Author Archives: Eric DeBord

Building a Hyper-V Cluster – SCVMM Configuring SMI-S and SMB3 Storage – Part 3/6

SCVMM Configuring SMI-S and SMB3 Storage

As of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft iSCSI Target Server is a server role that enables the server to function as a storage device.

With VMM in System Center 2012 R2, you can manage an iSCSI Target Server running any of several operating system versions:

• With Windows Server 2012 on the iSCSI Target Server: You must first install the necessary SMI-S provider on the iSCSI Target Server. The provider is included in VMM media at   \amd64\Setup\msi\iSCSITargetSMISProvider.msi

• Starting with Windows Server 2012 R2 on the iSCSI Target Server: You only need to install the iSCSI Target Server Role Service and the iSCSI Target Storage Provider Role Service as shown below.

The SMI-S provider follows an “embedded” provider model, where the provider is installed on the iSCSI Target Server computer. The SMI-S provider is WMI-based and manages the iSCSI Target Server by using the iSCSI Target WMI provider.
To install and manage the iSCSI Target Server (2012 R2) with VMM use the following steps:

1. Install the iSCSI Target Server and iSCSI Target Storage Provider as shown above on the server that will become the iSCSI target.
2. Using VMM, on the fabric workspace from the storage area, right-click on providers and add a storage device.
3. Choose the option “SAN and NAS devices discovered and managed by a SMI-S provider”. Click Next.
4. Choose the protocol “SMI-S WMI”, enter the name of the server with the iSCSI target, and choose a Run-AS account.  Click next.
5. The server entered will be scanned, providing the options to choose which local storage devices should be available for presentation by VMM.
6. Once the provider is installed, create LUNs, allocated them to host groups, and add storage to servers as demonstrated in the video.
We can also manage SMB 3.0 shares using VMM.  Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 both support SMB 3.0 and can be managed from SCVMM.  To manage SMB shares with VMM follow the steps below:

1. Using VMM, on the fabric workspace from the storage area, right-click on providers and add a storage device.
2. Choose the option “Windows based file server”.  Click Next.
3. Enter the name of the server that you will be managing and using for SMB 3.0 sharing.
4. Complete the wizard to complete adding the provider.
5. Once the provider is configured, add shares to VMM and allocated them to Hyper-V hosts as demonstrated in the video.

Check out the other videos in this series!

Hyper-V Unknown Devices

Hyper-V Unknown Devices

In Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V, Microsoft made a couple of enhancements within virtual machines that provide new capabilities for guests that support the associated features.  These features include Automatic Virtual Machine Activation, and Enhanced Session Mode.

 Automatic Virtual Machine Activation

Automatic Virtual Machine Activation provides customers with an easier way to manage VM guest license activations when their VMs are running on a Datacenter Edition of Windows server 2012 R2.  Because Datacenter Edition provides unlimited virtual machine licenses for Windows Server VMs, VMs running Windows Server 2012 R2 on 2012 R2 hosts will be automatically activated, reducing the effort of administrators for purposes of license activation.

 Enhanced Session Mode

Enhanced Session Mode provides administrators with enriched tools for interacting with virtual machines through the console connection.  In previous versions of Hyper-V, administrators could connect to VMs using Virtual Machine Connection, which had limited functionality, particularly if you wanted to copy and paste something into your VM.  Now with 2012 R2 Hyper-V, guests with supported operating systems provide true RDP capabilities, but via the VMBus, which means these connections can be made without a network connection.

Below is a Device Manager windows for a Windows Server 2008 guest running in a Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V VM. Note the two Unknown devices:

Device manager showing two unknown devices in a 2008R2 Hyper-V guest

Device manager showing two unknown devices in a 2008R2 Hyper-V guest

Taking a look at the Properties of each device and specifically look at the Hardware IDs, we can see one that starts with 3375. This is the new virtual device used for Automatic Virtual Machine Activation.

Hardware ID for Automatic Activation in Hyper-V 2012R2

Hardware ID for Automatic Activation in Hyper-V 2012R2

Looking at the Properties and Hardware IDs on the other device, we see that it starts with f8e6. This is the new virtual device used for Enhanced Session Mode.

Hardware ID for Enhanced Session Mode in a 2012R2 Hyper-V Guest

Hardware ID for Enhanced Session Mode in a 2012R2 Hyper-V Guest

Automatic Virtual Machine Activation and the new Enhanced Session Mode features are new to Windows Server 2012 R2 and later, thus earlier guests (Windows Server 2012 and earlier) don’t know what these devices are and show these as unknown devices.  These unknown devices can be safely ignored in the older operating systems.

