Microsoft Sharepoint 2010 and VMWare Error


I installed Sharepoint 2010 on a Virtual Server last week, set up some new site collections and then when I came to use it, got a very strange error:

”The trial period for Sharepoint Foundation has expired”

Strange because this wasn’t a trial and because it wasn’t Sharepoint Foundation…it was full server 2010!

I did a little searching round the web and saw something on the Microsoft forum that suggested it might be related to Windows Web Server. I checked and yes, our System Admin had built the VM with Windows Web Server…but than itself was weird…why did he do that?

I went downstairs and asked him…he didn’t make a web server, it was Windows Server Std 2008 R2 but by the time it got to me, it had magically morphed into a Web server…WTF?

The media being used was from MSDN and contained Std, Ent & Web in one image and you choose which one you want during the installation. The Sys Admin built a Svr Std machine, converted it to a VMWare template, deployed it again and gave it to me…and there was the problem. We tried again and this time, COPIED it to a template (rather than converting) and hey presto, it all worked perfectly. The VM was a Svr Std box and, after re-installing it, Sharepoint 2010 was up & running straight away Smile

I don’t know if this is a known problem and perhaps it seems really obvious to some, but it had me stumped for a while so I thought I’d share it on here…just in case.

Impressions of VMWorld


As you may know, this week is VMWorld 2009, VMWare’s virtualization event for partners and customers. I’m not attending but I am following a great number of people on Twitter who are there and I have to say, it’s not doing VMWare much good in my eyes.

The first mark against them was the furore over the restrictions placed on Microsoft & Citrix. Yes-they’re competitors but:

  • Banning them from sponsoring the event
  • Restricting them to 10×10 booths
  • Stopping them from doing demo’s of their product
  • Stopping local hotels from renting conference rooms to them

just strikes me as childish and only serves to make VMWare look worse.

Now I’ll admit that I’m a big Microsoft fan and not much of a VMWare fan but I think even VMWare supporters must be having second thoughts :-)

In one of the sessions today VMWare displayed a slide to demonstrate Microsoft driver crashes but the slide was 3 years old, and the data was 4 years old!

This attitude of “don’t show competing products", don’t use these rooms, don’t do this, don’t do that” is the same attitude that Microsoft were guilty of displaying a few years back. Microsoft saw a lot of people turn against them, both partners and customers, and it set them back in many areas. Microsoft had to make a real effort to change their corporate attitude from the top down and thanks to that, and the large number of loyal partners/customers, they were able to turn it around…these days MS are recognised by (nearly) everyone as much more open and accommodating to competitors and their products.

I’m not sure that VMWare will be able to make a similar change and, if they do, I don’t think it will be in time to save their market position…

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 Released


Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 has been Released To Manufacturing (RTM’d)!

An evaluation version can be downloaded here.

Zane Adam, Senior Director of Virtualizatio Strategy over at MS Redmond said:

“They are seeing the many cost reduction and management simplification benefits of Hyper-V and the SCVMM 2008 integration with the rest of System Center.   Now that RTM is official, I fully expect the rate of Hyper-V deployments to further accelerate.  Through the SCVMM 2008 console, administrators can see the entirety of their data center infrastructure – physical or virtual. SCVMM 2008 facilitates key functions like P2V (physical to virtual) migration, Intelligent Placement (selecting the best virtual host for a VM), and managing Hyper-V host clusters, to name just a few.  SCVMM 2008 works closely with its siblings – particularly SC Ops Mgr – in identifying consolidation candidates and in Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO), a new feature in which SCVMM 2008 can alert and recommend solutions to administrators about failing virtual machines or hardware.  As I mentioned above, this comprehensive view extends throughout the data center as SCVMM 2008 is capable of seeing and managing VMware ESX infrastructure through Virtual Center.”

The full transcript is here.

This is really great. SCVMM is always an integral part of conversation I have with customers artound Hyper-V and once the new version is available (1st of November 2008) I agree that many projects will start moving and being implemented.

Watch a silverlight demo and see the features yourself.

I saw this via Clive Watson’s blog.

What will SCVMM 2008 do over SCVMM 2008?

Virtual Machine Manager can manage multiple VMWare ESX VirtualCenter licences from one place, something that even VMWare can’t do !VMWare are working on it but it will be just a web console and not as fully featured as Microsoft’s VMM.

Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) is another key feature that puts VMM over ESX. Matt McSpirit explains it well:

“Take an example of a virtualised Exchange Server.  If a service crashes inside that VM, and that service is an Exchange related service, and that service crash results in a CPU spike.  The VM is still running, but now, it’s consuming more resource, so DRS chooses to move it.  It does the same on it’s new host, so DRS moves it again.  SC Operations Manager would identify the crash as being an Exchange issue, and fix the crash, rather than move the VM, even if that VM is running on a VMware infrastructure”

Virtualization-what is it and why bother?


