Thursday 28 January 2016

Cluster: A Simple Cluster Storage Setup Guide

In a cluster setting we have a set way to configure our shared storage whether it resides on a SOFS (Scale-Out File Server) cluster or some sort of network based storage.

First, the process to set up the storage itself:

  1. Configure the LUN
    • LUN ID must be identical for all Hyper-V nodes for SAN/NAS
  2. Connect all nodes to the storage
    • iSCSI Target for SAN/NAS
  3. Format NTFS and set OFFLINE on Node01
  4. Node2 and up ignore Initialize in Disk Management and set OFFLINE
    • This step is optional depending on the setup

When it comes to the storage we configure the following LUNs for all of our cluster setups;

  1. 1.5GB LUN
    • Set up for the Witness Disk
    • Add to Cluster Storage but NOT CSV
  2. ???GB LUN
    • Sum of all physical RAM on the nodes plus 150GB
    • Add to Cluster Shared Volumes
    • All Hyper-V nodes set to deliver VM settings files to this location
    • Don’t forget that Hyper-V writes a file that is equivalent in size for _all_ VMs running on the cluster or standalone host!
  3. Minimum 50% Storage LUN x2
    • Divide the remaining storage into two or more LUNs depending on workload and storage requirements
    • A minimum of 2 LUNs allows for storage load to be shared across the SAN’s two storage controllers, the two iSCSI networks, and the two or more Hyper-V nodes

In a SOFS setting we set up a File Share Witness for our Hyper-V compute clusters and deliver the HA shares via SMB Multichannel and a minimum of 10GbE for the VHDX files.


The PowerShell steps for any of the above are here to avoid copy and paste issues.

Set Default Paths:

Set-VMHost -VirtualHardDiskPath “C:\ClusterStorage” –VirtualMachinePath “C:\ClusterStorage\Volume1”

We point the VHDX setting to the CSV root just in case. Our PowerShell scripts for setting up VMs put the VHDX files into the right storage location.

Set Quorum Up:

Set-ClusterQuorum -NodeAndDiskMajority "Cluster Virtual Disk (Witness Disk)"

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Opinion: Yammer Needs To Go

With all due respect, Microsoft really needs to cut and run from Yammer.

We bill into the hundreds of dollars per hour.

Yammer is such a bleed on time that it is costing us substantially to try and get any kind of use out of it.

We’ve all but abandoned the platform for all but necessary tasks.

We already wasted a couple of hours this week trying to get to our content downloads for our business needs.

We can’t imagine the impact to Microsoft employee productivity that Yammer has had. But, given our experience it has to be substantial.

Yammer needs to go. In our not so humble opinion it’s worse than a 1988 Yugo and it’s 3-6 month air cooled engine life.


Image Credit: Bing Search

Microsoft trying to fix it is no different than trying to fix a Yugo. In our opinion it’s good money after bad.


Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Monday 25 January 2016

Windows 7, 10, and Skylake?

There’s been a lot of furor and FUD around Windows 7 on the upcoming Skylake platform being blocked or not?

Has anyone seen a revision to the x86 instruction set? We certainly haven’t. We’d most certainly have seen something somewhere about it.

There most certainly has been changes to the processor’s periphery in additional instruction sets for various tasks the CPU would perform in a given era. The Intel/AMD platforms are littered with their various efforts over the last two decades.

The only way we see something like this happening, where an OS won’t run on a certain platform, is by hard coding that into the OS. In the case of Windows 7, that would mean backporting a patch of some sort. Folks would figure out RPQ what patch caused the hard-code and that would be the end of that for many.

We realize Microsoft wants folks to move to Windows 10. There’s a huge revenue opportunity to be had there.

However, surreptitiously going about it with sneaky ads, involuntary downloads to users computers, delivery of the OS to ADDS based environments unannounced (coming to a domain near you), and any other clandestine methodology will, and is, do a lot of harm.

Pushing, pulling, and dragging folks who are kicking and screaming to be left where they are is not a good way to go about it.


Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Friday 22 January 2016

Script: Clear DNS Cache and Restart the DNS Cache and DNS Services

Here’s a simple CMD (Command Line) script for clearing the DNS Cache and restarting both the service and the DNS service:

Net Stop DNSCache && Net Start DNSCache
Net Stop DNS && Net Start DNS

The above script was set up to be run both on a scheduled task and manually on an older SBS 2011 Essentials VM as it seems to have DNS lookup problems.

This script solves the problem.

This server is slated to be refreshed soon.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Wednesday 20 January 2016

APC Network Management Error: Somone is currently logged into the ACP Management Web Server

We received an alarm from one of our network managed APC UPS systems. When we went to log on we received the following notice:



Someone is currently logged into the APC Management Web Server.

Please try again later.

To “fix” this “problem” we need to log on via Telnet. If the Telnet Client is not installed then go ahead and install it since it is also a good tool for testing connections and SMTP issues.

  1. Install Windows Features
    • image
  2. Once complete close the window.
    • image
  3. From there Start –> Telnet [Enter]
  4. Open
  5. Log on using the admin username and password
  6. Exit
    • image

Refresh the browser window and attempt to log on again. It should be successful.


If not, a paperclip reset or serial connection to the network management would be the next step.

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

Saturday 2 January 2016

Microsoft MVP Renewed and what’s on for 2016.

Happy New Year everyone!

I have received a confirmation that I am a Microsoft MVP for yet another year!

With the restructuring of the MVP program my Cluster, now High Availability, focus has been melded in to the Cloud and Datacenter Management umbrella category.

What this means for the MVP program is, at this time, beyond me.

For us here at MPECS Inc. we're in the process of working on a number of exciting things.

A 4 node Storage Spaces Direct cluster in TP4+
  1. Scale-Out File Server and Hyper-V Clusters
    • We're testing in TP4
    • We're testing 12Gbps SAS HBAs and JBODs with some solution sets already in production
  2. Hyper-V Cluster with Clustered Storage Spaces
    • 2 Nodes and 1 JBOD
    • We have 12Gbps HBAs and JBODs tested and passed in this configuration
  3. Mellanox InfiniBand and Ethernet fabric
    • We're working with a set of Mellanox demo Ethernet switches and NICs to test our setups with RDMA via RoCE
This is going to be a busy year for us on both the SBS (Small Business Solution), Cluster, and the Cloud front via a new business venture we started mid-2015.

We hope the New Year brings many blessings for our families and our businesses!

Thanks for reading everyone! :)

Philip Elder
Microsoft High Availability MVP
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book