Additional Resources

TechNet: Virtual Machine Connection – Enhanced Session Mode Overview
MSDN Code: Hyper-V enhanced session mode sample
TechNet: Automatic Virtual Machine Activation

Hyper-V dVMQ

Deep Dive: Configuring dVMQ in Hyper-V

Virtual Machine Queue (VMQ) is a mechanism for mapping physical queues in a NIC to the virtual NIC in a VM partition (Parent or guest). This mapping makes the handling of network traffic more efficient. The increased efficiency results in less CPU time in the parent partition and reduced latency of network traffic. Also, without VMQ, traffic for a vSwitch on particular network interface is all handled by a single CPU core. This limits total throughput on a 10GB interface to ~2.5-4.5GBits/sec (results will depend on speed of core and nature of traffic). VMQ is especially helpful on workloads that process a large amount of traffic, such as backup or deployment servers. For dVMQ to work with RSS, the parent partition must be running Server 2012R2, otherwise RSS can not coexists with VMQ.

VMQs are a finite resource. A VMQ is allocated when a virtual machine is powered on. A queue will be assigned to each vNIC with VMQ enabled until all of the VMQs are exauted. That assignment will remain in place until the VM is powered off or migrated to another hyper-v node. If you have more vNICs in your environment than VMQs on your physical adapter then you should only enable VMQ on the vNICs that will be handling the most traffic.

Static VMQ

This image represents a Hyper-V host configured without VMQ in place. All network traffic for all the VMs is handled by a single core. With static VMQ (available in 2008R2), a VMQ is assigned to a specific CPU, and will stay on the CPU independent of workloads.

Dynamic VMQ

This image introduces both Dynamic Virtual Machine Queue (dVMQ) and load balancing mode for NIC teaming. These features are new to Server 2012. dVMQ is very similar to VMQ with one major difference. Dynamic VMQ will scale the number of CPU cores used to handle the VMQs across pool of CPU cores. When the network workloads are light all the dVMQs will be handled by a single CPU core, but as the network workload increases so too will the number of CPU cores used. With dVMQ in 2012 each queue can only use one CPU core at a time. Also, a vNIC can only have one VMQ assigned to it.

Sum Mode/Min Mode

In our video we recommend Hyper-V Port AND Switch Independent for a Load Balance Failover Team (LBFO) configuration on switches supporting Hyper-V workloads. This load balancing mode and teaming mode will put the vSwitch in Sum mode. This mean that we will have the sum of all the VMQs from the NICs in the LBFO team. In the case of the left image above we have 2 NICs in the team each with 2 VMQs. With the team in Sum mode we have a total of 4 VMQs to allocate to vNICs. If we use AddressHash OR Switch Dependent configuration on the team, it will be placed in Min mode. In the right image above, the same hardware now only offers 2 VMQs for vNICs. This is because inbound traffic may come in on any network interface on the team for a particular vNIC. This may be a desirable configuration if you have very few vNICs on a vSwitch (vNIC count equal or less than the fewest VMQs on any NIC in the team).

Virtual Receive Side Scaling

Server 2012R2 introduces Virtual Receive Side Scaling (vRSS). This feature works with VMQ to distribute the CPU workload of recive traffic across multiple CPU cores in the VM. This effectively eliminates the CPU core bottleneck we experience with a single vNIC. To take full advantage of this feature both the host and guest need to be 2012R2. Enabling vRSS does come with the cost of extra CPU load in the VM and parent partition. For this reason, vRSS should only be enabled on vNICs that will be exceeding 2.5GBits/Sec on a regular basis.

Base and Max CPU

Base and Max CPU properties are used to configure what CPU cores will be used by VMQ.  The base processor is the first core in the group and max is the size of the group.  For example, Hyper Threading disabled and base=2 max=4 would assign cores 2-5.  VMQ will not leverage hyper threading (HT).  If HT is enabled then only even numbered cores will be used.  For example: HT enabled, base=2 max=4 would assign even numbered cores 2-8.  When ever possible it is best to choose a base value greater than 0 (or 1 in case of HT).  Creating CPU bottlenecks on core 0 has caused performance issues in some implementations.

