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Monday, December 23, 2013

Convert System Into VHDX Format–Disk2VHD v2.0


Disk2VHD is a great tool to convert physical to virtual machine in vhd format. Recently they have released v2.0 to support vhdx as well.

Just download the utilities and run on source machine. When executed, it will create one virtual disk (vhd or vhdx format) on each disk.

VHD Format

With “Uncheck use vhdx” option. It will convert the disk to vhd format


VHDX Format

With “Use VHDX option” checked. It will convert into vhdx format


To download, please visit Windows SysInternal:-

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Free ebook:- System Center Family


While browsing and looking for book which I’m going to read during up coming holiday break, I have found a link which consist of a lot of System Center 2012 R2 ebook. These ebook is provided free by Microsoft.


If you’re interested, please feel free to download PDF, ePub or Mobi format from Microsoft Press link as listed below


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Starwind HA Products - 2013 Year End Sale



Black friday and Cyber Monday just over, but Starwind just offered a year end sale. Some words from them:-

Only one month left until the New Year, and we are having a massive Farewell to 2013 Countdown here at StarWind!
Buy any StarWind iSCSI SAN & NAS edition or StarWind Native SAN for Hyper-V edition by the end of the year and get BIG discounts off list price!*

With the countdown discounts melting down with every passing week, you can SAVE BIG if you ACT NOW!

30% Discount Countdown to 2014!

Contact us and take advantage of our special offer now!

Latest news about Starwind:-

StarWind iSCSI SAN & NAS, has been named the first runner-up in two categories: Virtualization Management Product of the Year and Storage Virtualization Product of the Year at the SVC Awards 2013. Our Press release is here:

Review PHD Virtual : PHD Virtual Backup for Hyper-V


With Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V recently launched to public, we are constantly looking at backup solutions in the market. This review covers a great new product due for release in mid December, PHD Virtual Backup for Hyper-V ( This product is powerful, easy to use and best of all, it is FREE.

You can get the this free product on


PHD Virtual Backup is used worldwide for the backup and recovery of virtual environments, leading the way in fault tolerant, high performance, scalable and efficient data protection of virtual machines. The product has traditionally supported VMWare and Citrix XenServer hypervisors. This new release extends this support to Hyper-V (Windows Server 2012).

Multi –Hypervisor support on a single solution

Testing of the product was done on its BETA software. General availability is scheduled on December 18, 2013.

Here is our review from beginning of the testing in our test lab environment.

Installation Process

No installation on the product. Use the wizard below. Just define few VM configuration and click to deploy the VBA (Virtual Backup Appliance). It was super easy! You can use execute it once you have installed PHD Virtual Hyper-V Services on each Hyper-V Machine and deploy multiple roles.


Management - Web Based Interface

Once a VBA has deployed, you can manage it by using browser. You are not required to install any console.

The product is currently limited to support Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers. Internet Explorer is not supported during our time of testing. Hopefully, PHD Virtual will add support on Internet Explorer in a future release.

On 1st login, the system will display a simple help on the page to guide a customer through the navigation. This helps you to understand and use the system immediately without need to spend more time on documentation. Very cool!


On front page, you will be welcome by a dashboard page. The dashboard that provides an “at-a-glance” overview of the current state of your environment and you can configure and manage the data protection for all of your Hyper-V hosts in a single pane of glass.

Agentless data protection

Before we start to protect, we need to define a VBA on each Hyper-V Host into this the portal. For protection, you do not need to install any agent on the Hyper-V Host or Virtual Machine. PHD Virtual technologies is using image based backup.

You need to deploy correct Virtual Backup Appliance role. Let have a look on the each role.

The 1st VBA includes a Presentation (P) role which provides a web based interface. You can configure and manage your installation. Only 1 Presentation appliance is necessary per installation.

The next role is Management (M) role. Each Hyper-V host or they called it Environment, is required on each Hyper-V Host. It will perform inventory and other hypervisor specific tasks and manages the work of the engine appliance.

The last role is Engine (E) which provides the actual backup processing and sends data to their configured backup data stores.

You can combine multiple roles into a single virtual appliance. To better understand it, I’ve drawn a picture on the appliance that you should deploy.


