Hyper-V in my House

Hyper-V in my House

  • Comments 28

I often chat to people about how I use Hyper-V in my house – so I figured that I should write it down for all to read. 

At the moment I have a single server in my house.  It is a single processor quad-core system (Q6600 processor) with 8GB of memory.  This server is kept in the mezzanine space under the stairs in my house.  I have gone a little crazy with this space and have setup a basic raised floor with cooling and a beefy UPS.  It is a very small space (I cannot stand up in there) so I try to do as much remote management as possible.

At the moment the system configuration looks something like this:

Drawing1

I used to run this system with Windows Server core in the parent partition, but I am currently using a full installation of Windows Server. 

The main reason for this change was to make it easier to troubleshoot the system when I break something. 

As this is the only server in my house – it fills the roles of Domain Controller, DHCP server and DNS server.  This means that when it is having problems I often cannot authenticate to it from a remote computer, which in turn means that most of my troubleshooting is done from the physical console.  This is much easier when the physical console has a full graphical user interface, and not just a command line.

I also used to run my Domain Controller / DHCP Server / DNS Server in a virtual machine, but I know run them in the parent partition (you can read a discussion about Domain Controller configuration options here).

The reason for this change is that I want to be able to do remote troubleshooting if something is wrong.  But as I have already alluded to – I cannot do this if the Domain Controller is down.  If something does go wrong with the system (either in hardware or software) that stops virtual machines from running – the parent partition is usually still functional.  Putting the Domain Controller there means that I have a higher chance of being able to do remote troubleshooting.

All that said – my setup is by no means utopian.  The main issues that I have at the moment are:

  1. I have yet to get the behavior out of System Center Operations Manager that I want.

    So far, my experience with System Center Operations Manager has been one of fixing a long parade of error events that I do not particularly care about.  At the moment it is telling me that my Hyper-V server is “red” because I have a bunch of drives that are almost out of space.  This is expected in my case, because these drives are filled up with fixed size virtual hard disks.

    Not a show stopper – but it means that I am constantly having to double check error events.

    I have not given up on System Center Operations Manager yet – but so far it has been more irritating than useful for me. 

  2. Monitoring my parent partition remotely is a pain, because it is a Domain Controller.

    The biggest thing that I want to be able to monitor remotely is the state of my hardware.  I have set this up before when my parent partition was not a Domain Controller.  But now that it is a Domain Controller I am finding many cases where it is either impossible to do remote management, or you need to follow different (poorly documented) steps to do so.

    At the moment I find that I often fall back on just using Remote Desktop to connect to the parent partition, and checking things manually from there.  I really do not like doing this.

    This one issue is making me reconsider the whole decision to put the Domain Controller in the parent partition.

  3. C:\ is a performance bottle neck in my server.

    I have a bunch of virtual machines running on my system drive – which is a general performance (and best practice) no no.  It does not bother me too much – but I have noticed performance issues with this configuration.

    I am debating about what to do about this.

    Top on my list of ideas is to move C:\ to a set of mirrored disks.  This will help read performance, and would also help with the next point too.

  4. C:\ and D:\ are single points of failure in my system.

    I love Windows Home Server for many reasons.  The biggest one is how it manages data redundancy to protect me from disk failure.  Over the last couple of years I have had a number of disks failures – and thanks to Home Server I have not lost any data.

    Unfortunately, if either the C:\ or the D:\ were to fail, I would be in a lot of pain.

    I could recover from D:\ failing with no data loss, but it would be a pain to recover from.  Losing C:\ would involve data loss (did I mention that C:\ is the oldest disk in the system?).

  5. I do not have a good backup story.

    Leading on from the previous point – I do not have a good backup story for this system.  In fact, I do not have a backup story at all.



    I really need to do something about that.

  6. I have to bring everything down to do anything with the hardware.

    Every time that I need to reconfigure the hardware in this system, I have to bring everything down.  This does not happen too often, but when it does happen it is a big pain.  This also keeps me from putting my media center files on my home server – as I do not want to have the rest of the family mad at me if I need to reconfigure the server for other reasons.