Requirements and Configuration for VMQ

The following are required to use VMQ:
-Server 2008R2 (Static VMQ), Server 2012(dVMQ), Server 2012R2 (dVMQ+vRSS)
-Physical NICs must support VMQ
-BelowTenGigVmqEnabled = 1 for 1GB NICs (10GB NICs are auto enabled)
Follow these steps from the video to enable VMQ
0. Enable VMQ for 1GB if required
–HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\VMSMP\Parameters\BelowTenGigVmqEnabled = 1
1. Install the latest NIC driver/firmware
2. Enable VMQ in the driver for the NIC (Process will vary by NIC model and manufacturer)
3. Determine values for Base and Max CPU based on hardware configuration
4. Assign values for Base and Max CPU
5. Configure VMs

Recommendations for VMQ/dVQM/vRSS

-Use Switch Independent + Hyper-V Port to ensure the vSwitch is in SUM mode
-Always assign a base CPU other than CPU0 to ensure best performance and resiliency
-Remember when assigning Base/Max CPU using HyperThreading only even numbered cores are used
-Multiplexor Adaptors will show Base:Max of 0:0, do not change this item
-Configure Base and Max CPU for each NIC with as little overlap as possible
-Only assign Max Processor values of 1,2,4,8
–It is ok to have max processor extend past the last CPU core or number of VMQs on the NIC

Troubleshooting VMQ

Here are a few things we have seen in the field when supporting VMQ

  • Most issues with VMQ are resolved by updating to the latest version of the NIC driver!
  • VMQ appears enabled but is showing 0 queues. This may even only impact a single port on a multiport NIC.
    • *RssOrVmqPreference = 1 Must be set on all NICs that will leverage VMQ (Follow this Link for more information)
    •  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{4D36E972-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318\[GUID of NIC Port]\*RssOrVmqPreference = 1

If you have an issue that you have experienced in your environment not listed here let me know so I can add it to the list!

PowerShell Code to Auto Configure VMQ Base/Max Processor


$Teams = Get-NetLbfoTeam
$proc = Get-WmiObject -Class win32_processor
$cores = $proc| Measure-Object -Property NumberOfCores -Sum|select -ExpandProperty sum
$LPs = $proc| Measure-Object -Property NumberOfLogicalProcessors -Sum|select -ExpandProperty sum
$HT = if($cores -eq $LPs){$false}else{$true}
function SetVMQsettings ($NIC, $base,$max){
    #$nic|Set-NetAdapterVmq -BaseProcessorNumber $base -MaxProcessors $max
    Write-Host "$($ Proc:$base, Max:$max"
#$LPs = 4 #testing var
#$ht = $false #testing var
foreach ($team in $teams){
	$VmqAdapters = Get-NetAdapterVmq -name ($team.members)
	#Create settings
	$VMQindex = 0
	Foreach($VmqAdapter in $VmqAdapterS){
		$VmqAdapterVMQs =$VmqAdapter.NumberOfReceiveQueues
        #$VmqAdapterVMQs = 2 #testing var
		if ($VMQindex -eq 0){#first team nic
			#base proc 1+HT and max eq to num remaining cores, num queues, whatever is less
			$base = 1+[int]$ht
			$max = ($LPs/(1+$HT)-1), $VmqAdapterVMQs|sort|select -Index 0
            SetVMQsettings -nic $VmqAdapter -base $base -max $max
        else{#all other nics exclusing first team nic
            if ($VmqAdapterVMQs -gt ($LPs/(1+$HT))){ #queues exceeds core count, so just start at base+1
                $base = 1+[int]$ht
                $max = ($LPs/(1+$HT)-1), $VmqAdapterVMQs|sort|select -Index 0
                SetVMQsettings -nic $VmqAdapter -base $base -max $max
            else{ #cores greater than Queues so ballancing is possible
                $StepSize = [int]((($LPs/(1+$HT))-$VmqAdapterVMQs-1)/($VmqAdapters.count-1))*$VMQindex+1
                $base = $StepSize * (1+$HT)
                $max = ($LPs/(1+$HT)-1), $VmqAdapterVMQs|sort|select -Index 0
                SetVMQsettings -nic $VmqAdapter -base $base -max $max


TechNet Networking Blog: Deep Dive VMQ Part 1, 2, 3

Building a Hyper-V Cluster – Building The Hyper-V Cluster – Part 4/5

In this video we validate our cluster node configuration and then create the cluster. Once the cluster is formed, we update the names of various cluster components to match their function. Finally we set up a CSV on the cluster.

In Server 2012R2 the cluster validation well help to ensure that the nodes in the cluster are configured identically and correctly. By passing the cluster validation and using hardware certified for 2012R2, we are ensuring our cluster will be in a supported configuration.

When we form the cluster we only need two items, the name and IP of the cluster. The name we specify will be used to create a computer account in active directory. If the using running the new-cluster command does not have rights to create computer accounts in AD the account may be prestaged. If this is done, the account should be disabled and the user should have full permission on the account.

