Posts in category System Management

Altaro Hyper-V Backup getting ready for Windows Server 2012

Review of Altaro Hyper-V Backup 3.5

notice: Altaro are giving away two Nexus 7’s to testers of their Hyper-V backup for Windows Server 2012 beta. Check out all the details at the bottom of this blog


The crew at were offered a first glance of Altaro Hyper-V Backup back in May 2011. We agreed to do a review of the beta version of the product. That particular version of the beta did not have support for Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) and we provided feedback to Altaro about this shortcoming. As our Great Big Hyper-V Survey of 2011 showed, over 94% of users with Hyper-V clusters use CSV. We were pleasantly surprised how quickly Altaro responded by adding support for CSV in one of their next beta’s. So we did a second review testing the backup and recovery of guests living on cluster shared volumes on a Hyper-V R2 SP1 cluster.

Since then Altaro released their RTM of version 2, version 3 and v3.1 which have continued to add functionality, ease and performance. You can find a change log of Altaro Hyper-V Backup here:

One noticeable improvement in version 3 was installation of the product on a cluster. When on a cluster the application could detect each node and configure them during the installation. You only needed to install Altaro Hyper-V Backup on one node and it would then automatically deploy modules on all other cluster nodes. Additionally, the administrator was able to manage all guests across all nodes from a single console. This meant that all backups, restores and configuration could be done from one centralized console. In a cluster environment all guests could be backed up to a single backup target such as a USB drive, a NAS or a disk on a SAN. Even when guests moved around in the cluster, Altaro Hyper-V Backup would take care of that.

By using a technique called ReverseDelta, incremental backups could be made at tremendous speed. The last version introduced ReverseDelta v2 which made incremental backups at least 300% faster.

Version 3 of Altaro Hyper-V backup also dealt with one of CSV’s shortcomings: redirected access during backup operations (backup node claiming ownership of disk and redirecting I/O across the CSV network for all other nodes for that CSV disk). A new scheduling feature called ‘Scheduling Groups’ was introduced which allowed a quick and easy drag & drop of Hyper-V guests to one or more defined Scheduling Groups. It would group guests on the same CSV together in order to decrease time required in redirected access mode. If you are a Data Protection Manager user, you will appreciate this feature as DPM does not do this for you automatically. It is also quite time consuming to even select multiple Hyper-V guests for backup and add them to their Protection Group.


Click on More for the rest of the post


Microsoft Private Cloud Computing Book Release

Monday June 18 2012 will be the big day for us. Our book Microsoft Private Cloud Computing will be officially available and even a little earlier than expected. Mid-2011 four MVP’s decided to make a joint effort at writing a practical book on deploying a Microsoft Private Cloud. The four authors are:

Kristian Nese (@kristiannese) who is also MVP System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management kindly accepted the role of technical reviewer. Kristian has also written a book on Cloud Computing in Norwegian.


Learn the foundation of cloud computing and how to build your own Microsoft private cloud

Written by a team of expert authors who are MVPs and leaders in their respective fields, this one-of-a-kind book is an essential resource for IT administrators who are responsible for implementing and managing a cloud infrastructure. You’ll quickly learn how cloud computing offers significant cost savings while also providing new levels of speed and agility.

Serving as a how-to guide, Microsoft Private Cloud Computing walks you through building a secure, internal cloud and delivering it as a service to your company using Microsoft Windows Server Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012.

  • Walks you through the entire process: understanding cloud computing, understanding the Microsoft concept of a private cloud, deploying a private cloud fabric, deploying services, and building a private cloud, as well as integrating it with Microsoft’s public cloud to create a cross-premises or public cloud
  • Discusses fabric management with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2012
  • Examines how to provide network and storage with VMM 2012
  • Looks at the VMM library configuration
  • Discusses private cloud and cloud service management with Microsoft App Controller

Microsoft Private Cloud Computing is a must-have comprehensive resource that covers all aspects of implementing a private cloud

Aidan wrote the introductory chapters on Private Cloud, Hans dealt with the Fabric Management chapters (Servers, Storage, Network) including Bare Metal Deployment, Patrick wrote the chapters on Service Management (VMM Library, Service Modeling) and Damian contributed chapters on Private Cloud Solutions (VMM Services, Self-Service, App Controller) including the Cloud Services Process Pack.

