Deploying a Small Business (Part 2)

If you read part 1 of this blog post you are aware that a SBS 2003 R2 Server was deployed and the next step was to deploy a terminal server to host the Jonas Construction Software.  While Synergenics did design a very suitable server to run terminal services there was room for improvement.  During initial conversations with Jeff he had mentioned that he might like to expand employee usage of Blackberry, he is currently the only user with a mobile device, as well as a few other ideas.  I also suggested that even in an SBS environment a second DC is always a good idea and since they have SBS 2003 R2 Premium, once they upgrade to SBS 2008 Premium they will be licensed for another server as well.

With all this in mind I suggested that they upgrade the server designed to be the terminal server to a dual Quad-Core (from a single) and upgrade to 16GB of RAM (from 4GB) and install Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition rather than Windows Server 2003 Standard Edition.  This would still allow for a virtual 2003 terminal server, as well as support the other ideas floated by Jeff and myself.  With Server 2008 Enterprise Edition, Allerion would be licensed for an additional 4 virtual machines running on the host.  That is enough to provide the terminal server, the BES server, and a secondary domain controller while leaving one more virtual license for another use if required plus the additional SBS 2008 Premium license once they perform that upgrade.

They now had the resources both licensing wise as well as physical resources wide to implement all the suggestions over time without additional purchases.  It also gave Synergenics the required resources to support the migration to SBS 2008.  SBS 2008 is x64 only and because of this there is no in-place upgrade from SBS 2003.  In a nutshell you need to a) install a new x64 server and use the migration tools to move to the new server or b) do a swing migration to a virtual SBS 2003 server and then repurpose the original physical server for SBS 2008 and use the migration tools to migrate from the virtual SBS 2003 server to the new SBS 2008 physical server.  With the server spec’d as is it has the resources to do so.

So after Synergenics built the server and installed Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition it was time to design the virtual infrastructure, install a virtual machine and take some of the staff at Synergenics on a Hyper-V crash course.


The specs of the Hyper-V server are as follows

  • Intel Quad-Core Xeon 2.4GHZ


  • 4 Western Digital 146GB 10K hard disks

  • 3Ware 9650SE PCI-X SATA Raid controller

  • RAID 10 array (292GB)

The basic install of the server went very smoothly AFTER they found an issue with the 3Ware card.  It was easy enough to resolve but it was a deployment blocker for the first try.  There is a firmware update for the 9650SE if you are installing it in an x64 OS.  You need to upgrade to firmware release 9.5.1 as well as use the latest driver for Windows Server 2008 x64 based systems.  With that complete the initial configuration tasks are completed and the machine is joined to the domain the system setup can begin.  Hyper-V RTM is provided via a hot fix that appears when you update the server for the first time.  You will see an update for KB 950050 under optional updates and this is Hyper-V.  After getting the system up to date I had the crew from Synergenics go through the Add Role wizard and install the Hyper-V role.  One more reboot and they were ready to go!

There wasn’t a lot of configuration to do on the Hyper-V portion.  Since all virtual machines will be on the Allerion internal network they created an External Network within Hyper-V and bound it to the physical machines NIC.  All virtual machines will be connected to that network and get connectivity that way.

They redirected the location of the virtual hard disk directory and the virtual machine directory.  The drive array was split into a 60GB partition for the OS and services and the rest was partitioned with the remaining drive space.  Both the virtual hard disk and virtual machine directories were place on the data partition.  This was done as an additional disaster recovery option.  If something were to happen to the OS installed on the C: partition, that partition could be formatted and reinstalled without worry of affecting the data on the D: partition.

At that point they were able to install the first virtual machine but first another road block.  Before we started setting up the first virtual machine I gave the two Synergenics IT pros a quick run through of Hyper-V.  How to create a virtual machine, a virtual hard disk, how to inspect and edit the disks, manage virtual machine system settings, mount ISOs, CD drives etc…  They have used Virtual Server 2005 in the past and were quite familiar with it and the terminology and got the hang of things quickly.  During this process however we noticed some strangeness.

Virtual machines would start and then error out.  We could create VMs, but they wouldn’t delete properly.  Errors would appear when exporting a VM, and when we tried to apply changes to virtual machine settings sometimes it would work and sometimes it would error out or revert back to the original settings.  All very odd and I was scratching my head.  The culprit?  Trend Micro Server Anti-virus.  Now there is nothing wrong with the product and I have had plenty of success with it in my years before joining Microsoft (and even afterwards until I got a free copy of OneCare) but all these issues occurred after the automated group policy install.  Then it dawned on me, exclusions.

Virtual machines consist of a number of files.  VHD for the virtual hard disk, VSV for a running VMs state, XML configuration files etc…  They are all files and when you open a file the AV’s real time scan kicks in.  That is how AV applications work and the same would happen with any AV.  The cure was to exclude the two directories we created to hold the VHD and VM config files.  Once those exclusions were added, the weird behaviour was gone and we could continue with the deployment of the virtual terminal server.

After creating a virtual machine (dual core, 4GB with a 60GB dynamically expanding disk) we mounted the ISO and started the Windows Server 2003 install.  At this point I left Allerion in the capable hands of Synergenics who are now managing their first Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V host.  It has been a week so far and neither Jeff nor Synergenics has emailed or called.  The deployment continues, Jeff is happy to see his needs being met and the crew at Synergenics is doing what they do, serving their customers needs while learning a little on the job.

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