Download Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper Beta

Microsoft has released the beta version of Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper Beta. You can find more information and both the x86  and x64 versions to download over here on the connect site.

I know that all our environments and clients are well protected, patched and maintained Smile but unfortunately this is not the case all over the board. So this tool can help you to address malware issues.

Microsoft describes the product as follows:

A recovery tool that can help you start an infected PC and perform an offline scan to help identify and remove rootkits and other advanced malware. In addition, Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper Beta can be used if you cannot install or start an antivirus solution on your PC, or if the installed solution can’t detect or remove malware on your PC.

Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper Beta is not a replacement for a full antivirus solution providing ongoing protection; it is meant to be used in situations where you cannot start your PC due to a virus or other malware infection. For no-cost, real-time protection that helps guard your home or small business PCs against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, download Microsoft Security Essentials*.

To get started, please make sure that you have a blank CD, DVD, or USB drive with at least 250 MB of space. Next, download and run the tool – the tool will help you to create the bootable media required to run the software on your PC.

Yet another tool in your box. Happy hunting and if you do use it, please provide your feedback via the connect site. It only helps make the product better.

I’m Attending The E2E Virtualization Conference

Well I’ve just finished doing the paperwork for attending the Experts 2 Experts conference in London http://www.pubforum.info/pubforum/E2E2011London.aspx. It runs from 18th to 20th November 2011. I’m looking forward to this one as I’m going to meet up with a lot of people from my on line network and have a change to discuss our virtualization experiences and share information in real life, face to face.

It’s good to get to attend vendor independent events and exchange information, enrich and extend our networks. I already know several people from my twitter/blogging network will be attending and I’m happy to meet up with you if you’re there. Just let me know via e-mail, the feedback option on this blog or via twitter (@workinghardinit). Well, I’ll see you there!

Introducing 10Gbps Networking In Your Hyper-V Failover Cluster Environment

This is a 1st post in a series of 4. Here’s a list of all parts:

  1. Introducing 10Gbps Networking In Your Hyper-V Failover Cluster Environment (Part 1/4)
  2. Introducing 10Gbps With A Dedicated CSV & Live Migration Network (Part 2/4)
  3. Introducing 10Gbps & Thoughts On Network High Availability For Hyper-V (Part 3/4)
  4. Introducing 10Gbps & Integrating It Into  Your Network Infrastructure (Part 4/4)

A lot of early and current Hyper-V clusters are built on 1Gbps network architectures. That’s fine and works very well for a large number of environments. Perhaps at this moment in time you’re running solutions using blades with 10Gbps mezzanine cards/switches and all this with or without cutting up the bandwidth available for all the different networks needs a Hyper-V cluster has or should have for optimal performance and availability. This depends on the vendor and the type of blades you’re using. It also matters when you bought the hardware (W2K8 or W2K8R2 era) and if you built the solution yourself or bought a fast track or reference architecture kit, perhaps even including all Microsoft software and complete with installation services.

I’ve been looking into some approaches to introducing a 10Gbps network for use with Hyper-V clusters mainly for Clustered Shared Volume (CSV) and Live Migration (LM) Traffic. In brown field environments that are already running Hyper-V clusters there are several scenarios to achieve this, but I’m not offering the “definite guide” on how to do this. This is not a best practices story. There is no one size fits all. Depending on your capabilities, needs & budget you’ll approach things differently, reflecting what’s best for your environment. There are some “don’t do this in production whatever you environment is” warnings that you should take note of, but apart from that you’re free to choose what suits you best.

The 10Gbps implementations I’m dealing with are driven by one very strong operational requirement: reduce the live migration time for virtual machines with a lot of memory running a under a decent to heavy load. So here it is all about bandwidth and speed. The train of taught we’re trying to follow is that we do not want introduce 10Gbps just to share its bandwidth between 4 or more VLANs as you might see in some high density blade solutions. There that has often to do with limited amount of NIC/switch ports in some environments where they also want to have high availability. In high density scenarios the need to reduce cabling is also more urgent. All this is also often driven a desire to cut costs or keep those down as much as possible. But as technology evolves fast my guess is that within a few years we won’t be discussing the cost of 10Gbps switches anymore and even today there very good deals to be made. The reduction of cabling safes on labor & helps achieve high density in the racks. I do need to stress however that way too often discussions around density, cooling and power consumption in existing data centers or server rooms is not as simple as it appears. I would state that the achieve real and optimal results from an investment in blades you have to have the server room, cooling, power and ups designed around them. I won’t even go into the discussion over when blade servers become a cost effective solutions for SMB needs.

