Dell have kindly loaned my a very Orange Dell Precision M6500 (aka Covet) and I plan to use it to show off the latest developments in SQL Server and System Centre etc. However I won’t pretend I can run a private cloud on it as that needs at least one cluster and I don’t see me lugging two of these monsters around even if Dell decided to let me have a pair of them! However what I will do is run all of the System Center suite on here including Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) with its self service portal. I will also be able to run SQL Server not just to support System Center but also to show off Denali (the project name for SQL Server vNext)
The first thing I need to do is put Windows Server 2008 r2 on it and then install the the hyper-V role. The Covet has 1x80Gb and 2x 265Gb SSDs with the two larger SSDs setup as a raid0 to offer a 512Gb volume where I’ll be putting all my virtual machines. Rather than install the physical operating with the hypervisor onto the 80Gb SSD, I have actually created a 15Gb fixed virtual disk (.VHD file) and I will boot directly to that (this is a feature in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2). The cool thing about this is that I can copy this VHD to another machine and get back to my environment (possibly with a reboot to detect hardware changes so dead handy if Dell want their machine back!
Next I am going to break a few rules and put additional roles and features on the physical operating system notably the wireless LAN needed to get the wireless adapter to work) and desktop experience. Desktop experience gives me media player in case I need to show off a video and also allows my to give windows server the Windows 7 treatment including aero (obviously at the expense of VM performance). WhiIe I am on the subject of video I have installed the Windows x64 Nvidia drivers for the graphics card. I have seen some articles that suggest that graphics drivers can interfere with hyper-V and to stick withe the generic driver. There’s a powerful graphics card in the Covet with 1Gb dedicated RAM and without the drivers I won’t be able to project – I fell foul of this at TechEd 2009 and had to install the graphics drivers while I was presenting at a session!
One other thing I do is to fire up MMC (type MMC into the search bar to get it) to bring up an empty management console. I then add in the Hyper-V snap-in and save this as Hyper-V manager (whihc appears in administrative tools by default) so I have one screen especially to manage virtual machines which I pin to my taskbar (this is such a technique older than many of my jokes which you just might not have heard of!)
The final thing I do before I start bringing in my virtual machines is to setup the virtual networks in server manager. I stick to really simple naming on all my VMs to make it easy to move them around. I have Virtual Internal Network and Virtual External Network and each VM I use connect to one or both of these (I’ll go into more detail on that in subsequent posts).
Now I am all set to bring in virtual machines and setup SCVMM which is what I will be going through next time as running virtual machines without SCVMM is a bit like changing gear without a clutch, technically possible but not that easy.