Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Scalability Improvements in Windows Server 2012
Scalability: That's what it's all about, especially when you're talking about cloud computing. And cloud computing and scalability were the hot topics at this year's TechEd in Orlando, confirming that this is also what Windows Server 2012 is all about.
The distance we've come in terms of scaling, over the past fifteen to twenty years, is amazing. I remember the first time I got a computer with a whole megabyte of RAM. It was amazing! After running with 640K RAM for years, I thought I was living in Star Trek land with a computer with that much memory. Then a little later when I got a computer with 16 MB of RAM, I thought that I was at the helm of the Starship Enterprise! Such power on my desktop was hard to fathom. Over the years I've continued to be amazed by the amount of memory in my desktop machines (my current desktop has 16 GB of RAM) and the servers in my home office (which now have 32 GB of RAM).
As impressive and science fiction-like as these increases in scalability seem to be, they pale in comparison to the requirements of cloud computing. Cloud Service Providers will need unprecedented amounts of compute, storage and networking power to support the consumers of their cloud services. Of course, Microsoft would like to see these CSPs use their newest Windows Server operating system as the operating system of choice in their datacenters.
In order to do this, Microsoft needed to make big improvements in scalability in Windows Server 2012. And that they did! Check out these stats:
Windows Server 2008 R2:
- 64 logical processors supported per host operating system
- 1 TB of memory supported on each host operating system
- 4 virtual processors supported per guest operating system
- 64 GB of memory supported per guest operating system
- 2 TB maximum virtual disk size per guest operating system
Those look like big numbers for sure, and they are. But in order to run cloud infrastructures of the future and push the limits of the hardware, the Windows Server software had to make some profound changes in terms of scalability – not only to support the hardware available today, but in anticipation of the supercomputing hardware that's coming in the next few years. Check out these stats:
Windows Server 2012:
- 160 logical processors supported per host operating system (2.5X increase)
- 2 TB of memory supported per host operating system (2X increase)
- 32 logical processors supported per guest operating system (8X increase)
- 1 TB of memory supported per guest operating system (16X increase)
- 64 TB maximum virtual disk size per guest operating system (32X increase)
Is that incredible or what? These changes are required because companies want to be able to virtualize their tier 1 applications (such as SQL and OLTP and OLTA applications and services), all of which need enormous amounts of memory and processing resources. Windows Server 2012 looks as if it's stepping up to the plate and scaling up to meet the requirements of private cloud.
Just for fun let's sneak a peek further into the future. What if a theoretical "Windows Server 2016" delivered percentage improvements similar to those seen in Windows Server 2012? The numbers then would be:
"Windows Server 2016"
- 400 logical processors supported per host operating system
- 4 TB of memory supported per host operating system
- 256 logical processors supported per guest operating system
- 16 TB of memory supported per guest operating system
- 2048 TB (2 PB) maximum virtual disk size per guest operating system
Notice that there is a little problem in the Host OS and Guest OS memory increases, because the multiplier for Windows Server 2012 was significantly different between the Host and Guest OS increases, so we'll have to wait and see what happens there (well, we have to wait and see for all of it!).
But let's assume that the Host OS ends up supporting 16 TB of memory. How many virtual machines that require an average of 32 GB of memory would be supported on such a machine? Well, 16 TB is 16,384 GB. Divide 16,384 by 32 and we get 512 VMs running with 32 GB of memory each! If many of those servers are basic web servers or file servers that need less memory, it gets even more interesting, because Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V supports up to 1000 VMs per host server. Maybe that number will change, but the size of the average VM supported will be significantly high – and for gigantic workloads, the sky's the limit.
I think that Windows Server 2012 has a bright future as a cloud OS – Let me know what you think.
By Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MVP
Quote of the Month- Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises. - Demosthenes
2. ISA Server 2006 Migration Guide - Order Today!
Dr. Tom Shinder's best selling books on ISA Server 2000 and 2004 were the "ISA Firewall Bibles" for thousands of ISA Firewall administrators. Dr. Tom and his illustrious team of ISA Firewall experts now present to you , ISA Server 2006 Migration Guide. This book leverages the over two years of experience Tom and his team of ISA Firewall experts have had with ISA 2006, from beta to RTM and all the versions and builds in between. They've logged literally 1000's of flight hours with ISA 2006 and they have shared the Good, the Great, the Bad and the Ugly of ISA 2006 with their no holds barred coverage of Microsoft's state of the art stateful packet and application layer inspection firewall..
