Microsoft Cloud Platform

Posts in category Hans Vredevoort

Wish List For Next Version of Windows Azure Pack

Microsoft Azure Pack 2013 can be considered a version 2 of Microsoft’s on premise cloud services. Its predecessor, Windows Azure Services for Windows Server, was offered for free with System Center 2012 SP1 and required Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V as a platform. WAS4WS can be considered as a typical V1 and offered a first look on how Windows Azure like services can also be offered as a hosted or private cloud. Windows Azure Pack 2013 has been available now for only 6 months, but we can’t imagine it not being available to us. The Windows Azure Pack has had a huge impact on the world of Microsoft cloud services and WAP is here to stay. It not only offers first class IaaS services like the VM Role but also PaaS services with Web Sites and Databases. WAP also offers the platform for new Automation capabilities called SMA or Service Management Automation, which will soon fully replace Orchestrator. Learning PowerShell Workflows has never been more important since the release of SMA.

Windows Azure Pack so far has proven to be a fairly solid product and this can be explained because the Service Management API and the portal software is identical to the public Windows Azure. If you compare the Windows Azure Pack portal to the Windows Azure portal, you can clearly see the advancements that public Windows Azure has made and some of the new functionality that it has acquired.

WAP currently offers Web Site Clouds, VM Clouds, Service Bus Clouds, SQL Servers, MySQL Servers, Automation, Plans and User Accounts.

Windows Azure offers many other services such as Mobile Services, Storage, HDInsight, Media Services, Visual Studio Online, Cache, Biztalk Services, Recovery Services, Traffic Manager, Management Services, Active Directory, Add-Ons and Settings.

For a list of recently added features visit Scott Guthrie’s blog.

In general we could say that both platforms share a common Service Management API and some of the services are identical such as Web Sites and Service Bus. Others rely specifically on features in Virtual Machine Manager and some are only possible because of possibilities/limitations in the operating system. Windows Azure is currenlty still built on Windows Server 2012 and does not support VHDX disks and Console Connect functionality which are both possible in Windows Azure Pack. On the other hand Windows Azure VMs allows adding new disks online, whereas Windows Azure Pack requires the VM to be turned off for adding or expanding a VHDX. This is not a limitation of Windows Server 2012 R2.

Unlike Windows Azure, Windows Azure Pack heavily relies on System Center 2012 R2 and specifically Virtual Machine Manager and Service Provider Foundation. If Usage is added, also Operations Manager is also a required component.


Troubleshooting a Failed Windows Azure Pack Installation

We regularly need fresh labs with Windows Azure Pack and after having used the PowerShell Deployment Toolkit for deploying System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Azure Pack in a production environment, I felt quite confident to use PDT again for my new lab. So what could go wrong?

I took a variable.xml file from a previous installation and modified the variables in it to reflect the VMs I had already created via my Windows Azure Pack portal. Yes you are reading this correctly, I was building a Windows Azure Pack lab right from my own WAP tenant portal. I had to go easy on the memory and cpu resources so I was not able to make everything redundant. For the purpose of this lab it was fine.

Because I wanted to focus on Usage and CloudCruiser, I needed at least Operations Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, Service Provider Foundation and Windows Azure Pack. I added Service Management Automation to get some work done on SMA later. All I needed to do was use the correct user accounts, groups and passwords to get things going.


Definitive Guide to Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures

Back in May 2011, I posted a blog called Definitive Guide to Hyper-V Networking Optimizations, which in fact was a tribute and pointer to the blog series that a respected Premier Field Engineer called Cristian Edwards Sabathe had written. The blog was one of our most read blogs in 2011 and Cristian’s blog received a lot of hits via

Yesterday I spent some time on the phone with Cristian who is now EMEA Virtualization Lead responsible for the PFEs in EMEA. Cristian reached out to me because of a long thread on the Cluster MVP distribution list which is a closed channel for MVPs dealing with server, storage, network, cluster, etc. I had been discussing the ongoing problems we see with network device drivers for Windows Server 2012 R2 which keep on nagging us. Cristian had been testing at a customer with similar hardware but a different network configuration using the Emulex driver and firmware made available in the HP ProLiant Service Pack 2014.02, two weeks ago.

