual machine diskfiles on hosts and datastores.
What is virtual machine anti-affinity and affinity and why do we need it?
Critical applications or services are often made high available by having multiple instances of databases or applications (distributed applications) . Think about Active Directory Services domain controllers, Exchange Database Availability Groups, web servers part of a tiered aplication etc. If those applications/services are running on multiple virtual machines, we do not want to have a redundant set of VMs running on the same host. If the host fails, the service will fail as well.

VMware vSphere DRS and Microsoft SCVMM Dynamic Optimization will loadbalance VMs over available resources. To prevent certain VMs to run on the same host we use anti-affinity rules.

We also can have a demand to keep a set of VMs running on the same host. Most likely because those VMs have a dependancy. To deliver the best network performance we prefer to keep the VMs on the same host. This can be controled using affinity rules.

Anti-affinity and affinity rules in vSphere 5.1
Setting affinity and anti-affinity rules in vSphere is very simple. In the properties of DRS on a cluster VMs rules can easily be made using the vSphere Client or Webclient.

The cluster will make sure VMs are not running on the same host. The rule will be immediately effective. So the rule is applied when a host fails but also during normal operations.

Several rules are available in vSphere :

VM-VM affinity rules: keep VMs to together running on the same host.
VM-VM anti-affinity rules: prevent VMs running on the same host.

Host-VM affinity: VMs must run on a certain set of hosts or VMs should be running on a certain set of hosts. More info here

vSphere 5.x has a feature called Storage DRS. This is DRS for virtual disks; vSphere tries to loadbalance disk over datastores. Here we have Storage DRS affinity and anti-affinity rules. These roles keep virtual disks of the same VM on the same datastore or make sure disks are always located on different datastores.

Anti-affinity and affinity rules in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V + SCVMM 2o12 SP1

Service Pack 1 of SCVMM 2o12 offers a new feature named availability set. At the properties of the VM the VM can be added as a member of an availability set. When you place virtual machines in an availability set, SCVMM will attempt to keep those virtual machines on separate hosts for improved continuity of service. That is, whenever possible, VMM will avoid placing those virtual machines together on one host.

Placement fof VMs on hosts can be controlled using the preferred and possible owners properties of  virtual machines. This could be useful for example for licensing reason. Oracle is notorious for its policy (which does not have any legal ground) to let customers pay licenses for all nodes in a cluster. You can show the Oracle LMS guys that your VMs cannot run on more than a few hosts in your cluster.

  • If you want to control which nodes (servers) in the cluster will own the virtual machine most of the time, configure the preferred owners list.
  • If you need to prevent a virtual machine from being owned by a particular node, configure the possible owners list, omitting only the nodes that should never own the virtual machine.

I have not found a feature to keep VMs running on the same host (affinity rule)

SCVMM 2012 SP1 Availability set

Windows Azure integration with Microsoft System Center and private cloud

Microsoft has a strong focus on cloud computing. Lots of innovation on Microsoft’s public cloud platform Azure is developed. For private cloud Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V combined with System Center 2012 offers lots of capabilities.

One of Microsoft strategies on cloud computing is a strong believe that initially a hybrid cloud will be used by organizations. Hybrid cloud computing means some services are consumed on a private cloud (or hosted platform) and some services are running in a public cloud.

With System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SC2o12 SP1) a lot of integration between private (Windows Server 2012) and public cloud (Azure) will be possible.

Microsoft names this Cloud OS, an integration between Azure and Windows Server 2012 and adding System Center 2012 for its automation, orchestration and management capabilities. The cloud OS would end up integrated across a company’s datacenter (on-premises), a service provider’s datacenter and the Windows Azure public cloud.

To connect private and public clouds Microsoft has several solutions available, either in beta or general available. This posting will give an overview of solutions.

  • System Center App Controller
    This software component of System Center 2012 enables management of virtual machines running in your Microsoft private cloud and Azure from a single console. Added in System Center 2012 SP1 is the ability to  integrate and manage VMs running on a wide range of  cloud service providers. VHD files can be uploaded to Azure. It is not yet possible to Live Migrate a VM from on-premises to Azure.
  • Windows Azure Services for Windows Server
    This software which is currently in preview allows Service Providers to deliver Azure services on a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V platform. Windows Azure Services for Windows Servers brings the Azure Management Portal interface to Windows Server 2012. Providers will be able to provide initially two Azure capabilities: high density Web Sites as well as Virtual Machine provisioning and management, also known as “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS).
    Read more here . Instructions on how to setup the software at hyper-v.nu
  • Global Service Monitor
  • Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 – Cloud Distribution Point
  • High Performance Compute Pack for Windows
  • Orchestrator Windows Azure Integration Pack
  • System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Application
  • Data Protection Manager cloud-based backup

Continue below for a more detailed description of the mentioned solutions.

 

Orchestrator Windows Azure Integration Pack
This software enables System Center Orchestrator to perform certain action on Azure like creating virtual machines, perform tasks on Azure storage.

