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21
Aug

Lync 2013 VDI Plugin on Windows Embedded 8.1

When trying to setup some new thin clients using Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Enterprise, we ran into a problem where the Lync 2013 VDI Plugin would not work.  The Lync 2013 VDI plug-in would successfully pair with the Lync 2013 Client (green check box in the lower right hand corner of the client) but the Lync client would error saying that there was no Audio Devices available. Read moreRead more

5
Jun

SQL max worker threads Problem When Using VSS To Backup Numerous Databases

In our ongoing (sort-of pilot) migration from VMware vSphere 5.5 to Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2, we encountered a very concerning and puzzling issue with backups. The transition had been smooth for the most part and we used the project to bring aging Windows/SQL 2008 servers up to 2012 R2 and 2014, respectively. Two of our SQL environments had moved over just fine and were being backed up successfully with Microsoft Data Protection Manager 2012 R2 for the time being (other products are being considered, including Veeam). The third of such SQL environments ran into a host of VSS errors once its data was populated and a backup attempted.

sqlvss_dpmfailed

DPM 2012 R2 – Job Failed

Background (before/after):

  • Hypervisor: vSphere 5.5 to Hyper-V 2012 R2
  • Guest OS: Windows Server 2008 to 2014
  • Backup product: EMC Avamar 7.0.1 to MS DPM 2012 R2
  • Backup method: Crash-consistent image to VSS-quiesced image

 

We had seen an occasional VSS-related backup failure from time to time in DPM, but most were tied to available disk space for the protection group (DPM doesn’t do so well with deduplication of images, so growing has been near-continual). Retrying didn’t make a difference this time, though. We restarted VSS writers and even took downtime to restart the VM. Still the same failure. Read moreRead more

4
Jun

RemoteFX and Dell Hardware Power Management

VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) can bring great benefits to organizations through consolidated management, reduced hardware maintenance, better remote connectivity and support, and environmental friendliness, to name a few. However, nothing will kill it faster than a hoard of users wishing for their old hardware back, because the new “thing” is too slow.

For many in the field, the first warning is the storage. Monday morning boot storms (or patching, virus scans, etc) can take spinning disks to their knees. I recalling hearing the prophecies all the way back at VMworld 2008. VDI has come a long way since then–so far, in fact, that we ask and even expect streaming video from our virtual desktops (thank you, Teradici and RemoteFX).

fishbowlfirefliesDuring our RemoteFX pilot (on Hyper-V 2012 R2), we started out with mediocre NVIDIA Quadro K4000 GPUs, but learned our error and quickly swapped those for the GRID K2’s. Surely that would bring us the fish and fireflies that everyone else was seeing in their performance tests.

Try as we might, we just couldn’t get consistent results. The best GPUs just weren’t performing. Read moreRead more

2
Jun

DNS, Server Replacements, and IPv6

Last week I encountered a briefly puzzling situation that’s worth noting as a tip when replacing a server on the network and needing to keep the same hostname. We’re a Microsoft shop, so this speaks to Microsoft DNS and VMs running Windows Server (2008 R2 and 2012 R2), but DNS being what it is, this is likely to apply to BIND, Linux, and the rest.

In this case, we were following a very simple server replacement process with these short steps, much as one would back in the 1990’s.

  1. Rename the old server (i.e. svrsyslog –> svrsyslogold)
  2. Build the new server with the original name (svrsyslog)
  3. Set the new static IP

The relevant difference between the 90’s and now, though, is IPv6 (among many other things). Thus, in DNS, we have two records resembling those of a standard syslog server below.

dns-ipv6-1

 

What doesn’t stand out in those records, however, is the IPv4 portion of the IPv6-encapsulating address. So when we changed the server name to “…old”, everything looks fine, because the “Host (A)” record updates to the new name and a corresponding “IPv6 Host (AAAA)” record follows right below.

The key here is that the IPv6 record below the updated “svrsyslog” IPv4 record may not match. In our case, the old IPv6 record never updated; only the IPv4 did. This creates problems when connecting to the new server in a dual-stacked IPv4/IPv6 environment. IPv6-aware systems attempt to resolve the new “svrsyslog” with DNS and get the old IPv6 address (because the rebuilt server didn’t update the v6 record). IPv4 points one place, while IPv6 points to another.