PowerShell Command

Test-Cluster -node 2k12r2-node1,2k12r2-node2
New-Cluster -Name HVC1 -node 2k12r2-node1,2k12r2-node2 -staticAddress

#Update Cluster Network Names to Match Function
(Get-ClusterNetwork| ?{$_.Address -eq ""}).name = "Managment"
(Get-ClusterNetwork| ?{$_.Address -eq ""}).name = "iSCSI"
(Get-ClusterNetwork| ?{$_.Address -eq ""}).name = "Cluster1"
(Get-ClusterNetwork| ?{$_.Address -eq ""}).name = "Cluster2"

#Update Cluster Disk Names to Match Function
(Get-ClusterGroup -Name "Cluster group"| Get-ClusterResource |?{$_.ResourceType -eq "Physical Disk"}).name = "Witness"
(Get-ClusterGroup "available storage"| Get-ClusterResource).name = "CSV1"

#Configure the CSV
Get-ClusterResource -Name "CSV1"| Add-ClusterSharedVolume
Rename-Item -name C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1 -NewName C:\ClusterStorage\CSV1

Cluster Network Roles

In our example we did not need to change anything other than the cluster network’s name. This is because the excellent work the Windows Failover Clustering team has done on the cluster creation wizard. Automatically each cluster network will be configured with the correct cluster role and metric. These setting can be used to fine tune cluster network behavior, but in most cases are best left in default configuration.
We can use Get-ClusterNetwork to inspect the values for role and metric:
PS C:\> Get-ClusterNetwork -Cluster HVC0 | Format-Table Name, role, Metric, AutoMetric -AutoSize
Name Role Metric AutoMetric
—- —- —— ———-
Cluster1 1 30384 True
Cluster2 1 39841 True
iSCSI 0 79842 True
Management 3 79841 True

We will connect to the cluster network name using the role 3 network. The cluster networks are role 1 and will be used for cluster communications. iSCSI communication was detected on the storage network so it was created as a role 1 network, blocked for use by the cluster.

We will do a deep dive on cluster networks in another video.

Check out the other post in this series!

Building a Hyper-V Cluster – Configuring Networks – Part 2/5

PowerShell Commands

# New Network LBFO Team
$NICname = Get-NetAdapter | %{$}
New-NetLbfoTeam -Name LBFOTeam –TeamMembers $NICname -TeamingMode SwitchIndependent -LoadBalancingAlgorithm HyperVPort -Confirm:$false
# Attach new VSwitch to LBFO team
New-VMSwitch -Name HVSwitch –NetAdapterName LBFOTeam –MinimumBandwidthMode Weight –AllowManagementOS $false

# Create vNICs on VSwitch for parent OS
# Management vNIC
Add-VMNetworkAdapter –ManagementOS –Name Management –SwitchName HVSwitch
Rename-NetAdapter -Name "vEthernet (Management)" -NewName Management
#In this lab we are using one vLAN, typically each subnet gets its own vlan
#Set-VMNetworkAdapterVlan –ManagementOS –VMNetworkAdapterName Management –Access –VlanId 10
New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias Management -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -DefaultGateway -Confirm:$false
#New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias Management -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -DefaultGateway -Confirm:$false
Set-DnsClientServerAddress -InterfaceAlias Management -ServerAddresses,

# Cluster1 vNIC
Add-VMNetworkAdapter –ManagementOS –Name Cluster1 –SwitchName HVSwitch
Rename-NetAdapter -Name "vEthernet (Cluster1)" -NewName Cluster1
#In this lab we are using one vLAN, typically each subnet gets its own vlan
#Set-VMNetworkAdapterVlan –ManagementOS –VMNetworkAdapterName Cluster1 –Access –VlanId 2
New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias Cluster1 -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -Confirm:$false
#New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias Cluster1 -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -Confirm:$false

# Cluster2 vNIC
Add-VMNetworkAdapter –ManagementOS –Name Cluster2 –SwitchName HVSwitch
Rename-NetAdapter -Name "vEthernet (Cluster2)" -NewName Cluster2
#In this lab we are using one vLAN, typically each subnet gets its own vlan
#Set-VMNetworkAdapterVlan –ManagementOS –VMNetworkAdapterName Cluster2 –Access –VlanId 3
New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias Cluster2 -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -Confirm:$false
#New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias Cluster2 -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -Confirm:$false