Two of the blogs (blog1, blog2) that Marc van Eijk and Peter Noorderijk posted received an incredible amount of comments around either the specific HP/Emulex network problem with HP Virtual Connect Flex-10 configurations, but many other similar cases from other network adapter vendors. Most people who have responded to these blogs were able to circumvent their problems by turning off Virtual Machine Queuing (VMQ) or some other hardware offload.

Meanwhile Cristian has written a new and updated blog series, which I will again list as a must read if you want to learn about Hyper-V network architecture in Windows Server 2012 R2:

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures Series (Part 1 of 7) – Introduction

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures Series (Part 2 of 7) – Non-Converged Networks, the classical but robust approach

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures Series (Part 3 of 7) – Converged Networks Managed by SCVMM and PowerShell

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures Series (Part 4 of 7) – Converged Networks using Static Backend QoS

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures Series (Part 5 of 7) – Converged Networks using Dynamic QoS

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures Series (Part 6 of 7) – Converged Network using CNAs

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures Series (Part 7 of 7) – Conclusions and Summary

And don’t forget to read the bonus blog which Cristian wrote yesterday based on our specific setup with HP c7000, HP BL460c Gen8, HP/Emulex 554FLC NICs and Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V:

Hyper-V 2012 R2 Network Architectures (Part 8 of 7) – Bonus

In the meantime, I’ve been having some good discussions with one of my contacts in HP Labs in California. We now know for certain that the HP/Emulex 554FLB firmware and driver that became available with HP ProLiant Service Pack 2014.02 does not yet fix the vNIC disconnect problems we are seeing when VMQ is enabled. The latest available firmware for the Emulex 10Gb CNA is v4.9.311.20 and the driver version is 10.0.430.1109 (18 Feb 2014) which can be download as part of the Service Pack or as a separate executable cp022157.exe.

The ETA of the Emulex 554FLB driver that finally supports VMQ properly is four to six weeks from now (so around end of March/early April). By then Windows Server 2012 R2 will have been RTM for over half a year. If this is representative of the quality control of network adapter vendors, we must fear for the worst with ever faster release schedules by Microsoft for Windows Server.

Unless the new leadership at Microsoft decides this is now enough and dramatically scales up testing capacity and qualification procedures.

Delivery of a networking driver that basically works is a no go!








Windows Azure Pack Update 1 Breaks Usage Metering

Updated Feb 28, 2014

If you have usage configured for Cloud Cruiser or Service Reporting, you may find that after installing Update 1 for Windows Azure Pack that data collection stops working and no new data is flowing into the usage.Records table. In the event viewer you will see: Completed retrieving usage records from start id [number]. Records count: 0

Meanwhile you will not see any errors in the analytics event log of usage services.

The Windows Azure Pack team is aware of this problem and is working on a fix. Yesterday I was asked to place a hold on my published workaround which I derived from the support description accompanying Windows Azure Pack Update 1. Yesterday, Anders Ravnholt sent me a draft of his upcoming blog and I was able to review this blog before it was published:
Windows Azure Pack 2013 Update Rollup 1: Known Issues and Workarounds

As a side effect you may be getting an Event ID 244 in the MgmtSvc-Usage Operational Log:

Usage service discovered that database version 3.10.8198.9 is different from service version 3.12.8190.0. This could be by design, but could be a problem, in which case you are likely to see other errors in the log

This error message is still under investigation.

Windows Azure Pack–Mystery of the Missing Memory


One of the tenants in our INOVATIV Cloud notified us that he saw an inconsistency in the memory usage measured by Windows Azure Pack compared to the actual memory used by the VMs. Tenant Tom claimed he had only used 13824MB but Windows Azure Pack reported he had used 25344MB. Apparently, the memory was melting before his eyes. Who or what had taken the missing memory?

“Think Watson!”

This is how the concerned tenant sees his resource allocation in the Windows Azure Pack Service Management Portal. As you can observe, 83% of memory was consumed, almost double the amount of what the tenant had actually consumed by the virtual machines that had been so easily deployed to the privately hosted Windows Azure Pack cloud. “Easy come easy gone,” Tom thought.