  7. I do not have enough storage space on my home server.

    Yup.  Need more storage :-)

Cheers,
Ben

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 2 and 6 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • Like many here, I run a domain at home. Also, like many, I struggle to find a usable backup solution. Windows Home Server is attractive but works only in a Workgroup. I've never been able to figure out if there's a workaround that would allow WHS to reach out and back up the other boxes that are members of my domain.

    My backup at present for what it's worth is a 2 TB WD external disk connected by eSATA. Fast, and better than nothing.

    Thoughts anyone?

    Richard

  • Re. AV.

    I have a similar setup with Untangle placed in router mode which can also handle the DHCP and DNS but more importantly give you good line of defence from the outside in. Therefore requiring no additional av/security software which would add further processing devaluation.

    If you start adding mobile laptops/usbs then i would consider av on those devices but Untangle would be best suited for your setup....My 2cents worth.

  • Oh...i have mine running on a dedicated server next to my main rig but you could virtualize Untangle or create an XP VM then run Untangle in Windows mode if you're worried about space etc.

  • I have recently setup a similar Hyper-V in my house, but was able to buy the server components so I put in a Q9950 Quad (2.8) an had three hard drives running Raid. Hence as to your bottleneck on C:\ I don't experience that...

    I recommend that you look into that if your board can handle it. If not, its always fun to have an excuse to build a new machine. ;-)

    My excuse was that the company I work for would not give me a virtual to run Exchange development, so I bought the components and built the system. The mother board was Asus and I wasn't sure it could properly exploit virtualization of the CPU for Hyper-V. Until I installed it.

    My router/gateway handles the DHCP so I have to tweak the DNS settings on all virtuals so I can see the Main AD server, but that is no biggie...

    Thanks for the article.

  • this is funny... because whs doesnt use any standards for disk management so you lose the d: drive your done

  • How do you install WHS in Hyper V?  The installation step that requires that you agree to the EULA seems to require a mouse...and Hyper V won't let me use my mouse in the VM until the integration components are installed.

  • Ben,

    There's a simple thing you can do to provide fault tolerance for your AD (you having 1 DC, and EVERYTHING on one server, makes me nervous). Use the virt solution of your choice - I expect Windows Virtual PC on W7 is the simplest - to create a small VM on your client as a second DC / DNS / DHCP in your domain. Bring it up every once in a while (certainly less than the tombstone lifetime of 180 days) to keep it in sync with your main DC. If you have a server problem, or simply have to reboot for hotfixes, bring up your client VM. That's what I do.

  • I modified my setup this weekend.  Take a look here for details.

    http://tsells.wordpress.com/2009/11/07/setting-up-windows-home-server-in-a-vm-on-win-2008-r2-2/

  • Can someone please give me some highlevel direction.  I am making an attempt to setup a Virtualized Server environment in my house.  I have a Server with a Intel Xeon E5520 Processor, 8GB of memory, Controller supporting RAID 1 or 5, three 250GB Hot Swap Hard Drives, Single Port NIC.

    I plan to set up a Web Server, TFS, DNS, SQL Server, Domain Controller.  I may also set up Windows Home Server for features available for my home computers.  Ultimately, I'd like to also set up the Web Server Front End in a DMZ.

    I have Windows Server 2008 64 Bit Enterprise.  Can someone please tell me if my hardware is sufficient?  If not, what do you suggest I pick up?  Any information or tips in terms of topology and hardware/software recommendations is very much appreciated.

    Thank you,

  • Oscar, I'd suggest getting a dual port nic as an add in, so you can work with additional adapters should the need arise, (i.e. running a firewall in a VM with a dedicated external/internal nic....

  • Hi Ben - What about having a DC installed in the parent partition? Is this supported by Microsoft? I know it's not recommended, but as it works fine - will premier support it? ;)

    Thanks

    Mike

  • Ben,

    Have you changed this setup in the past 2 years? I'm setting up a new environment and looking for good examples.

    Thanks,

    Todd

  • I also tried to use Hyper-V with Windows Home Server but I found I had trouble with UDP traffic being unable to traverse the Virtual switch, have you found a solution to this or has it not been a problem for you? Perhaps my NIC should be swapped out for a move VM friendly one?

Page 2 of 2 (28 items) 12