So back to 10Gbps networking. You should realize that Live Migration and Redirected Access with CSV absolutely benefit from getting a 10Gbps pipes just for their needs. For VMs consuming 16 Gb to 32 GB of memory this is significant. Think about it. Bringing 16 seconds back to 4 seconds might not be too big of a deal for a node with 10 to 15 VMs. But when you have a dozen SQL Servers that take 180 to 300 seconds to live migrate and reduce that to 20 to 30 seconds that helps. Perhaps not so during automated maintenance but when it needs to be done fast (i.e. on a node indicating serious hardware issues) those times add up. To achieve such results we gave the Live Migration & CSV network both a dedicated 10Gbps network. They consume about 50% of the available bandwidth so even a failover of the CSV traffic to our Live Migration network or vice versa should be easily handled. On top of the “Big Pipes” you can test jumbo frames, VMQ, …

Now the biggest part of that Live Migration time is in the “Brown-Out” phase (event id 22508 in the Hyper-V-Worker log) during which the memory transfer happens. Those are the times we reduce significantly by moving to 10Gbps. The “Black-Out” phase during which the virtual machine is brought on line on the other node creates a snapshot with the last remaining delta of “dirty memory pages”, followed by quiescing the virtual machine for the last memory copy to be performed and finally by the unquiescing of the virtual machine which is then running on the other node. This is normally measured in hundreds of milliseconds (event id 22509 in the Hyper-V-Worker log) . We do have a couple of very network intensive applications that sometimes have a GUI issue after a live migration (the services are fine but the consoles monitoring those services act up). We plan on moving those VMs to 10Gbps to find out if this reduces the “Black-Out” phase a bit and prevents that GUI of acting up. When can give you more feedback on this, I’ll let you known how that worked out.

An Example of these events in the Hyper-V-Worker event log is listed below:

Event ID 22508:

‘XXXXXXXX-YYYY-ZZZZ-QQQQ-DC12222DE1’ migrated with a Brown-Out time of 64.975 seconds.

Event ID 22509:

‘XXXXXXXX-YYYY-ZZZZ-QQQQ-DC12222DE1’ migrated with a Black-Out time of 0.811 seconds, 842 dirty page and 4841 KB of saved state.

Event ID 22507:

Migration completed successfully for ‘XXXXXXXX-YYYY-ZZZZ-QQQQ-DC12222DE1’ in 66.581 seconds.

In these 10Gbps efforts I’m also about high availability but not when that would mean sacrificing performance due to the fact I need to keep costs down and perhaps use approaches that are only really economical in large environments. The scenarios I’m dealing with are not about large hosting environments or cloud providers. We’re talking about providing the best network performance to some Hyper-V clusters that will be running SQL Server for example, or other high resource applications. These are relatively small environments compared to hosting and cloud providers. The economics and the needs are very different. As a small example of this: saving a ten thousand switch ports means that you’ll need you’ll save 500 times the price of a switch. To them that matters a lot more, not just in volume but also in relation to the other costs. They’re probably running services with an architecture that survives loosing servers and don’t require clustering. It all runs on cheap hardware with high energy efficiency as they don’t care about losing nodes when the service has been designed with that in mind. Economics of scale is what they are all about. They’d go broke building all that on highly redundant hardware and fail at achieving their needs. But most of us don’t work in such an environment.

I would also like to remind you that high availability introduces complexity. And complexity that you can’t manage will sink your high availability faster than a torpedo mid ship downs a cruiser. So know what you do, why and when to do it. One final piece of advice: TEST!

So to conclude this part take note of the fact I’m not discussing the design of a “fast track” setup that I’ll resell for all kinds of environments and I need a very cost effective rinse & repeat solution that has a Small, Medium & Large variety with all bases covered. I’m not saying those aren’t good or valuable, far from it, a lot of people will benefit from those but I’m serving other needs. If you wonder why they want to virtualize the applications at all, it has to do with disaster recovery & business continuity and replicating the environment to a remote site.

