Microsoft publishes Technical Documentation for System Center 2012 R2

At July 15 Microsoft released a set of documents titled “Technical Documentation for Getting Started with System Center 2012 R2″

This set is very usefull for anyone working with System Center 2012.

The download has 2 documents which are available in both Word and Adobe PDF format:

System Requirements for System Center 2012 R2 is a very comprehensive Word file documenting requirements for hardware, server and client operating system, SQL
Server, Web console, PowerShell, and .NET Framework.

Upgrade Sequencing for System Center 2012 R2  describes the sequence of upgrading System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) components to
System Center 2012 R2

Download here

Microsoft also published ‘Technical Documentation for System Center 2012 – Virtual Machine Manager’. This document has 757 pages.

Lots and lots of information on common tasks in SC Virtual Machine Manager. This document has been updated in July 2014.

Microsoft now recommends not using AlwaysOn in Microsoft SQL Server. If you use AlwaysOn, and you are running an asynchronous commit mode, the replica of the database can be out of date for a period of time after each commit. This can make it appear as if the database were back in time which might cause loss of customer data,
inadvertent disclosure of information, or possibly elevation of privilege.

Download here

 

hardwarespecs

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.

Unable to deploy A5, A6 or A7 size Windows Azure virtual machine using App Controller 2012 R2

System Center App Controller 2012 R2 is a self service portal which can be used to deploy virtual machines on on-premise clouds managed by System Center Virtual Machine Manager, Service Provider Clouds using Windows Azure Pack  and Windows Azure.

Windows Azure offers so called t-shirt sized virtual machines. These have a Microsoft determined number of virtual cores and  virtual memory size. The size of virtual machines is identified as extra small, small, large etc. Recently Microsoft started to offer large sized virtual machines which are identified as A5, A6 and A7.

Using App Controller 2012 R2 the virtual machine / instance  size A5 , A6 and A7 are missing in the dropdown list showing available virtual machine sizes for deployment.

azure-instance-size

This is caused by a limitation of App Controller 2012 R2. App Controller maintains a hard coded list of virtual machine sizes that it is able to deploy. A5, A6 and A7 are not in that list. Future new instance sizes available in Azure will not available either as long as the code of App Controller is not updated by Microsoft. This issue is caused by the service management API which is queried by App Controller. This API does not allow to query for available virtual machine sizes hence the hardcode virtual  machine sizes.

Virtual machines sized A5, A6 or A7 can be managed by App Controller. Deployment however of instances with these sizes should be done using the Azure Management Portal, Visual Studio, Azure command-line tool or PowerShell.

Free ebook: Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2

Microsoft published a new free ebook titled:  Introducing Microsoft System Center 2012 R2. The book is currently available in PDF format only. Mobi and ePub format will be available soon. The ebook has 155 pages and provides a high level overview of Microsoft Cloud OS and System Center 2012 R2 is particular. Each chapter has an overview of one of the components of System Center. Content of each chapter includes an introduction, some screenshots, a Microsoft expert writing about new features and links to more information.

This ebook provides a good insight into System Center 2012 R2 and is highly recommended for those who are looking for an easy to consume total overview.

Download here.

Free ebook: Microsoft System Center: Cloud Management with App Controller

Microsoft released a new free ebook titled “Microsoft System Center: Cloud Management with App Controller”. The book has 5 chapters and 106 pages. It describes how to install App Controller, how to manage public, private and hybrid cloud.

The ebook is available in PDF, Mobi en ePub formats. Download here.

ebook-cloud-management-with-app-controller

Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 App Controller is uniquely positioned as both an enabler and a self-service vehicle for connecting clouds and implementing the hybrid computing model. In Microsoft’s cloud computing solutions, both System Center and Windows Azure play critical roles. System Center can be used to transform enterprise IT from a device-based infrastructure and deployment strategy to a service-based user-centric consumption model based on private cloud computing. Windows Azure on the other hand is a subscription-based public cloud platform that enables the development, deployment, and management of cloud solutions. App Controller is the glue that unifies these two platforms by providing a single interface that enables administrators to perform complex operations without overwhelming them with the underlying technical complexities involved.

This book serves as an introduction to implementing and managing the hybrid computing solutions using App Controller. It describes the basic concepts, processes, and operations involved in connecting, consuming, and managing resources that are deployed both on and off premises. Each chapter provides a concise, self-contained walkthrough for a specific aspect of managing private, public, and hybrid clouds using App Controller.

While cloud computing is still evolving, the hybrid approach will likely continue to emerge as the go-to IT computing model for the foreseeable future. Using App Controller to strategically connect both on-premises System Center private clouds with off-premises deployments in both Windows Azure and third-party cloud hosting providers enables new scenarios, develops new possibilities, and offers exciting new opportunities that can help IT transition better into the next generation of enterprise computing.