Thursday, 26 May 2011

Some Thoughts On Standalone, Cluster Host, and VM Recoverability

The following was our post to the Yahoo SBS2K list that we figured would be good to share here.

The question was: How to install ESXi on a Dell using DRAC on a remote server.


Having looked at all of the responses to virtualizing a server on VMWare or Hyper-V, the following is where we are at in this.

We use Hyper-V exclusively. Why? It is very simple to work with.

For standalone servers we run a GUI install of Windows Server 2008 R2 along with an Intel RMM, iDRAC Advanced, iLO Advanced, etc. This gives us full management of both the hardware and the software so that question is moot. As you have indicated.

For clustering, we utilize Hyper-V Server 2008 R2. Again, it is quite simple to set up (after six months of brain busting investigation since documentation stinks for both s/w and h/w) and manage.

The native tools that come with RSAT or built into Windows Server make management and monitoring fairly straight forward.

Now, as to your dilemma we do the following on both the standalone and Hyper-V Nodes:

  1. Transcend 16GB TS16GJFV30 formatted NTFS and active.
    • Good read speed which is important. We only write once so no worries there.
  2. Copy Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 SP1 OS contents onto the flash. The flash will remain plugged into the server for the life of the box.
    • CAVEAT: If Win2K8 R2 GUI then put that on the flash.
  3. Place needed OS install ISO copies onto the Flash drive.
  4. Place needed drivers and firmware on the flash drive.
  5. If using Tier 1 have their bootable DVD in the optical drive.
  6. RMM, iDRAC ADV, iLO ADV, etc gives us boot control between Optical, USB Flash, and and RAID array with host OS.

What does this do for us?

We have full control over full host recovery, full guest recovery, and more depending on how the backups are structured. As a rule we do _not_ back up the host. It is faster to rebuild the host and either restore the guests from backup or connect existing VHDs depending on the failure.

RMM/iDRAC: We have tried USB redirection to boot the host OS and install via IP KVM and the process is just too painful. BTDT. Send them a fully configured USB Flash drive.


What the above requires is at least 2 IP addresses from the ISP. One for the Internet connection used by the internal network and the other for the RMM/DRAC/iLO device that will be used to manage the server or cluster node.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer

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