Posts Tagged ‘hyper-v’

Virtualisation Visio Stencils – Microsoft, VMware, Citrix

May 13th, 2010

Every tech geek loves making Visio diagrams, admit it you do! I for one love nothing more than scribbling a design down on paper, tweaking and fine tuning it and then bringing it to life in a nice Visio diagram.  My original virtualisation Visio post back in 2008 is one of my most popular so I thought I would revisit it and update it for 2010. I’ve taken the opportunity to expand it to include Hyper-V and Citrix virtualisation products as well as a few other useful stencils.



VMware Official icons and Images – This is PowerPoint format but really quite good.

UPDATEDVMware Official Icons and Images 1 – PowerPoint update since VMworld 2010

UPDATEDVMware Official Icons and Images 2 – PowerPoint update since VMworld 2010

VMware Visio Stencil – This was on VIOPS but was removed, this is an alternative link.

vEcoShell VMware Visio Template

VMware VI3 Server Configuration Template

Veeam Visio Stencils for Visio 2003 and 2007

VMGuru Virtualisation template




Jonathan Cusson’s Hyper-V template

Microsoft Office Visio 2007 Professional Add-In for Rack Server Virtualization (Virtual Rack)

Microsoft App-V Visio Stencil



Citrix Dynamic Delivery Center Visio Stencil – XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer, WANScaler,etc


Non Virtualisation Products


Cisco Data Centre Visio stencils

Exchange 2007 Visio stencil

Office Communications Server 2007 and 2007 R2 Visio Stencils

Brocade Visio Stencil

VisioCafe – Good Selection of hardware vendor Visio stencils, HP, EMC NetApp, etc

Citrix, Microsoft, VMware , , , , , , ,

Virsto One, Hyper-V and the I/O Blender effect

February 24th, 2010

One of the things I’ve come to love about blogging is the fact that I occasionally get contacted by the odd tech start-up. Keen to demonstrate their latest market leading idea that is going to revolutionise the industry as we know it.  Earlier this month I was contacted by Mindy Anderson who is the Product director at tech start-up Virsto (short for Virtual Storage). Virsto had a new product for Microsoft Hyper-V that they wanted to demonstrate to me in advance of their big product launch. Having looked at Mindy’s background in the storage industry I was very keen to hear more about their new product.

The product is called Virsto One and is aimed solely at Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V. The product introduces some new features like thin provisioned clones & snapshots, that expand the functionality of the standard Hyper-V product. The most interesting feature in my opinion though is the attempt to tackle the virtualisation / storage problem commonly known as the I/O blender effect.

So what does Virsto One look like?

The software itself installs in the parent partition of each Hyper-V host and consists of the filter driver, a system service and a VSS provider.  The filter driver sits above the raw storage (any block storage) and presents a VHD object to the parent partition.  This setup allows users to configure physical storage once and then use Virsto One to carry out all future provisioning tasks. This includes full support for creating  thin provisioned, high performing, cluster aware snapshots and clones from either the Virsto One Hyper-V MMC snap-in or Powershell.


So what about the I/O blender effect?

Most storage technologies are not designed for the virtual data centre, most are still designed around the one to one physical server to storage model. Think of a number of virtual machines all with predictable I/O behaviour (if you think of them as physical).  What tends to come out of the physical hypervisor host is a large amount of completely random I/O.  Random I/O has an obvious performance impact when compared with sequential I/O so as you increase the number of VM’s you increase the random I/O from your Hyper-V host.  So as VM density increases performance drops, as we all know low VM density is not your objective when you embark on a virtualisation project.

So Virsto One has an interesting way of dealing with this. Although the “secret sauce” has never been divulged in-depth in its basic form they journal the random I/O that comes down from the Hyper-V host to staging disk.  A staging area is required per physical Hyper-V host and about 20GB / 30GB of disk should support multi-terabyte write downs through use of de-dupe technology. Periodically the data in the staging disks will be flushed / written down to the primary storage location, at this point the Random I/O is laid down sequentially on primary storage to improve read performance. Virsto indicated that in time they would look to support multiple de-stages so that data could be de-staged to another array for business continuity purposes or to the cloud for disaster recovery purposes.

Are there any performance figures to back this up?