Order your copy of ISA Server 2006 Migration Guide. You'll be glad you did.
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3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest
4. Administrator KB Tip of the Month
Beware Disabling Aero Snap in Windows 7
Some of the Aero features in Windows 7 can be frustrating, such as windows maximizing themselves whenever you drag them too near the top or side of your desktop. This feature is called Aero Snap, and while it can sometimes be useful, it can also be annoying. Can you disable it? Yes, by doing the following:
- Type mouse in the Start menu search box and select Change How Your Mouse Works.
- Select the checkbox "Prevent Windows From Being Automatically Arranged When Moved To The Edge Of The Screen".
However, you need to be aware that there are some additional consequences of disabling Aero Snap. One unexpected "side effect" I've discovered is that doing this also disables some Windows keyboard shortcuts such as Windows+Shift+Arrow that lets you move a window from one monitor to another in a multimonitor scenario. As a workaround for this, you can use Alt+Space+M instead, but it's not as elegant.
For more great admin tips, check out http://www.windowsnetworking.com/kbase/
5. Windows Networking Tip of the Month
If you've had the chance to install the Windows Server 2012 RP operating system, you might have noticed a subtle but significant change – the default setting during installation is the core installation, not the full version. From what I understand, Microsoft is working toward a future of "headless" servers where you will never need or want to log on locally at the server. Instead, you'll manage all aspects of the server from a remote management station.
I think this is a great idea when it is fully realized. It will reduce the attack surface on the server significantly and will also require far fewer updates on the servers – both of which are very good things! I'm not sure they're quite there yet – but you can find out for yourself. Install Windows Server 2012 core and then download the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 8 Release Preview.
Note that you need to install these tools on a Windows 8 client computer. That's right; they won't work on Windows 7. Also, while you can use them to manage Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 computers, they don't guarantee full functionality. Go ahead and install these on a test virtual machine and see how they work for you.
6. Windows Networking Links of the Month
I'm thinking about putting together a private cloud and was wondering about some possible changes in Windows Server 2012 that might make it easier to deploy my private cloud. My main area of interest is resiliency at the compute layer of the cloud infrastructure. In the past I needed to use Windows Server Failover Clustering to get the level of resiliency I needed at the compute layer which of course meant that I needed to stand up a failover cluster and use shared storage (by the way, I have used iSCSI as my shared storage solution). My issue is that I'm going to need to deploy a very large private cloud infrastructure that would exceed the bounds of the number of servers that are supported in a single cluster (which I think is 64 nodes for Windows Server 2012). Is there a way for me to get the support for the massive scale that I aspire to for my private cloud using Windows Server 2012 technologies?
Scalability rears its head again. Great question! In the past, the delimiter for virtual machine migration using Hyper-V was the failover cluster and the migration of the virtual machine from host system to host system required a shared storage solution. This works pretty well for providing high availability for the compute component of the private cloud infrastructure, but it does set a limit on the size of your private cloud, albeit a pretty hefty limit when you consider the Windows Server 2012 support for up to 64 nodes in a failover cluster. However, I do understand that those who want to create private clouds of massive scale need to break out of the limitations of failover clustering.
I have some great news for you. In Windows Server 2012, the failover cluster isn't the boundary for virtual machine mobility. You can create private clouds with thousands of host servers using Direct Attached Storage (DAS) and move the virtual machine workloads from host to host without requiring a cluster or shared storage. We can do that now because Windows Server 2012 fully supports Live Migration and Storage Migration without the use of a cluster. Microsoft likes to say that you can move virtual machines with nothing more than network cable (although, I suppose you could do it over a wireless connection, too).
When you combine this ability to move virtual machines to any other host in the cluster without requiring a cluster or shared storage with the amazing performance features in SMB 3.0, it becomes very easy to create massive private clouds and move workloads from machines that are showing signs of degraded service. You can also take advantage of other features such as Hyper-V Replica and integrate that with your fabric management solution so that when a VM in your non-clustered private cloud fails, the replica is automatically started with minimal downtime. I think you'll really like what you see in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and SMB 3 that will enable your dream of a massive private cloud without a failover cluster.