Oct 102014
 

This week at work, I’ve spent a fair amount of time working in the infrastructure space as we conducted a review of SQL Server and the underlying network infrastructure.  As always, it inspired me to take a look at my home configuration – and do some tinkering.

NIC Teaming

The first thing which piqued my interest, was that Windows Server 2012 (and R2) now supports native NIC teaming – particularly for use in Hyper-V.   I have a quad port PCIe adapter which features 4x1GB ports – just begging to be teamed.

nic-teaming

So I began there.  As you can see from the screenshot above, I achieved the desired outcome, but I’m still awaiting the performance counter results which will show how well it performs during “normal” usage.

Networked Storage

My next stop is with networked storage.  As you’ll know, I have a Thecus NAS which is utilized as a central location for storage.  I’ve been using the NAS directly via a twin port (2x1GB) native load balanced NICs, but decided to check out the iSCSI provisioning option to map the storage as a native drive.

Using the remaining free space (360 GB), I configured the server to use the iSCSI target.  It worked, and I’m getting pretty fancy I/O results – ~84MB/s transfer rates:

iscsi

So that’s what my evening’s been like today..  If you’re interested in finding out more about either NIC teaming or iSCSI provisioning, get in touch and I’ll write a more detailed article on what I did – and how it’s worked out!!

In terms of ACTUAL throughput (rather than Windows’ occasional inaccurate estimates), I used a tool from here: http://www.attotech.com/disk-benchmark/

The results are a lot closer to reality – about 100 MB/s read and 60 MB/s write:

iSCSI-Perf-Initial

However, to put the results in context, I did the exact same benchmark against a local SanDisk 480GB (SDSSDX480GG25) SSD drive on the same server and the results were about 250 MB/s read and write:

SSD-perf

Theoretically, I could possibly get more juice out of the iSCSI target if I NIC teamed the server, but I’m reserving the teaming for the Hyper-V Network Switch, since the base OS doesn’t need much network love directly.

Oct 022014
 

Introduction

Well, it’s been a week of big announcements.  Hot on the heels of finding out the next version of Windows will be Windows 10, Microsoft has today released a new “Technical Preview” of Windows 10, Windows Server and System Center.

Be a part of every step

Join the Windows Insider Program so you can be part of every key moment along the way as we create Windows 10. You’ll get Windows 10 Technical Preview, all the builds as soon as they’re available, and an easy-to-use feedback app.

Naturally, I immediately pulled down an .iso of the Windows Desktop edition (UK English) and have begun running it up in a VM.

There’s a site dedicated to Windows 10 and it’s called the “Windows Insider Program”.  Here’s an extract from the site:

Help us shape the future of Windows

With the Windows Insider Program, you’ll get all the latest Windows preview builds as soon as they’re available. This means you’ll be one of the first to experience the new ideas and concepts we’re building.

In return, we want to know what you think. You’ll get an easy-to-use app to give us your feedback, which will help guide us along the way.

This program is designed exclusively for people who want be involved in the process. So if you want to help us build the best Windows yet, we want you to join us.

My Installation Experience

I’m running this preview version up on my VM server, and for this new VM I’ve configured it with 2 vCPUs (utilizing a hex-core Intel i7 processor), 8096mb of 1600GHz RAM and an initial HDD of 80GB.

Well, I’ve begun the installation process, and so far there’s no noticeable differences.

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The installer is the same trusty version we encountered in previous versions, as is the initial boot and configuration process.

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After a reboot, we’re loaded into the new Windows..  The experience is the same as with Windows 8.1 and I use custom settings, disabling most options.

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Again, you’re forced to use a Microsoft Account and cannot use a local Windows user account.

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Once you’re past the bulk of the initial configuration, Windows goes off to configure apps

Initial Experience

Given the configuration, Windows 10 has detected I’m in a Desktop environment, so the first thing loaded is the trusty desktop.  Interestingly, Windows displays a roaming profile wallpaper for my desktop background – maybe it did that in Windows 8.1 but I didn’t notice.

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The first thing to do, obviously, is check out the old/new Start Menu:

After a few clicks, I’m prompted for feedback

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Searching for installed applications and apps is fast and accurate (predictive matching etc.):

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Back to the new Start Menu, I can scroll Windows apps and also install apps which are presumably linked to my Microsoft account (from prior usage in Windows 8.1?):

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While we’re speaking of apps, do try out my Aussie Wine Guy and Sanders Technology apps!  Running up a formerly-called-metro app gives us the app hosted in a resizable dialog shell (as advertised):

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Double clicking on the “Welcome to Tech Preview” link launches Internet Explorer 11 and navigates to the following location.

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The keyboard combination of Windows key + C still brings up the dreaded charm bar, however right clicking on the Windows icon (start menu) still provides a handy shortcut context menu as an alternative:

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Navigating to Settings->PC Info provides us with the following “compliance plate” information:

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Summary

As it is just past 8:00am local time, I have to go and get ready top shuttle off to work, so I’ll have to leave my Tech Preview experience for a later time.  So far, the preview has delivered on the rumours which have surfaced over the past 12 months.

I’d encourage you to download and participate in the Technical Preview program.  Microsoft has claimed that the removal of the start menu was in reaction to statistics they captured during similar programs in the past, so they obviously take this information very seriously.  If you want a say in the future of the Windows operating system, now’s your chance!

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the Windows Server Technical Preview – hopefully they’ve canned the formerly-known-as-Metro screen, which never made sense to me for a server platform.  Enjoy.