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Topic # 144188 10-May-2014 11:31
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(mods - please move this to the correct forum if needed - I couldn't find anything related to servers or virtual machines)

Hey all, I am after some advise and feedback from others who have tried the following.

I am in the process of building a new server that will act as a VM host, running the free 2012R2 Hyper-V.  On top of this I will be running both server OS's, and several development type VM's, such as SQL Server, BusinessObjects, Visual Studio, etc. All these guest VM's will be Windows based systems. I think I have all the required licenses, but the more I read on this the more I get confused. And in the not-to-far future I would like to stand up a second VM server, to learn more about load balancing, moving VM's etc.

Planned VM's are:

Small Business Server 2011 - will be AD Controller and Exchange Server for LAN
SQL Server 2012 on Server 2012R2 Standard
Server 2012R2 Standard with Essentials role (this replaces my WHS2011 box), gives client backups, remote access, etc
Windows 7 VM for 'client side' tools (such as SSMS, Business Objects software, Crystal, Eclipse etc.
Business Objects Server

I am planning on a GIGABYTE GA-6PXSV4 based system with 128GB RAM.

So, questions:

1) Should I use the 2012R2 Standard with Essentials VM to also act as a file server? Currently all my files are on my (physical) WHS 2011 box, which includes documents, music, movies, etc. I was thinking of a dedicated physical host for performance reasons, is this needed?

2) Is hosting the AD controller in a VM a good idea?  What happens if the VM or host go down? Can I still login etc?

3) One of the main reasons for choosing SBS2011 is the simple setup of the AD, Exchange etc. But its an old product. How hard is it to setup a Exchange 2013 server and dedicated AD server in comparison? Are there any advantages in doing so?

4) If I add a second VM host in the future can I add it to the existing one? Does it become a cluster?

5) Correct me if I wrong, but the Hyper-V hosts don't need an AD to install and run?

6) Management - as far as I can tell I can download a free program (RSAT) to manager Hyper-V servers.  Are there any licensing implications? If there anything more I need to fully manage the Hyper-V and the VM's?

7) Finally - licenses - if I have licenses for each OS and product (which I do) does running them in a VM change anything? Note - this is a home environment, not a business.

Many thanks!

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  Reply # 1041538 10-May-2014 23:17
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128 GB is super overkill for 6 VM's considering that board only has 1 cpu. Get it if you want, but you won't need it. 8GB per VM is plenty and that is only 40GB leaving room to give exchange/sql boxes more.
1) what is your disk config like? I would suggest a small disk/raid for the Hyper-V host, a couple of disks or a raid for the OS drives of the VM's and a couple/raid for the data drives of the VM's. Alternately get a NAS and attach it via iscsi on the VM you want to be your file server.

2) Not a problem, 2012R2 has this use case in mind and AD has seen changes to make sure it is not corrupted if you snapshot and roll back and make other changes that VM's give you the flexibility to make. Make sure it is set to automatic start and you will be fine. Set up cached login on AD so you can still log in using a domain account if needed.

3) Dedicated AD is not hard, I will leave the Exchange 2013 question to someone more experienced. I have installed Exchange 2010 in a test environment and it was fine, but there may be changes to 2013. Does mean you need 2 VM's instead of one though as you generally want both of those roles to be on separate VM's rather than the same VM. Also I think SBS may have some licensing restrictions for installing to a VM, but I could be wrong.

4)It won't become a cluster unless you install and configure the Windows cluster role, you will need to do this first and have a 1 node cluster going if you want to have a cluster in the future, then you can join the new Hyper-V host to make a 2 node cluster. You can however set up replication in 2012R2 so that if your primary host goes down, your VM's will be available on the other Hyper-V host.

5)I don't think so. We always run them under AD at work, but I have heard some people recommend running the Hyper-V host on a workgroup possibly so it is more difficult to compromise. Would make RSAT management harder though.

6)RSAT is a downloadable tool and is for pretty much everything except Hyper-V. In Windows features in windows 8 and above, under Hyper-V there is a checkbox for Hyper-V management tools. Enable that to get the Hyper-V console which can connect to your Hyper-V hosts. You will need to be on Windows 8/8.1 to manage server 2012/2012R2 hyper-V through the management console. System Center VMM is available but is overkill. The management console will allow you to manage everything you need to.

7)Yes it does, but whether it will block installation or anything that drastic I am not sure about. 2012R2 standard will be fine, windows pro should be fine, SBS may be a problem. 

