Before you implement Hyper-V R2 replication; tips, tricks, does and dont’s

This blog post describes how Hyper-V replica can put into place and what are the pro’s and cons for implementing Hyper-V replica. Futhermore this blog posts describes the things to consider when replicating SharePoint, SQL and Active Directory.

Hyper-V replica is an Hyper-V role; introduced in Windows 2012 and enhanced in Windows 2012 R2.
Hyper-V replica can asynchronously replicate a selected VM running at a primary site to a designated replica site across LAN/WAN based on the SMB 3.0 Protocol. This is possible without any need for clustered or central storage.

The only thing you need is local storage on both sites of disaster recovery (DR) site and the primary site (PR).

Hyper-V Replica

Why Hyper-V replication?
-Affordable in-box business continuity and disaster recovery
-Replication frequencies of 5 minutes (Configurable from 30 seconds, 5 minutes or 15 minutes in R2)
-Secure replication across network
-Agnostic of hardware on either site
-No need for other virtual machine replication technologies
-Automatic handling of live migration
-Simple configuration and management

New In Windows 2012 R2
-Replication in 2012 R2 is near synchronic
-Possibility to do test failovers
-Configure TCP settings (before bringing machine online) when brining to other side (inject as part of VMConfig) Extended Replication
-Once a VM has been successfully replicated to the replica site, replica can be replicated to a 3rd location
-Chained Replication
-Extended Replica contents match the original replication contents
-Extended Replica replication frequencies can differ from original replica
-Useful for scenarios such as SMB -> Service Provider -> Service Provider DR Site
Hyper-V Replication DR Site

Things to consider
At the moment there are some caveheats on this solution because Hyper-V replica is an a-synchronic replication some products need special attention (Exchange, SQL and AD).

-Windows Server 2012 Domain Controllers
To replicate Domain Controllers Windows 2012 is required. Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V introduces VM-GenerationID (VMGenID). VMGenID provides a way for the hypervisor to communicate to the guest OS when significant changes have occurred. For example, the hypervisor can communicate to a virtualized DC that a restore from snapshot has occurred (Hyper-V snapshot restore technology, not backup restore). AD DS in Windows Server 2012 is aware of VMGenID VM technology and uses it to detect when hypervisor operations are performed, such as snapshot restore, which allows it to better protect itself. See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn250021.aspx for more information

No Exchange Support for Hyper-V Replica
Exchange does not support the Hyper-V Replica feature.  Exchange has a long history of supporting virtualisation from Exchange 2003 onwards.  It is fully supported to install Exchange 2007, 2010 or 2013 as a virtual machine on Hyper-V, but using the Hyper-V replica feature is not supported. The product team is working an a solution for this.

After doing some test the Hyper-V failover of Exchange works most of the time (6 out of 10). Therefore we are still waiting on the product group of Exchange and a good offsite backup is therefore (always) an requirement.

-SQL Support
Minimal version of SQL Server 2008 R2 on Hyper-V Replica and is only supported when the EnableWriteOrderPreservationAcrossDisks flag is set. See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/956893 for more information.

System Center 2012 SP1 Released

System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 has reached its “release-to-manufacturing” (RTM) milestone, Microsoft announced recently.
ScreenHunter_162 Dec. 21 08.33

RTM typically refers to feature-complete products, although the final “general availability” release of System Center 2012 SP1 is scheduled for early January.
The “release candidate” version of the product had been issued previously, but was just available to Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program testers. The last public release announcement seems to have been a beta delivered in September.

The software is now available on the MSDN site for partners and customers with SA.
It’s available on http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/downloads/.

A list of what’s new in SP1 for System Center 2012:
1. There are new Monitoring Capabilities under APM functionality:
                         o Monitoring of Windows Services Built on the .NET Framework.
                         o Automatic Discovery of ASP.NET MVC3 and MVC4 Applications.
                         o New Transaction Types: MVC Pages and WCF Methods.
2. Enabled APM of SharePoint 2010.
3. Integration with Team Foundation Server 2010 and Team Foundation Server 2012.
4. New monitoring capability allows for opening of APM exception events from Visual Studio IDE as if the exception was captured during the IntelliTrace historical debugging session. Developers can stay within their familiar environment to examine complete exception call stack.
5. New Management Packs and Support for Windows Server 2012 and IIS 8.
6. The System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Beta version of Operations Manager can show you different perspectives of application health in one place—360 .NET Application Monitoring Dashboards. The 360 .NET Application Monitoring Dashboards displays information from Global Service Monitor, .NET Application Performance Monitoring, and Web Application Availability Monitoring to provide a summary of health and key metrics for 3-tier applications in a single view.
7. ACS support is now added for Dynamic Access Control – new feature in Windows Server 2012, where business data owners to easily classify and label data allowing access policies to be defined for data classes that are critical to business.
8. Support is added for CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu Linux.