The Integration Pack includes the following activities:

  • Azure Certificates- the Azure Certificates activity is used in a runbook to add, delete, and list management and service certificates
  • Azure Deployments- the Azure Deployments activity is used in a runbook to create, delete, get, and swap deployments, change deployment configurations, update deployment statuses, rollback an update or upgrade, get and change deployment operating systems, upgrade deployments, walk upgrade domains, and reboot and reimage role instances
  • Azure Cloud Services- the Azure Cloud Services activity is used in a runbook to create, delete, and get cloud services, check cloud service name availability, and create affinity groups
  • Azure Storage- The Azure Storage activity is used in a runbook to create, delete, update, and list storage accounts, get storage account properties, get and regenerate storage account keys, create, list, and delete containers, and put, copy, delete, list, snapshot, and download blobs
  • Azure Virtual Machine Disks- the Azure Virtual Machine Disks activity is used in a runbook to add, delete, update, and list virtual machine disks and virtual machine data disks
  • Azure Virtual Machine Images- the Azure Virtual Machine Images activity is used in a runbook to add, delete, update, and list virtual machine operating system images
  • Azure Virtual Machines- the Azure Virtual Machines activity is used in a runbook to create virtual machine deployments, download virtual machine remote desktop files, as well as get, delete, start, restart, shutdown, capture, and update virtual machine roles

The integration pack is currently in Beta. More information here.

Configuration Manager 2012 SP1 – Cloud Distribution Point
Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) 2012 SP1 offers the ability to deploy and use Distribution Points in a Public Cloud environment; I am talking about Windows Azure. If you owned an Azure subscription or if you get one, then thanks to the SP1 upgrade,
ConfigMgr is able to utilize a standard Distribution Point provisioned inside the Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud Computing space. ConfigMgr clients can use the Cloud Distribution Point (CDP) just as if they were using a standard Distribution Point.

The CDP adds a new way to rapidly provision DPs, especially in situation you do not have the ability to scale out the current environment or can’t provide new server workloads. CDPs also allow you to service internet-clients without having to set up an internet facing ConfigMgr server role.
Read more here.

High Performance Compute Pack
The Microsoft HPC Pack 2012 (a free download that will be available from the Microsoft Download Center later this year) makes it very easy to manage compute resources and schedule your jobs in Windows Azure. You take the proven cluster management tool from Windows Server, connect it to Windows Azure, and then let it do the work. All you need to get started is a Windows Azure account. A set-up wizard takes care of the preparation, and the job scheduler runs your computations.
More information here.

System Center Monitoring Pack for Windows Azure Application
The Windows Azure Monitoring Management Pack enables you to monitor the availability and performance of applications that are running on Windows Azure. Download here. The software is targeting SCOM 2007 but it works with the 2012 release. Information on installing the software here. and here

Global Service Monitor
Global Service Monitor is an Azure-based service that extends SCOM 2012 capabilities into the cloud. It allows you to schedule synthetic transactions from geo-distributed locations to monitor availability, performance and reliability
of your externally facing web applications.

You can think of Global Service Monitor as providing “agents in the cloud” (managed by Microsoft) that you can use to test your applications. These agents return the same kind of data to your Management Group as your on-premise agents, i.e. alerts, performance data and state data, and you can use this data in the same way in notifications, reports, views etc.

GSM extends the application monitoring capabilities in System Center 2012 SP1 using Windows Azure points of presence around the globe, giving a true reflection of end-user experience of your application. Synthetic transactions are defined and scheduled using your on-premises System Center 2012 SP1 Operations Manager console; the GSM service executes the transactions against your web-facing application and GSM reports back the results (availability, performance, functionality) to your on-premises System Center dashboard. You can integrate this perspective with other monitoring data from the same application, taking action as soon as any issues are detected in order to achieve your SLA. To evaluate System Center 2012 SP1 with GSM, sign up for a customer preview of GSM.
More information here.

Data Protection Manager cloud-based backup
With the System Center 2012 SP1 release, the Data Protection Manager (DPM) component enables cloud-based backup of datacenter server data to Windows Azure storage.  System Center 2012 SP1 administrators use the downloadable Windows Azure Online Backup agent to leverage their existing protection, recovery and monitoring workflows to seamlessly integrate cloud-based backups alongside their disk/tape based backups. DPM’s short term, local backup continues to offer quicker disk–based point recoveries when business demands it, while the Windows Azure backup provides the peace of mind & reduction in TCO that comes with offsite backups. In addition to files and folders, DPM also enables Virtual Machine backups to be stored in the cloud.

Future integration:
DPM with Azure using Storesimple devices. Microsoft took over StoreSimple. This device can integrate local storage with cloud storage provide by services like Azure but also other cloud storage vendors.
Read more on Windows Azure online backup here.

Overview of Microsoft Windows Azure Virtual Machines

Microsoft has put the development of new services running on Windows Azure in a fast pace. Time to give some high level information on the latest Windows Azure feature  named Virtual Machines.

Windows Azure is run in Microsoft owned and operated datacenters located in several regions worldwide. At the time of writing there are no other Cloud Service Providers running this Azure service unlike the VMware vCloud Datacenter Provider program.