If you are dealing with the Fabric part you need lots and lots of hardware. Fortunately one of our great customers at INOVATIV as well as my personal friends from XS4ALL (Joey Hofstede, Alexander Rijnbeek) have helped us tremendously. They offered us a remotely accessible lab including HP Blade Servers, HP EVA storage and lots of capacity to test all new VMM 2012 functionality. XS4ALL is a key Dutch Internet Provider, so you can imagine the download speeds if I ever wanted to grab a few ISO’s.

The book can be ordered here and will hopefully soon be found in most large bookstores.

Here are the (earlier) announcement blogs of my fellow authors:


All-In with System Center 2012: 8 minute video [Dutch]

The company I work for is All In with Microsoft System Center 2012 and it is no surprise that we spend a lot of effort getting across the message that this Microsoft Management suite is what you really need if you build a Microsoft Private Cloud with a heterogeneous landscape of hypervisors, operations systems and applications.

In my book Microsoft Private Cloud Computing several of the important pieces are covered such as System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 and App Controller 2012.

This 8-minute video explains why System Center 2012 is such an interesting management suite and ought to be considered by every IT manager or CIO looking to efficiently manage a small, medium or large datacenter.

Dutch version:

Please take a look at the list of System Center 2012 References at the bottom of this blog.


System Center References:

System Center User Group [Dutch]:

System Center Blog: 

System Center Central:

System Center Microsoft site:

System Center 2012 Books:

System Center Technical Resources:

System Center Solution Center:

Microsoft Private Cloud Computing Book:

How to Participate in the System Center Community:

System Center twitter hashtags;

System Center Virtual Machine Manager Blog:

System Center Operations Manager Blog:

System Center Data Protection Manager Blog:

System Center Service Manager Blog:

System Center Orchestrator Blog:

System Center Configuration Manager Blog:

System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management (CDM) MVP’s:

Early test version available for System Center 2012 SP1 and Windows Server ‘8’ Beta

I expect many of you have tried out the new version of VMM 2012 that will be generally available before long. It is an incredible piece of software that I have blogged about several times just after the first general beta since it arrived about one year ago. But there is one thing it cannot do: manage Windows Server ‘8’.

Now that the bits of Windows Server 8 are available to everyone, it is very good news that Microsoft has released the Community Technology Preview (CTP) of System Center 2012 for Windows Server ‘8’ Beta support. The focus of this CTP is on VMM and DPM in combination with Hyper-V and is therefore not aimed to work with all the other System Center 2012 modules. It essentially focuses on managing the fabric of your private cloud including Windows Server ‘8’.

These are the capabilities you can try out:

  • Hyper-V Network virtualization
  • Hyper-V VM’s on an SMB2.2 file share (on a Windows 8 file server or scale out file cluster)
  • VHDX format
  • Live Storage Migration
  • Live Migration without shared storage
  • VM protection on CSV 2.0 volumes
  • VM protection on remote SMB2.2 file shares
  • Protection of de-dup enabled file share volumes

System Center 2012 CTP for Windows Server ‘8’ Beta Support can be downloaded here:


Remember that this CTP is not even beta so only run this in a test environment!

Altaro Starts New Blog for Hyper-V & Windows Administrators

New Hyper-V Blog

Altaro who introduced an easy to use backup product for Hyper-V in 2011, informed us they have just launched a new Hyper-V blog. Their first article goes into good detail about Hyper-V Dynamic Memory and can be found here:

Version 3 of Altaro Hyper-V Backup

We can also announce that version 3 of Altaro Hyper-V Backup will be released on February 7.

Some of the new features are:

  1. Central Management console on CSV Cluster
  2. Increased backup performance with ReverdeDelts V2
  3. Great new ‘Schedule Groups’ – allows easier backup scheduling
  4. Live backup of Linux VMs
  5. 5Drive Swap / Rotation.

Currently beta 2 is available here:

Microsoft Private Cloud Computing Book

Today – during the announcement of System Center 2012 RC availability) – seems the perfect occasion to announce our book called Microsoft Private Cloud Computing. Mid-2011 four MVP’s decided to make a joint effort at writing a practical book on deploying a Microsoft Private Cloud. The four authors are:


Aidan writes the introductory chapters on Private Cloud, Hans deals with the Fabric Management (Servers, Storage, Network), Patrick explains the Service Management (VMM Library, Service Modeling) and Damian focuses on Private Cloud Solutions (VMM Services, Self-Service, App Controller).

