System Center Virtual Machine Manager was Microsoft’s answer to VMWare’s vSphere. It’s Microsoft, so what could have gone wrong? It’s Microsoft – so everything.
Below is a list of most annoying things, some of them are so serious it makes you wonder – maybe Powershell is the answer? Seriously? In 2017, Microsoft, you FORCE everybody to use text console again?
In a moment of doubt we used to call it overgrown cancer over Powershell commands.
Let’s start, sorted by weight of crime:
1) Terrible things you cannot do in SCVMM but you can in Hyper-V Manager, Failover Cluster or Powershell like:
- rename you machine when its powered on (sic)
- change its MAC from Dynamic to Static other way like manually copy it character by character.
- change booting order (sic) of machines and templates
- select all Integration Services offered
- change location of smart paging file
- change affinity with cluster (high/medium/low/do not autostart)
and so on.
2) Console. Console is so terrible, that its sorry state is just good meme source.
First – console from Hyper-V Manager/FailoverCluster
Then from SCVMM
- you cannot attach console and then power on machine. You HAVE to – power on machine, wait few sec for console button to be available then race through time to start it BEFORE OS starts. You have better chances of winning some of Grand Prix then finish the trick above on first run.
- only actions you have is Reconnect and Send CTRL+ALT+Delete. Never working ‚Clipboard’ added in SCVMM 2016 requires you to paste text HERE, then it’s pasted in VM console
- when it start before machine starts – you have to kill an application. It’s no good to use it ever again, it won’t ‚click’ with machine you’ve started. Exit? Something terrible may happen.
- MS SQL Server Standard or Enterprise. https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/system-center-docs/system-requirements/sql-server-version-compatibility
- 4 GB Ram required, 16 GB recommended (don’t even bother going below)
- A lot of not-really-so-working tricks to use it to manage hosts from other domains, especially without 2 way trusts settled.
- Price. With whole gang of System Center tools, prepare to be robbed in a daylight. Doesn’t matter you have no intention to use other components – you have to pay for it. You cannot just pick and buy needed component – you have to buy-and-pay with bulk.
- General slowness of GUI, regardless of hosts number, running tasks, library sizes.
- Jobs window – generally unusable with more than one admin or more than one job running- lots of informational comments. Important actions (like: who deleted or altered machine) quickly goes off the screen, covered by messages like: refresh was completed.
- Oh, did I mention ‚Refresh’ habit? Learn it. Learn it, and let your fingers memorize this config, as you will be using it a lot.
Refresh is required almost on everything. In options like: you DID change something via Powershell and HV-Manager – I can understand, refresh may be required. But you will have to hit REFRESH before, in time, and after ANY action you would like to perform. If not – expect the worst. Virtual machine seems to be non responding on your commands? Maybe its locked for backup, maybe it hanged, maybe it migrated to another host – you have to refresh, refresh and refresh to persuade SCVMM that you have most recent data.
Sometimes even refresh doesn’t work. Like in recovery or cluster node failure, you shouldn’t count on SCVMM to update its status before timer reaches day or two. Take your time! Sometime you will have to reboot SCVMM to persuade it to have the latest data. So, when your action fails – search no more, VM is probably locked, on other host or powered off. SCVMM takes its auto-refresh very slowly.
- General over complexity in Logical Network and Switches. It’s like you have to create every VLAN again, even if you’ve done it on dozen of network devices, fill variables like subnets, gateways. You have to group it all together and again, attach to every Hyper-V switch on hosts you have.
- Adding you own custom fields and filling them is, again, over complicated and requires you to do a lot of scripting and scheduling them in a Windows manner.
- You cannot add, change or sort fields like Operating systems. What Microsoft got you are values like this:
- Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2
- 64-bit edition of Microsoft Server
- Hyper-V integration Services are always few releases behind. It started to change with Windows 2016 and idea to install them via Windows Update.
- Inability to rename vm folder when machine changes its name. This way you will have to do a Live Migration to rename folder.
- Complexity of generated script.One will think generating a new machine is easy: New-SCVirtualMachine with a lot of parameters. No. Script is long, heavy, complex and tries to do things in complete different matter.
- Templates – only way to refresh a template is to create it again, or replace vhdx in library, and do some internal tricks.
- Inability to do anything with machine when the job is running – all fields are grayed out and you have to wait for jobs to end or fail.
- if you’re lucky, agents are deployed ALMOST instantly, but adding host to SCVMM requires it to restart
- if you’re not lucky, then in case of SCVMM upgrade, you will have to manually redeploy and reinstall all agents. Quite common I’d say.