Add-VMNetworkAdapter –ManagementOS –Name iSCSI –SwitchName HVSwitch
Rename-NetAdapter -Name "vEthernet (iSCSI)" -NewName iSCSI
#In this lab we are using one vLAN, typically each subnet gets its own vlan
#Set-VMNetworkAdapterVlan –ManagementOS –VMNetworkAdapterName iSCSI –Access –VlanId 1
New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias iSCSI -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -Confirm:$false
#New-NetIPAddress -InterfaceAlias iSCSI -IPAddress -PrefixLength 24 -Confirm:$false

Cluster Network Roles

In the video we leverage PowerShell to deploy converged networking to our Hyper-V hosts.  We have 2 physical network adapters to work with, but need to implement all of the network roles in the table below so that we will be able to deploy a cluster per best practices.  To accomplish this we create a team and attach a virtual switch.  This vSwitch is shared with the host and the VMs.  The host is given 4 vNICs on the virtual switch to accommodate the various types of network traffic (Storage, Cluster1, Cluster2, Management).  The failover cluster creation process will automatically detect iSCSI traffic on our storage network and set it for no cluster access.  It will also detect the default gateway on the management interface and set that network for cluster use and client use.  This is the network where we will create our cluster network name when the cluster is formed.  The remaining two network are non routed and are used for internal cluster communication.  Cluster communications, CSV traffic and cluster heart beat will use BOTH of these networks equally. One of the networks will be used for live migration traffic. In 2012R2 we have the option of using SMB3 for Live Migration to force the cluster to use both Cluster Only networks if we prefer that to the default compression option.  In the video we don’t care which of the cluster networks is preferred for live migration, so we simply name our networks Cluster1 and Cluster2.

We break the traffic into 4 vNICs rather than just using one because this will help us to ensure network traffic is efficiently utilizing the hardware.  By default the management vNIC will be using VMQ. Because we created the LBFO team using Hyper-V Port the vNICs will be balanced across the physical NICs in the team.  Because the networks roles are broken out into separate vNICs, we can also later apply QoS policies at the vNIC level to ensure important traffic has first access to the network.

When using converged networks, the multiple vNICs provide the ability to fine tune the quality of service for each type of traffic, while the high availability is provided by the LBFO team they are created on. If we had unlimited physical adapters, we would create a team for the Management and a separate team for VM Access Networks. We would use two adapters configured with MPIO for our storage network.  The remaining two cluster network would each be configured on a single physical adapter as failover clustering will automatically fail cluster communication between cluster networks in the event of failures.  Given you number of available physical adapters, you may choose many different possible configurations.  In doing so keep the network traffic and access requirements outlined below in mind.

Network   access type
Cluster Role Purpose of the   network access type Network traffic   requirements Recommended   network access
Storage None Access   storage through iSCSI or Fibre Channel (Fibre Channel does not need a network   adapter). High   bandwidth and low latency. Usually,   dedicated and private access. Refer to your storage vendor for guidelines.
Virtual machine access N/A Workloads   running on virtual machines usually require external network connectivity to   service client requests. Varies Public   access which could be teamed for link aggregation or to fail over the   cluster.
Management Cluster   and Client Managing   the Hyper-V management operating system. This network is used by Hyper-V   Manager or System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). Low   bandwidth Public   access, which could be teamed to fail over the cluster.
Cluster and Cluster Shared Volumes (Cluster 1) Cluster   Only Preferred network used by the cluster for   communications to maintain cluster health. Also, used by Cluster Shared   Volumes to send data between owner and non-owner nodes. If storage access is   interrupted, this network is used to access the Cluster Shared Volumes or to   maintain and back up the Cluster Shared Volumes. Transfer virtual machine   memory and state. The cluster should have access to more than one network for   communication to ensure the cluster is highly available. Usually   low bandwidth and low latency. Occasionally, high bandwidth. Private   access
Live migration (Cluster 2) Cluster   Only High   bandwidth and low latency during migrations. Private   access
Table adapted from Hyper-V: Live Migration Network Configuration Guide


Networking Overview for 2012/R2
NIC Teaming Overview 2012/R2
Windows PowerShell Cmdlets for Networking 2012/R2

Check out the other post in this series!

Building a Hyper-V Cluster – Part 0/5

In this Quick Start Series we will show you how quickly and easily you can set up your own Hyper-V Cluster using server 2012R2 and iSCSI target server for shared storage.  In each video we show you how to configure the server using the GUI and then we show how to do the same configuration steps in PowerShell.
To reproduce the environment in this video series you need:
  • 2 physical computers for Hyper-V hosts
  • 1 VM/Physical server for iSCSI target software
  • Install any Windows Server 2012R2 SKU Core/Full
  • Network connectivity with at least 1 NIC between all the systems