New Log Analytics for OMS and Azure VMs

Microsoft just announced they are improving Log Analytic’s for OMS (Operations Management Suite) and for Azure VMs.

To read more, check out Microsoft’s blog post, HERE.

If you are unfamiliar with Microsoft’s OMS, HERE is a past post explaining what OMS is all about.

SCCM 2012 R2 (Configuration Manager) – Setup is unable to connect to SQL Server

Chances are you have a named instance for your SCCM SQL install, which is definitely the way to go. However, when installing SCCM 2012 (R2) you are presented with the following error.

Setup is unable to connect to SQL Server with the connection information provided. Verify the following:

  • The SQL Server and instance names are entered correctly
  • The specified SQL Server instance is not configured to use dynamic ports
  • If a firewall is enabled on the SQL Server, inbound rules exist to allow connections to the correct ports
  • The account used to run Setup has permissions to connect to the specified SQL server instance

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To resolve this is pretty pain-less.

In my scenario, I implemented the following two solutions:

  1. Enable Named Pipes for your SQL Server Network Configuration
  2. Delete all Dynamic (TCP/IP) Ports within the Protocols for your SQL Named Instance

First, to Enable Named Pipes, Launch SQL Server Configuration Manager, expand the SQL Server Network Configuration. Locate your named instance, right-click on TCP/IP and enable.

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Second, within the same console view, double-click and open the TCP/IP properties.

  • Here you need to delete any 0‘s (Zero’s) assigned to the TCP Dynamic Ports (Yes, remove for all IPv4, IPv6, IPAll, etc.).
  • Also within the IPAll there will be a random port assigned here (TCP Dynamic Ports), go ahead and delete this too.
  • Lastly, now you need to assign some port (ensure this port is open between your SCCM server and SCCM SQL server, if you are making use of the Windows or any Firewall(s)). In my case, I decided to assign port 1433. Within each interface, IPv4, IPv6, etc. apply your port here within the TCP Port. (See below)

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Once you have implemented the two solutions above, now go ahead and restart the SQL Server (instance name) service.

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Now proceed with your SCCM 2012 R2 Install.

If you want to learn more on Configuring SQL Server and TCP Port(s), please see the following Microsoft article, HERE.

Cheers!

Exporting and Importing VMs in Hyper-V 2012R2

Let’s say you have a Virtual Machine on one Hyper-V server, and need to migrate it over to another Hyper-V server. For whatever reasons, end of life on the existing server, different data center, etc. Of course this is one of the many good reasons why having a clustered Hyper-V environment is the way to go, but this post is not about that. So, let’s get to it.

 

  • First, shutdown your VM and determine a destination to store the VM. Simply shutdown the VM within the Hyper-V console, and right-click and select Export. Once you define this, you can track its progress. Depending on your storage, how big the VM is, Hyper-V server specs, etc. this could take a few minutes…

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  • Next, copy the VM data (you just exported) to the new Hyper-V server or some storage location. Again, based on your environment, network, server etc., this could take a few minutes.

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  • Next, on your (new) Hyper-V server, launch the Hyper-V console, and select Import. Browse to the location where the VM being imported resides.

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  • When selecting the Import Type, I chose the third option (Copy the virtual machine (create a new unique ID))

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  • Now you can set the location of the VMs properties, or leave them defaulted to your Hyper-V servers settings.

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  • Depending on your VM/Hyper-V server, you may have had some fancy properties, like a virtual switch. In my case I did, and on the new Hyper-V server I did not have the same virtual switch, or at least not the same name. You can either create the Network Switch your VM requires, or select “Not Connected” and finish this task later.

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  • Now you can go ahead and finish the import process, and allow the new machine to be officially imported on your new Hyper-V hypervisor. Again, based on your environment, this may take a few moments, so go get another coffee, and enjoy!

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Setting up a KMS Server – Windows Server 2012R2

What is a KMS? Microsoft’s KMS allows you to automate license activation for Windows servers and/or applications. In my case, I am using KMS for Windows 2012R2 license activation.  (Oh, KMS stands for Key Management Server) The setup is simple, it took me no more than 15 minutes. Below are the steps I took to set this up. Some pieces of information, I decided to dedicate a server for KMS. Also, when adding the Windows server key, double check and ensure you are using a valid Volume License key, and a KMS key — not MAK! (Yes, there is a difference)

For starters I am going to assume you already made note of the license key from your Microsoft Volume License Servicing Center portal.

As mentioned, I decided to stand up a server dedicated for KMS.

From the Windows Server Manager, install the “Volume Activation Services” role either via the GUI, or via PowerShell. If via PowerShell, here is that command, “Install-WindowsFeature -Name VolumeActivation -IncludeAllSubFeature

Once the role has been installed, launch the Volume Activation Tool console, and essentially next, next, finish!

  • Browse/Select the server that will be hosting the KMS (service):

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  • Paste in your KMS Host/License Key:

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  • Choose “Active online

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Here, you have some options, how often would you like KMS to check-in, how often would like KMS to apply the key, etc. I left my settings at default, but (assuming) your environment is domain based, check mark Domain for KMS firewall exceptions. Also, by default, KMS listens on TCP port 1688.

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And that is is! Now your existing/new Windows 2012R2 servers will have their licence automatically activated within 2 hours.

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Creating Easy Tier (Multi-tier) Pool with IBM Storwize

Creating an Easy Tier (aka Multi-tier) pool within IBM’s Storwize is pretty simple, just it cannot be done via its GUI. The GUI definitely lacks this functionality, and thus I had to resort to learning some IBM CLI for the Storwize(V5000). I have been told (from IBM) the command(s) are the same for both the Storwize v7000 and v3700 series as well.

