What Is Hyper-V?: The Authoritative Guide

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What Is Hyper-V? [Definition & Uses For It]

Whether you’re just beginning to look into virtualization platform options for your company, or you’re a new Hyper-V user trying to get up to speed, it can be a challenge to find all the information you need in one place. That’s why we created this guide—to give you an all-in-one resource you can bookmark and refer back to as often as you need to, so you can get up and running on Hyper-V more smoothly.

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Hyper-V: How To Backup Virtual Machines

hyper-v backupIf you’re new to Hyper-V and wondering how to back up your virtual machines (VMs), there are different ways you can approach the task. But like most things—some options are better than others.

Below are the most common ways Hyper-V users attempt to preserve data on their VMs, with one caveat: Some of these methods should not be relied upon as your sole backup strategy. But they do serve a purpose, and they can be useful in the right situation.

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Nutanix SCOM Management Pack – Monitor Your Nutanix Infrastructure

As a Microsoft Evangelist at Nutanix, I am always asked….”How would you monitor your Nutanix Infrastructure and can I use System Center suite. And my answer always is, “YES, with SCOM”….What is SCOM you ask?
SysCnt-OprtnsMgr_h_rgb_2 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) is designed to be a monitoring tool for the datacenter. Think of a datacenter with multiple vendors representing multiple software and hardware products. Consequently, SCOM was developed to be extensible using the concept of management packs. Vendors typically develop one or more management packs for every product they want plugged into SCOM.

To facilitate these management packs, SCOM supports standard discovery and data collection mechanisms like SNMP, but also affords vendors the flexibility of native API driven data collection.  Nutanix provides management packs that support using the Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to monitor a Nutanix cluster.

Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

The management packs collect information about software (cluster) elements through SNMP and hardware elements through ipmiutil (Intelligent Platform Management Interface Utility) and REST API calls and then package that information for SCOM to digest. Note: The Hardware Elements Management Pack leverages the ipmiutil program to gather information from Nutanix block for Fans, Power Supply and Temperature.
SCOM01 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

Nutanix provides two management packs:

  • Cluster Management Pack – This management pack collects information about software elements of a cluster including Controller VMs, storage pools, and containers.
  • Hardware Management Pack – This management pack collects information about hardware elements of a cluster including fans, power supplies, disks, and nodes.

Installing and configuring the management packs involves the following simple steps:

  1. Install and configure SCOM on the Windows server system (if not installed) (will blog a post soon on this topic)
  2. Uninstall existing Nutanix management packs (if present)
  3. Open the IPMI-related ports (if not open). IPMI access is required for the hardware management pack
  4. Install the Nutanix management packs
  5. Configure the management packs using the SCOM discovery and template wizards

SCOM02 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack SCOM03 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack SCOM04 Nutanix SCOM Management PackSCOM16 Nutanix SCOM Management PackSCOM17 Nutanix SCOM Management PackSCOM18 Nutanix SCOM Management PackSCOM19 Nutanix SCOM Management PackAfter the management packs have been installed and configured, you can use SCOM to monitor a variety of Nutanix objects including cluster, alert, and performance views as shown in examples below. Also, I check out this great video produced by pal @mcghem . He shows a great demo of the SCOM management pack…Kudo’s Mike….also, check out his blog.

Views and Objects Snapshots SCOM05 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

Cluster Monitoring SnapshotsSCOM06 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack SCOM07 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

Cluster Performance Monitoring

SCOM08 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack SCOM09 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack SCOM10 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack SCOM11 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

Hardware Monitoring Snapshots SCOM12 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack SCOM13 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

In the following diagram views, users can navigate to the components with failure.

SCOM14 Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

Nutanix Objects Available for Monitoring via SCOM

The following provides an high level overview of Nutanix Cluster with Components:

dsf_overview Nutanix SCOM Management Pack

The following sections describe Nutanix Cluster objects being monitored by this version of MPs:

Cluster

Monitored Element

Description

Version

Current cluster version. This is the nutanix-core package version expected on all the Controller VMs.

Status

Current Status of the cluster. This will usually be  one of started or stopped

TotalStorageCapacity

Total storage capacity of the cluster

UsedStorageCapacity

Number of bytes of storage used on the cluster

Iops

For Performance: Cluster wide average IO operations per second

Latency

For Performance: Cluster wide average latency

CVM Resource Monitoring

Monitored Element

Description

ControllerVMId

Nutanix Controller VM Id

Memory

Total memory assigned to CVM

NumCpus

Total number of CPUs allocated to a CVM

Storage

Storage Pool

A storage pool is a group of physical disks from SSD and/or HDD tier.

