Virtual machine migration in Windows Server 2012 and the heyday of blaxploitation cinema

 Oct 07, 2014

I am so excited about the options for virtual machine migration in Windows Server 2012 and the heyday of blaxploitation cinema that I just had to write and tell you all about it in today’s blog post! So, let’s say you want to move one of your virtual machines (VMs). Maybe the drive you have it on is running out of space, or maybe your network would be better served if your VM were running on a different host server, which may or may not be a node in a failover cluster. In older versions of Windows Server – yes, 2008 and 2008 R2 are now older versions – moving a VM to another location without shared storage or that is part of the same failover cluster would involve downtime, as it would have to be shut down, exported and then imported. Well, things are better in Windows Server 2012! With Virtual Machine and Storage Migration, you can move a VM without ever turning it off. Virtual Machine and Storage Migration is accomplished via a wizard in Hyper-V Manager, or you can do it with PowerShell (since literally everything that can be done in Windows Server 2012 can be done with PowerShell). A new VHD is created on the destination disk/machine and the copying ensues. While that’s happening, users can still access the original VM. Any changes made during this time are written to both the original VM and the new one. When the disk copying is complete, Hyper-V will switch the VM to the new VHD. If the VM is being moved to another host, the computer configuration will also be copied and the VM will be associated with the new host. A similar process of moving VMs with no downtime is called Live Migration, though it is designated for doing a planned failover between nodes on the same failover cluster. A temporary VM is created on the target host and the guest memory from the original host is transferred over a series of passes. Once enough has been transferred, Hyper-V stops the original VM and transfers the state of the virtual machine to the target. This is such little information that it transfers without any recognised downtime on the part of a user accessing the VM. Since the VHD(s) of the VM is/are not being transferred, this whole process is super-quick. Note that Live Migration is available in Windows Server 2008 R2, also; though it has been enhanced in Windows Server 2012 to allow for faster, as well as simultaneous migrations. Similarly, Quick Migration is available in Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012. It uses VSS technology to create a snapshot of the original VM and then has the VM running off of a new differencing disk. Meanwhile, the VHDs and any ISO images are copied to the target host. Finally, there will be some downtime while the active memory and differencing disk are copied, but this can be as little as two minutes for a VM with 4GB of memory. Even with the exporting and importing of virtual machines, Windows Server 2012, like Windows 8, offers the improvement that a VM no longer has to be exported before it is imported. You can simply copy the VM to the new host and import it normally. So, as you can see, there are a variety of options for virtual machine migration in Windows Server 2012 and, for some reason, that makes me think about blaxploitation cinema. Blaxploitation is the name given to exploitation films made by and for African Americans, though in the heyday of the movement – the 1970’s – African Americans were more popularly known as Blacks in the USA. Wikipedia provides the following description of “exploitation films”:
Exploitation film is an informal label which may be applied to any film which is generally considered to be both low budget and of low moral or artistic merit, and therefore apparently attempting to gain financial success by “exploiting” a current trend or a niche genre or a base desire for lurid subject matter. …  Very often, exploitation films are widely considered to be of low quality, and are generally “B movies”.  Even so, they sometimes attract critical attention and cult followings.”
Though there has been a long history of films made by and for African Americans, the start of the movement that would be known as blaxploitation was with the 1971 release of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, which was written, produced, scored, and directed by Melvin Van Peebles, who also starred in the film. It depicts the story of an African American man on the run from white authority. In the turbulent and changing political climate of the early 1970s, the film struck a nerve with its intended audience. This led to many other films of this type being made. Other prominent examples of the genre (or sub-genre) would be Shaft (a Hollywood studio production, also in 1971, that some argue was the actual start of the blaxploitation movement), Super Fly (1972), Blacula (1972), Cleopatra Jones (1973), Coffy (1973), and Get Christie, Love! (1974), which also became short-lived television series. This “golden age” of blaxploitation has inspired many filmmakers between then and now. The most prominent of these is clearly Quentin Tarantino, who has referenced many Blaxploitation elements in his films, especially in Jackie Brown (1997), which starred Pam Grier, who also starred in Coffy and Foxy Brown (1974). Windows Server 2012’s virtual machine migration options and the 1970’s era of blaxploitation cinema are both totally baadasssss, man!

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About the Author:

Kevin O'Brien  

Kevin is a highly skilled and respected IT trainer with a solid foundation in theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Prior to his career in corporate IT training, Kevin taught at university where he was able to gain valuable experience as a mentor, coach and facilitator. In his current role as a technical trainer at New Horizons, Kevin specialises in providing training in Microsoft Networking, SQL Server, Exchange Server, and SharePoint technologies. Kevin’s extensive knowledge of real-world networking challenges infuses his training with helpful practicality. He is an individual who is passionate about the learning process and strives to ensure that each student not only gains the skills they require, but also enjoys their training experience.

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