Once the correct appliance roles has been deployed, you can manage it using a virtual appliance which consists of Presentation (P)-1st appliance.


The system is using Virtual Image Backup concept to perform backup of the complete image of the VM, its configuration and virtual disk data. The major processing will be on the virtual appliance rather than installing agents in each guest. This makes deployment and maintenance simple, as well as follows best practices for virtualization data protection.

Backup Virtual disks run on SMB shares


Once an appliance has deployed (M & E role), next step is create an empty virtual fixed disk of a Backup Data Store to store the backup data. The backup virtual disk can run on a dedicated SMB share rather than on dedicated Hyper-V Host. We do recommend that you leverage on these capabilities to store the backup virtual disk on a dedicated SMB share to protect the backup data. Thanks to Hyper-V and File Server Product Group which makes the “Hyper-V over SMB” concept a reality. As a result, PHD Virtual is able to add SMB share support in their PHD Virtual Backup for Hyper-V product.


Support more than 2 TB per virtual disk

Starting with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, the hypervisor introduces a new virtual disk format called vhdx. Now we can provision a larger backup data store and no longer limit to 2TB per disk.

During our testing on Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, we found out that we can add a new virtual disk into the running Virtual Backup Appliance pre-installed with Ubuntu 12.04.

Then go to Portal and add a new Disk Storage to Virtual Backup Appliance.


You can define any storage option such as compression or storage threshold as well before add a disk storage.


Backup - Deduplication

Let move on to check out the backup options. When you start to create a backup job, the system will provide few backup mode options:


The recommended mode is “Virtual Full” which provides users with built in global deduplication across all data on the entire backup target. With this feature, we do not need to write duplicate data to the backup data store using incremental backup.

What do we gain? Faster of backup, reduced backup time & storage space! With compression enabled on the virtual storage disk, we achieve thin backup over time as well.

Well, if you don’t like Virtual Backup mode, you can opt for Full/Incremental backup which allows you to transfer the full or incremental backup data to any deduplication appliance available in the market or a tape library.


Sometimes we do need to protect a VM and do not want the backup to be overwritten by retention. With PHD Virtual we can pin that particular VM to protect it. Once pin, the backup data will retain and will not be removed by retention policy.



Granular Backup Per-VM Options

On each VM, you can define its own backup storage store as well as retention range. This is much better when compared to System Center Data Protection Manager, which puts everything into storage pool and one the same retention range in a backup job.


Occasionally, I get a requirement from a customer who would like to put a specific VM into a dedicated backup storage disk and configure a different retention range. PHD Virtual helped us easily achieve this.

Restoration- File Level Recovery

Now that we have configured the backup job and review the options, let move on to the most important part: Restoration. There is no point of backing up the VM without the abilities of restoration.

Our first test is file level recovery. We would like to restore a file inside a VM without restoring the entire virtual disk. We have configured a native SQL Backup to backup the SQL Database and configured PHD Virtual to backup the VM.


We then executed FLR option and waited for the system to map the backup VM data and provide the CIFS.


Then use the given CIFS and use Windows Explorer to access the backup data and restore an individual file. You can even connect to the SQL database using SQL Management Studio and recover specific SQL objects, if needed.

The Next test is Restoration- for the Entire VM. PHD Virtual has make the recovery of existing VM simpler. To overwrite existing VM, just click Rollback.


We can rollback any VM to a selected VM based on our backup date and time. Do be careful when using this option, as it will replace the entire production VM. PHD did add some protection by including a snapshot on the VM prior to recovering the data. This is a great feature and useful especially when you’ve got a corrupted VM and would like to recover from backup immediately.

To recover to alternate location without interrupting the existing production VM, you can define not to connect to Network, change another VM name, path or disk location or map it to the alternate virtual switch.



Useful Jobs

The next review is to monitor the progress of backup and restoration. PHD Virtual included this in the Jobs view.


I Found “Pause Job” to temporary halt an active job. This comes in handy especially when you urgently need to halt the backup job and allow the recovery job to go first.


While waiting, we can drill down to see the progress of action rather than seeing the progress bar and guess what is the system doing in the background. The Figure above depicted the action of attaching disk, attached status and rolling back status.