Microsoft & VMWare are the two big names in Virtualization at the moment, and it’s a topic everyone is talking about. Manufacturers, resellers, consultants, analysts, end users, Jeff down the pub..they’ve all got something to say about Virtualisation. There are all kinds of facts and figures going around, some of which seem contradictory but as with most things it all depends on viewpoint..

You might be wondering why I think it’s time to add my voice to the crowd so let me tell you. At work I see a number of people, our sales guys and our customers, who know the should be thinking about virtualization and talking about virtualization, but they don’t know what they’re supposed to think and say..they know that people can virtualize..but they don’t know why, or how. They know it reduces costs but if someone asked them, the would have to hope that “Err, erm, well..” translates into something better in one of this world’s many languages!! ;-)

So in a nutshell, I hope this post/blog will become a safer, calmer haven for people to take a look at virtualization without the often deafening clamour of their colleagues, bosses and suppliers. I’ll say straight away that I’m a Microsoft Partner and supporter so I will lean towards Hyper-V but I will aim to keep everything well balanced and as neutral as possible :-)

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization has been around since the Mainframes of the 70’s but has only become a general topic relatively recently (around 2005 it really took off).

A very common, entry level example of Virtualization is hard drive partitioning. You have one physical drive, but you can divide it up into 2 or more virtual drives and that’s what the computer sees.

The big buzz around Virtualization is…

Server Consolidation.

These days, many companies suffer from “Server Sprawl”, where they have large numbers of servers, often performing just a single task (Exchange Server, File Server etc) and wasting a lot of internal resources such as RAM, storage space and processing power as well as external resources like floor space, cooling and power.

This is where Server Virtualization comes in. Tools such as Microsoft Hyper-V, VMWare ESX, Citrix XEN and more all allow you to consolidate these various servers onto one physical server running multiple virtual instances or Virtual Machines (VM’s).

Each VM has it’s own Operating System (OS) and applications installed on it and is completely separate to the other VM’s, just like physical servers. (The “One Point of Failure” discussion is later..). It’s widely accepted that most physical servers are running at about 10% utilization, so each server is wasting 90% of it’s storage, RAM, processing power etc..all things that you’ve paid (and are still paying) for. This means you could put say 7 of those servers onto one box, and that machine would then run at around 80% utilization…immediately increasing your Return on Investment (ROI). If you can go from 7 to 1, you can go from 70 to 10 which all of a sudden is a huge difference…

Getting rid of all those servers will reduce the amount of cooling and power you use in your server room/data centre too. This leads us to..

Green IT:

Gartner say that the average company spends 4%-7% of their total IT budget on energy costs such as power and cooling. If your budget is £500,000 that’s £20,000-£35,000 a year, so if you can reclaim say 40% of that and add £8000-£14000 back into your budget straight away, that’s got to be a good thing. With the continued increase of energy prices at the moment, just this aspect on it’s own can be a compelling reason to move to a virtual environment.

A virtual infrastructure can be a lot easier to manage as well. It reduces the amount of time administrators spend on repetitive tasks such as provisioning & configuring servers. If you need a new server quickly, you can simply boot up a pre-configured Virtual template and you have a new machine up and running in minutes.

There are a number of management tools such as VMWare Virtual Center and Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager which make administration even easier.

Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008


 

What is Virtual Machine Manager?:

The clue is in the name, but Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) is a management system for virtual machines (VM’s)..however, and this is the ace up Microsoft’s sleeve…it also manages physical servers-this is in contrast to VMWare’s VirtualCenter as that can only manage VM’s. That means IT Administrators only need to learn to use one console to manage ALL their servers and anything that makes an Admin’s job easier is a good thing yes? :-)

Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager delivers end to end support for consolidating physical servers onto virtual, fast Physical to Virtual (P2V) conversion “Intelligent Placement” of server workloads to balance performance and of course, the centralized console.

It also contains V2V conversion, making it easy to convert any existing VMWare VMDX/VMX files to Microsoft’s VHD format.

Further info on VMM’s features can be found here.

What’s new in VMM 2008?:

Good question! VMM 2008 is packed full of great new features including:

·         Allows for fault tolerant and cluster aware VM’s to be created

·         Integration with VMWare’s Virtual Center

·         Windows PowerShell scripts for automation etc supported across multiple platforms

·         Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO) is a feature of VMM that can dynamically respond to failure scenarios or poorly configured components identified in hardware, operating systems, or applications

·         Working through PRO-enabled Management Packs together  with System Center Operations Manager 2007’s, PRO can either alert an administrator of an unhealthy system or application state and its proposed recommended corrective action or it can respond by automatically creating a system that is responsive and self-healing. PRO features are available to ESX VM’s as well.

