Welcome to the Microsoft Architect Forum Part 3

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					Welcome to the
Microsoft Architect Forum

Part 3
Avanade: Virtual Server
notes from the field

David Miller
Solution Director – Data Centre Optimisation
Infrastructure & Security
Global Market Development
Avanade Inc.
Avanade is the leading technology integrator
specialising in the Microsoft platform.
Our people help customers around the world
maximise their IT investment and create
comprehensive solutions that dive business
Additional information can be found at

 Why virtualise?
 Planning for virtualisation
 Identifying candidates for virtualisation?
 The process of virtualising
 “Gotchas” & hints for virtualisation
 Case studies
Why virtualise?

 Increased server utilisation
    Typically 80% as opposed to 5-15%
 Reduced data centre costs
    Beyond server hardware to space, power, network, cooling etc & licensing
 Increased efficiency/reduced administrative costs:
    Quicker server provisioning/deployment
    Backup simplification
 The next step in server consolidation:
    Support for multiple operating systems
    Increased security over traditional consolidation
 Ideal target for development/testing environments:
    Patching and upgrade validation
    Security segregation
Planning for virtualisation
 Don’t underestimate planning, commitment and upfront
 Address organisational challenges: internal business
 customers may envisage losing ownership of servers -
 benefits communication and buy-in is essential
 Plan to treat virtual servers the same as physical servers
 Planning must be completed tightly with networking and
 storage teams
 Pay specific attention to security and management
 Look at testing and administration environments first to gain
 experience and confidence before considering production
 Plan to control and manage virtual server “sprawl”
Identifying candidates for virtualisation?
 Understand and measure performance characteristics
    System Center Virtual Machine Manager
    Server management tools – MOM (or other)
    Windows PerfMon
 Avoid high I/O and CPU intensive systems
 Consider support on virtual platform of application vendor
 Balance with standard server consolidation in production
    Typically SQL Server better addressed by “farm” consolidation
    Exchange & AD servers scale!
 Evaluate host & guest clustering versus standard server
The process of virtualisation
  Approach is generic (applicable to physical and virtual):
     Establish a baseline
     Rapid build – virtualisation allows copying VMs (VHD and VMC files)
     Configuration and refresh – automate (MSI packages and scripts)
     “Safe State” the environment – virtualisation allows differencing disks
     Test automation (scripted)
  Consider Physical to Virtual (P2V) tools
     Microsoft VSMT, Microsoft SCVMM, Platespin, LeoStream
     Many pre-P2V tasks that must be completed prior to performing any
     migration – key step in all P2V work is planning
     In reality, you will have to do some work on a small percentage of
     your conversions due to the configurations on your source servers
     Remember the old saying, Junk in – Junk Out applies with P2V
     Often “new build” and data migration is the best approach
“Gotchas” & hints for virtualisation
  Exclude VM files from Antivirus real time scans
     .vhd .vud .vsv .vfd .vmc
  The faster the disk, the faster the Virtual Environment
     Consider dedicated disks per VM
     Use multiple disks or ideally SAN storage
  Use NTFS compression for the files
     It seems writing a big chunk to disk is slower than first compressing
     the chunk and then write it to disk. Additionally the files are around
     30% smaller on the hard disk
  /3GB should not be used on the host
     This setting increases the user memory space at the expense of
     Kernel space. Virtual machines use more kernel memory than user
     memory – so enabling this switch on the host will decrease the
     amount of virtual machines that you can launch
“Gotchas” & hints continued
  VS 2005 runs smoother when selecting Best performance for
  “Background Services” and selecting Memory Settings to
  Optimize for “System Cache”
  Using Gigabit Ethernet network interface cards can improve
  overall performance
    Even though the guest OS emulates a 100Mb connection, when you
    have multiple VMs running, the performance increase will be
  Use Differencing disks
    Differencing disks offer the ability to create a base .vhd (including just
    an OS, for example), and then write all differences to a new virtual
    disk. The differencing disk might contain alternate applications or
    configurations. By doing this you can safe space
“Gotchas” & hints continued
  Always make sure the latest Virtual Machine additions are
  Always have the VMs connected to a network – even if it is
  the “internal only”
  Use RDP to connect to your VMs
    You can copy and paste data into the virtual machine
    You can share data between your host and virtual machine directly
    You can share access to your host's printer
  The smaller (and less fragmented) the VHD files the faster
    In the VM run defrag
    Run the VM precompactor
“Gotchas” & hints continued
  Create the VHD as fixed size disk
     The space is allocated as one big chunk – more fragments will slow
     down the system
  If you have to copy files from the host to the Guest, use the
  shared folders
     Copy with drag and drop is 50% slower & copy through network is
     only 16 % of the performance of shared folders
  Make sure the VMs have sufficient RAM allocated to them
     Typically the “working set” from the measured performance
     This avoids the need to swap too much memory as this is HD
Case study: Allstate
  Allstate had ~ 3,500 servers
  The number of servers in its data centres was increasing quickly
  Vast majority of its servers were using less than 10% CPU
  Time required to acquire a new server was from six to eight weeks

Virtual Server 2005 used for test & development environment:
  Improved h/w efficiency by reducing server growth and associated costs
  Reduced demand for more data centre floor space
  Increase server utilization to 35 to 50 percent during the peak shift
  Eliminated server acquisition time
  Reduced server operating system deployment times from between 1 to 3 hours,
  to 5 or 10 minutes
  Time savings increased administrator productivity

Case study: Accenture
  Test a hosted service offering that included a new third-party desktop
  management application
  Engineers had four weeks to build the environments
  Neither purchasing nor leasing new servers/workstations was a cost-effective
  option as the systems were only required for a few months
Virtual Server 2005 & Virtual PC 2004 environment:
  Virtual Server: Windows Server 2003/Windows 2000 Server for Active Directory &
  SQL Server 2000
  Virtual PC: Windows NT Workstation 4.0/Windows 2000 Professional/ Windows
  XP Professional/Red Hat Linux
  Met goal ahead of schedule, enabling more extensive testing
  Significantly reduced its total cost of ownership (accelerated the setup of model
  environments by more than 200%, streamlined system administration, improved
  IT responsiveness with a smaller staff, and enabled more robust testing of
  products and service offerings)
Next steps
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  Register for the next Architect Forum: “Managing the Application
  Lifecycle with Visual Studio 2005” on 13th December. Details at

  Slides will be posted onto