When using Azure features the cloud consumer will have a contract with Microsoft. Being an USA company this means data stored in Azure is subject to the Patriot Act.

China might be the first country in which Windows Azure is licensed to another provider. In this post at CRN.com is written that China provider 21Vianet will be offering Azure in China located datacenters. 21Vianet bills itself as the largest carrier-neutral Internet data center services provider in China. Microsoft Office365 will also be offered by 21Vianet.

Read more of this post

Veeam Backup & Replication 6.5 available for download

Veeam made Veeam Backup & Replication 6.5 available for download end October 2012. I earlier wrote a blogposting about the new release.

Veeam offers a paid version and a free edition of the software. The free edition is named Veeam Backup Free Edition and provides a subset of the functionality in the paid editions of Veeam Backup & Replication.

Free Edition does have a number of limitations, including:
• Full backups of individual VMs only—no scheduled, incremental or multi‑VM backups
• No vPower capabilities (however, you can import VeeamZIP backups into the paid editions and use vPower capabilities there)
• No VM replication
• No scripting

A full overview of differences can be found here.
Download Veeam Backup Free Edition here.

Download the full Veeam Backup & Replication 6.5 software and documents from here.

Read more of this post

Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools for Windows v4.5 expected release early December

The Dell EqualLogic Host Integration Tools (HIT) is a set of applications and drivers supporting EqualLogic storage arrays in Windows Server , Hyper-V, Linux  and VMware vSphere environments. It provides for instance MPIO drivers and the Dell Auto-snapshot Manager.

The current release 4.0 does not support Windows Server 2012.

Dell announced that version 4.5 will support Windows Server 2012 (and Hyper-V CSV 2.0).  The release is expected for early December 2012.

HIT/Microsoft 4.5 will include:

  • Auto-Snapshot Manager/Microsoft Edition  (ASM/ME) for Microsoft SharePoint Server (MOSS)
  • Single Sign-on for PowerShell
  • Support for Microsoft platforms and applications, including SQL Server 2012
  • Support for EqualLogic Array Software v6.0 features including: Volume Unmapping, Volume Undelete, and Snapshot Borrowing

See a video with more details here.

Ensure that the VM has the Dell EqualLogic Agent Service installed and running

When Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V hosts are installed with Dell Auto-Snapshot Manager/Microsoft Edition (ASM/ME) version 4.0 errors are shown when a Smart Copy is made of a virtual machine using the ASM console.

The error is :

Unable to open connection to virtual machine “<servername>”.  The file system may need to be checked for errors after performing a restore of this Smart Copy.  Ensure that the VM has the Dell EqualLogic Agent Service installed and running and that a network connection can be established between the host and VM.

The cause of this error is because in the virtual machine the Dell Dell Auto-Snapshot Manager/Microsoft Edition needs to be installed as well. Other components of the Dell Host Integration Toolkit like the MPIO driver do not need to be installed in the guest.
Smart Copies can be made of a CSV volume or of one or mutliple virtual machines. When a virtual machine is selected for a Smart Copy, an application consistent snapshot is made. This is probably why the ASM needs to be installed in the guest. Also make sure the Hyper-V Integration Services are installed.

When a Smart Copy of a CSV volume is made the data on it will be file consistent.

Limitations of Hyper-V when using Citrix Provisioning Services

Citrix Provisioning Services (PVS) is a great solution to make sure servers are installed exactly the same way while reducing storage consumption and administration.
In a traditional way of deploying Citrix XenApp or Microsoft Remote Desktop Servers (a typical use case for Citrix PVS) each server had a dedicated set of harddisks. When using multiple Citrix servers the administrator needs to make sure each server is configured the same. The server should have the same set of applications, service packs and configuration.

Using Citrix PVS a master disk is used. This master disk is published to a set of Citrix servers using software streaming.

When using Citrix PVS in a Hyper-V environment, mind Hyper-V only supports PXE on the legacy (emulated) network adapter. The legacy adapter is limited to 100 Mbps. This is true for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V as well as for Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.

The other type of virtual network adapter available in Hyper-V is the synthetic adapter which supports speeds up to 10 Gbps but does not support PXE.

If 100 Mbps proves to be a bottleneck there are some tricks to use the synthetic adapter after boot. You will need to dedicate two virtual network adapters for Citrix PVS. One for the PXE boot process and one for the rest of the disk streaming. See this posting which mentions a tool named nvspbind.exe to change the binding of the PVS software.

 

System Center 2012 SP1 will be released ‘early 2013′

Microsoft states in a blog on Technet.com that System Center 2012 SP1 will be released in early 2013. SP1 will bring a lot of new features but most important it will bring support for Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.

The current release of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 does not support Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V or Hyper-V Server 2012. It will not connect to a server running those versions. Also DPM 2012 does not support the new CSV 2.0.

Another new feature in SP1 will probably be support of VMware vSphere 5.0 in SCVMM 2012.

Currently SC2012 SP1 Beta is publicly available. Support is limited to TAP-customers. SP1 Beta is not supported and the EULA does not allow to run it in a production environment.

I blogged about the gap between releasing Hyper-V and SC2012 SP1 here in a posting titlted VMware will beat Microsoft on releasing a new version of virtualization platform?