The arrival of SP1 for System Center 2012 is a big deal because it will add management support for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 and SQL 2012.

Without this service pack, there’s no management support for those operating systems in System Center 2012.

Nice!

Building SCOM 2012 Dashboards

System Center Operations Manager 2012 has significant enhancements in the ability to display data through the use of its new dashboard technologies.
This post is the first in a series of dashboard-related posts introducing these new abilities. This post will create two dashboards:
– An VMM Host performance dashboard which contains the performance indicators of the Hyper-V hosts
– An Environment state dashboard which display’s the current health of the complete environments

SCOM 2012 Dashboards
Before we get into the steps of creating a new dashboard, I will talk a  over a bit of terminology. A dashboard is a collection of data from SCOM which give’s you the right overview on a specific view also named the Network Operations Center (NOC) display.

This shows the health of various key applications, products, or websites that are monitored by Operations Manager. Some Advantages of a dashboard:
– Ability to provide custom charts, graphs, beyond those available in the built-in performance view
– Network Operations Center (NOC) shows the health of various key products or applications
– Build an overview which covers the health of specific product’s

Let’s see how this actually all works…

Step 1 – We first start with the VMM Host Performance dashboard layout.
Note: The Virtual Machine Management pack is required for this dashboard

1. Log on to the computer with an account that is a member of the Operations Manager Administrators role for the Operations Manager 2012 management group.
2. In the Operations console, click Administration.
3. Choose the Management Packs node, click Create Management Pack and type the name (we choose Custom Dashboards) Click Next, Create
4. Go to Monitoring, go to the newly created MP name (Custom Dashboards), right click new, Dashboard view

5. Choose Grid Layout and click next, change the name in VMM Host Performance and click next, choose the 4 Cells option, choose next and create.

Step 2 – Adding Widgets to the dashboard.
1. Go to the Grid Layout and click to add widget

2. In the general properties choose the name of the Widget. We choose:
VMM Nodes – % CPU Performance
VMM Nodes – Memory Available MBytes
VMM Nodes – Logical Disk Reads/sec
VMM Nodes – Logical Disk Writes/sec

3. In the groups section choose Groups and scope it to Hosts in VMM, click next

4. Select the required Performance counters and click next

VMM Nodes – % CPU Performance 
Object:
HyperV Logical Processor
Counter: %Total Run Time
Instance (All)

VMM Nodes – Memory Available MBytes
Object:
Memory
Counter:
Available MBytes
Instance:
(All)

VMM Nodes – Logical Disk Reads/sec
Object:
LogicalDisk
Counter:
Disk Read Bytes/sec 
Instance:
(All)

VMM Nodes – Logical Disk Writes/sec

Object: LogicalDisk
Counter: Disk Writes Bytes/sec 
Instance: (All)

 

6. Click Next, set the time range to 12 Hours (or different)

5. Check the chart preferences and sort so it looks like this
Show the legend
Target
Path
Last value
Minimum Value
Maximum Value
Average Value

6. Click next and finish.
7. Do this for
VMM Nodes – % CPU Performance
VMM Nodes – Memory Available MBytes
VMM Nodes – Logical Disk Reads/sec
VMM Nodes – Logical Disk Writes/sec

 
Note;
HyperV processor monitoring; Why monitor HyperV Logical Processor, %Total Run Time and not the %Processor time

Measure overall processor utilization of the Hyper-V environment using Hyper-V performance monitor counters To measure total physical processor utilization of the host operating system and all guest operating systems, use the “\Hyper-V Hypervisor Logical Processor(_Total)\% Total Run Time” performance monitor counter. This counter measures the total percentage of time spent by the processor running the both the host operating system and all guest operating systems. Use the following thresholds to evaluate overall processor utilization of the Hyper-V environment using the “\Hyper-V Hypervisor Logical Processor(_Total)\% Total Run Time” performance monitor counter:
– Less than 60% consumed = Healthy
– 60% – 89% consumed = Monitor or Caution
– 90% – 100% consumed = Critical, performance will be adversely affected

See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc768535(v=bts.10).aspx for more information