- [IMPORTANT] The mess agent leaves on filesystem is just legendary. Lets say we would like to migrate our machine from folder d:\vm to e:\vm.After migration (when we choose right option) we will got:
– empty files in d:\vm\machinename
– machine in e:\vm\machinename
Let’s say we would like to migrate it back for some reason
We will get:
- empty d:\vm\machinename
- empty e:\vm\machinename
- machine in e:\vm\machinename (1)
And migration is just done twice. Do you see the pattern? After few migrations we have complete chaos on filesystems with a lots of empty, semi-empty, almost empty and ‚soon-to-be-empty folders’. You’ll end up with removing them manually – again, if you’re lucky.
- locked folder after failed job. Yes, when you migration failed, you will end with d:\vm\machinename which you’re not able to delete. Sometimes it can be deleted after some time, sometimes after SCVMM/host reboot, sometimes never.
Above list, not fully completed can be seen in SCVMM 2012 R2 and SCVMM 2016 versions. It’s clear that SCVMM is not very high on Microsoft ‚to do’ list as same errors and mistakes are transferred to newer version and hunts us until this day.
Changed from Requirements (Enterprise) to (Standard , Enterprise)
So, the question is – how to deploy and maintain farm of Microsoft SQL Servers? With different domains, install sources, roles, features. Should we create unattended installers for every single instance?
No, we shouldn’t.
We should use Powershell DSC – https://github.com/PowerShell/xSQLServer
With Foreman/Puppet and win_manage, we have something like:
The simplest way:
instance1: dsc_instancename: MSSQLSERVER dsc_sourcepath: "\\our.server.com\ourshare" dsc_sourcecredential: user: anonymous password: anonymous dsc_setupcredential: user: DOMAIN\someuser password: somepassword
Or, more sophisticated:
instance1: dsc_instancename: MSSQLSERVER dsc_sourcepath: "\\our.server.com\ourshare" dsc_sourcecredential: user: anonymous password: anonymous dsc_setupcredential: user: DOMAIN\someuser password: somepassword dsc_features: SQLENGINE dsc_forcereboot: true dsc_agtsvcaccount: user: DOMAIN\scvaccount password: somepassword dsc_sqlsvcaccount: user: DOMAIN\sqlaccount password: somepassword dsc_sqlcollation: SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS dsc_sqlsysadminaccounts: - DOMAIN\someadmin - DOMAIN\someotheradmin dsc_securitymode: SQL dsc_sapwd: user: sa password: paaaswordisverysecure dsc_sqluserdbdir: D:\MSSQL\Data dsc_sqluserdblogdir: E:\MSSQL\Data dsc_browsersvcstartuptype: Disabled
Whole install from local source takes aprox. 400 seconds (with other OS related settings) to finish.
Yes, we all „love” the way Microsoft gives us new stuff (like forced updates in Windows 10). As we usually know better what and when should be applied, let’s say it is time to upgrade our guest integration services to the latest version.
I usually express strong conviction that HV integration services should be kept up to date, the thing most sysadmins disregards. Those tools are responsible for keeping your VMs in shape, maintain communication between them and host services, so they SHOULD be always updates. Of course, as with almost everything TEST it before applying on any important environment.
As on 2016-12-31, the latest HV Integration Services version is 6.3.9600.18398
Let’s say – we would like to upgrade all our Windows machines (those BEFORE Windows 10 and Windows 2016) . We can do it manually (not cool, not cool at all), semi-automatic (no reboot) or almost … magical way – fully automatic 😉
Let’s start we have proper source added to Chocolatey:
choco source add -n=public -s"https://www.myget.org/F/public-choco" --priority=10
- semi automatic (RDP, psexec, powershell)
choco install hvintegrationservices -y
- fully automatic (with reboot) using The Foreman and win_manage
win_manage: chocolatey_packages: hvintegrationservices: ensure: 6.3.9600.18398 dsc_reboot: dsc_reboot: message: Machine requested a reboot when: pending
On my lectures and meetings with both: IT and Management I’ve had a pleasure to be a myth buster about Hyper-V. As much as I don’t appreciate Microsoft’s ‚way of life’ – Hyper-V is mostly feared due to: lack of proper knowledge and very low quality support from Microsoft. Few most common myths are:
- It’s very expensive
If you’re going to use standalone hosts with Microsoft Hyper-V Server your cost will be just zero coma zero.
If you’re going to use a lots of Microsoft Windows virtual machines on them – you can rent them as SPLA licenses (per machine), or just rent Windows Datacenter edition for whole host.
If you’re gonna to use Linux machines (assuming opensource, not paid edition) – again – zero coma zero
If you’re going to use HA, all you need is just 1 (preferably more) OS for Domain Controller.