The benefits of IBM’s Easy Tier is rather impressive, and I am sure (please correct me if I am wrong) this exists within other SAN vendors as well. In my pool, there are three types of disk drives, SSD and SAS (both enterprise grade and nearline). The benefits of the multi-tiered (easy tier) pool allows data to be (seamlessly) migrated to higher-IO drives/pools that provide higher performance, ie. SSD pools.

In my case this is great, as I will have heavy-hitting IOPS SQL virtual machines that will probably require the higher performing SAS if not SSD drives. And whereas low-IOPS hitting data such as Quorums on nearline drives.

As IBM states, “Easy Tier can automatically migrate data at the sub-LUN/sub-volume level to the most appropriate storage tier. This includes the ability to automatically and non-disruptively relocate logical volume extents with high activity to storage media with higher performance characteristics, while extents with low activity are migrated to storage media with lower performance characteristics.

So how is this all done?

I am going to assume you have already created your mdisk/RAID groups. In my case my SSD drives are a RAID-5 likewise with my SAS (enterprise) drives. RAID-6 for my SAS nearline drives.

Within the CLI, you will need to get the IDs of all your drives, you can do this by running the following command, “lsdrive“. Now you can see all your drives, and their disk types, IDs, etc.

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Now you need to create your Easy Tier pool with the mkarray command. (More syntax info can be found HERE)

“mkarray -level <raidType> -drive <IDrangeOfDrivesPerDiskTypeGroupSepeartedByColon(s)> <YourPoolName>”

mkarray -level raid5 -drive 0:1:2:3 EasyTier-Pool
*Do not forget to leave 1 drive behind as a spare within your MDisk pool, otherwise you will have no hot-spare, and will have to rebuild*
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Once you have created your pool, and assoicated all the drives to the Easy Tier pool, you can now see all the mdiskX groups, using the lsmdisk command.

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For more details, use the lsmdiskgrp command.

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We can now also confirm the Easy Tier pool within the GUI.

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Now we can start building/migrating or whatever it is your SAN was designed for! 🙂

 

For more literature on IBM’s Easy Tier, please visit the LINK.

Hyper-V Network Virtual Switches

So you’ve spun up a Windows 2012R2 machine with Hyper-V installed and ready to go. However, now you’re stuck and not sure which type of  Network Virtual Switch (vSwitch) applies to your environment(s)…

In Windows 2012R2, Hyper-V’s network virtual switch runs at Layer 2 (Data Link layer). If you are unfamiliar with this, or either terms, I suggest good old Wikipedia. 🙂 Layer 2 maintains a MAC address table contains the MAC addresses of all the virtual machines (VMs) connected to it. The switch determines where to direct/redirect the packets to based on MAC addresses. It should be noted, in Hyper-V, you can have an unlimited amount of VMs connected to this vSwitch.

In Hyper-V you have three types of Network Virtual Switches: External, Internal and Private. All have similar functions but are disgustingly different.

  1. External vSwitch allows communication between the VMs running within the Hyper-V hosts, the Hyper-V parent partition, and between all VMs on the remote host server. The External vSwitch does require a network adapter on the host (that is not mapped to any other Hyper-V External vSwitch). You can also tag to a VLAN ID.
  2. Internal vSwitch allows communication between all VMs that are connected to the vSwitch and also allows communication between the Hyper-V parent partition. You can also tag to a VLAN ID.
  3. Private vSwitch allows communication between all VMs that are connected to the vSwitch, and that is it. (Note, no communication between the VMs and its Hyper-V parent partition. Also no VLAN ID tagging can occur on the vSwitch)

Without the use of SCVMM (System Center Virtual Machine Manager), I have found there are two ways to go about creating a vSwitch, one via Hyper-V GUI and second via PowerShell.

Let’s start with the GUI:

Launch the Hyper-V console, and right-click on the Hypervisor’s Virtual Switch Manager. Now selecting New virtual network switch, you can specify your properties here. Name your vSwitch, associate to the correct vNIC, tag to the appropriate VLAN ID, etc.

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You can now specify which vSwitch for your guest VM to use. Within the VMs properties, you will have the option to chose within the Virtual Switch (you will need to create a Network Adapter if not already done). Once selected you can specify your VLAN ID here. (I am finding you cannot specify the VLAN within the Management vSwitch, but it must be done on the client VM’s end) *Again, this is without the use of SCVMM..yet*

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The same process above can be automated via PowerShell. If you’re like me and need to provision a few dozen Hyper-V hosts, creating vSwitches via the GUI is rather tedious. This can be automated with PowerShell (and SCVMM). Please see the code below:

First you will need to get a list of all the Network Adapters your Hyper-V host has to offer. Hopefully you have named them, if you have not, I highly suggest doing this, and considering this best practice and keeping your sanity.

3 Get Adapter names via PS

Once you have the list of vNICs and their names, you can go ahead and start creating vSwitches.

4 Create vSwitch via PS Code 5 Output Create vSwitch via PS

If the code below worked (note only Line 6 is needed to create the External vSwitch) your Hyper-V host should have the vSwitch, or something similar:

1 vSwitch HyperV Host

 

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OMS Alerting is Here!

Just a few days ago, Microsoft introduced OMS alerting. For people unaware, this is native alerting for Operations Management Suite. This feature has been requested since OMS’ inception, and Microsoft has listened and finally delivered! Check out their blogpost HERE.

I will be setting up some labs and testing this out in the next few days.