The solution is as simple as it is in IPv4; obscurity and unfamiliarity with IPv6 is all that makes it elusive. Open the IPv6 record of the new/original server name (in this example, SVRSYSLOG) and edit the decimal portion of the IP address. Microsoft is kind enough to translate it from hex for us is the dialog box. Make that last chunk match, and you’re good to go.

dns-ipv6-2

 

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By Chris Gurley, MCSE, CCNA
Last updated: June 3, 2014

29
May

Hyper-V / VMM 2012 R2 and VMQ, Part 1

Microsoft has been gaining ground in the virtualization sphere one step at a time since Hyper-V first premiered. While the some increments were negligible (or merely painstakingly obvious), they achieved significant breakthroughs in late 2013 with the release of all things “2012 R2”. The puzzle piece on which we’ll focus here is VMQ (specifically dynamic VMQ, or dVMQ).

VMQ gives Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) Logical Switches what Receive Side Scaling (RSS) provides to physical servers; namely, it leverages multiple compute cores/interrupts to increase network traffic efficiency. The network teaming (or Load-Balancing Fail-Over, LBFO) configuration is important here, because it affects how VMQ maps queues to processors. The full table of possibilities is given halfway down the page of TechNet’s VMQ Deep Dive, Part 2. In a nutshell, some configurations need NIC queues to overlap the same processors (so that all queues are everywhere), while others need segregation (so every queue has its own unique core).

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18
Mar

Windows Thin PC and RDP 8.1 Client

When working on a VDI Project involving RemoteFX, the idea of using Windows Thin PC came up to take advantage of old hardware.  If you are not familiar with Windows Thin PC, it is a stripped down version of Windows 7 (Windows 7 Embedded to be exact).  When configuring Windows Thin PC and running Windows Update on it, you may find that many updates that you want are not deemed applicable to the system by Windows Update or ConfigMgr.  A very important one of these updates are the RDP 8.0/8.1 clients. Read moreRead more

18
Jan

EMC XtremIO and VMware EFI

After a couple weeks of troubleshooting by EMC/XtremIO and VMware engineers, the issue was determined to be an issue with EFI boot handing off a 7MB block to the XtremIO array, which filled the queue, and which would never clear as it was waiting for more data to be able to complete communication (i.e. deadlock). This seems to only happen with EFI firmware VMs (tested with Windows 2012 and Windows 2012 R2) and the issue is on the XtremIO end.

The good news is that the problem can be mitigated by adjusting the Disk.DiskMaxIOSize setting on each ESXi host from the default 32MB (32768) to 4MB (4096). You can find this in vCenter > Host > Configuration > Advanced Settings (bottom one) > Disk > Disk.DiskMaxIOSize. The XtremIO team is working on a permanent fix in the meantime, and the workaround can be implemented hot with no impact to active operations (potentially minor host CPU load increase as ESXi breaks down >4MB I/O into 4MB chunks). Read moreRead more

26
Dec

EMC XtremIO Gen2 and VMware

Synopis: My organization recently received and deployed one X-Brick of EMC’s initial GA release of the XtremIO Gen2 400GB storage array (raw 10TB flash; usable physical 7.47TB). Since this is a virgin product, virtually no community support or feedback exists, so this is a shout out for other org/user experience in the field.

Breakdown: We are a fully virtualized environment running on VMware ESXi 5.5 on modern Dell hardware and Cisco Nexus switches (converged to the host; fiber to the storage), and originally sourced on 3PAR storage. After initial deployment of the XtremIO array in early December (2013), we began our migration of VMs, beginning with lesser-priority, yet still production guests.

Within 24 hours, we encountered our first issues when one VM became unresponsive and upon a soft reboot (Windows 2012 guest), failed to boot–it hung at the Windows logo. Without going into too much detail, we hit an All Paths Down situation to the XtremIO array and later after rebooting the host, we still could not boot that initial guest. Only when we migrated (Storage vMotion) back to our 3PAR array could we successfully boot the VM.

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18
Apr

Exchange 2010/2013 Co-Existence Experience

Now that Exchange 2010 SP3 and Exchange 2013 CU1 have both been released, co-existence between Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 can now be completed using a supported method.  Unfortunately, there are some scenario’s that can cause this migration to have a few problems.  I wanted to take a few minutes to post a few experiences I have had in this process; hopefully what we have learned will be helpful to others.

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11
Apr

Service Manager 2012 SP1 CU2 Install Error

I ran into an issue when attempting to install CU2 for Service Manager 2012 SP1.  I wanted to share the error and solution in case anyone else came across the problem.  In my scenario, I was able to successfully update all Console, my Data Warehouse Management Server, and my Self-Service Portal servers, without issue.  However, on my Primary Management server the update failed and provided the following error:

An error occurred while executing custom action: “_Installhealthserviceperfcountersforpatching”

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