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta available for download

Microsoft released System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 Beta for download.

For a detailed overview of what is new in System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 SP1 Beta see this link.

The Beta of System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (“SP1”) enables System Center customers to jointly evaluate System Center 2012 with Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8. The Beta is for evaluation purposes only and not to be used in production as described in the EULAs associated with the product. No license keys are required to do this evaluation.

Upgrade from SC2012 SP1  CTP2  to SC2012 SP1 Beta is not possible. Users of the CTP2 will need to perform a delete of CTP2 and complete new install of SP1 Beta.

TAP customers get support by Microsoft on SP1 beta. For other customers there is no support for this release!

VMware vSphere 5.1 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: replication

In a  series of postings I will compare VMware vSphere 5.1 and Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V . Goal of the postings is to provide a non-biased overview on features of two main players in the server virtualization market: VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.

This posting will give an overview of the replication features of both solutions. Replication is performed for disaster recovery reasons and is meant to provide a faster recovery of data compared to a traditional restore. When a critical component of your infrastructure or the complete datacenter is lost, virtual machines need to be made operational as quickly as possible in an alternative location or on alternative hardware.

Other blogs in the serie are:

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V compared to VMware vSphere 5.1
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: storage integration
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V:management
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: high available VMs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Resource metering for chargeback
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: costs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: hybride cloud

Hyper-V Replica

Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V has a free built in feature named Hyper-V Replica. Many of the bloggers with a focus on Hyper-V titled this feature as a Killer feature of Windows Server 2012.

It enables organizations to replicate one or multiple VMs running on Hyper-V hosts to another location. Hyper-V Replica is using a-synchronous replication which means there will always be some data lose in case of failover. The minimum interval of replication is 5 minutes. Hyper-V allows to replicate to multiple locations/sites.

Scale
Hyper-V Replica  target is the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). If you need to replicate dozens or hundreds of VMs you need to look for another solution. I am not aware of any other host based replication solution for Hyper-V so if Hyper-V Replica does not meet requirements, organizations will need to use storage based replication. NetApp has some PowerShell scripting which connects Hyper-V servers to replica LUNs and also software.

Architecture
Hyper-V Replica code is built into the hypervizor. There is no need to install a specific VM. Installation of Hyper-V Replica is straightforward.  First the Hyper-V Replica Broker role needs to be installed. It needs an IP-address. Thereafter right click the VM which needs to be protected, few clicks and replication is setup.

Seeding
To prevent an initial transfer of all the virtual machine data over the network (WAN), which will take time and consumes bandwidth, a copy of the virtual machine can be loaded on external media. Then it can be shipped to the recovery datacenter, copied to the Replica server and replication can be started.

During configuration of the replication it is possible to select individual virtual disk files for replication. So a virtual disk holding just the page file is left out of the replication cycle.

Hyper-V Replica allows to store multiple recovery points. This allows to restore to various points in time if for instance the most recent recovery point became corrupted. A maximum of 15 recovery points can be configured.

Failover

  • Planned Failover. VMs are shutdown nicely in the protected site and started in the recovery site. Usefull for downtime avoidance for example when a hurricane is approaching or planned maintenance on a major component in the datacenter
  • Test Failover. Usefull for testing the disaster recovery procedure while VMs in protected site are running.
  • Failover. Protected site is unexpectedly lost because of a fire/earthquake/power outage/hard or software fault etc.  VMs needs to be restarted in the recovery site.

If the recovery site uses a different IP-subnet than the protected site Hyper-V Replica is able to inject the new IP-configuration into the VM. This IP-configuration has been configured by the admin during setup of the replication.

Non-disruptive failover testing
Failover can be tested without disturbing the production VMs.

Orchestration
Hyper-V Replica does not have a workflow or runbook which enables an automated, controlled start of VM in case of a failover. When a disaster has happened, the IT-deparment will need to start all VM’s manually in the recovery site. As Hyper-V Replica is targeted at small organizations this should be no problem. Using PowerShell actions can be orchestrated and automated.

Failback
When the issue causing the failover has been solved you want to move the VMs from the recovery site back to the protected site. This is an easy operation for Hyper-V Replica. Just a few mouseclicks.

Application consistent
Replication of data is not enough. What is important is : can the replicated data be used? Is is consistent, will a database start after a failover? Hyper-V Replica uses VSS snapshots which makes sure databases supporting VSS are put in a consistent state when replication is done.

Extensions
Hyper-V Replica can be extended with functionality by using PowerShell scripts.

Recovery infrastructure
Replication software needs obviously an infrastructrure in a recovery site. As operating a recovery site purely for DR reasons costs a lot of money, Service Providers are starting to offer Disaster Recovery as a Service. Using DRaaS there is no need to operate or own two datacenters (protected and recovery). However I am not aware of Service Providers which support Hyper-V Replica yet. This will be a matter of time.
Hyper-V Replica is ready for replication to a Service Provider. Replication authentication can be done using X509 certificates.