I intend to follow up on this in future blog posts when I have more information and some time to write it all up.

WDeployConfigWriter Account Issues – Trouble Shooting Web Deploy 2.0 With Lessons Learned

Here’s a small recap of a trouble shooting incident we dealt with recently and that served as a coaching exercise for trouble shooting. It seems we have Web Deploy 2.0 in use for in house deployments of web apps. It seems to be a valued asset as well. At least valuable enough to land a help request on the desk of one of the young, eager, smart and upward mobile IT Professionals when it stops working and they need some assistance.

Hello ICT,

To deploy our we websites remotely we use web deployment service (see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd569087(WS.10).aspx for more info).

This service runs under the network service account by default. Deploying fails now. In the security log on the server I find  "The specified account’s password has expired".

Does anyone know the password of this account?

Best regards,

Hardworking Web Guy In Trouble

Basically we have enough information to know something went wrong and that they need it to work again. But that’s about it. Password for the network service account expired? They also included an error log and reading it learns us something. The lesson to be learned here: investigate yourself, read the log, interpret them. Don’t let patients give you a diagnosis. Their input is critical, but you need to draw your own conclusions.

An account failed to log on.

Subject:
                Security ID:                           LOCAL SERVICE
                Account Name:                    LOCAL SERVICE
                Account Domain:                NT AUTHORITY
                Logon ID:                              0x3e5

Logon Type:                                         8

Account For Which Logon Failed:
                Security ID:                           NULL SID
                Account Name:                    WDeployConfigWriter
                Account Domain:                lab.test

Failure Information:
                Failure Reason:                     The specified account’s password has expired.
                Status:                                0xc000006e
                Sub Status:                            0xc0000071

Process Information:
Caller Process ID: 0x1f44
Caller Process Name: C:WindowsSystem32inetsrvWMSvc.exe

What did we just read and learn? No it’s not the Network Service Account whose password has expired. This doesn’t happen/doesn’t work that way … so that was our first indication that this isn’t quite right in the support ticket. As you can see the real problem account mentioned in the error log:  WDeployConfigWriter. That account is indeed a local account.

WdeployAccounst

 

Cool, now we check what service runs under that account by looking in the services panel …. none! The easy way to check is to sort on the "Log On As" column. You won’t find WDeployConfigWriter. Right … , what else do we learn from the Services panel. Well we do have service called Web Deployment Agent Service running under the local Network Service account. We can stop and start it just fine so there is nothing wrong with the Network Service account , which is as expected and this service is not our culprit.  What we also learn that this is Web Deploy 2.0.

Service

 

As the Web Deployment Agent Service has nothing to do with the problem at hand. So where is that WDeployConfigWriter being used and what is it status? Let’s take a look.

WdeployAccountsettings

 

Hey, how could this account have expired? This is impossible. Unless they changed it while trying to fix the error. We check this with  quick phone call and yes, they did exactly that.  The good thing is that this web guy is professional and tells us what they did. Some people think this might get them into trouble and won’t do that. It doesn’t change anything, things are what they are, but it does make communication less easy when you discover people act that way… So the lessons here are to double check & verify what happened if at all possible. Originally the settings were:

WDeployAccountOriginalSettings 

 

They changed them after they ran into issues hop that checking those options might fix it. Well no, expired is expired and you can’t fix it like that. You need indeed to correct the settings if you don’t want the password to expire and even prevent the user from changing it but you also need to set a new password when it has already expired. After doing so we contact the hardworking web guy in trouble to let ‘m test and predict a new error: whatever runs under that Account will now fail to run due to an incorrect password. And guess what? “Unknown user name or bad password” in the security log.

Log Name:      Security
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-Security-Auditing
Date:          24/06/2011 10:30:39
Event ID:      4625
Task Category: Logon
Level:         Information
Keywords:      Audit Failure
User:          N/A
Computer:     server1.lab.test
Description:
An account failed to log on.

