Recently Microsoft released Sharepoint 2010 beta and quite a few other pieces of software: Visual Studio 2010 beta, 2008 R2 RTM, and Windows 7 RTM which made it possible to deploy an SP2010 farm and do some development against it with the latest server and application technology. So the time is right to setup Sharepoint 2010 and see what it’s got. My plan was to setup a Sharepoint 2010 farm so I could get down into the details of a farm deployment and see what was new there and I wanted to do some development against the farm with the new Visual Studio and Win7 to see what changed or had been introduced there.
In order to setup this farm and development workstation, I figured I’d setup a hyper-v lab. In order to do this, I knew I’d need two machines: a hyper-v server and a Vista workstation which I would use to continue the project work I am tasked with at my company. I had a Dell Precision workstation with a decent amount of memory, disk space, and CPU horsepower so I decided use it as my hyper-v server, and I had a Vista laptop for my daily project work.
2008 R2 Core Or Full?
My first question was: should I install the core or the full installation of 2008 R2 for my hyper-v host? At first I chose core because I didn’t want to waste any of the resources on my Precision workstation which could be used for the farm or for development so I went ahead and installed core and setup my vista laptop to manage the core hyper-v installation. This all went fairly straightforward until I got the bright idea to use the System Center Virtual Machine Manager to help me manage my virtual lab. I wanted to give the SCVMM a spin because in the past I had used Virtual Server 2005 and SCVMM’s predecessor: Virtual Machine Manager and so I wanted to see what was new in virtual machine management in hyper-v.
I figured I could run the SCVMM management console on my Vista workstation and use it from there, but after downloading the SCVMM and attempting install it on my Vista workstation, I found that I could not. I found out that the management console has to be installed on server 2008 which meant that I could either deploy a guest VM for the SCVMM or I could re-install my hyper-v server as a full installation and use it for the SCVMM. I chose to re-install my hyper-v server as a full installation since that seemed like less of a waste of my Precision workstation’s physical resources.
How To Back It All Up?
The next item I wanted to address was how to backup my guest VMs. I knew that since I would be installing beta software and working through some hotfixes and what not, that I’d need a good backp strategy. After all, the only way I knew of to learn something really well was to break it and then have to fix it and restoring from a backup made fixing things that much easier. There are 2basic ways in which a hyper-v guest VM can be backed up:
- Windows Server Backup (WSB)
- Data Protection Manager (DPM)
Checkpoints are kind of a light weight backup solution so I didn’t see checkpoints as a long term backup solution, I seen them as a way to make a quick save of the VM before attempting something which may break it. In addition, my experience with VS2005 checkpoints left me with two bad experiences: you couldn’t restore a checkpoint without losing all checkpoints after the restored one and constantly checkpointing/restoring a domain member server would inevitably result in that member server’s domain association getting corrupted.
However, when using the new SCVMM checkpoints, I realized that I could not only restore to a checkpoint without losing all checkpoints later in time but that I could also fork the checkpoints. I could create child checkpoints and sibling checkpoints as well:
So checkpoints for me became a good and quick backup tool but still didn’t satisfy my need for a full backup.
Windows Server Backup (WSB)
WSB is the successor of NTBackup and can do what you’d expect of it: it backs up and restores folders and files. But it can also operate at a higher level and use an application’s Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) to backup/restore at the application level. Hyper-v has a VSS which through a registry edit, can be used by WSB.I had an external 500GB drive laying around that I was using as the SCVMM library for my ISO and other installation images so I figured I would also use it for my backup media. After I got WSB configured with the hyper-v VSS writer I got to the place in the WSB backup wizard to select the backup destination, it didn’t show my external drive:
I went hunting online to see what I could do and found some articles about backing up to an external drive with WSB but it seemed I had to reformat the disk first. Since this external drive also hosted the VM library of ISOs and other binaries I needed for my hyper-v lab, formatting it was out of the question and so this ended my backup effort with WSB.
Data Protection Manager (DPM)
The next backup method was DPM which is a more enterprise level backup solution from Microsoft. I downloaded and installed DPM 2007 service pack 1 which meant that I had to also install SQL 2005 along with it’s necessary service packs to get it running on 2008 R2.
I didn’t have too much trouble getting DPM installed and configured, it was all pretty much what I would expect of a backup solution. However, when I got to the point where I was adding disks to the storage pool to be used for the backup destination, I got a pleasant surprise: DPM did not show me my external drive so I could add it to the storage pool:
At this point, I went back to the Internet to see what was going on and found out that DPM does not support backing up to external USB drives.
So at that point, I had no backup solution for my hyper-v installation. I do have plans to find another external drive and use WSB to backup to it.
Clones, Templates, and Virtual Machines In the SCVMM
My virtual Sharepoint lab will eventually consist of 7 guest VMs:
- Domain Controller
- SQL Server
- Index Server
- Web Server
- Web Server
- Development workstation
- Development workstation
When I began to create my guest VMs, I wanted the ability to store a base 2008 R2 server in my SCVMM library that was fully patched and ready to deploy. I envisioned being able to deploy multiple guest VMs from this one copy in the library. After installing and patching my first server guest VM, I didn’t store it directly to my library. Instead I used the ‘clone’ option on the context menu to create 4 additional servers: IDX1, SQL1, WEB1, and WEB2. I knew that this probably wasn’t right, that it couldn’t be that easy but I did it anyway and I was correct, it wasn’t right. Each of my 5 guest VM servers had the same SID which I verified by using the psgetsid utility. I think clones are useful only for backing up the machine and storing it in the SCVMM library.
Storing a VM in the SCVMM library
I couldn’t rename the machine. I had it named something like ‘Base 2008 R2 x64’ so I couldn’t rename it SQL1, WEB1, etc.
When deploying the VM from the library, it was not copied out of the library, it was moved. So this was a one time operation and it pretty much defeated storing a single copy in my library so I didn’t have to install and patch 5 seperate servers.
Creating a template in the SCVMM library
My 3rd and last attempt at accomplishing my vision turned out to be the charm. I took that first server which was fully patched and would serve as my base server and told SCVMM to create a template from it. Before creating the template, I figured I needed to run sysprep on it since that seemed correct but while watching the SCVMM jobs to create the template, I noticed that one of the steps was to sysprep the machine:
So creating the template also sysprepped the machine. Very nice, I now had the ability to store a 2008 R2 server template in my library which I could pull and deploy mutliple times as needed.