Hyper-V Scenario

Hi everyone,

I wanted to set-up a Hyper-V environment and I would like to ask you to review this and give some additional remarks.

I will be running 1 physical server with 4 guest operating systems. (1 SBS 2011-server and 3 Windows Server 2008 R2 servers==> Backup, SQL 2005 and Briljant).
I am also looking for some additional software to manage and control this environment. I was looking at Data Protection Manager to backup the VMs and VMM to manage the VMs and to do migrations.

Curently they have 4 physical servers, so I could use one of them on which I can install the VMM and Data Protection Manager to manage and backup the VMs? First, I was thinking of making a 4th VM, but when the whole physical server goes down, the management server is also down..

What is your thought on this? And can I do P2V from a server which is running an OEM OS?

And secondly I don't know which OS I should use to host the guest OS's. Should I use Windows 2008 R2 with Hyper-V or Hyper-V Server 2008? I am going for Hyper-V Server, because I think that this will use less resources than a complete OS with just a role Hyper-V to virtualize these guests..

Is my point of view wrong?

I hope to get some input from you!

Thanks in advance.
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I have not used HyperV Server, so do not have first-hand knowledge.  Many administrators prefer V-Sphere for its ease of doing certain tasks.
I use Hyper-V, so with just 4 VMs, I would use 2008R2 "Core" for the host, as using just the core is a best practice when running VMs, not the full install.  You could use Hyper-V manager remotely to manage them, along with RDP sessions.
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
You can use Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 instead of full Windows Server 2008 R2 – you will save something on license because it’s free. However, if you haven’t done it yet, I suggest you to consider buying Enterprise version of Windows Server 2008 R2. It comes with 1 license for the physical machine and 4 licenses of Windows Server 2008 R2 for virtual machines and it is much cheaper than 4 Standard licences.

When you perform a P2V migration you will probably be required to reactivate your installation and if it is a Windows Server 2003 this could be a challenge.

You can use the integrated Windows Backup of Windows Server 2008 to backup your host and all virtual machines; it works surprisingly well.

You do not need an external product to manage 4 virtual machines. The integrated Hyper-V Manager should be enough. It is also included in RSAT for Windows 7.

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Silencer001Author Commented:
Thanks for your arguments.
@spaperov: Your argument for using Hyper-V Server isn't valid anymore because both are free, because you can run an instance of 2008 R2 Hyper-V on your host. So both are acctualy free.. Is there another reason to go for one of the two? I was also considering to buy the entreprise ;)

Hmm can you use a license from the 4 Microsoft Server 2008 R2 to reactivate the server? But you can't use the OEM I assume?!

But when your physical hyper-v server fails, you don't have a machine to put back the backups or look at the backups? So my thought on this was to have an external backup-server just in case the vm's fail..
And with the RSAT tools it isn't possible to do a live migration, so I was thinking about software to do this.. I was looking at microsoft SCVMM.

I hope to get some additonal information or just opinions on this topic. Thanks already for the replies!
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Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
@Silencer001, you are welcome… but if you consider both Hyper-V Server and Windows Server 2008 free can I exchange my Hyper-V Server for your Windows Server 2008?

Seriously, everything depends on your objectives and how much $$ do you want to put on that: SCVMM is not a cheap solution and you would need a dedicated management server to run it. You could also consider Windows clustering with external SAN if you want to be bullet-proofed against hardware failure.
Silencer001Author Commented:
Haha no sorry mate :-P But what I ment was that if I am paying to run 4 licenses virtually, it doesn't matter that hyper-V Server is free, because Windows Server 2008 on the host will be free also. With Hyper-V Server I still need to buy the same license, so it doens't cost me more to run the vms on a windows server 2008.. So is there a reason why I should use hyper-V server in stead of Windows Server 2008? Because you have the GUI in windows Server 2008..

I know but the SAN implementation is really a no-go because of the $$.. My collegue told me it was possible to do migrations from physical to virtual with vmware, but we are considering a solution which costs less, but has the same capabilities. The management of the VMs will be enough with the provided tools (altough there is not much of information of the load and resources used like in vmware).

I was just looking for tools that can to p2v migrations and yeah same capabilities like vmware but cheaper.
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
Windows Server 2008 Enterprise edition is the most cost effective choice in your case.

For P2V migration you could check also Symantec BESR. It is a backup tool that allows you to backup your server in an image file and then to convert it to a VHD file. It is doesn’t allow live migration but do some pretty good stuffs as removing all hardware dependent information as drivers and executing sysprep on Windows machines. This could save you a lot of time to troubleshoot BSOD screens after the first boot from the VHD file.      
Silencer001Author Commented:
Thanks again spaperov and also for the the backup software, I will take a look at this one ;-)
When you say hardware dependent information, does is also include the OEM license?

