This booklet has been made possible by grant funding from
the Office for the Community Sector, Department of
Planning and Community Development.
Thanks to the Showcasing ICT Innovation grant program
and Dr Carla Pascoe.
Written by Rachael Bausor, Sandybeach Centre.
T his booklet will provide you with an
introduction to virtualisation technology,
and how you might be able to use it in your
It aims to answer the following questions:
What is a virtual server?
How much does it cost?
Why should I use it?
How do I use it?
Where do I go next?
What is a
V irtualisation means running an operating
system (like Microsoft Windows Server 2008) on
virtual hardware. The physical hardware of the
host is shared across the virtual machines
running on that system.
This means one physical set of hardware can
host a number of virtual configurations.
Each virtual server is completely independent –
for example, you can install Microsoft Windows
Server 2003 on one and Linux on another.
One physical server can host multiple virtual
servers, and they will appear on the network as
separate physical devices.
I n a traditional environment, you might run a
number of different physical servers for the
different functions within your network.
I n a virtualised environment, all of these
functions can be hosted as virtual servers on
one physical server.
What software do I need?
V irtualisation is part of Microsoft’s technology
roadmap, so it is integrated into the Microsoft Server
Different versions of Virtual Server have been free for
Virtual Server 2005 was an addition that ran on
Microsoft Windows Server 2003
Hyper-V (Microsoft’s virtual server management
platform) is included in Windows Server 2008,
and in Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit editions)
Microsoft’s main competitor for virtualisation
technology is VMware. VMware Server is also free,
but other VMware products are not.
The Microsoft and VMware products both
work in the same way, you can try both
and choose which one is right for you.
Where do I get the
I f you are an Adult and Community Education (ACE)
provider, the ACFE/Microsoft agreement includes
Windows Server 2008.
D onortec offer heavily discounted software to other
D onortec sell other products, like
Microsoft Exchange or Sharepoint
the number of
orders you can
Server, to make the most of your
Donortec, so you
Remember you need to ensure you need to PLAN.
are fully licensed for any software
you install on virtual servers.
Why should I use
1 Virtualisation reduces our dependence on
the underlying hardware. For example, if
server hardware needs to be replaced
upgraded, this happens at the host operating system
level and is invisible to the virtual server. Disk
expansion is simple - just allocate more space as
required to virtual hard disks.
2 Virtualisation adds flexibility
infrastructure. You can use one physical
server hosting a number of virtual machines
to separate out IT functions, for example running
Exchange on a separate server from file and print
services. Insulating each server in this way reduces
risk, as a failure in one system will not affect the
others. It is also easier to implement load balancing and
contingency, using server farms or clusters.
3 It is environmentally effective. Using virtual
servers instead of physical reduces the overall
processing load and therefore reduces
carbon footprint. It also allows us to extend the life of
our hardware, and so reduce our waste. Part of our
research into this program included an environmental
analysis which confirmed these assumptions.
Diaster recovery strategy is more robust.
If the underlying hardware fails, the virtual
server image can be restored from backup and
on an alternate server. In a physical
environment, disaster recovery would take much
longer or require mirrored hardware to restore onto.
5 It is more cost-effective. Hardware cost is
the main component of our infrastructure cost.
Virtualisation lets us run ―three for the price of
one‖. Other costs are also lower, including: licencing,
power consumption and general server room space
F rom the Microsoft Implementation and Design
guide, here are four scenarios where you might use
1. Server Consolidation: combining multiple
physical servers onto one physical box.
2. Application Migration: some applications might
only run on older operating systems,
virtualisation lets you host a virtual legacy
3. Increased IT Agility: for example, to increase
your capacity for load balancing or disaster
recovery. Also making support simpler for
maintenance and upgrade of hardware.
4. Software Development and Training: To allow
you to run full test and development
environments, without the need for new
How do I implement Hyper-V?
1 You need Windows Server 2008 or
Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit editions).
2 Using Server Manager, just add the Hyper-
V role to the server.
3 Hyper-V manager will be displayed in
How do I create a
n Windows Server 2008,
Hyper-V Manager to
create a new virtual server.
You may choose to create a
Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) first.
This will be like a blank disk
until you install the operating
system – just like a new
physical server. Then you
need to select a few simple
settings like RAM, disk size,
and so on.
O nce you’ve created the
machine it will appear on the
network like any other
I n theory, there are tools you can use for
Physical to Virtual (P2V) migration.
In practice, I
the new virtual server
like a new physical
server, and migrating
manually. This also
gives you the
opportunity to do
some spring cleaning!
Clean installation rather than migration also
simplifies splitting up server functions, and as you
move to a virtual environment your server
architecture will probably change anyway.
T here are many things to consider when you are
planning your implementation:
Load balancing - think about the physical disks
underlying your virtual disks. For example, you may
put Exchange mailboxes on a different physical disk
to your files, so they don’t compete for disk access.
Backup strategy - what will you back up: server
level or just the VHD? Will you store backups
offsite? How much history will you keep?
Restore strategy - how will you restore? Will you
enable granular restores?
Disaster recovery - what is your plan?
Volume shadow copy (VSS) - will you use VSS
as part of your backup strategy? On which folders?
Where will you put the images? How often will you
Disk space monitoring - how will you know when
you’re running out of space?
Splitting functions - what runs on each server?
Redundancy - what if you lose one server? Can
you switch over to another? Will you use a farm?
T here are many planning tools
particularly from Microsoft. For example, the Solution
Accelerator helps you plan your requirements.
The Windows Server virtualization infrastructure decision flow
Remember—PLAN PLAN PLAN!
S tart with the Microsoft resources:
Then you should set up a test box and see how
everything works. If you only have Windows Server
2003, you can install Virtual Server 2005 – it’s free and
the concepts are the same as Hyper-V.
Try the Dell Outlet for discounted preconfigured
Microsoft Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD)
guides, for virtualisation and others:
http://www.microsoft.com and search for ―IPD‖
Hyper-V (Server 2008) Getting Started Guide:
Technet article providing a good overview:
Sandybeach Centre - our story
W e had one very old workhorse
running Windows Server 2003 on 1GB RAM. We
replaced it with a new physical server, running 3
virtual servers: File server, AD/Domain Controller/
Print server and Exchange 2010.
We upgraded our backup strategy using Backup
Exec (bought through Donortec), backing up to
portable hard drives and keeping one offsite. Backup
Exec is fully ―virtual-aware‖, so we now have the
ability to perform granular restores or a full server
restore. Our disaster recovery planning is now much
more robust – in a disaster, we would just need to
rebuild a bare-bones host to mount the VHD images
and we would be up and running again.
If maintenance is required, it’s only on one server at
a time, so disruption to users is minimised. Reboots
are much faster now too. We plan to rebuild our old
server and use it as another host, for redundancy
and load balancing.
Prepared by Rachael Bausor