New Hyper-V features in Windows Server 2012 R2

The official announcement has been made: Windows Server 2012 R2 is coming, and it’s bringing a lot of changes to Hyper-V. Yesterday’s announcements from TechEd North America made by Ben Armstrong were amazing – you can check out the recording of his session, already available on Channel 9!

First off, two of the announcements actually update my session from ITCamp 2013 about Running Linux on Microsoft Private and Public Cloud infrastructures – during the session, I did mention that “cool new things are coming”, but I’ve also said that officially, the next iteration of the Linux Integration Services would only contain memory ballooning support, without the memory hot-add. Well, yesterday we got to hear that hot-add will also be there! :)

I’ll try to cover some of the most important new features coming in Hyper-V 2012 R2 (I’ll start with the Linux ones, as they’re related to my recent session from ITCamp):

  • Full Dynamic Memory support for Linux VMs – full hot-add and ballooning support inside Linux VMs
  • Online backup for Linux VMs – even though there’s no VSS support in Linux, the Microsoft guys have managed to find a way to create consistent backups of running Linux VMs, by doing what’s essentially called a “filesystem freeze” by briefly stopping all disk I/O inside the VM until the host creates a VSS snapshot of the VM on the host (thus getting a file-consistent backup with zero downtime) – once the snapshot is done, disk I/O is resumed and then the actual file copy process starts
  • New video driver for Linux – improved video experience with Linux VMs, similar to the one you would get on Windows VMs
  • 2nd generation VMs – now this is huge! Hyper-V in WS 2012 R2 comes with a new generation of virtual machines based on UEFI, with no emulation for unnecessary system components. What you’ll get is a VM using only SCSI controllers (so no more IDE-only OS drives), synthetic network adapters for PXE boot and everything else you need to run fully virtualized OS-es with no device emulation. For this to work, the supported guest OS-es are 64-bit editions of Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Live resizing for VHDX files – you’ll now be able to either expand or shrink your VHDX files while the VMs are running; this also works for Linux VMs
  • Shared VHDX – Probably the most impactful feature to be included in the new version of Hyper-V: VHDX files can now be shared between two virtual machines using the virtual SCSI controller (if you place them on an SMB share, concurrent access will be handled automatically); this will allow you to easily create guest-level clusters inside the VMs, without the need for iSCSI or Fiber Channel infrastructures
  • Guest Automatic Activation – if the Hyper-V host is activated using a Datacenter SKU, all virtual machines installed on it will be activated automatically
  • Cross-Version Shared-Nothing Live Migration – you will be able to live migrate VMs from Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2012 R2 while the VMs are running, regardless of whether you’re running them in a cluster, if you use shared storage or not, etc.
  • Hyper-V Replica improvements – you’ll be able to both set your replication times manually to 30 seconds, 5 minutes (the current default in WS 2012) or 15 minutes, and you’ll also be able to extend the replication (i.e. create a separate replica for an existing replica); for instance, if you’re now replicating a VM from host A to host B, you’ll also be able to create another replica for the VM being replicated on host B to host C
  • Live Migration Compression – Live Migration traffic will be compressed in-memory, using any idle CPU power available, reducing the migration speed with up to 50%
  • Live Migration over SMB Direct (RDMA) – Live Migration can now benefit from SMB 3.0 and Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA), allowing for an even faster Live Migration experience
  • Live VM Cloning – you’ll be able to “clone” a VM (including the in-memory content) while the VM is running; this will allow you to have a separate copy of the VM (that you could use for debugging purposes, for instance)
  • Live VM Export – exporting a VM while it’s running
  • Storage QoS – you will now be able to set the minimum and maximum IOPS limit, per VM
  • VM Connect enhancements – the console redirect allowing you to connect to the VM from the Hyper-V manager interface used to basically act like a KVM device; with the new Hyper-V version, they’re now using RDP to interact with the VM through the VMBus – this will enable you to use existing RDP features like shared storage, copy/paste for content and files between the VM and the host, audio redirection, etc.
  • Compatibility with Windows Azure – right now, Windows Azure is using Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 as a virtualization platform behind the VM roles, which will give you full compatibility with your on-premise VMs that you’re moving into the cloud, or vice-versa

All in all, some great enhancements all around. Just a reminder, you can go check out Ben’s session from TechEd NA right now!

ITCamp 2013

The third edition of ITCamp is coming to Cluj-Napoca again this year (May 23rd-24th) – and thanks to Mihai and the rest of the team behind the event, it’s shaping up to be more exciting than ever! :)

Just like last year, we’re having the content split into 3 parallel tracks over two days, which will mean over 30 sessions held by an amazing set of speakers. We’re joined this year by Richard Campbell, Tim Huckaby, Martin Kulov, Tobiasz Koprowski, Peter Leeson, Andy Cross and many, many others. All in all, we’ve got 4 Microsoft Regional Directors, 13 Microsoft MVPs and other great community speakers attending the event.

This year we’re also planning to have several pre-conference workshops and seminars as well, targeted at those out there who are looking for more in-depth and hands-on experience with some of the newest Microsoft technologies. Also, if you’ve missed our past editions, we’ve got a dedicated section on our conference page discussing them.

With a month left until the event, there’s still a lot left to do. But I know it’s definitely going to be worth the ride!

New series of Virtualization Jump Start courses

The Born to Learn blog lets us know that the IT Pro Evangelism team, Microsoft Learning and the Microsoft Virtual Academy will be doing a bunch of Jump Start courses on Hyper-V. You can join them for Introduction to Hyper-V today (Thursday, January 24th) and for Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals on Wednesday, January 30th.