If you’re gonna to manage standalone hosts, all you need (and rather as a suggestion) is a Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Edition machines. Just one 🙂
You don’t have to pay extra for all fine features like: HA, Live Migration, Cluster Aware Updates. With W2k16 edition few extra features are available only in Datacenter edition (which I believe is a grave mistake) but that’s all.
- It requires System Center to be managed by
No. As a matter of fact, SC is only useful in situations when you have lots of VLANS, Logical Network, templates to be deployed or Services. In any other case like: have your VLANS’s accounted for, drop Services as nobody is using this part. System Center Virtual Machine Manager is nothing more than overgrown cancer on a top of Powershell scripts it runs. Since 2012 edition Microsoft couldn’t ever fix the simplest things like: responsive console and not having refreshed it manually after every operation.
- It’s slower than VMWare or ‚any’ other competitor
No. Overhead of Hyper-V is done mostly on storage level and most problems with it are created on a level of infrastructure design.
For example: If you have a lot of hosts, and you do not require virtual machines there to be Highly Available – do not (i repeat) DO NOT connect them all as cluster nodes.
If you’re using 1 or 2 iSCSI 1GB cards as you paths for low quality machines – expect nothing more than problems.
Instead: use local storage, combined with low-end HW controllers. Even having 2 (mirror) or 4 (RAID5 or RAID10) disks for those machines is way better than having one underpowered ‚best of the world storage’. Plan this usage carefully – you still have things like Shared Nothing Live Migration (in a case of maintenance on specific host).
Creating a lot of host, giving them all 1 or 2 ClusterSharedVolume to share is just asking for trouble.
- It requires a lot’s of PowerShell knowledge
No. And I am the best example here 😉 With few exceptions like script for installing Hyper-V hosts, maybe create few LACPs – that’s all I used Powershell for.
- It doesn’t support Linux
It does, it does it very well.
Official document: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-docs/compute/hyper-v/supported-linux-and-freebsd-virtual-machines-for-hyper-v-on-windows
Few my lectures: https://marcinbojko.wordpress.com/2014/10/22/xxi-spotkanie-regionalnej-lubelskiej-grupy-microsoft-i-moj-wyklad-systemy-linux-na-platformie-hyper-v-2012/
As a matter of fact – I use CentOS/RedHat, Ubuntu/Debian machines and appliances, and have to say: working with them on Hyper-V is just a simple pleasure.
In 2016 with things like Hyper-V and Veeam, support for Linux machines on Hyper-V is very much alive. Even our beloved ‚System Center Virtual Machine Manager’ supports creating templates for Linux machines, with small agent to set a lots of things during and after deployment.
- It’s complicated to install, run, maintain especially HA & Clusters
No. It is just simple as click few times: next, next, next,finish.
Using System Center or (better) FailoverCluster Manager from any Windows Server machine works perfectly out of the box. Rules are simple, wizard will tell you what you should do next.
With maintenance mode, Live Storage Migration, Cluster Aware Updates you can have stable and secure environment for your machines. Even migrating machines between different clusters (Shared Nothing Migration) is secure and efficient.
- It requires specific hardware
One of the biggest myths. Learn with a hard way with VMWare hosts , you do not require special NIC, special motherboards or any devices from very narrow VMWare HCL list. Requirements of Hyper-V are very small: VT enabled CPU, enough memory to fit VM’s and host OS itself, one HDD, one NIC. For small setups it almost equals in using desktops and other workstations as a hyper-v farm.
After hearing this statement from one of my clients, I began to pursue the subject. It was someone from VMWare camp that told him: ‚you will need special hardware for SMB3 and SMB Direct’ – which is generally correct in a same matter like: ‚if you want a milk, you need a cow’ 😉
- It doesn’t work with Azure
Hyper-V 2016 is a light years ahead of Azure:) They still seems to be using Windows 2008 as a hosts with all of its negative aspects.
But, jokes aside, using pre-build templates or products like Veeam and Windows Azure Pack, creating you own hybrid cloud is one of the best things you can do. Don’t trust sales guy from Microsoft forcing you to ‚move everything to a cloud, our cloud’. Don’t trust you IT guy saying ‚only on premise or death!’. Live in a both worlds.
- I know NOTHING about Hyper-V.
If you have ANY knowledge about Windows – you have knowledge about Hyper-V itself.
- But migration from platform X/Y/Z is pain in the ….
Take a deep breath. Calculate it. Find tools to do it manually, recreate all you machines using somekind of CM tool (like mentioned The Foreman/Puppet)- https://marcinbojko.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/puppet-the-foreman-powershell-dsc-your-system-center-in-a-box/. Calculate it again.
Do it 😉
Administrator: dsc_username: Administrator dsc_disabled: false dsc_password: user: NT AUTHORITY\\SYSTEM password: P@$$w0rd