WindowsNetworking.com Monthly Newsletter of October 2009 Sponsored by: SpamTitan
Welcome to the WindowsNetworking.com newsletter by Thomas W Shinder MD, MVP. Each month we will bring you interesting and helpful information on the world of Windows Networking. We want to know what all *you* are interested in hearing about. Please send your suggestions for future newsletter content to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey! Did you hear the news? Virtualization is taking over the world of computing. If you are not virtualizing what you are running on physical hardware now, you are considered to be behind the curve. What!? Is your entire infrastructure still running on physical servers? Do not worry - remember hype goes a long way in this business and just because you are not a virtualization pro, it does not mean that you are any less of an admin. Given, you have got a lot of work to do and virtualization seems like just another thing that is going to complicate your life. Life is complicated enough as it is - why introduce another level of complexity?
I understand, and virtualization can be a complex topic. VMware and other companies promise data center nirvana with virtualization - and in fact, if you become a virtualization guru and create the ultimate "private cloud" based datacenter, it would seem like a different world - one where you never have to worry about whether your applications have enough resources and one where you never have to worry about downtime and business continuity - everything is automated and just works.
But it takes a long time to get there. And for you, the guy who has not stuck his toe into the virtual water yet, it seems like something that is for "someone else". I want to tell you here that you can get on the virtualization train, and you can have fun doing it. The key is to crawl, then walk, and then run. Do not try to start running first - otherwise you will just fall down and not want to deal with virtualization anymore.
I recommend that you start with a VMware Workstation. VMware Workstation allows you to create virtual machines of almost any operating system. And you can create groups of virtual machines, put them on virtual networks, and have them communicate with each other, or with the production network. VMware workstation is a very powerful virtualization solution for the desktop and a great place to start. Create Exchange Servers, domain controllers, SharePoint servers, OCS servers, SQL servers and more - like Windows 7 workstations to communicate with all those servers.
After you get good with VMware workstation, you will have a good understanding of how virtualization works and you will want to move to the next step - which is a server based virtualization solution. There are several to choose from, such as VMware Virtual Server (a Windows based server virtualization solution), VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V or Citrix Xen Server. All of these are free except for ESX, which can be expensive, but you can use the ESXi solution, which is free.
If you are a Windows admin, you are probably better off using either VMware Virtual Server or Hyper-V as your next step. Remember, you are just learning now - you are not going to put mission critical services on these machines. I really like VMware Virtual Server, because it works very much like VMware Workstation, but Microsoft Hyper-V is very good too - so I recommend that you try both of them. However, keep in mind that you can not run both VMware Virtual Server and Hyper-V on the same machine at the same time.
Try virtualizing some file servers, Web servers, FTP servers, or DNS servers. Maybe make them part of your production network. Then try some Physical to Virtual conversions – or P2V. P2V allows you to take a physical server and turn it into a virtual machine. Do this with your lower priority servers, so that you do not disrupt operations.
You will find that after trying out the server virtualization solutions for a while, you will get the hang of how things work. Great! Now you might want to think about moving to the next step and putting your lower priority production servers into a virtual environment. Go for it! But before going down that route, learn how to backup and restore the virtual machines in the virtualization environment you are working in. The point of virtualization is to increase your uptime, not put you into another hard to recover from environment.
You might want to stop there and just use Hyper-V or VMware Virtual Server. No problem with that. But if you want to take things to the next level, you will want to start using shared storage and either Hyper-V or ESX server. With shared storage, you can really start to take advantage of what virtualization has to offer - almost zero downtime, distributed resource scheduling, high availability, fault tolerance, and even automated site recovery (if you are using VMware ESX server).
With virtualization, the sky's the limit. But remember - crawl, walk and then run. Start easy - with VMware Workstation. Then go to the easy to use server virtualization solutions like VMware Virtual Server or Hyper-V. Take your time, learn how virtualization works, and most of all - have fun!
For ISA or TMG firewall, as well as other Forefront Consulting Services and Microsoft virtualization technology consulting in the USA, call me at 206-443-1117 or visit Prowess Consulting web site.
Got a networking question that you can't find the answer to? Send a note to Dr. Tom at email@example.com and he'll answer your question in next month's newsletter.
3. WindowsNetworking.com Articles of Interest
When to Use GPT Disks
GPT (Globally Unique Identifier Partition Table) disks can be a better choice than MBR (Master Boot Record) in some situations. For one thing, while you can only have 4 partitions on an MBR disk, you can have up to 128 partitions on a GPT disk, and GPT disks support very large partitions up to 18 exabytes in size.
More importantly for server systems, GPT disks are designed to accurately map to the physical geometry of today's hard drives. This means for example that when Windows creates a partition on a GPT disk, it partitions the disk along cylinder boundaries, and this results in more reliable partitioning. In addition, GPT disks have redundant partition tables and CRC fields for even greater reliability.
Note that GPT disks can not be used as the system volume in BIOS-based systems—your system must support EFI to be able to boot from a GPT disk. But BIOS-based systems can use GPT disks as additional data drives.
To convert an existing MBR data drive to GPT, use the convert gpt command. To convert back, use the convert mbr command. The drive must have no partitions for this to work, and if you have an MBR disk that is a dynamic (not basic) disk you must first convert it to basic before converting it to GPT.
You can find this tip on the WindowsNetworking.com Web site here.
Keyboard shortcuts are cool. If you spend most of your typing, you might realize that sometimes you get into a swing where your fingers fly and you do not want to move them to the mouse any more than you have to. That is where keyboard shortcuts come in. Why move your hand to the mouse when you can use the good old CTRL+S key combo? Windows 7 takes advantage of keyboard shortcuts and adds a bunch of new and cool ones that help you spend more of your day on the keyboard and less on the mouse.
Check these out:
There are plenty of others - but these should get you started!
I am a SMB networking consultant and do mostly Windows networks. I am interested in getting something easy to use and configure for backup in my small office. I have all the Windows software I need over MSDN, but never really got around to putting together a coherent backup scheme in my office (sort of like the cobblers children, you know?). What would you recommend as a really low cost, but very reliable solution for backup? I have about 500GB I would like to be able to backup and restore with minimal muss and fuss - and I don't want to buy any SAN or NAS hardware. Just the basics.
Thanks! - Larry J.
Ha! I know exactly what you mean. You spend your days crafting sophisticated and resilient solutions for your customers, but when it comes to setting up your own network, it is still using Windows 2000 domain controllers and your backup process is manual at best.
Well, this is a good time for you to take advantage of Windows Server 2008 R2. Why not use the backup feature in Windows Server 2008 R2? Here is one quick and easy way to get a nice backup and restore solution for you that works and is reliable. Get two 1.5 TB external USB drives and connect those to your Windows Server 2008 R2 server. Then install the backup role on the server. Then put your source information on USB drive 1. Share the folder that contains your information, and then enable shadow copies on that drive. That will allow you to access previous versions of files without having to go back into your backups. Then create a backup job to back up the source location to the second USB hard drive. The Windows Server 2008 R2 backup application is easy to use, so you can just walk through the wizard to configure the backup job. I recommend that you use the high performance option - that way any other work your server uses won't be negatively impacted by your backups.
That's it! Now you have shadow copies so that you can quickly get to previous versions of files that doesn't require that you restore, and if you need to do a restore, the backup program allows you to quickly and easily restore files, folders or the entire source. Give it a try - I think you'll like it and it works a treat.
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