Best Way to Setup Virtual Server Test Environment

We're trying to setup a test environment using Virtual Server machines.  We would to do this in the best possible way so we don't have to reinstall the host OS, etc.

Here's our situation:

* We have a Small Business Server that we use to run our business.
* We will be testing a variety of setups with our test machine - in some cases, this will include setting up additional DHCP servers, IIS servers, etc.
* We like the convenience of having the test server behind our SBS server (same network) because we will easily be able to Remote Desktop to the various virtual machines within the network.
* On the other hand, I'm a little concerned that if we setup another DHCP server, or if we run a test of an Exchange server, we could create conflicts within our network that could bring down our SBS server.

So the first question is - "where" should we setup our test machine:
(1) Behind the SBS machine on the same network?
(2) As a completely separate network?

If we set it up behind the SBS machine - would there be a way to create a new "separate" network from our existing network, but that we could still get to via remote desktop?

Last question (for now): Can you point us to any simple to use "best practice" links on setting up a Virtual Server environment?

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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyConnect With a Mentor Principal ConsultantCommented:
There would be a problem fully integrating the network with your SBS's but you certainly can keep it on a separate subnet... essentially just a full virtual network.

There's a fairly good paper on how to install Virtual Server on an SBS here:  -- although this is really designed for adding an additional server to your SBS network to run either a LOB application or Terminal Services.  It's worth reading though, just to get an idea of what's possible.

I do run a test lab in much the way that you are wanting to but I have it on a separate machine dedicated for that purpose.  The Host Machine is running Windows Server 2003 Enterprise, but just sits in a workgroup and  I have it plugged into the router that's on the External side of my SBS with it's own external IP address which allows easy remote access.  The Virtuals are on their own network.  When you install a virtual machine, you have the choice of having it bind to the physical NIC (which it then shares with the host because of a special virtual protocol that's installed which divides out the IP traffic) or a virtual NIC which can only be connected to other Virtual machines... allowing you to more easily create the kind of test lab you're trying for.

I don't think there's any value in putting it behind (or within) your SBS network... unless you only have a single external static IP... but even if you do, you can just assign another port to forward RDP to the host server (which means you just append that port to your external IP to get there).

trenesConnect With a Mentor Commented:
(2) But once you are comfortable with it you can move it to your current network.

VHD to use without installing any OS! just load the vhd and you're set.

Best practices.
even with your machines on a separate network, I cant imagine it would be too hard to set up remote access to those machines......just a thought
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crm_infoAuthor Commented:
trenes / TechSoEasy - many thanks.  Both of your comments were very helpful.

One specific follow-up question:

One of the virtual machines that we would like to setup on our server is the VPC image from Microsoft.  We would like to set it up so that we can remote desktop to this machine from any PC on the Internet - without having to first remote desktop to the host OS.

We have the virtual machine setup on Virtual Server and it is working file - so long as we access it via the host OS.  Can you provide any suggestions for setting it up to allow access via a Remote Desktop session?

Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
You would need to forward port 3389 to the virtual machine's IP address from the router.  This means that you need to be using the Host's Network Adapter as the Virtual Machine's adapter too, as I described above about using the physical adapter.

crm_infoAuthor Commented:
Thanks.  I'm having trouble setting up using the Host's Network Adaptor as the Virtual Machine's Adaptor.  Can you provide step-by-step instructions - or a link to them?
crm_infoAuthor Commented:
Never mind - I got it solved.  In the interest of helping others who may run into a similar situation, here's what I did:

(1) Bound the Virtual Server to the correct NIC.  Our server has 2 NICs.   For some reason, regardless of which NIC I bound the Virtual Server to, it seemed to be binding to #2 from an IP address standpoint.  #2 was not connected, so we connected that NIC directly to our router.  I don't think this actually played a role in resolving the problem but I can't be sure so I'm leaving it here as a check point for future reference.

(2) Our Virtual Machine did not have DHCP turned on.  Therefore, it was assigning itself a static IP address which could not be found as part of the network.  Turning DHCP management on solved this:
* Control Panel
* Network Connections
* Select your network card (probably only 1 to choose from)
* Properties
* Properties
* Obtain IP Automatically
* Obtain DNS Automatically
* "OK" to everything
* Restart the machine or IPCONFIG /RELEASE and IPCONFIG /RENEW
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