Performance figures from the Virsto test lab show the I/O Blender effect in full effect as VM density increases in the standard Microsoft setup.  With the Virsto software sitting in the middle, staging the data and de-staging it sequentially, there is an obvious improvement in performance.  These test results were from Virsto’s own lab and I stressed the importance of having these independently benchmarked by customers or an external consultancy.  Wendy indicated to me that this was something they were looking into,  I look forward to reading and sharing the whitepaper when it is eventually produced.


So who would be interested in a product like this?

Well ideally the product would benefit Hyper-V customers who require high density, high performing virtual environments.  Hosting companies making use of Hyper-V for selling virtual server instances may well see Virsto as a good way of increasing performance and reducing costs through the use of golden images, snapshots, etc.  Who knows though,  individual companies with an investment in Hyper-V may well see the benefit in this kind of product.  In a way I see it’s not to dissimilar to a company buying PowerPath/VE to increase I/O performance in a vSphere environment.

It is important to note that although this product has been initially built for Microsoft Hyper-V the principals behind it are hypervisor agnostic.  I asked the question “why Hyper-V?” at the start of my chat with Virsto,  the answer was that Hyper-V had functionality gaps and was easier to integrate into.  VMware on the other hand is a more mature product where VMFS has gone some way to deal with the traditional virtualisation storage problems.  Citrix virtualisation customers will be happy to hear that testing has already begun in the lab with a version of Virsto one for XenServer, ETA unknown at this stage.

So how much does all this cost?

At the time of the interview,  which was a good few weeks back the per socket price being talked about was $1,000 – $2,000 USD per socket, again not to dissimilar to the pricing for EMC PowerPath/VE.


My impression at the time of the demo and interview was that this was an interesting product and very clever idea. The main selling point for me was the increase in performance, if it can be independently verified you would think the product will simply sell itself.  I look forward to hearing more about Virsto in the future and I am particularly interested to see what they can do for other hypervisors especially VMware vSphere with it’s new storage API’s.

Hyper-V, New Products, Storage , ,

Microsoft Licensing on Virtual platforms

December 23rd, 2008

I read an interesting blog post on Mike De Petrillo’s blog entitled Microsoft Lies to their customers again.  The article details a discussion with a customer regarding licensing on virtual platforms such as ESX and Hyper-V. 

Customer: I would love to use VMware but the cost savings in Windows licenses from Microsoft with Hyper-V makes it a deal I can’t pass up.

Me: What do you mean by that? Licenses cost you the same for Windows no matter what virtualization solution you’re using.

Customer: That’s not what my Microsoft rep told me. They said I could get unlimited virtual machines with Datacenter Edition of Windows only if I used Hyper-V.

Me: Ah. I see. You know, they’re lying to you, right?

Customer: No. They never lie to me. Where’s the proof.

Now I’ve done a lot of work with company reps from all sorts of companies in the past.  The thing to remember is these guys are sales guys pure and simple,  they are interested in getting your business for their company, bottom line.  If you say “I need to consolidate my server pool and keep the cost down”,  the Microsoft Rep is obviously going to tell you that Microsoft Hyper-V is going to be the best and cheapest way to achieve this.  Fair enough that’s his opinion,  but as an IT Professional it is your job to see through the smoke and mirrors and substantiate any claims made.  I take everything I hear with a pinch of salt (even from VMware) and I will always try to validate any claim made, either through existing customer reference sites, product forums or blog sites. 

I’m still reeling from the fact that Mike is seeing this across a number of customers,  how hard can it be to do a little research.  I did a very quick google search on “licensing for virtualization“ and the top result was the press release relating to Microsoft’s change of licensing to incorporate virtualisation.  The second result was the Microsoft page that details licensing for specific products such as Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.

Within that page is a link to the white paper I used to clarify the correct approach to be taken by my current employer.  The first paragraph answers the question this guy in New York should have been asking, don’t you think?

 The purpose of this white paper is to give an overview of Microsoft® licensing models for the server operating system and server applications under virtual environments. It can help you understand how to use Microsoft server products with virtualization technologies, such as Microsoft Hyper-V™ technology, Microsoft® Virtual Server 2005 R2, or third-party virtualization solutions provided by VMWare and Parallels.

ESX, ESXi, Microsoft, VMware , , , ,

Free Hyper-V training and exam discount

December 20th, 2008

Mark Wilson over at has posted a great post on free Microsoft virtualisation training and a discount for the exam.

Go to the following page on the eLearning website and enter the code 9350-Y2W6-3676. This will give you access to 10 hours of free training worth approximately £100. 