Mind it is not possible to backup the VMs running in the recovery site using DPM. A reason for which the replica VMs are backuped not in the protected site but in the recovery site would be to prevent stressing the VMs in the protected site. Another reason would be to prevent having the backup data in the protected site. So when Hyper-V Replica is used, DPM needs to backup the VMs in the protected site. Then the DPM backup reposity will needs to be replicated to the recovery site as well. See this Microsoft posting for the details.

Alternative solutions
I am not aware of many *other* Disaster Recovery tool for Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V which is able to replicate on host level and/or storage level, orchestrate storage replication , orchestrate test and failover, perform automated failback and is able to do non-disruptive testing.

NetApp SnapManager for Hyper-V has features for DR. Not sure if this can do runbooks and orchestration.

More info
Thomas Maurer has a lot more info on Hyper-V Replica (and on other Hyper-V and System Center subjects as well)
Aidan Finn has a good posting as well if you do not mind the bias and VMware bashing.
Microsoft has a lot of documents on Hyper-V Replica here.

VMware vSphere Replication

VMware vSphere Replication was introduced as  part of VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) with the introduction of vSphere 5. At that time SRM did not support the vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus editions. These editions are limited to 3 hosts with 2 CPUs each and are targeted at the SMB market.
VMware announced at VMworld 2012 that its host based replication software named vSphere Replication will be included free in the vSphere Essentials Plus, Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions of vSphere 5.1. So vSphere Replication is unbundled from SRM.

Is is very likely VMware decided to include vSphere Replication as a free feature because Microsoft had the Hyper-V Replica feature for free.

Architecture
The vSphere Replication framework consists of a vSphere Replication appliance that is paired with a single
vCenter server. This appliance provides the management framework for vSphere Replication and also acts as the
target for replicated blocks. Increased scale or remote sites managed by a single vCenter server might lead to
the choice of deploying up to 10 vSphere Replication Server (VR Server) virtual appliances. The VR server
appliances function strictly as a destination target for replication and enable simple scaling and distribution of
the replication framework. As many as 500 virtual machines can be protected with an individual vSphere
Replication instance.

Need for an additional vCenter Server license.

Depending the infrastructure one or two vCenter Server licenses are needed to use vSphere Replication.
For a remote office/branch office of which its local ESXi servers are managed by a central vCenter Server (located in the main datacenter/HQ) no additional vCenter Server license is needed. In this case the recovery location is the main datacenter.

For a standalone office with a local vCenter Server, an additional vCenter Server is needed for the recovery location. This makes the vSphere Replication option more expensive than Hyper-V Replica.

 

vSphere Replication allows to replicate individual VMs to another site. Replication is storage agnostic and works on any vSphere supported storage platform.  It can only replicate VMs which are turned on. Templates are not replicated. It can be configured to replicate at the most each 15 minutes to 24 hours. This means in case the VMs is lost 15 minutes of data will be lost in the replica VM.

New in version 5.1 is the ability to replicate Raw Device Mapping disks (RDM) in virtual compatibilty mode.

vApps are not supported. Admins will need to manually protect or de-protect each VM part of a vApp.

Seeding
To prevent large datatransfers when a VM is enabled for protection data can be copied to a removeable devices, shipped to the recovery datacenter and installed. Then changes will be replicated over the network.

Scale
vSphere Replication part of vSphere is limited to replication of a maximum of 500 VMs. Organization which require to replicate more VMs will need to buy Site Recovery Manager or a third party solution.

Orchestration
Just like Hyper-V Replica, vSphere Replication does not have an orchestration function. VMs will need to be manually connected to the network and manually started by IT-staff after a failover.  vSphere Replication does not have the ability to automatically change the IP-address of the VM. Using PowerShell this can be automated.

Non-disruptive failover testing
The replica cannot be powered on and recovered if the original virtual machine is still reachable and is itself still
powered on. To continue, the primary copy of the virtual machine must be unreachable by vCenter Server or powered off.
As it is not likely the primary VM can be switched off I guess this means the WAN-connection between the vSphere Replication server in the recovery site and vSphere Replication Server in protected site must somehow be disconnected.

Application consistent
Automatic integration with Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) ensures that applications such as Microsoft Exchange or Microsoft SQL Server databases are quiescent and consistent when replica data is being generated. A very quick call to the virtual machine’s VSS layer flushes the database writers for an instant to ensure that the data replicated is static and fully recoverable.

Failback
When the protected site is recovered it is likely that you want the VM running in the recovery site to be moved to the protected site again. However vSphere Replication does not offer an easy failback. You will need to start over again setting up protection per VM.

Recovery infrastructure
Quite a few service providers already support VMware Site Recovery Manager. I suspect they also or soon will support vSphere Replication. So you could use their Disaster Recovery as a Service instead of having to buy/lease your own datacenter and equipment.

Alternative solutions
There are quite a few alternative solutions if vSphere Replication does not meet requirements.
VMware Site Recovery Manager does orchestration of storage level replication, does host based replication,can be used for 100s of VMs, does runbooks,  and lots more.

Zerto Virtual Replication does host based replication. Lots of good features. For a compare of vSphere Replication versus Zerto Virtual Replication see this blog titled  vSphere Replication and Zerto – What’s the Difference?

