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Things to Consider when Virtualizing Windows EBS

Updated: August 24, 2009

Applies To: Windows Essential Business Server

You must make multiple decisions when you set up and deploy your virtualization scenario for Windows EBS. This topic helps you make those decisions.

Cost savings

When you virtualize Windows EBS, you can lower your installation costs in two ways. First, you can use Windows EBS Premium, which provides an additional license for Windows Server 2008 Standard. Second, you can use Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Server 2008 to provide an optimized virtualization solution with the Windows Hypervisor, the Windows Server driver model, and the virtualization components. Together or individually, you can use these Microsoft products to reduce your costs.

Windows Essential Business Server Premium

In addition to adding SQL Server 2008, Windows EBS Premium provides a license for Windows Server 2008 Standard. You can use this license to fully virtualize Windows EBS on a single physical server. Or you can divide the Windows EBS servers among several physical servers. Each additional physical server requires either a licensed copy of Windows Server 2008 or Hyper-V Server.

Hyper-V Server

Windows EBS Premium together with Hyper-V Server 2008 provides you with flexibility in configuring your virtualized Windows EBS servers with no additional licensing. Microsoft now makes available for free download Hyper-V Server. You can install Hyper-V Server on an additional physical server and use it to host one or more virtualized Windows EBS servers. Consider the following scenarios.

Scenario A   All Windows EBS servers on one physical server

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This scenario is suitable for a smaller organization with 25 or fewer client computers. This scenario also works well for a test lab environment.

Scenario B   The Management Server and Security Server on one physical server, and the Messaging Server on a second physical server

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This scenario places the two domain controller servers on separate physical servers, and it helps assure that users can continue to log on even if one physical server fails.

Scenario C   The Management Server and Messaging Server on one physical server, and the Security Server on a second physical server

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This scenario separates the security services from the other services, and it helps minimize attack exposure.

Licensing

When you evaluate the licensing requirements for deploying Windows EBS in combination with the Hyper-V technologies, you should consider the differences between the Windows EBS Standard and Premium editions, and how Microsoft licenses Hyper-V for use with the different editions.

The three Windows EBS servers provide an integrated experience with a variety of server applications. The three servers are licensed for use in a single instance, either on physical servers or in virtual machines.

The licensing agreement for Windows EBS Premium allows you to install Windows Server 2008 Standard on one of the physical servers. Then, you can also install Windows EBS into virtual machines on the Hyper-V host. With no additional licensing requirements, the terms of the license agreement allow you to use Hyper-V on a licensed server to do the following:

  • Run hardware virtualization software.

  • Provide hardware virtualization services.

  • Run software to manage and service operating system environments on the licensed server.

noteNote
If you enable the Hyper-V server role, you must not deploy other workloads on this server.

In scenarios B and C, where you have a second physical server, you need an additional Windows operating system. This operating system can be Hyper-V Server.

For more information about Hyper-V Server, see the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=131667). To remotely manage Hyper-V on a Hyper-V Server installation, you can use the Hyper-V management tools. The management tools are available for Windows Server 2008 and for Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. For more information, see Knowledge Base article 950050 at the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=122188) and Knowledge Base article 952627 at the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=122189) in the Microsoft Knowledge Base.

Backup considerations

Virtualizing Windows EBS requires additional planning for backup and restore. In some configurations, you can use Hyper-V snapshots to capture a virtual machine at a point in time for restoration at a later point in time. However, because of synchronization issues with Active Directory data, snapshots are not supported in a virtualized Windows EBS scenario. Instead, you must use traditional methods to back up the physical and virtual servers.

Windows Server DPM

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2007 is a Microsoft backup technology that helps you continuously and efficiently back up both physical and virtual hosts. DPM can protect virtual machines without hibernation downtime. The agent model for DPM supports protecting all virtual machines within a single host with only one agent on the host platform, or agents within each virtual instance, for a range of protection and recovery options. For more information about DPM, see the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=125031). For information about configuring DPM for Windows EBS, see the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=132580).

Windows Essential Business Server Tools

The product technologies that are installed in the Windows EBS infrastructure include tools and wizards that you can use to back up and restore your physical and virtual servers. For more information, see the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=132590).

Other considerations

  • Use System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008

    Consider using System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 to manage your virtualized Windows EBS servers. VMM provides centralized administration and management of your virtual environment, it helps to increase physical server utilization, and it enables rapid provisioning of new virtual machines by the VMM administrator. With VMM, you can do a physical-to-virtual conversion (P2V), creating virtual machines from physical servers. For more information, see the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=123533).

  • Use fixed virtual hard disks in a production environment

    When you create a virtual machine, the New Virtual Machine Wizard creates a dynamically expanding virtual hard disk by default. However, fixed virtual hard disks have faster performance, the file system is less likely to fragment, and it is easier to manage space on the physical hard disk.

    noteNote
    You should always defragment a physical hard disk before you create a virtual hard disk.

  • Configure domain controllers for optimal performance

    You can run an Active Directory domain controller in a Hyper-V virtual machine. The following best practices apply:

    • Never save state in a domain controller. Doing so can cause synchronization issues in the domain if you revert to the saved state.

    • Do not pause a domain controller virtual machine for long periods of time. Doing so can adversely impact replication. Instead, shut down a domain controller when necessary.

    • Do not take snapshots of a domain controller. Microsoft does not support this functionality in these scenarios.

  • Do not back up or restore different partitions at the same time

    Do not run a Backup or Restore process in the host partition and in a guest partition at the same time. Doing so causes a conflict when each instance tries to lock the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) writer.

  • Hyper-V does not virtualize USB ports. Therefore, if you use an answer file to install your server, you must place a copy of the answer file on a virtual drive in the virtual machine.

  • During the installation of the Management Server, you are requested to provide the planning data from the Planning Wizard (.xml file). Hyper-V does not virtualize USB ports, so you cannot use a USB hard drive to transfer the planning data. You can use the following options to upload the planning data file:

    • Write the .xml file to a DVD or a floppy disk, and then insert the DVD or disk into the drive of the physical server. If you use a floppy disk, you need to use Hyper-V Manager to adjust the settings for the Management Server virtual machine so that you can attach the virtual floppy disk (.vfd) file to the physical floppy disk drive.

    • Copy the .xml file to a shared folder on a remote image server. Access this shared folder from the Planning data upload page.

  • USB support is not available in Hyper-V. However, you can take a USB disk drive offline in the host partition, and then mount it “pass-through” to the IDE or iSCSE controller on a virtual machine. If you use this method to mount a disk drive to a virtual machine, you should consider the drive as an “internal” disk drive and should therefore not unplug the drive from the physical hardware.

    You can also use resource redirection during a Remote Desktop session to bring certain devices from your local computer onto the virtual machine. For more information, see the following articles:

    • For Remote Desktop sessions on a computer running Windows Vista, see “How can I use my Plug and Play device in a Remote Desktop session?” at the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=131609).

    • For Remote Desktop sessions on a computer running Windows XP, see Knowledge Base article 300698, “The Features of the Remote Desktop Client in Windows XP,” at the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=131608).

  • You can move virtual machines to different physical servers. You can move them either with VMM or with the Export and Import commands in Hyper-V Manager. For more information, see the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=132592).

  • You should monitor performance counters on the host server to ensure that the virtualized Windows EBS servers are not straining system resources. For more information, see the Microsoft Web site (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=131273).

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