Advanced Reporting

Next, the dashboard, gives us a quick view of protection risk and trends as well as alerts with drill in options for each object. You can view the daily change rate for your storage as well.


Besides than dashboard, you can go to Report View to generate more reports such as protection summary, protected VMs, unprotected VMs, backup history and storage details. Each report provides a quick summary chart and details data as well. You can set to export the report to either PDF or CSV format. On each backup job, you can send status report by email as well.


Our conclusions for PHD Virtual Backup for Hyper-V.:


  • Excellent product for a virtual backup appliance running on top of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Host. Bonus: I never expected such a good performing Linux backup appliance on Hyper-V!
  • Ease of management using web interface
  • Agentless
  • Virtual Backup disk on SMB Shares
  • Ability to add more than 2TB virtual disk for virtual backup storage
  • Compression
  • De-Duplication
  • Ability to set backup storage & retention per VM
  • Lock VM and prevent from remove by retention period.
  • Able to Perform Item Level Recovery
  • Pause Jobs
  • Included with Dashboard and Reporting
  • It’s a FREE* Hyper-V backup solution that delivers backup to the same industry level as Veeam and Symantec! (There is a purchase option for support)·


  • No Internet Explorer support during our testing

Do check out their website:- to evaluate their product in more details.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Designing Converged Network for Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V


I just got a several machine to setup Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V. Nothing special except the specification of the machine is quite huge.


The machine has a specification of

  • Intel Xeon 2.7 Ghz – 32 logical processor (a bit closer to have 64 vcpu in a virtual machine. Too bad, I only can assign up to 32 vcpu)
  • 384 GB of Memory
  • 8 NIC X 20 GbE. Total up 160 GbE of network throughput.


So the design of the NIC should not follow like non-converged network which we use to do. In normal rack mounted server, we often have multiple of 1GbE of NIC card. When you do Hyper-V Cluster, you will end up minimum of 8 NIC depend on your environment.


Figure 1: Non-converged network

Do we do converged network on 1 GbE NIC? Well, we seldom do that as 1Gb is not a lot of throughput. We probably will laugh when someone design such as way when using 1 GbE.

“ So when do we start to look at Converged Network?”

Converged network is a new feature in Windows Server 2012 which allow the creation of virtual network adapter in the parent partition. You should look on converged network when you have 10 GbE NIC. It make more sense to split the traffic rather than wasted on 10GbE. Just imagine that you configure

  • 10 GbE for Private
  • 10 GbE for Live Migration

Then it is going to be a waste. So let split it up the traffic by using Converged Network which available on Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 using either Windows Powershell or Virtual Machine Manager 2012 or 2012 R2. You cannot do converged network by using Hyper-V Manager snap-in.

Option 1 Design


Teaming 2 X 20 GbE

  • Management
  • Live Migration
  • Cluster
  • Backup

MPIO 2 X 20GbE

  • Storage

Teaming 4 X 20 GbE

  • Hyper-V Virtual Switch for Virtual machine workload

Option 1 design in such a way to isolate the management traffic, storage traffic and VM Guest traffic.

Option 2 Design

Option 2

Teaming 3 X 20 GbE

  • Management
  • Live Migration
  • Cluster
  • Backup
  • Storage

Teaming 5 X 20 GbE

  • Hyper-V Virtual Switch for Virtual machine workload

Option 2 design in such a way to combine management and storage traffic and isolate VM Guest traffic.

Option 3 design

option 3

Teaming 8 X 20 GbE

  • Management
  • Live Migration
  • Cluster
  • Backup
  • Storage
  • Hyper-V Virtual Switch for Virtual machine workload

Option 3 design in such a way to combine multiple traffic into a team and split it to different virtual network.

The question right now, which design is correct and suitable?

There are so many design other than above three designs.

Myself, still prefer Option 1 design. Thanks to Aidan Finn and David Lachari ( my peer MVP Virtual machine) on their opinion about converged network.

There's no one right design.  That's the cool thing with this Converged Network.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Automatic Virtual Machine Activation Key (AVMA)


On our previous article we have talked about AVMA using Windows Server 2012 R2 Preview Edition. Just to update a bit on the requirement and new product key for AVMA


  • Host - Windows Server 2012 R2 Data Center Edition – Hyper-V with valid product key
  • VM – Windows Server 2012 R2

Updated Product Key for AVMA:-

Edition Product Key
Essential K2XGM-NMBT3-2R6Q8-WF2FK-P36R2

Product key was taken from :-

By using these key on the supported guest virtual machine, you do not require to activate the guest operating system.

