Difference between Azure Basic Tier VM and Standard Tier VM

Start from 2014 April, Microsoft Azure introduces a new instance tier of Virtual Machine – Basic tier. These instances are well-suited for production applications that do not require the Azure load-balancer (bring-your-own LB or single instance) , development workloads, test servers and memory-focused  batch processing applications. image

There are few documents on what is the difference between basic tier VM and standard tier VM so here is a summary note based on my research

Azure price page makes it clear: General purpose compute: Basic tier – An economical option for development workloads, test servers, and other applications that don’t require load balancing, auto-scaling, or memory-intensive virtual machines.

Below are some detail context:

  • Availability: Basic tier VM is only available on A0-A4 instances, standard tier VM is available on all size instances
  • Disk IOPS: Data disk IOPS for basic tier VM is 300, lower than standard tier VM which has 500 IOPS data disk.
  • Price: Single tier VM can have up to 27% less in price than standard tier VM.
  • Feature cut: Basic tier VM does not include load balancing or auto-scaling. For basic tier VMs, you can add those to availability set for high availability, and implement your own load-balance mechanisms.
  • CPU: Standard tier have better CPU performance than basic tier

Turning on and off GUI in Windows Server 2012

When you install Windows Server 2012, you can choose between Server Core Installation and Server with a GUI. The Server with a GUI option is the Windows Server 2012 equivalent of the Full installation option available in Windows Server 2008 R2. The Server Core Installation option reduces the space required on disk, the potential attack surface, and especially the servicing requirements. In Windows Server 2012, you can freely switch between these options at any time, one approach might be to initially install the Server with a GUI option, use the graphical tools to configure the server, and then later switch to the Server Core Installation option.

To use PowerShell to switch between Server Core and Full Server with GUI

Full Server with GUI to Server Core

Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra -Restart

Server Core to Full Server with GUI

Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra,Server-Gui-Shell -Restart

Deploy Windows 8 to a virtual hard disk

Windows 7 introduced Native VHD boot which allows user to install Windows 7/Windows server 2008 R2 on a physical box to a virtual hard disk (VHD). You can do same process in Windows 8

  1. Boot from the Windows 8 media (USB, CD, etc.).
  2. At the Install screen, press Shift+F10 to open a command prompt.
  3. Start diskpart and create the VHD file you want to install to:

    create vdisk file=c:win8.vhd maximum=80000 type=expandable
    select vdisk file=c:win8.vhd
    attach vdisk
    create partition primary
    format fs=ntfs label=”Win8″ quick

  4. Exit diskpart, and when you install Windows 8 you’ll be able to select your VHD volume (ignore the warning that you won’t be able to install).

If this is an existing machine, and you want to dual boot rather than wipe the disk, then don’t perform the first three blocks of commands.

Difference between Windows Client Hyper-V and Server Hyper-V

Windows 8 supports virtualization on the client OS to allow IT professionals and developers to use Hyper-V as a desktop operating system. If you are an IT Professional or developer that uses Windows Server as development operating environments, you should be excited about new client Hyper-V feature in Windows 8 and wonder what are some of the key differences and similarities between Windows 8 Hyper-V and Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V?

Here are the some of the key differences in Windows 8 Client Hyper-V from Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V:

  • No Hyper-V Replica
  • No Hyper-V Network Virtualization
  • No Virtual Machine Live Migration (Requires Failover Clustering only in Windows Server)
  • No Shared Nothing Live Migration
  • No SR-IOV (You need server class hardware; appropriate firmware, etc; you won’t find this on desktops)
  • No Failover Clustering (Client doesn’t include Failover Clustering)
  • No Virtual Fiber Channel
  • No RemoteFX GPU Hardware Acceleration ( which requires RDV only in Windows Server)
  • Second Level Address Translation (SLAT) HW required

And the commonalities between Windows 8 Hyper-V & Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V

  • Virtual Machines created with Client Hyper-V are 100% compatible with Server Hyper-V
  • Client Hyper-V offers the same VM scale as Server
    • Up to 64 virtual processes per VM
    • Up to 64TB per virtual disk ( vhdx format )
    • Up to 1 TB of memory per VM.
  • Live Storage Migration is included
  • Support VHD Storage on SMB3 file shares
  • 100% PowerShell/WMI compatibility in management from Client to Server.
  • Client Hyper-V offers the full rich, open and extensible Hyper-V virtual switch.
  • QoS, bandwidth management and other advanced virtual switch capabilities are in there

Install Hyper-V Manager on Windows 10

To remotely manage your Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V server from a windows 7 desktop, you need install RSAT (Remote Server Administrator Tool). This has been simplified in Windows 10. In Windows 10, Hyper-V management tool is built in, Hyper-V manager can be turned on via “Turn Windows features on or off” dialog directly without downloading RSAT.

