Monthly Archives : April 2011

Virtual Enhancements- Microsoft Hyper v

There are some new enhancements with Hyper v you should be aware of.  Dynamic Memory- A new feature of Hyper-V™ introduced in SP1 for Windows Server® 2008 R2  that enables Hyper-V hosts to dynamically adjust the amount of memory available to virtual machines in response to changing workloads. The benefits of Dynamic Memory include higher virtual machine consolidation ratios and increased flexibility for managing virtualized workloads.

Microsoft RemoteFX– Introduces a new set of remote user-experience capabilities that enable a media-rich user environment for virtual and session-based desktops. RemoteFX can be deployed to a range of thick and thin client devices, enabling cost-effective, local-like access to graphics-intensive applications. RemoteFX also supports a broad array of USB peripherals to improve the productivity of users of virtual desktops. Microsoft RemoteFX leverages the power of virtualized graphics resources and advanced codecs to recreate the fidelity of hardware-assisted graphics acceleration, including support for 3D content and Windows Aero®.  Multi-Site Disaster Recovery Automation for Hyper-V – not so new, but still important.  For automated failover and recovery of Hyper-V workloads, organizations can combine StorageLink Site Recovery technology with Microsoft failover clustering to create a geographically dispersed (or multi-site) cluster. Together, StorageLink Site Recovery and Windows Server® 2008 provide a disaster recovery solution that automatically detects local application or hardware failures and responds with the appropriate failover measures.

Microsoft iSCSI Software Target available – Free Download

There is finally some productive news coming out of the Microsoft camp via making storage a little easier for virtualization with Hyper v.  Microsoft has made this software publicly available to all users of Windows Server 2008 R2.  The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target has been available for production use as part of Windows Storage Server since early 2007. It has also been available for development and test use by MSDN and TechNet subscribers starting in May 2009. However, until now, there was no way to use the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target in production on a regular server running Windows Server 2008 R2. This new download offers exactly that.

Now available as a public download, the software is essentially the same software that ships with Windows Storage Server 2008 R2. Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 and the public download package will be refreshed (kept in sync) with any software fixes and updates. Those updates are described at

This release was preceded by intense testing by the Microsoft iSCSI Target team, especially in scenarios where the iSCSI Target is used with Hyper-V and with Windows Server Failover Clusters. We do imagine these to be amongst the most commons deployment scenarios.  Testing included running the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target in a two-node Failover Cluster and configuring 92 individual Hyper-V VMs, each running a data intensive application and storing data on a single node of that iSCSI Target cluster. The exciting part of the test was to force an unplanned failure of the iSCSI Target node being used by all the VMs and verify that we had a successful failover to the other node with all 92 VMs continuing to run the application without any interruption.

How to download and install

To download the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 for Windows Server 2008 R2, go to and download a single file called “iSCSITargetDLC.EXE”. (Note: This was just released at 10AM PST on 04/04/2011, so the download might still be replicating to your closest download server. If the link does not work, try again later). This is a self-extracting archive that will show this screen when run:

Shared Storage

To use both LM and HA, these require shared storage. This shared storage can be in the forms of SAS, iSCSI or Fiber Channel SAN. For many environments this isn’t an issue, but there are some specific scenarios where customers need LM and HA and the cost of a dedicated SAN is a blocker. For example,

  • A branch office environment. It’s one thing to setup a dedicated SAN in a datacenter, but what happens when you have 100/500/5000 branch offices? That’s a huge multiplier to provide SANs in every one of those branch offices.
  • A small business. Small businesses are especially cost conscious and still want to deploy Hyper-V clustered for the benefits of LM and HA.
  • A test/dev staging environment. Perhaps you want to test your application with LM & HA, but don’t have the budget to pay for a SAN.

Wouldn’t it be great to have another option? bva think so too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is now free. Is it supported in a production environment?

A: Yes. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is supported in a production environment. The Hyper-V team regularly tests with the MS iSCSI Software Target and it works great with Hyper-V.

Q: What operating systems is the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target supported?

A: The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target is supported for Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter Editions.
Q: Can the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 use the free Microsoft iSCSI Software Target?

A: Yes and No. Yes, Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 can act as a client to access virtual machines via iSCSI. The way to do that is to type iscsicpl.exe at the command prompt to bring up the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator (client) and configure it to access an iSCSI Target (server). However, you can’t install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on a Microsoft Hyper-V Server. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target requires Windows Server 2008 R2.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 on Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003?
A: No. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 can only be installed on Windows Server 2008 R2.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 (SP1)?
A: Yes. In fact, that’s what is recommended.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target on a Core install of Windows Server 2008 R2?
A: No. The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 is only supported in a Full install.

Q: I don’t have a copy of Windows Server 2008 R2. Where can I get an evaluation copy?
A: You download an evaluation version of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Service Pack 1 from

Q: Where is the x86 (32-bit) version of the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3?
A: The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3, is provided in only in an x64 (64-bit) version, as is Windows Server 2008 R2,

Q: What are these “iSCSITargetClient” MSI files included in the download?
A: Those are the optional VSS and VDS providers for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3. You should install them in the same computer that runs the iSCSI Initiator if you intend to use VSS or VDS. For details on VSS, see For details on VDS, see

Q: Where is the Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 documentation?
A: There is some documentation inside the package. Additional documentation is available on the web at

Q: Can I use the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 as shared storage for a Windows Server Failover Cluster?
A: Yes. That is one of its most common uses.

Q: Can I install the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 in a Hyper-V virtual machine?
A: Yes. We do it all the time.

Q: Can I use the downloaded Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 in my production environment?
A: Yes. Make sure to perform the proper evaluation and testing before deploying any software in a production environment. But you knew that already…

Q: What are the support policies for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Target 3.3 on Windows Server 2008 R2?
A: The support policies are listed at


The Microsoft iSCSI Software Target Download:

Secure Email Encryption – Zixmail

BVA gets several requests month in and month out for a good way to send secure emails.  There is really no way to answer this with a cheap method.  There are a few great solutions out there though they can be a little costly but here recently we found a method that is pretty cheap and very reliable.  ZixCorp Email Encryption Services is a solution tool that can protect your sensitive mail data.  ZixMail is the name of their product and it basically provides desktop email encryption that includes automated key management and delivery to anyone, anywhere through a secure web portal. It can be used with any corporate or web-based email system, and optional plug-ins are available for full integration with Microsoft Outlook.

ZixMail makes it easy to securely send and receive confidential information. Encrypted messages are delivered using your existing email address, and a single ZixMail client can support multiple email addresses. ZixMail also provides time stamping and authentication for irrefutable proof of delivery and receipt.

If your recipient is not a ZixCorp customer, not an issue…ZixMail automatically sends your email to ZixPort, a secure messaging portal that can be used to deliver secure email to any address.  The majority of your clients are strong Microsoft environments and this solution works great with it. ZixCorp provides a special ZixMail plug-in so you can send and receive encrypted email without ever leaving Outlook. The plug-in integrates the ZixMail functionality directly into Outlook’s toolbar. The simple click of a button is all it takes to encrypt or decrypt a message.

Automated Key Management
ZixMail takes care of the most complicated aspect of using email encryption – key management. With ZixMail, all key management is handled through ZixDirectorySM, ZixCorp’s hosted public key repository. Tens of millions of members are included in ZixDirectory, allowing ZixMail users to automatically send and receive encrypted emails from other ZixMail or ZixGateway customers. No key set-up or exchange is necessary.