I used this as part of my studying for the 70-652 exam,  what I didn’t get though was a discount when i booked the exam.  When booking the 70-652 exam you can use the promotional code USHYPERV to recieve a discount (apologies I don’t know what the discount percentage rate actually is)

See my previous post on 70-652 study tips,  which will give you some other pointers and resources to look at when studying for the exam. 

  • Course 6320: Introducing the Hyper-V technology.
  • Course 6321: Configuring a virtual environment.
  • Course 6322: Deploying systems in a virtual environment.
  • Course 6323: Optimising a virtual environment.
  • Course 6324: Managing a virtual environment by using SCVMM.

    Certifications, Hyper-V, Microsoft ,

    MCTS 70-652 – Study tips and links

    November 17th, 2008

    I’ve just this afternoon passed the Microsoft 70-652 exam, making me an MCTS for Windows Server Virtualisation.

    I didn’t get a lot of time to study and basically spent the best part of yesterday and this morning using the exam preperation guide, technet and google to piece together everything I needed to know. There is not a lot of published material out there at the moment,  most of the books on amazon, etc appear to be due out later this month, so it was a bit of a struggle.

    With this in mind I thought it would beneficial to publish some of the websites that I used for studying and clarifying specific points.


    Other pointers I can give you,  well brush up on the following especially

    • Disks – know the different types and how they work, IDE and SCSI controllers
    • Snapshots – really know this, even snapshots for deployment?
    • Networking – know the different types and how they work.
    • Larger Networks – Think of ISCSI host connections and cluster heartbeats.
    • Failover Clustering – It’s key to Hyper-V availability so make sure you know it.
    • SVCMM – SCOM integration and migrating VMs between hosts.
    • Hyper-V – know how to install both full and server core versions.


    I’m glad I took the time and did the exam, unfortunately I won’t get much of a chance to use the skills in the day job as we currently utilise VMWare.  However I have seen enough during my revision and lab testing to see that Microsoft have got themselves a very good base product.  With the Windows 2008 R2 release being worked on I can only imagine it will get better.  Enjoy studying…. (if that’s possible!!)

    Certifications, Microsoft , , ,

    Hyper-V vs ESXi installation video

    October 10th, 2008

    I came across the following video a few days ago when I was looking at some Hyper-V content. It’s a video by VMware and It shows a side by side install of the new Hyper-V role in Windows Server 2008 and ESX 3.5i.  Now the idea here is to show how long it takes to install both, it should be noted though that this video was done before the release of the bare metal Hyper-V server 2008. Having installed both I’d have to say that the ESX 3.5i install was still by far the easiest and quickest to complete.  Though Hyper-V Server 2008 (bare metal version) is a lot quicker than the windows representation in the video it is still fiddly and involved amending / shutting down the windows firewall from the command line Urrrghhh!!!

    ESX3i Vs Hyper-V Installation – Battle of the Hypervisors

    ESXi, Hyper-V, Microsoft, VMware , , ,

    Hyper-V MMC for Windows Vista

    October 9th, 2008

    I booked myself the MCTS exam 70-652 for Windows 2008 virtualisation configuration and have been looking around for some decent training material.  There’s some good stuff on Microsoft’s website which is free and can be found here. Some other e-learning that’s not to expensive but nothing beats actually using the software and playing with it to understand what’s going on.

    So I built myself a Windows Hyper-V Server (The bare metal version) and then went looking for the Management Console add-in.  Now you think it would be quite easy to find,  I followed the link in the getting started guide for it and it lead me back to downloading Hyper-V Server.  After about 10 minutes of searching and a number of broken links from various Microsoft blogs I eventually found what I was looking for.  You can download it from the link below,  I hope that saved someone else 10 minutes of their life.

    Hyper-V, Microsoft , , ,

    Microsoft Bare Metal Hyper-V Server released

    October 2nd, 2008

    Microsoft have announced the release of their free bare metal hypervisor called “Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008″.  I thought they might have marketed it with a different name as I can see some confusion arising there.

    On first look at the features table it looks a little limited but to be honest it’s no more so than ESX 3i is on it’s own, Hoping to get a look at this sometime today at which point I should be in a better position to comment.

    It’s available for download at the following location 

    To compliment the flurry of release activity at  Microsoft they have announced their virtualisation exams which you can find out about at the following address.

    Hyper-V, Microsoft , , ,