VirtualSharp ReliableDR goes one step further. It does not only replicate, but also verify the replicated data is useable. They have a free edition available and a paid edition. See my blog on the free edition which was released at VMworld 2012.

For a compare of the three solutions (based on earlier versions) see my posting titled Overview of disaster recovery solutions for VMware vSphere

More info
More info on vSphere Replication here.

Conclusion
Hyper-V Replica has all the features Small and Medium Businesses need for disaster recovery. As soon as service providers offer a DRaaS service , Hyper-V Replica is a very cost effective solution for DR.

vSphere Replication is a very basic data protection tool by enabling replication. Some critical features are missing.

The table below shows a summary of features mentioned in this blog.

Altaro Hyper-V Backup v3.5 released

Altaro Software, a fast-growing developer of backup solutions for Microsoft Hyper-V, today announced the release of Altaro Hyper-V Backup v3.5, becoming the first Hyper-V Backup solution provider to fully support Windows Server 2012, including support for CSV, Volume Shadow Copies of SMB 3.0 and more.

Some of the new features are:

  • Windows Server 2012 Support, including support for VHDX files.
  • Windows 2012: support for backup and restore of VMs located on network paths.
  • Windows 2012: support for Volume Shadow Copies of SMB3.0 network paths.
  • Windows 2012: support for CSV3.0 and scale-out CSV file shares.
  • New and improved Metro-Style User Interface.

I did a review of Altaro Hyper-V Backup v3.5 here.
“Windows Server 2012 and the new release of Hyper-V have already been well received by the market and we believe this will lead to a rapid increase in Microsoft’s share of the Virtualization space.” commented David Vella, CEO of Altaro. “We’re proud to be the first in the Hyper-V backup space to support Windows Server 2012.”
‘The new version 3.5 of Altaro Hyper-V Backup is just a breeze to install and operate, the ease and speed of backup & recovery in a Windows Server 2012 cluster is just amazing” commented Hans Vredevoort from Hyper-V.nu. “This is a superbly working backup product!’
The new release also includes support for backing up and restoring of VMs located on network paths, a new Metro-inspired interface and various tweaks and updates to improve performance.
For more information, including download links check out http://www.altaro.com/hyper-v-backup/ or contact info@altaro.com.

Pricing
Altaro Hyper-V Backup for Windows Server 2012 pricing starts at $345/ €245/ £220 for 5 VMs.
A freeware version is also available for 2 VMs.

About Altaro
Founded in 2009, Altaro Software is a fast-growing developer of user-friendly backup solutions aimed at SMBs. Altaro’s products; including Oops!Backup, Backup FS and Hyper-V Backup are available worldwide from Altaro and its network of value added resellers. For further information visit http://www.altaro.com
Some of Altaro’s 8,000+ Customers include:
Harvard University, New Zealand Defence Force, Max-Planck Institute, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Princeton University, US Geological Survey, SRI International, Swedish Defence Research Agency, Mitsubishi Polyester Film, University of Delaware, University of Miami and many more

Free Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 available for download

At September 4 Microsoft released the free Hyper-V Server 2012.

Hyper-V Server 2012 is a fully functional hypervisor which has  exactly the same features as the Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2012. This unlike the free offering of VMware named vSphere Hypervisor which is restricted in multiple way: max 32GB physical memory, no central management. VMware positions vSphere Hypervisor as a solution which enables customers to experience server virtualization. It is not meant to be run as a production server.

The free Hyper-V Server 2012 however is a fully supported solution which can run in production environments.

Hyper-V Server 2012 is different to Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V in:

  • it does not have a graphical userinterface. After boot you will see a PowerShell like interface. Third party tools are available to manage using a GUI. See vtUtilities  for example.
  • it cannot run other roles than Hyper-V. So no AD, DNS, Webserver etc
  • it does not come with free virtualization rights for Windows Server VMs. Windows Server 2012 Standard will give entitlement to run 4 Windows Server virtual instances, Enterprise Edition an unlimted number of Windows Server virtual instances.

Hyper-V Server 2012 is usefull in the scenario’s below:

  • organization is using VDI workloads only on the host.
  • organization is using any other non Windows Server guest on the host like Linux distributions
  • organization which are on a contract with Microsoft which already covers licensing

Download Windows Hyper Server 2012 here. (1.6 GB ISO)

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V compared to VMware vSphere 5.1

Disclaimer: opinions written at this blog are mine.

This posting is one in a long series of blogpostings in which I compare various features of VMware vSphere with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V compared to VMware vSphere 5.1
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: storage integration
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V:management
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: high available VMs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Resource metering for chargeback
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: costs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: hybride cloud
VMware vSphere 5.1 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: replication

Now that both Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V (September 4) and VMware vSphere 5.1 (September 11) are GA we can do a nice compare of two real products.

I did a similar compare in January 2012. See this post for a compare of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V beta version and vSphere 5.0
Since January 2012 a lot has changed.

One note: I appreciate any feedback. Please use the comment feature or send me an email for additions, corrections etc. Address is listed in the left column.