Subject:
    Security ID:        LOCAL SERVICE
    Account Name:        LOCAL SERVICE
    Account Domain:        NT AUTHORITY
    Logon ID:        0x3e5

Logon Type:            8

Account For Which Logon Failed:
    Security ID:        NULL SID
    Account Name:        WDeployConfigWriter
    Account Domain:        lab.test

Failure Information:
    Failure Reason:        Unknown user name or bad password.
    Status:            0xc000006d
    Sub Status:        0xc000006a

Process Information:
    Caller Process ID:    0x1f44
    Caller Process Name:    C:WindowsSystem32inetsrvWMSvc.exe

 

The user wants to repair install or uninstall and reinstall the application to “get a quick fix” but we do not to give in and keep trouble shooting. It’s better to learn what the cause really is and how to fix it instead of relying on wishful reinstalling.

So where is the thing that runs under that account. We start a quick search in the registry and on the file system for the  account name just in case it’s configured in the registry or a configuration file and let it run while we keep investigating.  We also send  a tweet in to the universe, as perhaps some one out there  knows this and can help out. We search the internet for Web Deploy 2.0 and WDeployConfigWriter. This results in very few hits, hmmm, interesting  … . One of them is http://blogs.iis.net/msdeploy/archive/2011/04/05/announcing-web-deploy-2-0-refresh.aspx

Where we learn a few things, the most important is the one line from that blog post I formatted in bold and red from the blog snippet right below. I also enlarged the picture from the blog post to make it readable where you can find in IIS  what we learned here:

Notice that Web Deploy setup created two new local user accounts:

– WDeployConfigWriter, which has Write permissions to the IIS server’s applicationHost.config. This is used by delegation rules for createApp, appPoolNetFx and appPoolPipelineMode.

I’ve included the entire block of text from where this was taken below.

1. Easier setup for non-administrator deployments on IIS7

One of the common requests from our users was to make it easier to setup Web Deploy so non-administrators can publish to their sites. Typically, you will need to do this if you are running a shared hosting environment or if you are administering a build machine and you do not want users to have admin access.

If you launch the Web Deploy installer and choose “Custom”, you will notice a new option, “Configure for Non-administrator Deployments”:

clip_image001

If you choose this option, Web Deploy will automatically create Management Service Delegation rules for the following providers, as well as user the accounts needed for providers like createApp and recycleApp that need elevated privileges.

These are the rules you will have in the Management Service Delegation UI in IIS Manager after you install this component:

Notice that Web Deploy setup created two new local user accounts:

– WDeployConfigWriter, which has Write permissions to the IIS server’s applicationHost.config. This is used by delegation rules for createApp, appPoolNetFx and appPoolPipelineMode.

– WDeployAdmin, which is an administrator. This is used by delegation rules for recycleApp.

If you prefer to create these rules by hand, uncheck the component in the installer. We also provide a PowerShell script for creating delegation rules (more on this later in the post) if you prefer that route.

Well armed with this information we go have a look at the Management Service Delegation:

ManagementServiceDelegation

 

Where we indeed find createApp, appPoolNetFx and appPoolPipelineMode:

ManagementServiceDelegationWebdeployconfig

 

So now we take a look a bit what we can configure here and  sure enough, by double clicking on them the Edit Rule form:

ManagementServiceDelegationWebdeployconfigSettings

 

So we click on Edit security credentials and are welcomed by this form:

ManagementServiceDelegationWebdeployconfigSettingsPW1

 

So we enter the account name and the new password we set before (remember to do this for both providers):

ManagementServiceDelegationWebdeployconfigSettingsPW2

 

Guess what, end user happy, things are working again. Jay! From service down report to helpdesk to fully operational again in less than an hour with a technology new to the service desk. Well done young, eager, smart and upward mobile IT Pro Winking smile with lessons learned.

How did this happen and did they end up with this funky configuration (expiring password of an account that no one knows where it is used for and where configured)? Aha, operational control => know the configuration of what you use and know why it is configured that way and where it’s configured. Is it a mistake/assumption in the installer that the accounts WDeployConfigWriter and WDeployAdmin have their passwords set to expired and can be changed by the user or did somebody mess with them after the install? Well I did the test by setting it up on a test server and found that they are indeed installed with their passwords set to expire and that the password can be changed by the user. It assumes that the person doing the install knows and realizes the implications. I’m not saying either setting is wrong but you should know why, when and where. There is no documentation on this as far as we could find right now and perhaps the installer should mention the benefits/risks of both types of configuration and ask what to choose. This, together with better documentation, could help prevent this issue. As always, no guarantees given Winking smile 

Overall lesson: don’t assume things, trust but verify …