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Matt McSpirit on Virtualisation, Management and Core Infrastructure

Running Virtual Server on Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 / June CTP and other Virtual Server Resources

Running Virtual Server on Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 / June CTP and other Virtual Server Resources

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It's a shame, I know, that we don't have access to the Windows Server Virtualisation bits just yet, however, fear not, you can still start working with Virtualisation on Windows Server 2008, using Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.

Rather than recreate the wheel, I'd rather direct you to Jeff's post on the Windows Server Virtualisation blog, where he details all the steps you need, including images.  Just to steal a snippet...

  1. Add the IIS role with the correct settings for Virtual Server.
  2. Install Virtual Server R2 SP1.
  3. Run IE elevated as an Administrator to access the Virtual Server Administration Page.
    To run IE elevated, right click on IE and select Run as Administrator.
    (BTW: If you don’t do this, IE will quit with an error. This is a known issue and a fix is being investigated.)

Thanks Jeff.  For more info, check out Jeff's post.

Why, might you say, would I want to even consider Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 over something like, say, VMware ESX?  Well, admittedly, Virtual Server, with it's most recent release, doesn't tick all the boxes in terms of features that ESX does.  Yeah, no 64bit VM's, multi-processor VM's etc, but it still does a hell of a lot to provide you with a strong foundation going forward on the Microsoft Virtualisation platform, plus, it's very cost effective.  That actually means free.

With the latest release of Virtual Server, namely Service Pack 1, some of the restrictions with earlier versions are also relinquished.  As Jeff says, on an x64 installation of Windows Server Enterprise, now supports up to 256 GB of physical memory and we upped the limit to 512 running virtual machines when running on Windows Server 2003 x64 Editions. Please note that the limit of 64 running virtual machines is unchanged when running on 32-bit (x86) Windows Editions.

Jeff has also posted about some of the benefits of Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1.  What's interesting to note is, that we, within Microsoft, are actually using Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, in production, every day.  Not just for a few machines either.  Oh no, the number is actually closer to 1400 VM's, all running on VS 2005 R2 SP1.  You can read an excellent interview with Devin Murray, group manager of utility services, which talks about just that.

One big problem that people had with Virtual Server, was the web interface.  It was functional, it just didn't look particularly interesting.  Some people used the VMRC - Virtual Machine Remote Control, which improved things slightly, but what people were really craving for was something cool... sexy almost (well, as sexy as controlling virtual machines could be...) and up popped VMRCplus.  Get in :-)

Credit has to go to Paul Despe and Matthijs ten Seldam who developed the tool - it really does provide some cool functionality for VS2005 R2 SP1.  Matthijs also writes a blog, which covers specifically VMRCplus.  What kind of stuff does VMRCplus give you?

  1. Direct control of local or remote instances of the Virtual Server service - IIS and IE browser are no longer required!
  2. Tabbed interface - You can quickly jump between Virtual Server hosts and guest VMRC sessions.
  3. Reusable saved states - This feature allows users to preserve a particular saved state and return to that state at any time.
  4. Multiple guest selection - You can now startup/shutdown/save/display multiple VM's at the same time.
  5. Browse button - Easy navigation for media, hard disk images, ISO images, .VMC files, etc.
  6. Drag and Drop support - Ease of use enhancements for .VMC files, ISO's images, VHD and VFD files.
  7. Resizable desktop support for guests running Virtual Machine Additions.
  8. Cut and paste of text - Want to copy text from host to guest, now you can!
  9. Screen capture - A built-in utility to take JPG screenshots of running guests. Useful when filing bugs.
  10. Multiple guest creation - Create multiple guests at once.
  11. Toolbars - More ease of use enhancements for both Guest and Console Manager.
  12. VM sorting - You can now sort virtual machines based on status and use multi-selections.

VMRCplus Interface

Looks pretty cool hey?  If you want VMRCplus, you can download it here.

Going Forward

Perhaps the most compelling reason to get on board with the Microsoft Virtualisation platform now, rather than later, is the fantastic foundation is gives you.  You can create and build your virtual infrastructure now on Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1, manage both your physical and virtual machines' health using System Center Operations Manager 2007, automate the management on your virtual machines using System Center Virtual Machine Manager, backup both your physical and virtual machines using System Center Data Protection Manager, and implement a strong deployment of operating systems, patches, language packs and so on, with System Center Configuration Manager.  All 4 of these products can be purchased under a single E-SML licence, which makes it very cost effective too.  It doesn't however, stop there.  The virtual machines you create now, using the VHD file format, all work seamlessly with Windows Server Virtualisation, due within 180 days of the RTM of Windows Server 2008.  All the management and backup products I've just mentioned, can not only look after your infrastructure now, but in the future too.  Now has never been a better time to explore a complete solution on the Microsoft platform.

  • Following up on the last post , where I mentioned briefly that internally, Microsoft has around 1400

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