A Service Plan in WAP can be configured by the Windows Azure Pack administrator with usage limits for the following resources:

  • # of Virtual Machines
  • # of Cores
  • RAM in MB
  • Storage in GB

If you have the Hyper-V Network Virtualization Gateway in place, you can also limit the following virtual network resources:

  • # of Virtual Networks
  • # of Site-to-Site VPNs per network

Within Virtual Networks, network usage can be capped for network read/sec and network write/sec, either to keep your most enthusiastic buddies under control or alternatively sell additional network capacity to more demanding tenants.


On further examination, Watson decided to look at several of the other subscriptions to see if there were any similar cases. Why did we never get any complaints before? In fact only recently our team of consultants devoured more than half the capacity of a 2-node Hyper-V 2012 R2 cluster. We started getting the dreaded overcommitted message in Virtual Machine Manager which by default keeps a cluster reserve of 1. We could have made some concessions to the individual reservation parameters, but that would be too easy.

To check the cluster reserve, right-click the cluster and select Properties.


READ MORE » moved to Windows Azure has been around since 2008. A lot of content has been added to the blog since then. Many hours of research and writing form the basis for that. Our site has been running in a hosted VM, managed by Jaap Wesselius since 2008.

We know some Hyper-V, System Center, CloudOS. But this WordPress….. that is a different story. MySQL database, PHP and all other scary stuff. With Jaap leaving we were doomed to manage and troubleshoot the site our own.

We needed a new strategy. We needed a solid foundation with as little WordPress to manage as possible and with an infrastructure we understand. The answer was easy. We needed Windows Azure.

After numerous evenings of testing and a lot of troubleshooting to cleanup some legacy issues in the (now old) environment. We are proud to announce that we succesfully migrated to Windows Azure.

Combined with the migration we changed the layout of the site. We hope you enjoy the new look and feel of R2.

Experts Live 2013 Presentations Available for Download

The presentations of Experts Live can be found on this SkyDrive link:!1281&ithint=folder,.pptx&authkey=!AEIwmJbuaDwgbFE

Two members of, Peter Noorderijk and Marc van Eijk contributed their presentations for Experts Live. In case you missed it, take a look at the video for an impression of this superb event.


It is even possible to pre-register for the Experts Live 2014 edition:

November 2013 UR KB2887595 causing network problems

We recently published a number of blogs (blog1, blog2) about network connectivity problems with our HP ProLiant Gen8 blade servers with Emulex adapters. Via the comment section on those blogs we saw we were not alone and several others were suffering from problems or even BSODs using other adapters than Emulex. Also Broadcom and Chelsio were reported as having issues. We can now also add Intel network adapters to the list (see afterthought at the end of this blog).

I just saw an interesting pointer by Didier van Hoye to a blog by Michael Rueefli aka Dr. MIRU from Switzerland, who suffered from BSODs after installing KB2887595 (November 2013 Update Rollup) on his Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V clusters using Intel 82599 dual-port 10Gbps network adapters.  Michael traced the BSOD back to the Mslbfoprovider which is the core driver for the inbox NIC teaming in Windows Server 2012 R2.

Previously I referred to as KB2887595 as as an update containing a stealth update (replacing Windows binaries without documentation). Evidently, this update has changed at least part of the lbfo network adapter teaming subsystem. Instead of fixing some of the network connectivity problems we had already encountered, it seems that in some cases, BSODs may occur on Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts with teamed Intel network adapters.

Like in our case with Emulex network adapters, the temporary workaround was to remove KB2887595 and reinstall the v2 version of KB2887595, then disable VMQ hardware offload. See Michael’s blog for instructions.

The Intel 82599 controller is also used by HP and is known as HP 560FLB Flexible LOM for HP Gen8 blade servers.

image image

Afterthought: if so many different network adapters suffer from serious networking problems, it can be coincidence that all network vendors overlooked something in the testing process. On the other hand we could well face a bug in the NIC teaming subsystem of Windows Server 2012 R2. We will probably not find out before the end of the year.

Despite the trouble you may face, we at wish you a quiet Christmas and a stable 2014!


Update List for Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V

Taylor Browne has very recently created a new Wiki for the latest Hyper-V service packs, updates, and hotfixes for Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V:

Currently only one KB article KB2883200 is on the list but it will not take long before this list will grow. KB2773200 was the General Availability Rollup which was delivered at Windows Server 2012 R2 GA release in October 2013.  This KB article also recommends to install KB2884846 which is the Windows Server 2012 R2 update rollup for October 2013 and includes “performance and reliability improvements”.

