Windows Server 2012 Licensing – a quick reminder

This came up recently for a customer and while it’s not new news, I thought a quick reminder would be useful. There are a few key points to remember about licensing of Windows Server 2012 in server virtualization projects, these rules apply to XenServer, VMware, Hyper-V, Oracle VM, etc.:

  • Licenses are applied to physical servers, never to virtual machines. If you are thinking about how you need a license for the VM you are about to build, you’re probably doing something wrong
  • There is feature parity between Standard and Datacenter editions, Enterprise Ed has been dropped
    • The only difference between these 2 major editions is in the number of virtual OSE’s (operating system environments, aka a virtual machine) granted with the license
    • A license covers 2 processor sockets within 1 server, 1 license cannot be purchased to cover 2 servers each containing 1 populated processor
    • The license allows for one bare-metal install of the operating system, but doesn’t require it – as would be the case if your hypervisor is anything other than Hyper-V
    • Virtual OSE grants by edition:
      • Standard: 2 virtual OSE’s per license
      • Datacenter: unlimited OSE’s per license
  • More than 1 license of the same edition may be applied to a given physical server to cover additional CPU sockets or additional virtual machines
    • 2 Standard Edition licenses would cover 4 processor sockets and/or up to 4 VM’s
    • 2 Datacenter Edition licenses would cover 4 processor sockets and two * unlimited for the number of VM’s ..that’s like beyond infinity, but 4 CPU sockets.
  • The license cannot be transferred more than once every 90 days – yeah, you read that right. This rule is to prevent a license from jumping from one host to another to follow live migration activities
    • This is where most people pause and say “oh..”. That tells me they were purchasing 1 license per VM and just thinking the license moves around with the VM
    • You need to cover the high water mark of virtual OSE’s for a given host
  • Licensing math:
    • Standard Ed. list pricing is $882
    • Datacenter Ed. list pricing is $4809
    • The break-even point for Datacenter is at 5.45 Standard licenses; in effect, for a density of more than 10 VM’s (5 std licenses each granting 2 OSE’s), you should use a Datacenter Edition license
  • A real world example: New virtualization customer deploying 3 VMware hosts
    • We generally size the environment for N+1, meaning we’re planning that 1 of the servers is a “spare” from the perspective of workload sizing – so all the workload can run on just 2 servers; we’re planning for this and so should you in your licensing.
    • If you plan to run more than 20 total VM’s in this environment, you need 3 Datacenter Edition licenses
      • 20 VM’s running on 2 servers = 10 VM’s/server
      • 10 VM’s requires 5 Standard Edition licenses to have enough OSE grants
      • More than 10 per server, and it’s now cheaper to have just bought a single Datacenter Edition license
        • 6 * $882 = $5292, which is greater than $4809 for datacenter
      • Since you don’t know which host (think of a rolling patching cycle) is going to carry the increase load, all the hosts in the environment should be licensed uniformly to this high water mark
    • Depending on the licensing model, an upgrade from 5 * Standard Edition licenses to a single Datacenter Edition license may not be possible – plan ahead!
    • If you have OEM licenses that came with your old physical server environment, these are likely not transferrable – they don’t follow the P2V action
  • With this understanding, while you might have some work to do upfront (or scrambling to get back into compliance now) the long term savings are very real for dense virtualization projects that can leverage the Datacenter Edition license. On a modern 2 socket server with 16 cores/32 threads, 10 VM or greater density is easily achievable

General licensing FAQ:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/4/D/B/4DB352D1-C610-466A-9AAF-EEF4F4CFFF27/WS2012_Licensing-Pricing_FAQ.pdf

Licensing brief for virtualized environments:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/3/D/4/3D42BDC2-6725-4B29-B75A-A5B04179958B/WindowsServer2012VirtualTech_VLBrief.pdf

Asigra Linux Restore with ‘sudo’

Conduct an Asigra restore to a UNIX or Linux server using sudo credentials

Verify that user is listed in /etc/sudoers file on restore target system

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The sudo utility allows users root level access to some (or all) subsystems without requiring users to know the root password. Please look at documentation for the sudo utility for more information.

From Asigra restore dialog, choose files to be restored

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Select Alternate location and click on ‘>>’

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Enter server name or IP address for restore target and check both “Ask for credentials” and “‘sudo’ as alternate user’

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Enter username and password for user configured in /etc/sudoers file

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Enter “root” and same password as in previous step

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Do NOT enter the ‘root’ password. The sudo utility uses the regular user’s password.

Select restore location and truncate path, if required

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Accept defaults

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Restore in progress…

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Verify restore completed

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Beware of the Invisible Installs!!!

Does your internet toolbar look like this? :

toolbar

Many times advertising companies will seek out software companies to promote their product using software companies many people are familiar with.