And I also think that Windows Server 2008 Enterprise would be the best solution for the vm's, but still have no idea weather or not to choose for Windows Server 2008 also on the host and then install the role "hyper-v" to manage the VMs or to go for Hyper-V server. Because in the case of 2008 enterprise, the license for the host is included.. Or is this Windows Server 2008 Enterprise editon without hyper-V?

Thanks again!
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
Symantec BESR: since it executes sysprep on the machine, it removes the activation information. On the next restart (in Hyper-V) Windows will ask you for a new serial number. If it is Windows Server 2008 R2 you can use one of licenses coming with the Enterprise version. If not, you will have to do in-place upgrade to R2 before activating it.  

As soon as you have decided on Enterprise edition of Windows Server 2008 you definitely should go with it as OS for your Hyper-V: you will have a fully functional OS with GUI and Hyper-V Manager on the server.
Silencer001Author Commented:
Ok, thanks spaperov!! But what do you mean with in-place upgrade? First do upgrade on the physical machine to win 2008 and then to virtual conversion or first to virtual and then upgrade? I think the last one because otherwise you still switch the hardware, so they key isn't valid anymore..

Ah ok thanks. So there is no difference in performance with the hyper-V server or windows server 2008 with hyper-V? Because my guess is that the OS is using resources that isn't usefull, I just need the hyper-V on that machine..

But if I will be using Windows Server 2008 with hyper-v as a host. Is it a good solution to have symantec BESR installed on this machine or should I create a new virtual machine to perform the backups? Or recover an old server to perform the backups?
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
Yes, good choice, the in-place upgrade should be done after the P2V migration.

There is no difference in the performance of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft Hyper-V server. Yes, Windows OS takes a little bit more resources, around 1GB of RAM, but you have far more advantages with the GUI.

No, you should not install SBESR on the same host as Hyper-V.

From licensing point of view (this of Microsoft), with Windows Server 2008 Enterprise you can install one physical and four virtual machines only if the instance running on the physical machine is used for hardware virtualization purposes and nothing else. See the following document at page 3: http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/c/a/fcab58a9-ccad-4e0a-a673-88a5ee74e2cc/windows_server_2008_virtual_tech-vl_brief-jan_09.docx

If you allow me to suggest you a configuration: I would install Windows OS with Hyper-V role on the physical server and live it alone, not in the domain (there is a way to make RSAT for Windows 7 capable of managing Hyper-V server in a workgroup, I could help you with that latter). As a compromise you could make your physical server a domain controller but nothing else (and you shouldn’t because of the license). Then you can do the P2V migration of the existing servers.

Second thought, by the way, you cannot do P2V migration with the trial version of SBESR, so it could be a little expensive solution just for that. And, as soon as you are planning to do in-place upgrade to R2 version of Windows Server 2008 that will solve your license problem. So, may be you should take a look at the free Disk2vhd tool for the migration of your physical machines http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415
On other hand, since you don’t like the idea of using Windows Backup as backup solution, you could use SBESR for that but you should probably install it on a different physical server.

 I am using Windows Backup as backup solution for my Hyper-V servers and it works - I have already done a bare metal restore of one of my servers. It allows you to do scheduled backups on a direct-attached disk (USB for example) or/and on a network share. So, it is good free solution for small number of servers. I have replaced ArcServe by it.
Silencer001Author Commented:
Spaperov, thanks for your opinion and proposition, it's a really good one! Thank you!! I have also done a configuration for the SBESR but it was around 6.000 and yes a little bit too expensive for the little-to-medium-sized corporations.

The hyper-v server will be the only physical machine in the environment. Maybe a seperate webserver, but don't know this one yet. Btw would you keep a physical webserver or also do a p2v migration?

I don't understand the fact why you would make the hyper-v server a domain controller? Is there a reason to do this? I'm still new to this, so am willing to gather as much information as possible so thank you already for giving these detailed instructions!

I am just doing my internship at a company and they always use Backup Exec for the sbs 2011 and fileserver. They were familiair with Vranger, but you can't use it with hyper-V, only with vmware. So I was looking for an alternative for vranger.

And on what host are you using the windows backup? On the hyper-V server or on a VM?

Thanks again, really helpfull!!! I increased the points because you are really making an effort to help me find the right solution and give some additional information about everything, thanks!
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
Thanks for the good words and the points!

It is not a good idea to put the web server on the same host as the Hyper-V. Think about security: the web server opens very large attack surface and you don’t need that on a critical server as Hyper-V. Web servers are the best choice for virtualization.