Many of the monthly update rollups for Windows Server 2012 R2 which come via Windows Update hide the exact details of what exactly has been changed or solved. It is very difficult to determine if it is specific to Hyper-V, clustering, networking, storage or all of them.

The November 2013 update rollup KB2887595 contains a fix for Hyper-V guest OS does not shut down when you restart the host computer that is running Windows Server 2012 R2 or Windows 8.1 which I encountered quite a lot in our environment. What seriously worries me however is that this same November 2013 update rollup also fixes things that are not mentioned in the list.  For instance during a support case with Microsoft which dealt with VMs losing network connections on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V hosts, we learnt that a particular update part of the November rollup was also supposed to fix a problem with LBFO teaming. It turned out that it didn’t fix the problem for everyone as we still have to disable VMQ to keep our VM networking operational.

The December 2013 update rollup KB2903939 is more explicit on what updates have been made but I have a hard time figuring out what critical updates are made for enterprise servers. I have to filter through things like issues with client computers, Lumia 2520 camera app crashes, errors in Windows Live Messenger, mouse pointer stutters, input devices that fail and something that never enters a DRIPS, whatever that may be!


Here is another update that is not yet on the list and applies to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Hyper-V: Known issues after you enable data deduplication on CSV.

My advice to Microsoft:

  • be much more specific about what has been fixed
  • avoid stealth fixes (as we call them among Hyper-V MVP’s) which solve problems but are not described at all
  • separate the server updates from client and mobile.
  • be open and honest if updates turn out to be bad or broken (as we have seen several times in the past)
  • formalize the wiki by offering a hotfix/update list authorized by the product teams like the cluster team does with: Recommended hotfixes and updates for Windows Server 2012-based Failover clusters.

This last support page is a very good initiative but it can take a while before updates are posted. A vital hotfix KB2908415 was announced only yesterday: Clustered shared volumes go offline or the Cluster service stops during VM backup on a Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V host server but is not yet on either the Cluster Update Wiki or the Official list for Windows Server 2012.

In other words: work to be done!

Windows Azure Pack Is Clearly The Place To Be

You may or may not have noticed it, but the daily stream of updates around Windows Azure Pack is becoming more and more amazing. The WAP Wiki initiative I took with Marc van Eijk several weeks ago, makes us very aware of all the blogs and articles that are published around Windows Azure Pack, Service Provider Framework, VM Role, Service Management Automation, Usage and Billing and to a lesser extent Database as a Service, Service Bus and Web Sites.

It is more than obvious that a huge amount of Microsoft resources have been dedicated to making the Windows Azure Pack a success. The Building Clouds section on the Microsoft Server & Tools blog which was kicked off by Brad Anderson himself is very active indeed.

Sometimes I see several posts a day coming from the different team members. Guys like Anders Ravnholt, Tiander Turpijn, Jim Britt, Charles Joy, Mark Stanfill, Shiram Natarajan, Thomas Roettinger, Michael Greene, Eamon O Reilly, Justin Incarnato and many more write really interesting blogs that light up the for many still undiscovered possibilities with the Windows Azure Pack. In the community we see good blogs from Marc van Eijk, Walter Eikenboom, Daniel Neumann, Nathan Lasnoski, Michael Rueefli, Joe Thompson, Damian Flynn, Stanislav Zhelyazkov, Lai Yoong Seng and others.


Of course this is only the beginning and we have tons of feature requests for additional functionality. But then, there is so much to learn in this corner of the cloud that many of us can hardly keep up. As one of the initiators of the blog, I’m fully aware that we can build on a superb platform using Windows Server 2012 R2, Hyper-V, System Center 2012 and now with the Windows Azure Pack, Microsoft has just begun to realize its full potential.

If you are looking for an organized index to Windows Azure Pack related subjects, just navigate to the WAP Wiki! There is also @WAzureP tweeting on Windows Azure Pack and related stuff. You can follow @hvredevoort and @_marcvaneijk for regular updates on these topics.

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We use the #WAPack hashtag and suggest you do too!