Monitored Element

Description

PoolId

Storage pool id

PoolName

Name of the storage pool

TotalCapacity

Total capacity of the storage pool

Note: An alert if there is drop in capacity may indicate a bad disk.

UsedCapacity

Number of bytes used in the storage pool

Performance parameters:

Monitored Element

Description

IOPerSecond

Number of IO operations served per second from this storage pool.

AvgLatencyUsecs

Average IO latency for this storage pool in microseconds

Containers

A container is a subset of available storage within a storage pool. Containers hold the virtual disks (vDisks) used by virtual machines. Selecting a storage pool for a new container defines the physical disks where the vDisks will be stored.

Monitored Element

Description

ContainerId

Container id

ContainerName

Name of the container

TotalCapacity

Total capacity of the container

UsedCapacity

Number of bytes used in the container

Performance parameters:

Monitored Element

Description

IOPerSecond

Number of IO operations served per second from this container.

AvgLatencyUsecs

Average IO latency for this container in  microseconds

Hardware Objects

Cluster

Monitored Element

Description

Discovery IP Address

IP address used for discovery of cluster

Cluster Incarnation ID

Unique ID of cluster

CPU Usage

CPU usage for all the nodes of cluster

Memory Usage

Memory usage for all the nodes of cluster

Node IP address

External IP address of Node

System Temperature

System Temperature

Disk

Monitored Element

Description

Disk State/health

Node state as returned by the PRISM [REST /hosts “state” attribute ]

Disk ID

ID assigned to the disk

Disk Name

Name of the disk (Full path where meta data stored)

Disk Serial Number

Serial number of disk

Hypervisor IP

Host OS IP where disk is installed

Tire Name

Disk Tire

CVM IP

Cluster VM IP which controls the disk

Total Capacity

Total Disk capacity

Used Capacity

Total Disk used

Online

If Disk is online or offline

Location

Disk location

Cluster Name

Disk cluster name

Discovery IP address

IP address through which Disk was discovered

Disk Status

Status of the disk

Node

Monitored Element

Description

Node State/health

Node state as returned by the PRISM [REST /hosts “state” attribute ]

Node IP address

External IP address of Node

IPMI Address

IPMI IP address of Node

Block Model

Hardware model of block

Block Serial Number

Serial number of block

CPU Usage %

 CPU usage for Node

Memory Usage  %

Memory usage for node

Fan Count

Total fans

Power Supply Count

Total Power supply

System Temperature

System Temperature

Fan

Monitored Element

Description

Fan number

Fan number

Fan speed

Fan speed in RPM

Power supply

 Element

Description

Power supply number

Power supply number

Power supply status

Power supply status whether present or absent

If you would like to checkout the Nutanix management pack on your SCOM instance, please go to our portal to download the management pack and documentation.
This management pack was development by our awesome engineering team @ Nutanix. Kudos to Yogi and team for a job well done!!! 😉  I hope I gave you a good feel for Nutanix monitoring using SCOM. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please leave below….

Until next time….Rob

Symon Perriman….his thoughts on Hyper-V, Security and future of Virtualization on the Nutanix .NEXT community podcast

Hey everyone…I wanted to share a very cool update (and maybe a little of hero-worship 😀 ).  Well, anyways, my job at Nutanix had another highlight recently.  As many of your know, I love reading, breathing, consuming Microsoft technology. During my consumption of education, there  number of people I follow, but there are few that stand out…and one that I spent a lot of time listening to via podcasts; Symon Perriman

Symon Perriman

Symon Perriman
He takes complex technology subjects and explains it extremely well on many levels so everyone understands..He believes in the community….all things as technologists, we can all strive to achieve.

I recently had the lucky chance to interview him for the Nutanix .Next Community Podcast.  It was great honor to interview him with my colleague\buddy @NutanixTommy as we both had different points of views.

Symon joined 5nine Software earlier this year as Vice President, Business Development & Marketing and is how I came to meet Simon as part of my job in Technical Alliances at Nutanix.

For those of you who are not familiar with 5nine Software, 5nine has a great alternative management product for Hyper-V with benefits of simplified vCenter type management without the footprint of System Center. They also are the only vendor with agentless security product via the Hyper-V extensible virtual switch. Think vShield for Hyper-V…Very cool…   😎

For those that are not familiar with Symon…a brief history…
With more than 12 years of experience in the high-tech industry, Symon is an internationally recognized expert in virtualization, high-availability, disaster recovery, data center management, and cloud technologies.