These live online events are designed for IT Pros that are new to virtualization, or experienced in other hypervisors (such as VMware or Citrix) and want to learn about Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. Microsoft & VMware virtualization experts Symon Perriman, Jeff Woolsey and Matt McSpirit will hold this first Jump Start course in a demo-rich learning experience with a live Q&A for a full days of training from 8am to 5pm PST (6pm – 3am EET).

These events are FREE and open to the PUBLIC so you can register here: Introduction to Hyper-V (http://aka.ms/HyperVJS) and Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals (http://aka.ms/vmJS)

Introduction to Hyper-V agenda: Introduction to Microsoft Virtualization, Hyper-V Infrastructure, Hyper-V Networking, Hyper-V Storage, Hyper-V Management, Hyper-V High Availability and Live Migration, Integration with System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager, and Integration with Other System Center 2012 Components

Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals agenda: Introduction & Scalability, Storage & Resource Management, Multi-tenancy & Flexibility, Backup & High-Availability, Introduction & Overview of System Center 2012, Application Management, Cloud on your Terms, and Foundation, Hybrid Clouds & Costs.

What’s new in Windows 8

I’ve recently published my session’s slides from the last weekend’s Windows 8 Dev Camp in Cluj, for those of you who are interested.

It was more of a demo session, so the slides themselves aren’t that relevant, but I would like to recommend the TechNet page dedicated to what’s new in Windows 8 – it’s a great starting point if you want to find out more on the topic. You can also find a copy of the Springboard Series Windows 8 Resource Guide here. Since we’re talking about Windows 8, we’ve also had a TechTalk on Windows 8 back in late July, you can find that on Vimeo (in Romanian).

On a side note, we’ve recently published some of the sessions from this year’s ITCamp event in Cluj, which you can find on the dedicated Vimeo channel.

It’s been a while…

I know I’ve neglected the blog in the past few months, and while I’ve been somewhat active on Twitter/Facebook, I did not update this blog as much as I would have liked. That’s scheduled to change pretty soon.

This was partly because of the very busy schedule, attending and organizing different events (the yearly MVP Summit in Redmond in February, MS Days in Bulgaria in March, Microsoft/TechSoup NGO Connection Days in Romania in April, and this year’s edition of the ITCamp event in May). This pause was also due to some personal problems I’ve had to deal with, but all those have fortunately turned out okay in the end.

I’ve got quite a few new and interesting projects I’m embarking upon, and some of them will be described in more detail at the right time. Since summer is here, our ITPro community will most likely be active online since we’ll probably not organize any other events until Sep/Oct. Until then, if you’ve missed this year’s event, you can check out most of the ITCamp 2012 session slides online.

Transforming IT with Microsoft Private Cloud

If you’re even remotely interested in Microsoft technologies and private cloud deployments, you definitely shouldn’t miss today’s webcast:

Hear from other senior IT professionals about how cloud computing can help you gain maximum competitive advantage with minimal risk.

Learn about Microsoft cloud offerings, including private, public, and hybrid cloud models.

Experience Microsoft private cloud solutions through the Microsoft Technology Center.

The virtual event agenda is the following:

Private cloud discussion with Microsoft executives: Insights and news

  • Satya Nadella, President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft
  • Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Management and Security Division, Microsoft
  • 8:30AM PST | 16:30 UTC

Executive panel and Q&A: Guidance and best practices

  • Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Management and Security Division, Microsoft
  • Jacky Wright, Vice President, IT Strategic Services, Microsoft IT
  • Rand Morimoto, Chief Executive Officer, Convergent Computing
  • 9:00AM PST | 17:00 UTC

Envisioning Your Private Cloud: A scenario based demonstration from the Microsoft Technology Center in Redmond, WA.

  • 9:30AM PST | 17:30 UTC

Once again, the registration link is here – enjoy! :)

CodeCamp and ITSpark autumn events

Even though this comes with a slight delay, I’m just writing to say I’m very excited about our recent tour of events covered by the ITSpark and CodeCamp communities. :)

To keep things short, the end of November had both our communities covering events in 5 citiesTimișoara, Oradea, Cluj, Iași and Bucharest – and speaking to a total of about 400 attendees.

Among the speakers, we’ve had 6 Microsoft MVPs, and we’ve covered topics ranging from new technologies coming out in 2012 (Windows 8, SQL Server “Denali”, .NET Framework 4.5, the System Center 2012 suite and Hyper-V 3.0), to technologies already in use today (HTML5, CSS3, jQuery, EF, Unit Testing, MVC, WCF streaming and Office 365).

The feedback we’ve got was extremely positive, so we’ll definitely do this again in the future. Until then, I’ll leave you with a few other links (impressions, photos and some session slides):

If you want more resources on Windows 8, I definitely recommend you check out the Build conference website, where you’ll find 275 recorded sessions on technologies coming in W8.

Also, for those of you who haven’t had a chance to get to the events, I just wanted to point out a thing we also mentioned to the attendees, which is that we’ve published all the video recordings from the ITCamp conference earlier this year. If you weren’t there or just wish to view some of the sessions again, head on to our ITCamp channel on Vimeo. ;)

I don’t want to end this without sending our thanks to all our sponsors and partners for these events: Microsoft Romania, Yonder, Ullink, Small Footprint, Endava, Pras Consulting, OradeaDevs, Avaelgo and Transcent. :D

A huge thank you to all the speakers and attendees as well – we couldn’t have done all this without you!