Thinking of running SQL 2008? Thinking of virtualising it? Well, it’s good news that SQL 2008 is supported by Microsoft, running on Hyper-V, or any other SVVP certified virtualisation solution. The question remains however, should you virtualise SQL?
Well, I guess the answer to that is, it depends. Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 supports up to 64GB RAM per VM, and 4 vCPUs per VM, so, you can, in effect, create some incredibly powerful virtual workloads, but the question still remains, would you virtualise it? Well, there are some benchmarks being produced right now for SQL 2008 on Hyper-V, and the stats are impressive.
“Pass-Through Disks I/O Overhead – SQLIO - I/O overhead used to be a challenge in virtualized environments. It could be a showstopper for I/O intensive applications like SQL Server. With Hyper-V, the technology is different. To understand the best-case scenario, our first test scenario looked at I/O overhead using the most optimized I/O configuration – dedicated pass-through disks. We chose pass-through disk configuration because it has the shortest code path from host to I/O subsystem. In the tests, the same number of physical spindles was allocated to the root partition and the guest virtual machine. Through repeated tests of various random and sequential I/O, we found the I/O overhead of Hyper-V using pass-through disks is from none to minimal”
I’ve taken the exert above from the whitepaper, found below. There are benchmarks, graphs and allsorts of useful info in there – definitely worth a read. So, if you do choose to virtualise SQL, here is that whitepaper – even if you aren’t virtualising SQL, it still contains a useful set of hints and tips around Hyper-V in general…
I’ve just come off the stage at our UK SQL 2008 & Virtualisation launch, where I’ve had the opportunity to reveal (at least at the time, it was!) an exclusive…that Hyper-V Server 2008 was now available! Great stuff! But what is it?
Well, Hyper-V Server 2008 is a separate product, a speciality server if you will, that is priced at a whopping £0, which, even at today’s exchange rates, equates to $0 :-) But what do you get for your money (or not, in this case!). Well, the Hyper-V elements are effectively the same as they are in Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, but with one big difference. Windows. Well, kind of. There are still the core components of the kernel in the sense of all the Windows-Hypervisor related bits, along with the driver model, but, unlike Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, there are no other roles available for install – it’s purely a hypervisor solution, installs on the bare-metal, and allows you to run up to 128 VMs on a single box (or 192 if you’re using the latest Intel 6-core chips!)
This table gives a good summary of the differentiators between Hyper-V Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V:
Key things to draw out are that there is no GUI – well, kind of:
Is this a problem? Nope. Manage it from another GUI installation of Windows Server 2008, or Vista SP1 with the Remote Server Administration Tools (x64 and x86 versions available). There’s no clustering element to it. Is this a problem? Yes and no, or, it depends. It’s a problem if you need those features, but if you need those features, you’d roll up to Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and have them built in. If we compare that with VMware’s minimal ESXi, you’d need to buy Virtual Center, and then ensure you’ve bought the relevant license for HA, and if you want migration capability, VMotion licenses too. Obviously you can buy these as packages to reduce cost, but out of the box, ESXi and Hyper-V Server 2008 aren’t too dissimilar, albeit ESXi has a smaller footprint on disk (what’s a few megabytes (or so) between friends? :-)), and can be clustered should you buy the stuff mentioned above. You won’t be able to cluster Hyper-V Server 2008 – not in this version anyway…
What else is different? Well, that’s pretty much it – you don’t get any fancy licensing advantages, like you do with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (4 free VMs) and Datacenter (Unlimited free VMs) so it’s similar to ESX and ESXi in that sense.
What is it going to be good for?
This is a key question, and personally, I'd agree with what the guys have put on the site.
Test and Dev is a good one – you could use Hyper-V Server 2008 almost like a staging area – get the VMs tested, and working, then move them, offline, across to your live environment, running Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V (or Hyper-V Server 2008 if you prefer!). Either way, no change required to the VM or it’s Virtual Hard Disk (.vhd). Good news!
Basic consolidation is another – I guess the use of the word basic reflects Hyper-V Server 2008’s lack of clustering capability, and thus you can’t really achieve dynamic infrastructures running on it like you could with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and VMware, Citrix et al.
Branch Office is an interesting one – stick Hyper-V Server 2008 on an isolated branch server (there’s already over 400 Certified Servers that will run both Hyper-V Server and Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and plenty that aren’t certified (but Hyper-V will run fantastically, like my Dell D630 laptop) and virtualise your Domain Controller (Read-Only hopefully), File Server, Print Server etc etc, and re-use licenses you’ve already acquired in the past! Obviously not OEM licenses, as these live and die with the hardware. I think the big use of branch office virtualisation is more around server isolation rather than purely consolidation. Each branch will be different though!
Final one is VDI, or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. Why is this a good candidate? Well, think about it…do you need Virtual Desktops to be highly available, and move around during the day? Well, in some environments maybe, but when you’ve got a decent brokering technology like Citrix’s XenDesktop or Quest’s Virtual Access Suite, they are handling the starting and stopping of VMs, along with the intelligent directing of users from their Thin Client (for example) to their virtualised desktop. If a user loses their session, or the VM goes down, the broker should sort them out and redirect them quickly, so any loss of productivity should be minimal. I would say it’s an acceptable loss based on the cost savings made with the solution.
