Monday 24 July 2017

Windows Server Containers and Docker

I made a Windows Server Container with Docker tutorial over on GitHub.

Here are the instructions:

You can find the repository here.

Saturday 15 July 2017

Azure D-Series v3 Performance Comparison - Does Hyperthreading mean better price to performance?

Microsoft has just announced their new Dv3 and Ev3 Series VMs taking advantage of Hyperthreading on their Intel Xeon Broadwell CPUs. They suggest an up to 28% price reduction based on the Dv2 VMs with comparative vCPUs on each VM size.

I wanted to see how the new VM sizes compare to the older sizes and see if there is any price to performance benefits of the new machines. I've done some testing in these new VMs with Cinebench to see how the new VMs compare to the old VMs on the popular synthetic CPU benchmark.


While doing my testing, I noticed some interesting features of the new VMs.

Here are the Core and Thread counts for the comparative DS4 v2 and the D8s v3. Both VMs are shown as 8 "core" VMs in the marketplace. The new v3 VM has 8 Threads and only 4 cores, whereas the older v2 VM has 8 real cores.

D8s v3 - 8 virtual CPU VM DS4 v2 - 8 virtual CPU VM

It's apparent from the above screen grabs from Cinebench that the hypervisor is presenting Hyperthreading up to the guest OS. 

While testing, I made note of the core and thread count of each VM and also the processor type on each VM. The new v3 VMs present their processors up to the operating system as hyperthreaded logical cores, while the v2 VMs present "full cores" to the OS.

Cores vs Threads

The new v3 VM types are all hyperthreading enabled VMs which means that for each pair of "virtual CPUs" there is a single underlying core on the physical processor in the server. This means that the machines will perform better per core, however they will not perform 2x better per core.

Below is a table of the VM types that I tested with their core and thread counts, and also the CPU type that was detected in each machine.

Server Type Cores Threads CPU Type
DS2 v2 2 2 Intel Xeon E5-2673 v4 (1 socket, 2 virtual processors)
D2s v3 1 2 Intel Xeon E5-2673 v4 (1 socket, 2 virtual processors)
DS3 v2 4 4 Intel Xeon E5-2673 v4 (1 socket, 4 virtual processors)
D4s v3 2 4 Intel Xeon E5-2673 v4 (1 socket, 4 virtual processors)
DS4 v2 8 8 Intel Xeon E5-2673 v4 (1 socket, 8 virtual processors)
D8s v2 4 8 Intel Xeon E5-2673 v4 (1 socket, 8 virtual processors)

Testing Setup

I created a new VM on one of the sizes, waited for initial setup to complete and for the machine to become idle, then ran the multi-core and single-core benchmarks in Cinebench. Once I had gathered the results and some screenshots, I resized the same VM into a different model and ran the tests again.

I only had time to run a one single and one multi threaded test per VM type, but I hope to address this soon with full, multi run benchmarks.


The results were not surprising based on the thread and core counts of the VMs. When testing normal desktop CPUs, I have seen similar results from Hyperthreaded and non Hyperthreaded CPUs. 

Below is the multi-core Cinebench score for each VM type that I tested. You can see that the equivalent VM type on the v3 VMs scores substantially lower then the v2 VM with the same number of virtual CPUs (threads)

The multi-core Cinebench score for each VM type tested, the top 2 machines are the 2-vCPU VMs, the second set are the 4 vCPU VMs and the last 2 machines are the 8-vCPU VMs.

You can see from the above chart that the equivalent v3 virtual machines score considerably lower that the v2 machines.

The next chart is something I put together to show the relative value of each machine type based on Cinebench score. It is calculated as (Multi-core Cinebench Score) ÷ (£ GBP per day cost to run the VM)

Cinebench scores weighted against cost to run the VM.

You can see that the v2 VMs score considerably higher than the v3 VMs in cost per cb score.

Here is my full spreadsheet of results.


Microsoft appears to be offering machines at a lower cost per core, however if you are looking for raw performance per £ spent, it's better to keep using the v2 D-Series VMs at this time.

Monday 10 July 2017

Convert Azure Windows virtual machine license to Hybrid Use Benefit

EDIT: This functionality is now directly in the portal. Just select the VM, click configuration and you should now see the ability to switch license type.

Microsoft has recently announced their hybrid use benefit for Windows virtual machines. They claim a 40% lower price on Windows VMs in Azure which is certainly a good thing.

If you license your on premises hosts with Windows Datacentre and also run some Azure Windows VMs then you can use the license for both - at the same time!

"Each two-processor licence or each set of 16-core licences are entitled to two instances of up to 8 cores, or one instance of up to 16 cores. The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit for Standard Edition licences can only be used once either on-premises or in Azure. Datacenter edition benefits allow for simultaneous usage both on-premises and in Azure."

The only issue with this offer is that you need to enable the hybrid use at deploy time on your VMs. This isn't a problem for ephemeral VMs, but if you have permanent VMs that you want to save some money on, then you need to re-provision them.

It is possible to delete your VMs and then recreate them using the original VHD, with the hybrid use benefit enabled. I've written a script which will do just this and published it on GitHub here.

As always, DO NOT use this in production and make sure you have backups of your machines before you use the script!

Be aware that this will only work on some VMs, I've not yet worked out the prerequisites. The script *should* detect if it hasn't worked and put your VM back with it's original license if the ARM platform throws an error. To put this in perspective, I've run the script on 8 VMs, 1 of which didn't work.

Update: Should now work with managed disk VMs

Thursday 6 July 2017

There is already a session running for the copy specification JOBNAME. The session will abort.

The job shows the following error in the log

There is already a session running for the copy specification <JOB NAME>. The session will abort.

The job cannot be seen in the monitor tab of Data Protector manager.

This is known to occur in HPE Data Protector 9.08 but it's likely to be the same for other versions.

The job has failed but the csm.exe process that controls the job appears to have crashed and been left running.

Find the running csm.exe for the job and kill the task with task manager. 

I found the task by looking at the CPU Time column to see which one had been running the longest as there was a 2nd task running. The csm.exe that had crashed was using a large amount of memory (>5 GiB) and maxing a single core on CPU.

To be certain you have the right csm.exe process, it is possible to find the environment variable DATALIST by using procexp.exe to look at the process properties.

Once the broken csm.exe has been killed, the job should run normally.

Nutanix CE 2.0 on ESXi AOS Upgrade Hangs

AOS Upgrade on ESXi from 6.5.2 to hangs. Issue I have tried to upgrade my Nutanix CE 2.0 based on ESXi to a newer AOS version for ...