Do remember to update the above key on your VM Template before deploy using VMM 2012 R2.


  • Do not use these key on physical Hyper-V Host. It won’t work.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Checkpoint Support on Active Directory Virtual Machine


Checkpoint are point in time snapshots of a virtual machine. Formerly known as “snapshot”. When you apply a checkpoint, you effectively revert the virtual machine back to the moment when you created the checkpoint.

It is NOT supported to apply checkpoint when your Active Directory is running on the following operating systems:-

  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2

You can apply checkpoint when the Active Directory Virtual Machine is running

  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Newer operating system

These operating system are aware of and is using Generation ID. Generation ID is a 64 bit integer value which is associated with an instance of a virtual machine configuration file.Every time when you create a checkpoint, it has it’s own configuration file. It also means that is has a different Generation ID value.


Generation ID changed

Virtual machine is paused or resumed


Virtual machine reboots


Virtual machine host reboots


Virtual machine starts executing a snapshot (every time)


Virtual machine is recovered from backup


Virtual machine is failed over in a disaster recovery environment


Virtual machine is live migrated


Virtual machine is imported, copied, or cloned


Virtual machine is failed over in a clustered environment


Next pre-requisite on hypervisor that support virtual machine Generation ID:-

  • Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V
  • Vmware vSphere 5.0 Update 2 and newer

Do take note on the checkpoint supported for Active Directory on hypervisor and guest operating system before use.

For more information, please refer to

Friday, November 22, 2013

Veeam :- 2014 New Year Resolution



Just received an information from Veeam and would like to share it to our blog visitor.

This year Veeam raffles great prizes. Register now to get one of the following goodies:

  • Tablet of your choice: Android, iPad or Surface;
  • Class of your choice: Microsoft Training or VMware Education Services course;
  • Event of your choice: TechEd or VMworld in your geography (pass, no travel);
  • Home lab with HP and Netgear products: one mega server, ReadyNAS Pro, SSDs and amazing WiFi router;
  • Software kit: MSDN subscription, Veeam NFR licenses and VMware vSphere.

Make sure to register before Dec. 24.

All the information is here:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Veeam Backup & Replication v7 R2 Has Released



News from Veeam:- I want to inform you in case you haven’t heard it yet: Veeam Backup & Replication is first to Support both vSphere 5.5 and Windows Server 2012 R2 for data protection. Now available via Veeam Backup & Replication v7 R2, this update delivers additional features and functionality described below.

For VMware, support for:

  • vSphere 5.5, including support for 62TB virtual disks;
  • vCloud Director 5.5.

For Microsoft, support for:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and free Hyper-V Server 2012 R2, including support for Generation 2 virtual machines;
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 as guest virtual machines (VMs);
  • System Center 2012 R2 Virtual Machine Manager (VMM);
  • The installation of Veeam Backup & Replication and its components on Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1.

All the information about the product is here

And here is the information about the update

Thursday, November 14, 2013

MS Techday 2013 : Private Cloud R2: Scaling From Server to Cloud Services


Today during MS Techday 2013 (Malaysia) at Sunway Pyramid Convention Center around 700+ audience has attended this events. I have presented a session which covered about Windows Azure Pack and Cloud Cruiser Express in my session called “ Private Cloud R2: Scaling From Server to Cloud Services”


Date : 14 November 2013

Venue: Sunway Pyramid Convention Center (Malaysia)

Slide View

Monday, November 11, 2013

Create Linux VM Template Using VMM 2012 R2


In this post, we are going to create linux VM template to use on Windows Azure Pack. But before we can use a VM Template, we need to prepare a Linux VM template. To do do, you need to follow below step to install VMM Guest Linux Agent into the VM.