Will Hyper-V Server 2008 work with PowerShell? Absolutely – I just demo’d on stage, executing a PowerShell script (written by James O’Neill, hosted on Codeplex) where it generated 20 VMs, and started them, in about 1 minute, from a 2008 box, executed against the Hyper-V Server 2008. Saved me a hell of a lot of time, and very easy to do.
Can Hyper-V Server 2008 integrate with my other Microsoft management tools? Yep. It can be patched by SC Configuration Manager 2007, Backed up by Data Protection Manager 2007 SP1 (Due soon!), monitored using System Center Operations Manager 2007, and best of all, managed by System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 – 1 suite to manage them all :-) Change in behaviour? No. Cost savings? Absolutely.
Happy Hyper-V Server-ing! :-)
If you’re a Hosting Partner, your licensing is quite different to the regular type of licensing that most Partners/Customers fall under, and in some instances, the licensing is actually more complex for Hosters! How does the complexity increase further? Virtualisation, as per usual!
Well, a whitepaper has landed on my desk which is up to date, and goes into a good level of detail around Hosting & Virtualisation, but also SQL 2008 and System Center.
“This white paper documents common hosting scenarios using Windows Server® 2008 Hyper-V™ virtualization technology and Microsoft SQL Server® database management software with the Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA). The SPLA has two licensing models – Per Processor and Per Subscriber (via a Subscriber Access License, or SAL). Some products are available through both licensing models. In a virtual environment, there are no new restrictions on the number of instances running under the SAL licensing model. However, the Per-Processor model introduces new considerations, which are outlined in this white paper.
The primary focus of this paper is how to license different editions of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 in a virtualized hosting environment that is leveraging the SPLA model. We will outline the SPLA licensing implications for some common Hyper-V-based virtualized hosting scenarios. These scenarios include:
In addition to these common scenarios, we present how the Microsoft System Center family of products can be used to help manage the virtualized hosting environment and the associated licensing implications.”
The document also goes into useful detail around a number of typical hosting scenarios, such as managed, unmanaged, authenticated, unauthenticated and so on. Definitely worth a read.
You can pull the document down from here.
Hyper-V hasn’t been around that long, yet already we’re talking about key features that are coming in the next release! I guess Live Migration was always going to be top of the list for many people, as for me, it’s the one killer feature that Hyper-V was lacking, but still, there are many organisations out there who’ve adopted Hyper-V, who are finding that Quick Migration is fine for them.
So, what can we expect from the next version of Hyper-V?
You can read more information over at Hypervoria, and more at Bink.nu.
I think, for me, the thing that is significant about Hyper-V 2.0, is that everything you’ve already put in place, around your storage, management, LUN structure, networking etc, doesn’t have to change. Apply the R2 update, turn on Clustered Shared Volumes, and Live Migration, among other things, is enabled. You’ll obviously have to reboot somewhere in there, plus you’ll probably need to update the integration components inside the VMs, but the process shouldn’t be too painful. I guess time will tell – it’s a fair while off yet, but the beta’s will be just around the corner…
I blogged about the IPD guides back in June, and a number of new guides have just been added. As a refresher:
The Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD) guides are the next version of Windows Server System Reference Architecture. The guides in this series help clarify and streamline design processes for Microsoft infrastructure technologies, with each guide addressing a unique infrastructure technology or scenario”
Basically, they are there to provide background information, design ideas, key decision areas etc, that are important prior to rolling out the technologies.
“Each guide leads the reader through critical infrastructure design decisions, in the appropriate order, evaluating the available options for each decision against its impact on critical characteristics of the infrastructure. The IPD Series highlights when service and infrastructure goals should be validated with the organization and provides additional questions that should be asked of service stakeholders and decision makers”
IPD consists of the following downloadable packages:
I’ve taken an exert from the App-V 4.5 guide, that explains the decision flow around deployment:
Get the full list of IPD’s here or download them all in a one-shot here.
I’ve just come back from the Global Knowledge Testing Centre in Wokingham, where I’ve sat the 70-403 (or 71-403) beta exam of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008. Verdict? Tricky.
I’d love to be able to say that I passed, but with it being a beta exam, you don’t find out instantly like you do with normal Microsoft/VMware etc exams, so I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. I have a feeling I pretty much nailed it, so I should be ok. What kind of stuff does it test for? Well, from the official site:
Skills Being Measured
This exam measures your ability to accomplish the technical tasks listed below.The percentages indicate the relative weight of each major topic area on the exam.
So, would I say this list is accurate? Pretty much. Based on my experience, you’d need to know your Self-Service policies well, along with SCVMM Self-Service Portal usage, including setup, supported systems etc. There wasn’t much VMware stuff on my exam, and I would expect more to be added for the final release as, in my opinion, it needs more. There was a great deal of stuff about SC Operations Manager 2007 included, along with the PRO integration, so make sure you know your stuff on those 2 in particular.
