Category Archives: Windows Server 2019

Windows Server 2019: introduction to the news for the cluster environment

October is the month of the official release of the final version of Windows Server 2019. The new server operating system from Microsoft introduces, in different areas, important new features that let you get Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) more reliable and flexible. To achieve this in Windows Server 2019 the cluster solution introduces a number of changes that are documented in this article.

Cluster Sets

Cluster Sets is a new technology for scale-out cluster environment introduced in Windows Server 2019. With this feature, you can group multiple Failover Clusters into a single entity to achieve greater fluidity of virtual machines among different clusters. All this is especially useful for load balancing and for maintenance, such as the replacement of entire cluster, without impacting the execution of virtual machines. In terms of management you can govern all using a single namespace. Cluster Sets do not distort the normal operating principles of traditional cluster environment (Preffered Owner, Node Isolation, Load Balancing, etc.), but remain completely unchanged, adding benefits such as Azure-like Fault Domains and Availability Sets between different clusters.

Figure 1 – Cluster Sets overview

File share witness

In clustered environment you have the ability to configure as witness the "File Share Witness" option (FSW), for which the following innovations were introduced.

It blocked the use of share of type Distributed File System (DFS). Theuse of DFS share as a File Share Witness (FSW) has never been a supported configuration as it introduces potential instability in cluster. In Windows Server 2019 was introduced a logic capable of detecting whether a share uses DFS and if so Failover Cluster Manager blocks the creation of the witness, displaying an error message saying that it is an unsupported configuration.

Figure 2 – Error message trying to configure witness on DFS share

In order to use a configuration with FSW, before the introduction of Windows Server 2019, one of the requirements to be met was that the Windows Server system that hosted the share had to be joined to a domain, and part of the same Active Directory forest. This requirement was due to the fact that the Failover Cluster used the Kerberos Authentication with the Cluster Name Object (CNO) to authenticate and connect to the share. In Windows Server 2019 you can create a File Share Witness (FSW) without using the CNO, it simply uses a local account to connect to FSW. To use File Share Witness is no longer required Kerberos authentication, the Cluster Name Object and your Active Directory environment. It follows that extend the possible usage scenarios for FSW, and it is possible to contemplate the use of, for example, NAS appliance, Windows systems not joined to the domain, etc.

 

Move the cluster in a different domain

Changing the domain membership of a Failover Cluster has always been an operation that required the destruction and recreation of the environment, with an important impact in terms of time and in operations. In Windows Server 2019 there is a specific procedure to change the membership of a new Active Directory domain of the cluster nodes, with the introduction of two new PowerShell commands:

  • New-ClusterNameAccount: creates from Active Directory a Cluster Name Account
  • Remove-ClusterNameAccount: removes from Active Directory a Cluster Name Account

The procedure requires that the nodes are first configured in Workgroup and then put in join to the new Active Directory domain. During the migration activity is required a stop of hosted workloads from the cluster.

Figure 3 - Domain Migration steps of a cluster

 

Removing the dependency with NTLM authentication

Windows Server Failover Clusters no longer uses NTLM authentication in any way, but only uses Kerberos authentication and certificate-based authentication. All this in Windows Server 2019 is natively, without the need to do special configuration, allowing to reap the resulting benefits in terms of security.

 

Conclusions

In Windows Server 2019 important investments have been made to achieve an agile OS, suitable for hybrid scenarios, more secure and allows you to deploy Hyper-converged infrastructure with outstanding features in terms of scalability and performance. Innovations like that shown in clustered environment help to ensure a better development of companies, offering fundamentals elements to support the process of innovation and modernization of the datacenter.

Windows Server Summit: the online conference that tells about the future of Windows Server

Microsoft has announced that will be held the virtual event Windows Server Summit to explore various argoments related to Windows Server, with a particular focus on new features that will be introduced in the coming months. This event will provide a useful platform to explore the themes related to the new Microsoft's operating system and you can formulate questions and receive answers interactively.

The launch of Windows Server 2019, planned for this year, reinforces the importance of Windows Server within Microsoft's strategy, which is strongly oriented to the realization of hybrid architectures.