  • Suse Linux 11 SP3 Media
  • VMM 2012 R2
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V


1. Install Suse Linux 11 SP3 Operating System in a Virtual Machine by using Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V

2. Once installation complete, you need to fulfill these requirement before transfer the VM to VMM Library:-

a) Linux Integration services has installed.

b) Install VMM Agent for Linux. Go to the ‘c:\Program Files\Microsoft System Center 2012\Virtual Machine Manager\agents\Linux’ folder


Copy those files & dump to linux VM. Open Terminal and execute

chmod +1 install
./install scvmmguestagent. (for 64 bit) or
./install scvmmguestagent. (for 32 bit)


3. Copy the Linux virtual disk to VMM Library . Refresh the VMM Library

4. Next Step is create a VM template by selecting the linux virtual disk.


5. Define template name, hardware profiles and when reach to guest OS profile. Select Profile “Create new Linux operating system customization settings”


The following is the Guest OS Profile setting that you can configure for Linux VM Template.


Supported Linux OS List:-


Define Root Credential


Last step once a Linux VM templates has created, start to deploy a test VM. Example:- Linux VM name “LinuxVM1”. After installation, verify that the vm computer name is according to name that you have define.


Related post:-

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BackupChain Review : Restore Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V Using BackupChain


In our previous post, we have look into how to backup Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, files and folder which resides on the virtual machine. If you miss our previous post, do check out from here.

And we have leave the backup to run several days. Now it is time to look on how the restoration process before any disaster happen. Just select your Task which you’ve configure previously and click “Restore” from the menu bar.

Select your backup storage pool which you have used. Either local disk, remote file server or FTP site.


Once you have select your backup storage location,the application will pull the backup data and display a calendar indicating which date contained the backup data. Click on bold date and click Proceed. If you click Cancel, it will display in Expert Screen which we are going to cover later.

Restore file / Folder


Select file that you would like to restore.


If you would like to view the file before restore, you can click on the “magnifying glass” icon.


Restore a VM

How about Virtual Machines? The concept and process is still remain the same. Just repeat the same process as mentioned in “Restore File”.A calendar view appear and you can select backup date data.


Once you click Proceed, it will give another options to perform either full restore, granular restore or file restore.


If you would like to restore several files/ folder, just select Granular Restore. It will extract the files/ folder without restoring the entire virtual machine and process of restoration is faster.

You have 2 choice:

  • Click Proceed – to follow process of restoration by using Wizard page. This option is useful for beginner administrator. For me, I prefer to use the second option (Expert Screen) as it give me flexibility on item to restore.
  • Click open Expert Screen (Advanced Mode)

On Expert Screen page, it give you flexibility to select virtual disk or Click on “magnifying glass” icon , it will allow you to restore an individual files in a virtual machine as well.


Rather than restore an entire VM, you can perform export individual files or Open file with default program. Open default program is useful to view the content before restore. Do take note, this will only work on certain program which available to your server.


For backup VM that you have previously configured encryption, you will not able to see the content of the backup data on Expert Screen page unless you enter a correct “encryption password”. To able to view the content and restore, make sure you have the correct password. Without it, you cannot perform the restoration process.

On encrypted backup VM, the application will ask user to key in password for decryption before allow user to view the contents inside.


For double protection security , restore encrypted VM, the system will ask for encryption key as well.


Additional options available before proceed to restore, do click on Show Advanced Options link.


You can restore latest version of files, restore ACL or prompt before overwrite existing data. On Hyper-V Settings, it allow you to restore a clone VM with a new identity (ID) so that you can restore it side by side with the original virtual machine. Here is how it would look like on Hyper-V Manager snap-in for Clone VM after restoration. Example:- “REDGENWin2012R2 VM and Clone VM (listed with date & time of restoration ID)


The purpose of this review is to test supportability for Windows Server 2012 R2. Therefore we have tested restore Gen 2 VM with VHDX virtual disk. Guess what? It’s PASSED on our test. Below is the progress of restoring a Gen 2 VM.


What happen when you enter an incorrect encryption password during restoration?  The restore process will failed and give you an errors message


To check why failed? Click on View logs,


For more detail, I recommend that you view the “Logs in HTML format” . Check out the highlighted on the problem.


That’s all on my review about BackupChain in term of backup and restore Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V. Do download and try Backup Chain trial version (20 days) to get the real experience of the products and start protect your R2 virtualization infrastructure.

Don’t wait till disaster happen!

Interested to know more about BackupChain, please feel free to visit here.