If you’ve used VMM 2008 regularly since beta, you should be fine. If you’ve gone through installations where things have errored due to pre-requisites missing for example, or ports not being opened in the firewall, these are the type of things that exams try to catch you out on. Also things like Service Packs of supported Operating Systems – I don’t just mean Guest OS’s, I mean things like what server OS can the VMM Server be installed on? What about the Self-Service Portal? What Firewall ports does the SS Portal need opening? What about the VMM Server? Can Windows OS #1 be converted using P2V? etc etc etc
Best advice I can give – take that list above, go and install VMM 2008 (all the bits), watch carefully when you’re doing stuff, take notes on ports, settings, PowerShell commands even, and just tick stuff off the list when you’re comfortable with it. Just remember, VMM 2008 doesn’t just manage Hyper-V and VMware’s VirtualCenter (and thus ESX). What am I trying to say? Just don’t forget Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1….
If you still want to register and take the exam before it releases (FOR FREE), then you need to do the following:
I’ve recently been chatting with David Overton, who recently wrote an article for the Windows Vista magazine, around virtualising stuff on Windows Vista using technologies like Virtual PC 2007 SP1 or Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1. The reason for this post? I’m going to clarify what installs, what runs, what doesn’t, and what is supported.
So, from the top:
Windows Vista Home Basic / Home Premium:
So, as you can see from the image, I’m running Windows Vista SP1 Home Premium, and I’ve installed Virtual PC 2007 SP1. When I try to install it for the first time, I get a message saying that I’m trying to install VPC 2007 on an OS that isn’t supported. I can continue with the installation, and as you can see, in my VPC, I’m just wrapping up an installation of Vista SP1 inside the VM. So far, so good, in terms of my usage. If it all goes belly-up though, I’m not going to be able to call MS for support but it is running fine.
When I tried to install Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 on Vista Home Premium, I get an ‘unsupported’ error, but I’m not allowed to continue this time, unlike with Virtual PC. Also, I suspect that even if it did allow me to continue, it wouldn’t work correctly anyway, as the Home versions don’t support ‘Windows Authentication” as part of the IIS Web Server bits needed for Virtual Server, so I’m guessing it wouldn’t work.
Windows Vista Business / Enterprise / Ultimate:
So, 2 key differences here, when using the more ‘business/fully’ featured versions of Vista. Firstly, Virtual PC 2007 SP1 is supported on the platforms, so you would be able to call MS for support on those ones. Secondly, Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 actually installs this time, plus the OS has the ‘Windows Authentication’ settings in IIS too. There is a more recent update for Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 to allow support for Vista SP1 as both a host, and a guest OS. You can grab that here.
There are also a number of guides to installing Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 on Vista. Here’s one I just found.
Remember the Server Unleashed campaign for Windows Server 2008, with that robot? Well, it’s just had the Hyper-V treatment…
Cool video, cool technology – get all the info here. Once loaded, click the Hyper-V link in the top left and get all the info you need on Hyper-V.
Update – Eval Link Now Live - Click Here!
Just 13 months after SCVMM 2007, SCVMM 2008 has shipped, and brings a hell of lot of new capability to your virtualisation infrastructure. To quote Zane Adam, from the Virtualisation Blog:
“We’re excited to see the partner and customer adoption of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008. We’ve already seen hundreds of our early deployment customers use either the beta or release candidate version of VMM to manage their Hyper-V deployments. They are seeing the many cost reduction and management simplification benefits of Hyper-V and the SCVMM 2008 integration with the rest of System Center. Now that RTM is official, I fully expect the rate of Hyper-V deployments to further accelerate. Through the SCVMM 2008 console, administrators can see the entirety of their datacenter infrastructure – physical or virtual. SCVMM 2008 facilitates key functions like P2V (physical to virtual) migration, Intelligent Placement (selecting the best virtual host for a VM), and managing Hyper-V host clusters, to name just a few. SCVMM 2008 works closely with its siblings – particularly SC Ops Mgr – in identifying consolidation candidates and in Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO), a new feature in which SCVMM 2008 can alert and recommend solutions to administrators about failing virtual machines or hardware. As I mentioned above, this comprehensive view extends throughout the data center as SCVMM 2008 is capable of seeing and managing VMware ESX infrastructure through Virtual Center. I hope you download SCVMM 2008 today and give it a try. Additional information, including a link to download an evaluation version is available here and it will be generally available for purchase as of November 1”
The link isn’t quite live yet, so you can’t grab the eval right this minute, but keep visiting this page, and I’m sure it will be updated ASAP.
So, what does SCVMM 2008 do, that SCVMM 2007 didn’t?
There are loads more features that may be of interest too, and you can grab them in this document. There will be even more documentation released over the next week or so, now that we’ve hit RTM.
Even more resources can be found here:
Get the eval ASAP and try it for yourself!
This is the first time I’ve seen this Silverlight demo of SCVMM 2008, and I was pretty impressed – definitely worth checking it out if you’ve got a spare 15 minutes.
You can access the demo here.