Kristian Nese (@kristiannese) who is also MVP System Center Cloud and Datacenter Management accepted the role of technical reviewer. Kristian has also written a book on Cloud Computing in Norwegian.


The private cloud explained

Everybody is talking about the cloud these days. However the term Cloud is completely over-hyped! Suppliers rebrand their products into cloud products even when it has not only one Cloud property. People say that they are using Cloud computing, but they mean virtualization… and so on.

In this article I’ll try to explain the Internal Cloud and what you need for the Internal Cloud. We also will take a look if we can build an Internal Cloud with Hyper-V and System Center.

Let’s first take a look at the Wikipedia definition of Cloud computing:

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).

When you look at this definition I can imagine that you say: Hey we’re already doing this for a couple of years and that can be true. Cloud is just a marketing term!

Ok now we’ve clarified the term Cloud let’s take a look at the difference between an internal cloud and a public (external) cloud. The main difference is that an internal cloud is only dedicated to your company and a public cloud is shared with many. An example of a public cloud service is Office 365. Many companies share this platform with other companies and it’s not possible to get a dedicated Exchange server or Sharepoint server within this service. The opposite is true for a private cloud service. Within a private cloud you can get dedicated servers or dedicated hardware.

However, the question is: when are we talking about a private cloud? Well Gartner made a nice model with required en preferred components for a private cloud:


When any of the required components is missing we’re not talking about a private cloud.


How to Bare Metal Deploy a Hyper-V server via VMM2012 and HP iLO

Some time ago I did a series on Bare Metal Deployment of Hyper-V servers with Virtual Machine Manager 2012 Beta. Back in March I tested with HP BL460 G6 servers which have an Insight Lights-Out (iLO2) Baseboard Management Controller (BMC). This time I was able to test with the RC build and HP BL490 G6 blades as well as DL360 G7 rack servers (which have a newer iLO3 onboard).

For beta there was a possibility to generate a customized Out-of-Band (OOB) protocol for HP iLO. Unfortunately that is not supported anymore and Microsoft advised me to use the IPMI protocol. After some experiments I figured out that this required a recent firmware (v2.07 of iLO2 to be precise). So after updating the firmware I was able to discover my physical servers via their iLO IP address combined with the right account/password combination which I saved as a Run As Account.


As you can see –  when using IPMI with iLO2 (in this case) — there is a limited set of information returned. It lacks Manufacturer, Model, Serial Number, etc. What is worse … it returns an SMBIOS ID that is different from the one VMM2012 expects when you perform a Bare Metal Deployment of one or more Hyper-V R2 servers.


When you continue the Add Resource Wizard, the bare metal server will boot from the PXE server. This is where things go wrong.


Virtualization Career Training

UPDATE October 20th 2011: Here is a link to the video:

On Tuesday, October 4th Technical Evangelists Symon Perriman and Rick Claus are hosting an online conference on Virtualization Career Training with Microsoft Learning.  This half day virtual event (8am – 11am PST) will offer a Level 100 to 200 introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about Microsoft Virtualization and how it can help their career.  It is free and public so sign up for this warm-up for the Jump Start event on October 6th.

  • Module 1Technology: Learn about Microsoft’s virtualization technologies, how they work, and the future roadmap to the Cloud!
  • Module 2Career: Understand the importance of virtualization and Private Cloud, and how it can make or break an IT Professional’s career!
  • Module 3Certification: Get prepared for your next steps towards a virtualization career by understanding and preparing for the Microsoft 70-659 Technical Specialist exam, Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization.

Learn More:

Instructor Bios:



Data Protection Manager 2012 beta is now available

The beta of DPM 2012 is ready and available to the general public. Related to Hyper-V it is nice to know that DPM 2012 is fully supported in a Hyper-V virtual machine and that Item Level Recovery is now possible without having to add the Hyper-V Role to the DPM server as we had to do in physical installations of DPM 2010.

You can download beta and apply for joining the Customer Experience Program (CEP).



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