Ever end up with a program you don’t use and are not sure how it was installed? Each time you go to install a program you need to use, pay attention to the terms and agreements. Some software downloads include extra additions you may not even be aware of, need or want. Some of these options will even be hidden throughout the install. For example, when going to install Adobe Reader you will see this:

adobe           

If you would like to use Google Chrome, then you can leave the option checked. If not, make sure to uncheck the option.  Some installs can even change your settings:

chrome

So next time you need to install a program, please pay attention to each and every step so that you ensure you get just what you need.

BIOS Settings for Hyper-V Role in Windows 8 on Lenovo W-Series

Image

Recently I upgraded to Windows 8 on my Lenovo W510 in order to setup a virtual lab in Hyper-V. Hoping to save others the frustration I experienced during BIOS configuration, I thought I’d share the Intel hardware virtualization settings necessary for the role. The order that settings are made and complete power downs after certain settings changes are significant. Don’t save time with warm boots!

Step 1. Boot the machine, press F1 to enter setup, and you’ll be presented with this menu.  Make sure that the BIOS is the most recent version (1.45 as of this post).  Press enter on Config.

BIOS top level menu

BIOS top level menu

Step 2. In Config menu, arrow down to CPU and press enter.

Config Menu on Lenovo W510 BIOS

Config Menu on Lenovo W510 BIOS

Step 3. In the CPU menu, make sure the settings are:
• Intel Hyper-Threading = Enabled
• Intel Virtualization Technology = Enabled
• Intel VT-d Feature = Enabled

Core Multi-Processing Enabled, Intel Hyper-Threading Technology Enabled, Intel Virtualization Technology Enabled, Intel VT-d Feature Enabled

Hardware Virtualization BIOS Settings on Lenovo W510

If any settings in Step 3 had to be changed, hit F10 to save the settings and then power the machine off. Re-enter the BIOS by pressing F1 on the next startup.

Step 4. Return to the Main Menu in Step 1, and select Security. This menu will appear.
Arrow down to Memory Protection and press enter.

Security Menu on Lenovo W510

Security Menu on Lenovo W510

Step 5. In Memory Protection, make sure Execution Prevention is set to Enabled
Press ESC to return to the Security menu from Step 4

Execution Prevention Enabled

Memory Protection BIOS Settings on Lenovo W510

Step 6. Confirm the following settings:
• Security Chip = Active
• Intel TXT Feature = Disabled

Security Chip Active, Intel TXT Feature ***Disabled***

Security Chip BIOS Settings on Lenovo W510

Press F10 to save settings, and power down the machine. After restart, the Hyper-V role can be installed.

Citrix is all new in June

If you’ve been paying attention to Twitter lately, you’ve probably noticed that there have been a lot of new announcements and releases from Citrix over the past 7 days.   So many in fact it can be difficult to keep straight exactly what is going on.  I’m going to try to clear up some of the murk and hopefully help you understand how these announcements are going to impact your plans for the near future. I’ll try to detail each of the announcements and product updates and what’s new with them.

XenDesktop 7: This is Citrix’s flagship VDI product, which competes head to head with VMware’s Horizon View.   Hopefully most Citrix customers are also aware that most of the license editions for XenDesktop also include rights to Citrix XenApp (also knows as Presentation Server or MetaFrame).  Despite the bundling, XenApp and XenDesktop have always been two distict products with separate infrastructures and management frameworks.  XenDesktop 7 changes all that.  With the v7 release XenDesktop now fully encompasses all the functionality for application and desktop publishing from both server OS (XenApp/RDS – aka Hosted Shared) as well as desktop OS (XenDestkop/VDI – aka Hosted).  This means that from a single console you can configure desktops and apps published from Windows XP, 7, 8, Server 2008R2 and Server 2012.  Yes, I said desktops and apps!  Actually XenDesktop has had the ability to do “VM Hosted Apps” for a while but it was infrequently used; that capability is now core functionality and delivers the “seamless” published apps from both destkop and server environments.

Did I mention this is all in a single console?  Well, actually there are two consoles – the management/configuration interface which is now named “Studio” and a helpdesk and monitoring interface named “Director”.  XenDesktop admins will be familiar with both of these.  By the way, Director now has the ability to mine Edgesight data to provide historical information about users, apps, sessions, and hosts.

With the merger there is now a 4th edition of XenDesktop – now giving us Platinum, Enterprise, VDI, and Apps.  The Apps edition will map to the functionality which was previously provided by XenApp.

XenDesktop 7 also brings a host of new features and functionality including the H.264 supercodec, reverse seamless applications, and App DNA integration.  RemotePC is now configured from within the Studio console.   One of the more interesting capabilities is that you can now use MCS to manage your published app server farms which will greatly simplify single image management for smaller environments. Check out this blog for more details and a link to the Citrix TV session detailing the new features.