The only reason to make a Hyper-V server a domain controller is if you want it to be a part of the domain and you don’t have at least two other domain controller on physical computers. For me, the best option in small environment is to keep it off the domain (if you are large organization with many hyper-v servers you would put them in different dedicated domain, only for management purposes)

The choice of backup is a critical decision and it depends on what you want to backup and how to restore it. You definitely need a backup solution on the hyper-v server: Windows Backup will allow you to do bare-metal restore of the whole server or/and (starting with R2 version of Windows Server 2008) restore of one or more virtual machines (the whole machine) by selecting a particular VHD file.

If you need to restore files or another data within the virtual machines you will need to run Windows Backup there too. It that case you need to make sure that there is no overlap in the backup times on the hyper-v host and the virtual machines otherwise the backup won’t work. In matter of fact, you can have different solutions for hyper-v and the virtual machines. If you are used to Back Exec you could keep it for the SBS server. The latest version of Backup Exec has an agent for Hyper-V, so it could be the only backup solution in the enterprise.

I am using only Windows Backup and its command-line version on all my Windows Server 2008 machines, physical and virtual. I am using the command-line version (wbadmin) run by Task Scheduler to make backups on NAS while the GUI version (Windows Backup) performs scheduled backups on a direct-attached USB disk. In the virtual machines, same story for the backup on a network share, while the backups on a direct-attached disk are actually done on iSCSI attached disks.

Just to clarify the need of two backup solutions: Windows Backup does differential backup keeping the previous versions while wbadmin performs only full backup and does not keep the previous versions.

Since you are new in Hyper-V and if you have a spare computer with 4GB of RAM with 64-bit processor that supports hardware virtualization (all recent computers of the last 2-3 years support that in the BIOS) I would suggest you to download the evaluation version of Windows Server 2008 R2 and play a little bit with Hyper-V, Windows Backup, iSCSI, etc.
Silencer001Author Commented:
Thanks spaperov! I have been playing around for some time in Hyper-V but just for testing porposes and making an enterire lan network in hyper-V. But never have deployed in a real situation and because of this I have never been faced with backup procedures and where to deploy the different servers..

So you would run windows backup on the hyper-v server to backup the hosts and the vm's as a whole? So in R2 it is possible to restore a complete vhd? But I have read that you have to export the VMs settings individually.. Because if the server crashes and you only want to deploy one of the vms, the vhd is not enough for the deployment..

In our case, mostly you have a dedicated backup-server and then the agents on the physical servers for the backup.. So in this scenario, you don't have a dedicated backup-server? You install backup exec on the sbs on do the backup on this machine and also from this machine?

I was thinking on running backup exec on the host-computer and install agents on the sbs for instance and then let the host computer do the backup from the sbs-server or is this wrong? Or can you install a virtual backup server?

Thanks again for the comments ;)
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
The most important thing with all kind of backup solutions is to have a tested backup and restore procedure. One can have 100% bullet-proved backup. It all depends on the $$.

You should try several different solutions and choose the one that suits best. All the tests can be done using evaluation version of Windows Server.
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
Oups! Missed a NOT: CANNOT have 100% solution
Silencer001Author Commented:
Ok, I understand, I will look into the microsoft backup ;-) But looking at this document: http://eval.symantec.com/mktginfo/enterprise/other_resources/b-other_resources_be_12_5_amvs_faq_102008.pdf

I can just buy 1 license of backup Exec and all the virtual machines are also protected and not just in the form of a .vhd? But now the only question is: can I install this backup software on my hyper-v Server or don't you think this is a good solution? Because you also run the microsoft backup on your host, I assume this is a good idea..

In the environments I have seen, there is always a dedicated server to perform the backups, but in virtualised servers, this may be different?!
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
Yes you could. Dedicated server is always better but in your setup of one Hyper-v with only 4 VMs it could work. The difference between Windows Backup and Backup Exec is that WB is a lite built-in solution while for BE you have to take into accout its system requirements.
Silencer001Author Commented:
So it would be a good idea to maybe make a new virtual server just to run BE? Or must it be a physical?
But Windows Backup doesn't allow you to restore single files in a vhd if I have understood it correctly?!
Svet PaperovIT ManagerCommented:
Again, it depends on the objectives of the backup and the implementation. Both solutions will work.

In my setup I am using WB on the Hyper-v servers and in some VMs, a SQL server and a File server for example. For the rest of the VMs I do not need to restore files from within the VM so WB on the Hyper-v host is enough.
Silencer001Author Commented:
Ok, thanks for your extended help!! Topic may be closed!
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