As Microsoft’s Senior Technical Evangelist and worldwide technical lead covering virtualization, infrastructure, management and cloud. He has trained millions of IT Professionals, hosted the “Edge Show” weekly webcast, holds several patents and dozens of industry certifications, and in 2013 he co-authored “Introduction to System Center 2012 R2 for IT Professionals” (Microsoft Press). He graduated from Duke University with degrees in Computer Science, Economics and Film & Digital Studies.

Enjoy the show……

Until next time, Rob…

VHD vs. VHDX: Hmm….What’s the Difference

I get asked this all the time….and here is my answer. Microsoft’s virtual hard disk format, VHDX, has some important advantages over the legacy VHD format, as this VHD vs. VHDX comparison shows.

The release of Windows Server 2012 brought many new virtualization improvements, but one that caught the eye of many IT pros was the introduction of the VHDX file format. Windows Server 2012 supports the new format but also lets Hyper-V administrators use the legacy VHD format. With two virtual hard disk formats to choose from, let’s take a minute to talk about VHD vs. VHDX.

A look at VHD vs. VHDX

One of the biggest advantages of VHDX compared with the legacy VHD format is virtual disk storage capacity. Before Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V virtual hard disks had a 2 TB limit. VHDX files have a 64 TB capacity. The advantages of VHDX aren’t limited to improved capacity, however; VHDX files were designed to work with today’s modern hardware and have a 4 KB logical sector size that improves performance compared with VHD files.

The VHDX format also provides protection against file corruption related to power failures by continuously keeping track of updates in the metadata, a feature not available with the VHD format. Larger block sizes for dynamic and differencing disks, as well as the ability to store custom metadata, also give the new format the edge in the VHD vs. VHDX comparison.

Now let’s look at different storage types with VHD\VHDX. Hyper-V allows you to create 2 primary hard disk storage types, fixed or dynamic.
Dynamic size drives are allocated with the minimum space needed and space is expanded as you write additional drive to the volume. There is performance loss on disk writes that require storage to be expanded. For example, if you create a dynamic volume with 10 GB and as you write data and use up the entire 10GB allocation then the volume needs to be expanded first then your data will be written to the volume. This expansion adds overhead and can slow down data writes by 25% or more.

Fixed drive sizes presets the size for your storage. Since the file is preallocated on the Hyper-V host there is no loss in performance due to the need for expansion of space.
The big difference between VHD and VHDX is the way this expansion is handled. In tests performed by others, they have seen negligible difference in overhead with Dynamic VHDX volumes when they expand to accommodate additional data.
You can easily convert your VHD volumes to VHDX and vise visa. As always, make a backup and make sure you have enough time allocated for the conversion. The larger the volume, the longer the conversion will take.

Converting VHD to VHDX with Hyper-V
If you want to convert VHD files into VHDX file format, Hyper-V Manager console provides an easy way to do it. The way it works is it will create a new VHDX disk and copy the data from the existing VHD to the new disk. After it copies the data, you have two disks such as original VHD disk and new VHDX disk exactly with the same content. Once you confirm the newly generated VHDX disk is fully functional, you can opt for deleting old original VHD disk.

Now let’s see how we can convert VHD to VHDX.

  1. You cant convert a disk which is in use, so make sure you don’t have any virtual machines accessing the disk.
  2. Next step is to open the Hyper-V VM settings, go to the hard drive you want to convert. After selecting the disk which you want to convert, confirm it again. After confirming press Edit button.
  3. Go to the Locate Disk tab and select or enter the name and location of the existing VHD file.
  4. Then select a Choose Action tab and select Convert option as shown in the screenshot below
    .
  5. 5. In next step as shown in the screenshot below select the VHDX file format and click Next
    .
  6. Next step is to choose a disk type the new disk should be fixed size or dynamically expanding. Press Next to select the name and location of the new VHDX file format.
  7. Review the configuration in Summary Tab. And to finish, it will start operation for creating new VHDX file. This makes an exact copy of VHD file format as a new VHDX file. Now you can mount the new VHDX disk to the Hyper-V VM.
  8. Once you are satisfied with the operation of new VM with the new VHDX disk, then you can safely delete old VHD disk.
  9. You can use the same process to convert VHDX to VHD as converting VHD to VHDX disk.

First, it’s important to note that while you can create and use both formats with Windows Server 2012/R2, VHDX files are not compatible with Windows Server 2008. Microsoft recommends that most Windows Server 2012/R2 users upgrade VHD files to VHDX to take advantage of these benefits. However, if you expect you might want to move a VM to a previous version of Windows Server or Azure, it could be easier to keep your VHD files.

It is important to note, that the VHDX format is not supported in Microsoft Azure.  Hopefully, that will change soon, ya, you Hyper-V & Azure Team……. because building Hybrid clouds with VHDX is the way to go   🙂

Until next time, Rob…