Try Vultr using this link and get us both some credit:

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  Reply # 1041613 11-May-2014 09:57
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is this for home/play/testing or production?

what is your disk config?


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  Reply # 1041619 11-May-2014 10:21
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I will be deploying something very similar once all my hardware parts arrive.

AMD FX-8320 (8 core CPU), 16GB RAM to begin with, Asus Sabertooth 990FX motherboard to support hardware pass through (IOMMU), 2 x 2TB Western Digital Red, 2 x 2TB Western Digital Green, 250GB Samsung Evo SSD.

Why don't you use Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 for AD, DNS, DHCP etc? It will be a better deployment over SBS2011. You will need to deploy an Exchange server though in a separate VM because its not part of Essentials any more.

I am also feeling brave and will be enabling Storage Spaces with ReFS on WS2012ER2. This is for a home lab. Have WS2012R2 Datacentre license for all my other VM's so don't need to worry about licensing those.

If you cannot get hold of System Centre 2012 for Hyper-V management then I strongly recommend 5nine manager. Its a free management tool for Hyper-V and its really good.

Also recommend Veeam Backup for Hyper-V VM's. Its free too.

Do whatever you want to do man.


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  Reply # 1041624 11-May-2014 10:39
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My disk config is not sorted yet.  I was thinking of using a few SSD's in RAID0 to store the actual VM's on, but as for NAS/SAN/etc. I haven't yet decided, and hence the question.

My thoughts so far are running the Exchange server on a dedicated drive on the VM Server.  For everything else (movies, documents, music) I think that a dedicated file server running Server2012R2 Essentials would be best. I already have the hardware (Supermicro servers) and would run a RAID10 array over 4x4TB disks.

As for the home lab question - this is a bit of both.  The SBS2011 and the BES10.2 are 'real world' but only in a home environment.  SQL Server is something I use almost everyday in my job, and would be running 24/7.  BusinessObjects is also related to work. But at the same time I want to learn about Hyper-V more.

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  Reply # 1041636 11-May-2014 11:35
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Have a read of the link below as well. It's best practices for setting up and using Hyper-V.

Do whatever you want to do man.


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  Reply # 1041638 11-May-2014 11:41
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For development I use a strategy called platformization  - which means I run all my development environment primarily in virtual machines on my developer rig.  It is so that I can create a set of software applications to a specific version and/or configuration (an entire configuration set is called a platform), which means I can easily target different environments and product version from one central location.

My rig is currently:-


Core I7 processor (I think it is a 4771)


Memory is 32GB   


Disk is  1 x 128 SSD  (I run the core OS and applications on it)


Disk 2 is a 1TB SATA II  (this holds the VMs and document folders and a copy of the VHDs for backups)


An ATI graphics card  + 2 x 24" monitors.


OS is Server 2012 R2


I run the following VMS:-


Active Directory VM (Domain Controller, Certificate Server and Windows Deployment Services) - it runs under 2GB memory


Exchange Server 2010 


IIS  (Web server only)


SQL Server 2014 Dev edition  (3 instances)


SharePoint 2013 (this also has project server and Team Foundation Server and Office installed)


App-V server  (and a few VMs for Sequencing)
An office Apps server


A couple of client VMs for different OSes.


A Linux server


On the host OS there is also Office, SQL server dev. edition, Visual Studio 2010,2012,2013, Microsoft Test/Release Manager, IIS, Eclipse, Java and some Screen casting software.  Also in the process of setting up hosted labs on this machine as well.

All server VMs run Server 2012 R2 and all use 4GB memory (or less) except SharePoint run with a max of 4GB of memory and a 60GB standard VHD.  SharePoint requires a minimum of 10GB memory - so I don't usually have this going all of the time (I would if I pushed the host to 64GB memory).

Performance wise every thing works nicely - the first 4 VMS run all of the time, the rest I start when I need them. I get a slowdown if I max out memory on the host (running too many VMS) or if a VM is loading.  This is because I have all my VMs on one SATA disk and it maxes out that channel.  For maintenance from time to time I merge the VHDs so that there are no snapshots or differencing files and then export the VHDs to another folder so I have a backup.
Since these are all development virtual machines I am not so worried about if they go bang, or I do a re-install on the host OS (which takes about 2 hours).  If I were to make any changes to the setup, it would probably be to go to 64Gb memory - but for my needs its not really required. 

Software Engineer


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