XenDesktop 7 brings with it a host of other updates:

  • StoreFront 1.2 -> StoreFront 2.0
  • Web Interface 5.4 -> StoreFront 2.0 (StoreFront is now required)
  • Provisioning Services 6.1 -> Provisioning Services 7.0
  • XenServer 6.1 -> XenServer 6.2
  • Receiver 3.4 -> 4.0  (and new receivers for iOS, Android, and OSX too)

It’s a pretty safe bet that if you use XenDesktop or XenApp you’ve got some new code in your future.

XenApp 6.5 Feature Pack 2: Much less hubbub about 6.5 FP2, but very noteworthy that in this same timeframe Citirx has chosen to issue an update to the existing XenApp product which offers many of the end-user benefits associated with XenDesktop 7.  This appears to be a recognition on Citrix’s part that customers probably will not migrate off of XenApp 6.5 in any great hurry, and this update removes much of the need.  XenApp 6.5 was originally released in August of 2011 and is widely deployed.  Details of the new features can be found here.

Cloudgateway is now XenMobile Apps: So if you’re looking for an updated App Controller, you need to look in a new place.  This heralds future integration between the XenMobile MDM solution and Citrix’s Web/SaaS/Mobile Application management.  We also saw a new release of XenMobile MDM 8.5 on June 28.

ShareFile Storage Center and Connectors are now Storage Controller 2.0: This brings the integration of the on-prem storage options for ShareFile all into one product, reducing the number of servers needed to connect to local storage zones, CIFS shares, and SharePoint.  It also provides read/write access to SharePoint sites!

XenServer 6.2: The latest release of Citrix’s XenServer hypervisor is more incremetnal and has not received much fanfare, with the largest announcement being that the product is now fully open source.  More details on the future strategy and new features can be found here.

NetScaler 10.1: It seems like this release has been kept fairly quiet, however the new HDX Insight reporting feature will offer great value to shops using NetScaler for its Access Gateway Enterprise Edition features.  Want to know how much data user sessions are moving?  Look no further!

VDI in a Box: Even VDI in a Box got an update, now at version 5.3. ViaB gets updates to support better 3D graphics. newer hypervisors, the H.264 supercodec, Windows 8 and Personal vDisk.  More info can be found here.

So June has been a huge month for Citirx with updates across nearly the entire product portfolio.  If you have or use Citrix products these changes will affect you.  If you need help or just want more information reach out to your Lewan Account Executive.  We’re here to help.

Getting online when the only DNS server is not

Although best practice is to have redundant DNS servers, not every small business has the luxury of being able to afford a second server. There are however cases when the server is down but users need to get online and work (or look up ways to solve the server’s issues). Fortunately Google has provided a solution in the form of a pair of publicly accessible DNS servers. While these servers will NOT provide address resolution for local LAN devices such as file shares, printers or local e-mail systems, they do allow for name resolution for any public site on the Internet.

The process is as simple as opening the IP setting for a system’s LAN card and entering the IP address of one of the public DNS server, 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4.

DNS

For more details look at Google’s instruction page at https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/docs/using

Cisco AnyConnect vs. Internet Connection Sharing in Windows 8

Having recently installed Windows 8 on my laptop to take advantage of the Client Hyper-V, I’m working through the kinks that come with a new OS on my daily driver. Hyper-V leverages the built-in Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) to provide NAT and DHCP for internet access for VM’s running on the hypervisor. This isn’t quite as intuitive as the network implementations in VMware Workstation or Oracle’s VirtualBox, but that’s a different discussion.

I recently had some trouble establishing the VPN connection, and set about re-installing Cisco AnyConnect as a result. During the install, a notification box popped up numerous times to warn me: “The VPN client agent was unable to create the interprocess communication depot.”

Cisco AnyConnect Install Error

The VPN client agent was unable to create the interprocess communication depot.

The install completed after clicking OK on the notifications, but would not establish a VPN connection, with a not so informative message “Unable to establish VPN”.  A bit of searching later, I found that AnyConnect is not compatible with Internet Connection Sharing, which Cisco states in the AnyConnect VPN Client FAQ.

The solution is to disable the ICS service before installing AnyConnect.  Subsequently, when trying to connect, I encountered connection failures:

AnyConnect Unable to Establish Connection

AnyConnect was not able to establish a connection to the specified secure gateway. Please try connecting again.

The solution is again to disable the ICS service, establish the AnyConnect VPN connection, and then enable ICS.  Oddly, it seems that after the first failed connection attempt followed by stop / connect / restart cycle of the ICS service, AnyConnect can be reconnected without any trouble.  Tedious, but it works.  Ping me back if you know a better way!