How did VMware respond to the new Hyper-V release?

They discontinued the infamous vRAM. While at the introduction of vRAM VMware stated vSphere 5 would cost not more than vSphere 4 for most customers, one year later they found out it was not such a good idea after all. A big Mea Culpa of Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware for introducing this what Microsoft called vTAX.

VMware did more: they added features like storage vMotion, Hot Add, Fault Tolerance and vShield Zones to the vSphere 5.1 Standard Edition with no extra charge. These feature were previously available in more expensive editions.
VMware also added their DR tool vSphere Replication to Essentials Plus and higher editions with no extra charge.

They enhanced the vMotion feature such it can be used to move VMs to another host without shared storage. And last but not least VMware replaced the Data Recovery backup tool by a newly built backup tool based on EMC Avamar named Data Protection.

The Enterprise Plus edition has SR-IOV added and can now use 64 virtual CPU’s which is equal to Hyper-V.

The price for vSphere 5.1 has not changed.

Whats happening at Microsoft?

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 on paper looks like a good solution for many small organizations. It has been made available for MSDN, Volume License customers etc since September 4.

There is one BUT: System Center 2012 which delivers a lot of features on private cloud needs Service Pack 1 to be able to use Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. See my earlier post about SP1 here.
System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 without SP1 cannot connect to Windows Server 2012 running Hyper-V hosts.
However VM and host management on Windows Server 2012 can be done using Hyper-V manager, Failover Cluster Manager or even PowerShell but still features like deployment using templates are missing. Also to be able to extend the functionality of virtual switches SC2012  SP1 is needed. The same applies for using Virtual Networking.

Also backup of Cluster Shared Volumes 2.0 in Hyper-V is only supported by SC2012 when DPM 2o12 SP1 is available. Strange as third party tools of Altaro (more info here)  and Veeam Backup & Replication 6.5 will or already support CSV2.0

Looking at enterprise class features vSphere is still in the lead. Microsoft lacks a feature to control Storage IO consumption. This can easily lead to a noisy neighbor situation in which a low priority VM consumes all storage bandwidth/iops  resulting in bad performance for business critical VMs. A way to solve this in a Hyper-V infrastructure is replacing CSV and buying third party tooling like Sanbolic Melio FS. Another  method is manually move the noisy neighbor to a LUN /storage array which does not interfere with business critical VMs.

vSphere has a feature called Storage IO Control. It kicks in when latency gets above a defined threshold. It will throttle the HBA queues and will give VMs with a higher share value priority to the storage array. More info here.

Microsoft leads in scaleability. 1024 VMs can run on a host while vSphere can do 512.  However I do not think we are going to see many organizations having the need to run 1024 VMs on a single node.

At the launch Microsoft also announced now 8000 VMs can run in a cluster. The old value was 4000 VMs. I will change the table soon!

The virtual disk format VHDX of Hyper-V can be as large as 64 TB. This makes it a clear winner over vSphere VMDK which is limited to 2 TB. Using Raw Device Mappings (having some disadvantages) larger volumes can be presented to VMs.

One of the less matured aspects  of Hyper-V is its ecosystem. For example  I am not aware of a enterprise Disaster Recovery tool which allows to test failover, orchestrate failovers and report on testing for 100s of VMs. vSphere has at least three solutions offering DR for the enterprise market

An overview
The table below shows an overview of features of Windows Server 2012 and vSphere 5.1 Standard edition. The vSphere 5.1 Standard Edition matches features of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V most.
The features which are new to vSphere 5.1 compared to vSphere 5 are marked in red and bold.

If you are interested in an overview showing all vSphere 5.1 editions and features compared to Hyper-V see this link.

Still both solutions offer features which are unique. vSphere standard + vCenter Server does not have dynamic placement of VMs as DRS is not available, Hyper-V+SCVMM 2012 has Dynamic Optimization.

I could not list all features, the table would just be too long. However all important and relevant features are listed.

Besides features costs is an important aspect. Hyper-V comes in different editions. All editions have the same feature set.

Hyper-V Server 2012 can be used free. It has only the Hyper-V role so you cannot install AD, IIS, file services or other roles. No problem because why would you like other software running inside the hypervisor kernel? Also the free edition does not have a graphical userinterface. If you want a GUI, third party tooling like vtUtilities will give you one. And you do not get free virtualization rights.
All these limitations apply to vSphere as well.

However the management of Hyper-V is not free. If you want to use SC2012 SP1 you pay per managed host. Sc2012 SP1 delivers a lot of features which cannot compared to vCenter Server.

Hyper-V Replica enabled organizations to replicate VMs to another location for Disaster Recovery purposes. VMware included vSphere Replication for free in vSphere 5.1. This is however limited in features. It does not offer a failback feature like Hyper-V Replica. Nor does it reconfigure the IP-adress of VMs when it has failed over.

Microsoft marketing department made a compare as well. Obviously biased as the unique features to vSphere 5.1 are left out.See this whitepaper titled Why Hyper-V? Competitive Advantages of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V over VMware vSphere 5.1
Conclusion
Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V features are roughly equal to those of vSphere 5.1 Standard Edition. Some important differences are the 64 TB virtual disk support of Hyper-V and Hyper-V Replica which has more advanced features than vSphere Replica.