When and where

The event, half-day, will take place on 26 June 2018 at 9:00 AM (Pacific Time), hours 6:00 PM in Italy. This is a virtual event, therefore accessible exclusively online. You can see the sessions even after.

Topics covered

The agenda of the event is rich in content which will be accompanied by several demos to contextualize the topics covered. Will be available four tracks covering:

  • Hybrid
  • Security
  • Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI)
  • Application Platform

Figure 1 – Tracks of the event

Speakers

The sessions will be given by prominent speakers, among which we find:

Figure 2 – Main speakers at Windows Server Summit

Conclusions

This event will be very helpful to guide and educate IT professionals in the world to the opportunity to develop services and infrastructure present in the data center through integration with cloud services. To get prepared for this event you can join the Windows Insiders program and start evaluating the preview version of Windows Server 2019. Will also be useful to become familiar with Windows Admin Center, that allows you to manage your infrastructure from a central location, through an innovative HTML5-based web console.

Storage Replica: What's new in Windows Server 2019 and the management with Windows Admin Center

Storage Replica, in Microsoft home, is a technology introduced in Windows Server 2016 that you use to replicate, synchronously or asynchronously, volumes between servers or clusters, for disaster recovery purposes. This technology also allows you to create stretch failover cluster with nodes spread over two different site, keeping in sync the storage. This article will present the news, regarding Storage Replica, that will be introduced in Windows Server 2019 and you will be shown how to enable Storage Replica by using the new management tool Windows Admin Center.

 

What's new in Storage Replica in Windows Server 2019

In Windows Server 2016 there is the possibility of using Storage Replica only if you use the Datacenter Edition as operating system version, while in Windows Server 2019 there will be the option to enable Storage Replica also adopting the Standard Edition, but right now, with the following limitations:

  • You can replicate a single volume instead of an unlimited number of volumes.
  • The maximum size of the replicated volume should not exceed 2 TB.
  • The volume in replica can have only one partnership, instead of an unlimited number of partners.

By adopting a new Log format used by Storage Replica (Log v 1.1), imported performance improvements are introduced regarding throughput and latency. You can benefit from these improvements if all systems involved in the replication process will be Windows Server 2019 and will be especially noticeable on all-flash arrays and on Storage Spaces Direct cluster (S2D).

To validate the effectiveness of the replication process, is introduces the ability to perform a Test Failover. Through this new feature it is possible to mount a writable snapshots of the replicated storage. To perform this operation, for testing purposes or backup, you must have a volume, not involved in replication, on the destination server. Testing Failover has no impact on the replication process, which will continue to ensure the protection of the data and the changes to the snapshot will remain circumscribed to the test volume. Upon completion of testing it is appropriate to conduct a discard of the snapshot.

Storage Replica in Windows Admin Center

Windows Admin Center, also known as Project Honolulu, enables via an HTML5-based web console, to manage the infrastructure in a centralized way.

Through Windows Admin Center, you can install on the servers the Storage Replica feature and the related PowerShell module.

Figure 1 - Add the Storage Replica feature from Windows Admin Center

Figure 2 - Confirm the installation of Storage Replica and its dependencies

Figure 3 - Notification that the installation was successful

After the installation, the server requires a restart.

At this point you can configure, through Windows Admin Center, a new partnership of replica. The same thing could be accomplished using the Windows Powershell cmdlet New-SRPartnership.

Figure 4 - Adding new Storage Replica partnership between two replication Groups

Figure 5 - Settings required for the configuration of the Partnership

Windows Admin Center reports, at the end of the configuration, the details of the partnership.

Figure 6 - Details about the replication partnership

In addition, you can manage the replication status (suspend \ resume), switch the direction of synchronization and modify the configurations (add \ remove the replica volumes and settings of the partnership).

Figure 7 - Switch the replication direction

Figure 8 - Changing the partnership settings

Conclusions

Windows Server 2019 will introduce significant changes in Storage Replica service that, In addition to evolve it in terms of performance and effectiveness, will make it even more accessible. The whole is enriched by the possibilities offered by Windows Admin Center to easily, quickly and completely manage Storage Replica. Microsoft is making significant investments in storage and the results are obvious and tangible. For those wishing to test the latest new features about Windows Server 2019 can participate in the program Windows Insider.