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Virtual Server 2005 R2

Microsoft developed Virtual Server 2005 to create a simple and cost-efficient way for businesses to consolidate data centers and server rooms with their branch offices, increase hardware utilization and rapidly configure and deploy new servers. This page offers a variety of information on getting started with Virtual Server 2005, planning a migration and how to manage the technology to your advantage.
Getting Started

Virtual Server 2005 Reviewers Guide
A good first place to start if you're totally new to Virtual Server 2005 and want a complete overview of everything it does. This document runs to some forty pages, so it's best for in-depth offline reading, and there are supplemental whitepapers that cover in greater detail the subjects touched on here.

Virtual Server 2005 R2 Technical Overview
A 17-page whitepaper that describes many of the technical features of Virtual Server 2005 R2, such as how CPU and memory resources are allocated, and how networking is handled across virtual machines. The opening pages also talk about some of the benefits of server consolidation via virtual servers.

Virtual PC vs. Virtual Server: Comparing Features and Uses
If you're confused about the differences between Virtual Server and Virtual PC, this document spells out what you need to know. It takes both programs, lays them side by side, and makes clear which program is recommended for what tasks.

Linux Guest Support for Virtual Server 2005 R2
To get the most out of running Linux as a guest OS in Virtual Server, Microsoft recommends installing the Virtual Machine Additions for Linux. This package of tools improves the interactivity of the virtual machine—i.e., better mouse and video support—and also allows for features like coordinated shutdown and time synchronization between the guest and host. SuSE and Red Hat Linux have been tested and supported with this add-on.

Virtual Hard Disk Image Format Specifications
If you're interested in finding out more about the Virtual Hard Disk image format used by Microsoft, go here—you'll need to contact Microsoft directly and sign a licensing agreement to get the information, but the license itself is royalty-free.

Migration

Virtual Server Migration Toolkit
Those looking for a quick way to migrate between a physical server and a virtual server can start with this toolkit. It uses many native Windows technologies to move an existing Windows NT 4.0, 2000, or Server 2003 computer into a virtual machine.

Virtual Server Migration Toolkit FAQ
Some common questions and answers about the Virtual Server Migration Toolkit, as of October 29, 2004. Examples: You need Microsoft's Automated Deployment Services (ADS) 1.0 controller as one of the key pieces of the puzzle, and no, Virtual PC is not supported.

Server Consolidation and Migration with VSMT
A 17-page whitepaper that describes the challenges involved in migrating a physical machine to a virtual one, such as how to handle applications (should they be rewritten entirely?) and several common consolidation scenarios.

Solution Accelerator for Consolidating and Migrating LOB Applications
A decision-making guide to help administrators responsible for setting up Virtual Server decide what is the best way to migrate line-of-business (LOB) applications into Virtual Server. Also included are planning and implementation guides, which describe many common migration scenarios.

Deploying Virtual Server

Virtual Server Host Clustering Step-by-Step Guide for Virtual Server 2005 R2
If you're confused about how to create a cluster of virtual machines in Virtual Server, this guide walks you through creating a simple two-node cluster (a maximum of eight is supported in Virtual Server). Among the topics covered are dependencies between cluster resources and the limitations of virtual clustering as opposed to physical clustering.

Using iSCSI with Virtual Server 2005 R2
iSCSI is a cheaper and less complicated way to connect servers to mass storage than Fibre Channel. This document gives you what you need to know to connect iSCSI devices to a Virtual Server machine.

Setting up operating systems for virtual machines
The exact steps needed to set up and install an operating system in Virtual Server, as described in the program's own documentation. Special attention is paid to adding the Virtual Machine Additions for different operating systems and how to handle Windows NT 4.0 as a guest.

Management

Dynamic Systems Initiative
Microsoft's program for creating systems that manage and automate many of their own day-to-day operations. Virtual Server is one of the key elements in that program, and has been cited as an example of DSI in action.

Improving IT Efficiency at Microsoft Using Virtual Server 2005
A whitepaper describing how Microsoft used Virtual Server 2005 on its own campus to consolidate several datacenters to save costs and also make it possible to respond faster to customer needs (such as provisioning new servers). Among the improvements cited: time to add a new server went from approximately one week to less than a day.

Microsoft Operations Manager Virtual Server Management Pack
A collection of monitoring alerts for Virtual Server that lets you gather critical performance counters and track events for many important system statistics. Note that this package requires Microsoft Operations Manager 2005; it will not work as-is.

Webcasts
For some people, webcasts are a friendlier alternative to whitepapers. Some of the same material is covered here as in the whitepapers, but there's also a good deal of original content not available or discussed elsewhere.

TechNet Webcast: Clustering and High Availability with Virtual Server 2005 R2
A walk-through introduction of the clustering and high-availability features in Virtual Server 2005 R2, such as guest and host-based clustering, and some overview of third-party products used with Virtual Server 2005 R2.

Working with the VHD File Format in Virtual Server 2005
A detailed webcast about the way the Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) file format works in Virtual Server. The webcast covers information about how different disk types are handled by the VHD format—not different formats, per se, but how things like dynamically expanding disks and differencing disks are implemented.

Understanding Windows Hypervisor and Virtualization in Windows Vista
The "hypervisor" is Microsoft's term for the technology that allows multiple OSes to run in parallel on the same computer. This webcast delves into the technical details of how the hypervisor works—not only in Virtual Server but in the forthcoming Windows Vista as well.

Microsoft Virtualization Roadmap
If you're curious about where Microsoft's going with Virtual Server and related products, check out this webcast. Among other surprising disclosures: many of the innovations in Virtual Server are to be rolled into future releases of Windows on a fairly low level and made part of the OS itself.

Virtual Server 2005 COM API: Automating Your Virtual World
One of Virtual Server's most powerful functions is its scripting API, which can be used to automate tasks such as creating virtual machines, deriving live statistics from them, and changing their configurations on the fly. This webcast demonstrates some examples of how it's possible to automate these things in Virtual Server.

Setting Up a Virtual Test and Development Environment
Another popular and powerful use for Virtual Server is using virtual machines as testbeds. This webcast walks through ways to accomplish just that—for instance, to use virtual machines as a way to test a multi-server application on a single physical machine.

Virtual Server 2005 Best Practices for Migrating and Consolidating Existing Application Servers
Yet another major use for Virtual Server is consolidating existing physical servers into a single machine without losing functionality. This webcast discusses how to do this without interrupting application compatibility, and also touches on when it's best to port running apps as-is or rewrite them from the ground up.

Installing the Virtual Server Administration Web Site on a Separate Computer
By default, the Virtual Server administration console—which is accessed through a web browser—is only available from the computer that's currently running Virtual Server. This document details how to set up the admin console on another server running IIS, in the event you want to do so for the sake of performance or security.


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