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However, Hyper-V manager in Windows 10 can’t manage can’t manage Hyper-V running on downlevel operation systems. If you connect using Hyper-V manager it would fail with following error:

This version of Hyper-V Manager cannot be used to manage server running Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2

The only workaround so far is remote into a Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 machine and run Hyper-V manager there.

Solution for Unresponsive Win8 Guest VMs

If you’re going to run Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 in a virtual machine on Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, please install this hotfix patch http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2744129 on the Hyper-V host server,

Without applying this hotfix, you may experience one or more of the following issues:

  • The Windows 8/Server 2012 virtual machine becomes unresponsive.
  • The Windows Server 2008 R2 host server displays a stop error message and restarts automatically.

Update: the http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2744129.has been added to Windows Auto Update.

SCVMM 2012 RTM Available for download

SCVMM 2012 RTM is available for download for MSDN subscribers. You can start download it here. The SCVMM 2012 RTM version is 3.0.6005.0. Microsoft has published the SCVMM 2012 RTM help document and cmdlets help.

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If you upgrade to RTM from RC, you can enter the product key in Admin Console UI About dialog Enter product key button.

Update 4/16:  The first update rollup for VMM is already out http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2686249. The update includes fix for both SCVMM Server, Self Service Portal and Admin Console. You will need to update all roles in you have them installed on different machines.

In System Center 2012, Microsoft extends the System Center branch to Cloud and Data Center management solution, the new System Center 2012 suites including

  • System Center App Controller
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Data Protection Manager
  • System Center Operations Manager
  • System Center Orchestrator
  • System Center Service Manager
  • System Center Unified Installer
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager

How to tell if your CPU Supports SLAT

SLAT-enabled processor is the requirement of Hyper-V RemoteFX feature which is introduced in Windows Server 2008 R2. It’s the requirement of Windows 8 client Hpyer-V feature as well.

For INTEL CPU models, following CPU models are SLAT-Capable

  • Server: E5500 or higher.
  • Desktop/Laptops: I3/I5/I7/I7-qm

There is a handy tool named CoreInfo from systeminternals that can check if your CPU is SLAT-Capable, it’s pretty easy to use:

  1. Download from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/cc835722
  2. Launch an elevated command prompt
  3. Run “CoreInfo.exe -v”

If you see EPT * Supports Intel extended page tables (SLAT) then you are good.

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Following are copied from https://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/1401.hyper-v-list-of-slat-capable-cpus-for-hosts.aspx

Servers that support SLAT

  • Any AMD server CPU based on Barcelona or later architectures. Some early Barcelona editions didn’t have RVI, but they’re relatively rare. Check this AMD list.
  • Intel server processors numbered E5500 and higher.
  • Any Intel CPUs based on Nehalem, Westmere, or Sandybridge micro-architectures. (There may be exceptions, but I’m not aware of any.)

Desktops that support SLAT

  • Intel processors whose names start with ‘i’, e.g. i3, i5, i7, i9. (There may be exceptions, but I’m not aware of any.)
  • Any Intel CPUs based on Nehalem, Westmere, or Sandybridge micro-architectures. (There may be exceptions, but I’m not aware of any.)

Laptops that support SLAT

  • Lenovo T410, T510, W510, W520, T420s, T520, X201
  • Samsung 900x
  • Dell Precision M4600

Hyper-v Tip: Use windows key without fullscreen

When connect to a remote VM with hyper-v manager, I have to full screen to make Windows key. Personally I think Hyper-V should have a Windows key button in toolbar like "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" button.

Actually Hyper-v manager allows you to select where the Windows keys goes when you press it. Open up the Hyper-V Settings dialog from with the Hyper-V Manager and go to the keyboard setting, you will see 3 settings.

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  1. Use on the physical computer
  2. Use on the virtual machine
  3. Use on the virtual machine only when running full-screen

The default one is #3. Once you change it to #2, you will be able to use Windows key inside VM without *full-screen* it.

You will find this helpful if you are connecting to a VM has Windows 8 Metro UI enabled. Without a windows key it’s hard to exit Metro style app and go back to start screen.