Have you tried the Microsoft Private Cloud yet?

Download Windows Server 2012

Download Windows Server 2012

Download System Center 2012

Download System Center 2012

If you haven't yet downloaded and tried out the new Microsoft Private Cloud a.k.a. Windows Server 2012 (with Hyper-V 3.0) and System Center 2012 (now available as SP1 Beta) ... what are you waiting for?

Would you like some more help to know how to get started with these downloads? Then check out http://www.technetevents.com/itcampfiles/ for more free resources on how to setup the server and get familiar with Hyper-V. And of course, I'd be happy to hear what you're interested in, working on, or if there's a question you have on how this is all supposed to work.

Performance Monitoring Improvements in Windows Server 2012

The following exceprt is found in the newly re-release eBook Introducing Windows Server 2012 (thanks once again Marnix for sharing useful content). I'm interested to see how ETW and similar enhancements in Windows Server 2012 enable performance or other improvements in System Center's infrastructure and application monitoring.

Performance Monitoring Improvements in Windows Server 2012
Windows Server 2012 exposes more Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) data providers and performance items than Windows Server 2008 R2. With this exposure comes the vital need for the IT professional to know which datasets are relevant to their specific monitoring situation. It's not feasible nor appropriate to just gather everything, for system monitoring has in it a touch of physics … a modified Heisenberg uncertainty principle is afoot; One cannot monitor a system without impacting it to some degree. To how much of a degree is at question. Finely tuned data collector sets by Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL; see http://pal.codeplex.com) can be used by the IT professional to ensure they are only gathering the data necessary to their problem set, so as to not negatively impact system performance too heavily while monitoring or baselining systems.
One advantage to using ETW data providers rather than performance counter object items is that ETW providers come from the kernel itself typically, rather than coming from user mode measurements. What this means is that the data from ETW data providers is more accurate and more reliable and also puts a lower load on the system. ETW logging is unlikely to suffer from missing data sets due to high system load as well. Look for guidance on which items to collect though before diving in; ETL tracing can grow log files quickly.
Jeff Stokes
Platforms PFE

How to setup RAM sensitive software on a Hyper-V VM with Dynamic Memory

When you create a new Hyper-V virtual machine, configured with Dynamic Memory, the advantage is to boot a virtual server with minimal RAM allocated (e.g. 512 MB), but the catch is some setups check that the computer it's being installed on has enough memory.  I recently was disappointed to see that this same issue / inconvenience exists as I was running through the VMM setup for 2012 SP1 (CTP2). I tried Aidan's tip of using Paint, but I could not get paint to use enough memory, so that the setup prerequisites would let me get by.

Fortunately, I found a post from 2008 on the Windows SDK blog that mentioned tcpanalyzer.exe and consume.exe as "hidden gems" in the SDK. Consume.exe sounded promising, so I went to fetch the latest Windows SDK. Fortunately, consume.exe is still there.

Consume.exe is all of 21KB, so I copied into my newly minted Hyper-V VM (for more on my favorite way to load up a new Windows Server 2012 VM, see … ) and ran consume.exe -physical-memory -time 60.

The 'Assigned Memory' value in my Hyper-V Manager window climbed up above the 2GB (2242 MB) I needed to proceed, and I was able to finish my setup.

Convert-WindowsImage.ps1 -ShowUI

I have used WIM2VHD.wsf in the past, and now that I'm spending more time in Hyper-V (both in Windows 8 Release Preview, and in Server 2012 Release Candidate), this Convert-WindowsImage.ps1 PowerShell script provides a nicely improved workflow for quickly creating new VHD (or VHDX) files.

Here's an example of how you can use it in a GUI mode. In this example, I pointed the source to the Windows Server 2012 RC ISO that I downloaded, and created a new dynamic 40GB VHDX from the Standard edition within that ISO.

PS E:\scripts> .\Convert-WindowsImage.ps1 -ShowUI

Note: the current directory where the script is launched from will be the path where the new VHD or VHDX will be created.

Windows(R) Image to Virtual Hard Disk Converter for Windows(R) 8
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.
Version 6.2.8424.0.amd64fre.fbl_core1_hyp_dev(mikekol).120517-1616 Release Preview
INFO   : Launching UI...

 

INFO   : Opening ISO 8400.0.WINMAIN_WIN8RC.120518-1423_X64FRE_SERVER_EN-US-HRC_SSS_X64FRE_EN-US_DV5.ISO...
INFO   : Looking for H:\sources\install.wim...
INFO   : Scanning WIM metadata...
INFO   : Selected Working Directory is E:\Virtual Machines\Hyper-V Disks...
INFO   : Image 2 selected (ServerStandard)...
INFO   : Creating sparse disk...
INFO   : Attaching VHDX...
INFO   : Disk initialized...
INFO   : Disk partitioned...
INFO   : Volume formatted...
INFO   : Access path (I:\) has been assigned...
INFO   : Applying image to VHDX.  This could take a while...
INFO   : Signing disk...
INFO   : Image applied.  Making image bootable...
INFO   : Opening I:\boot\bcd for configuration...
INFO   : BCD configuration complete. Moving on...
INFO   : Drive is bootable.  Cleaning up...
INFO   : Closing VHDX...
INFO   : Closing Windows image...
INFO   : Done.

 

And now I have a new "Server2012RCstd.vhdx" that I can attach to a new virtual machine and boot!

 

On my way to the new MCSE!

I checked prometric over the weekend and was thrilled to find I passed both of the free Microsoft exams I took at MMS 2012.

071-247 : Configuring & Deploying a Private Cloud w/ System Center 2012

071-246 : Monitoring & Operating a Private Cloud w/ System Center 2012

Now I have only  a few steps reimaining to complete my new and improved MCSE.

If you're interested in more information on the new, revived MCSE certification programs, check out: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-private-cloud.aspx