For smaller environments Hyper-V + SC2012 delivers lots of value for money for less money than vSphere 5.1 standard + vCenter Server.

For enterprises and cloud providers (large, complex  infrastructures)  vSphere Enterprise Plus has much better features. Control of storage consumption per VM, distributed virtual switches, a rich ecosystem for DR, vMotion over long distances, support for metrocluster  are just a few examples.

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MIND THE TABLE BELOW COMPARES vSPHERE STANDARD EDITION TO HYPER-V. YOU WILL MISS THE FEATURES PART OF  THE OTHER, MORE EXPENSIVE EDITIONS. THOSE ARE LISTED IN THIS OVERVIEW

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Nexenta Server Hypervisor Market Share Survey indicates vSphere remains dominant hypervisor

Nexenta is proud to announce the results of its Server Hypervisor Market Share Survey. This survey was fielded in May and June 2012, and was sent to a panel of 4000 storage customers, community members and developers.

When asked to select all the server hypervisors they used today, respondents said that 79.4% used VMware. When asked to choose the primary server hypervisors, 69.3% of respondents said they were using VMware.  Other hypervisors being primarily used today by respondents were Citrix, KVM and the Hyper-V hypervisors were mentioned, but none polled above 10%.

It appears from the survey that server hypervisor market share is not going to be substantially different 12 months from now. VMware remained the dominant hypervisor, at 78.4% when respondents were offered multiple choices. When asked to choose the primary server hypervisors in 12 months from now, 66.8% of respondents named VMware.

Read the complete survey results here

Thank you Microsoft Hyper-V for providing the weapon which killed vSphere vRAM

Today VMware announced it terminated the vRAM licensing for vSphere 5.1. From now on it needs to be licensed only per physical processor again. An unlimited number of VMs can be run as long as physical memory in the host is available. VMware told us today:

WE HEARD YOU!

That is very good news for VMware vSphere users. Killing vRAM makes vSphere a lot more attractive for running it on hosts with a large amount of physical memory.

But lets not forget that VMware introduced vRAM 1 year ago for reasons that have not been changed today!
VMware stated back in 2011 that they wanted customers getting used to the ‘pay what you consume’ model of charging which is common for cloud computing.

They also claimed reduced revenue because of modern CPUs delivering more value for money. Licensing based on CPU alone would lead to less revenue for VMware and thus less innovation for customers.
What VMware forgot when introducing VRAM was:

  • customers are not stupid;
  • the economic situation for a lot of customers was and is not very good. IT-budgets are tight and reduced.
  • last but certainly not least: the big upcoming competition of Microsoft Hyper-V;

Back in 2011 Microsoft made it no secret that the next release of Hyper-V and System Center would deliver a lot more features than the Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V release. Hyper-V is a lot cheaper to buy than vSphere .

Lets see what Microsoft has to offer with Windows Server 2012 and what VMware announced today:

  • vSphere Replication free in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V enabling host based , a-synchronous, storage agnostic replication.
    VMware today announced: vSphere 5.1 Essentials Plus and higher editions will have vSphere Replication comparable to Hyper-V Replica. Also Site Recovery Manager can be used for Essentials Plus and higher editions. Used to be Standard Edition and higher.
  • Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V offers shared nothing Live Migration. Move a VM from one host to another without shared storage.
    VMware today announced Enhanced vMotion which can be compared to Hyper-V feature
  • Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V supports 64 vCPUs per guest max
    vSphere 5.1 supports 64 vCPUs per guest max
  • Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V supports an unlimited number of nodes using in-guest clustering
    vSphere 5.1 support 5 nodes (was 2 nodes in vSphere 5.0)
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 which enables private cloud is licensed per physical processor which makes it an attractive suite.
    VMware has a collection of solutions which enabled cloud. They were licensed per VM. Not anymore for the new vCloud which is licensed per physical processor
  • Using Microsoft Windows Server 2012 it is possible to create  a highly available shared storage solution based on Scale Out File Services and Just a Bunch of Disks or Storage Pools. Without the need to by an expensive SAN or NAS virtual disk files can be presented to Hyper-V hosts allowing vMotion and HA alike protection.
    VMware responded to include vSphere Storage Appliance in the Essentials Plus and higher editions of vSphere 5.1. Prior to vSphere 5,1 VSA needed to be purchased separatly. Now one VSA license is bundled with vSphere.

Why did VMware change it’s licensing policy and gives away more features?
Simple answer: because of the competition getting stronger and stronger and delivering value for money, Microsoft in the lead. The migration to vSphere 5.0 was not at a speed VMware hoped. Adoption of vCloud Director for private and public clouds is lower than expected. Customers were evaluating Hyper-V and stopped investments in new vSphere deployments.

If Microsoft would not have a mature solution for private cloud, customers would probably still have to deal with vRAM. Besides stronger competition the VMware suggested reasons for vRAM have not changed.

Thank you Microsoft (and Citrix and Red Hat) for your competition!

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