·         VMM 2008 is now fully cluster-aware, meaning that it can detect and manage Hyper-V host clusters as a single unit

·         New in this version of VMM is automatic detection of virtual hosts that are added or removed from the cluster—thus easing the burden on the administrator to manage this function

·         Creating a High Availability (HA) VM is a simple as selecting a tick box

·         VMM 2008 also supports VMware host clusters in which the nodes of the cluster are VMware ESX Servers

A great White Paper on VMM 2008 can be found here

Backup Exec 12.5-ESX Backups


Symantec Backup Exec 12.5 & VMWare ESX are a lot easier to use together now, however I’ve had a few questions on the subject of performing ESX backups with BE 12.5 so I thought I’d post up some info here. As always, any questions-feel free to leave a comment..

Backup Exec 12.5 Agent for VMware Virtual Infrastructure (AVVI) brings many of the advantages of VMWare Consolidated Backup (VCB) while removing some of the challenges a script-based approach can give. It integrates with key VMware APIs to ensure that VCB “scripting” or “integration modules” are not required & eliminates separate VCB backups for system-level vs. individual file-level recovery to recover a single file from within a .vmdk file.

Backup Exec 12.5 doesn’t require the installation of an agent onto the VMWare host server; the AVVI licence is activated via the Backup Exec (BE) Media Server and then automatically discovers the ESX infrastructure (through Virtual Center).

The entire guest VM and all it’s components are selected for backup automatically. This includes the .vmdk files, .vmx, log files and .nvram files. The Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) can recover individual files/folders from withing the .vmdk without having run a separate backup of the file/folder.

You can use the AVVI agent to restore files to their original location or alternate locations, including alternate datastores, host ESX Servers, different virtual machine names, and different virtual networks by leveraging VMWare Converter.

The following components are required to support Backup Exec 12.5 AVVI:
• VMware ESX 3.0.2, 3.0.3, 3.5, or later
• VMware Converter 3.0.3 or later
• VMware VCB 1.1, 1.5 or later
• VMware Tools (must be installed on guest virtual machines)

If performing Granular Recovery of a .vmdk from tape, this will require staging the entire file on disk, so make sure there is enough room on the temporary staging location specified in the restore job properties.

More info on the Virtual Agents can be found here.

Symantec Backup Exec 12.5


Symantec Backup Exec 12.5 is nearly upon us (06/10/08 – 6th October) and it has got some great new features. A lot of people felt that V12 wasn’t a huge leap forward and so kept their infrastructure on 11d, but I really think Backup Exec 12.5 is worth it…particularly it’s advances in relation to Virtualisation.

New Features:

Perhaps the biggest change is that you no longer require an agent per virtual machine-now it’s an agent per Hypervisor-with an agent for VMware and a separate agent for Hyper-V. This will definitely help keep downs the costs of backup in this modern age!

A blog post by Pat Hanavan, the VP of Product Management in Symantec’s Data Protection Group (the new name for Backup Exec & NetBackup) says:

“Backup Exec understands the structure of the Hyper-V environment and presents the same logical structure in the backup administrator GUI, so backup administrators can manage backup and recovery functions for their physical and virtual systems via the console.”

The full transcript can be found over at http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization

Symantec’s Patent-Pending Granular Recovery Technology gives you individual file level recovery from a single backup-this applies to both Exchange & Sharepoint. This greatly reduces the time and cost associated with these backups.

If your virtualisation plans have been on hold/slow to take off due to worries about cost and/or complexity around backup of VM’s, I think Backup Exec 12.5 will allow you to take that first step into the virtual world.

More info on the new agents for Virtual Server can be found here.

Price & Availability:

The release date for this and Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5 is 06/10/08 (6th of October 2008) and esitmated RRP (in dollars) is:

Backup Exec 12.5 has a suggested price of $995 USD for a media server license. Each additional agent or option can vary in price from $395 USD to $3,195 USD MSRP; Backup Exec System Recovery 8.5 has a suggested price of $1,095 USD per server and $69 USD per workstation.

Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager 12.5:

Another new product due out from Symantec is Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager 12.5. This is powered by Altiris software (following Symantec acquisition in early 2006) and aims to make simplify upgrades & patch management as well as reduce TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) through licence discovery tools. Another cool feature is it’s ability to give you a graphical map of your Backup Exec deployment :-)

Backup Exec Infrastructure Manager 12.5 is due out “late Fall 2008″, so I’d say November is likely to be when it becomes available. It has a suggested RRP of $1995.

Exciting times!