Installing VM Additions on Windows Server 2008 Server Core

by Shijaz Abdulla on 24.03.2008 at 14:30

I am preparing a Virtual Server image for my presentation on Windows Server 2008 Server Core at the Microsoft Technology Day to be held on March 30th at Kuwait.

I had to install the Virtual Machine Additions on the guest machine to accelerate the overall performance, and specifically to improve the video and cursor movements.

On Virtual Server 2005 R2, I click on the “Click here to start Virtual Machine Additions setup” link. This mounts the VMAdditions ISO image file to CD-ROM drive on the guest machine. It is important to note that the VM additions does not autorun.

You will have to go to the CD-ROM drive manually at the Command Prompt and execute the D:Windowssetup.exe file where D: is the drive letter of the CD drive on the guest machine.

Presentation on Microsoft Virtualization

by Shijaz Abdulla on 14.11.2007 at 10:33

Microsoft Virtualization: From the data center to the desktop

Fellow MVP Adnan Rafik of the TechiesOnly usergroup has informed that his group is organizing a presentation on Microsoft Virtualization by Wolem Moses.

Wole Moses is a Senior Windows Marketing Manager for Microsoft Middle East and Africa. Wole is responsible Windows Vista and MDOP Marketing in the Middle East and Africa region. He is a 9 year Microsoft veteran and has worked in Microsoft Offices in the US, Turkey and Dubai.

Where: Conference Room, Microsoft, Dubai Internet City, UAE
When: 1630 hrs on November 22, 2007
Registration is free, just contact Adnan.

Overview of Presentation:

Microsoft Virtualization: From the Data Center to the Desktop

With the upcoming release of Windows Server Virtualization, with last year’s release of SoftGrid Application Virtualization and with the Partnership with XenSource (recently acquired by Citrix) Microsoft is making lots of moves in the virtualization space. Join us to get an overview and understanding of Microsoft’s upcoming Virtualization products and strategy from the datacenter to the desktops.

According to the mit webmaster guide, there is no replacement for dedicated servers. However if you want to work on the seo services as well, you will be needing inmotion hosting and therefore should start looking for a web host immediately.

SCVMM: What happened to VM additions?

by Shijaz Abdulla on 08.11.2007 at 10:08

If you’ve installed Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) , you will find that there is no option on the SCVMM console to install VM Additions on the virtual machines.

If you have installed your Virtual Server host directly from the SCVMM console, you will find that the host does not have the web-based Virtual Server 2005 site where you can install the additions.

In this scenario, you can locate and install the VM additions as follows:

  1. On the SCVMM machine, navigate to C:Program FilesMicrosoft Virtual ServerVirtual Machine Additions. You will find all the ISO images for VM additions here!
  2. Create a folder named ISO under \localhostMSSCVMMLibrary and copy the ISOs there.
  3. Now you can just pop in these ISO images into your virtual CD/DVD drive on any of your hosts! Simply open the Properties for the VM, open the Hardware Config tab, select Virtual DVD drive, and choose Known Image File. You can then select the ISOs.

Note: Sometimes you need to refresh the library folder in the SCVMM console before new items start appearing. Choose Library, right click the folder and choose Refresh share.

Transitioning to Exchange Server 2007!

by Shijaz Abdulla on 08.11.2007 at 09:03

The organization that I work for has decided thats it’s time to upgrade to Exchange Server 2007. With approximately 18,000 Exchange mailboxes scattered across one four-node active-active-active-passive cluster and five two-node active-passive clusters spanning six geographic locations, this is going to be a mammoth task, nevertheless exciting!

The project will religiously adhere to the Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF). Preparation is key to success. One of the most crucial stages is the testing. I’m doing the testing on a virtualized environment. More specifically, System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2007. The virtualization software is Virtual Server 2005 R2. The host is machine is a Windows 2003 x64 box with 16 GB RAM.

The virtualized environment will consist of two domain controllers, two Exchange 2003 backends, two front ends, an Exchange 2007 CAS server, a mailbox server, a hub transport server, and an edge server.

More on my adventures with this massive implementation will follow.

Using ISA Server to protect virtual machines

by Shijaz Abdulla on 17.08.2007 at 15:31

If you use virtualization technologies like Virtual Server or Virtual PC and have virtual machines that are exposed to the internet, you might want to use ISA Server to protect them. While it is possible (and recommended) to have ISA Server on a separate machine to protect all your infrastructure, you might have a scenario wherein you’d like to run ISA Server on the host machine (i.e. the physical machine that has Virtual Server/Virtual PC installed and hosts the guest virtual machines).

If you have only one network card on that host machine and you install ISA Server on the host machine, you would expect it to protect all guest machines hosted on that host computer, right? Wrong!

Microsoft Virtual Server uses an NDIS driver to route traffic to its guest machines, based on their assigned MAC addresses. Since NDIS drivers are located “below” ISA’s driver (i.e. fweng.sys), the traffic is routed before ISA even sees it!! However, ISA will still protect any other applications or OS services running directly on the host machine.

In the diagrams, the dotted lines represent traffic that has been screened by ISA.

One way to overcome this difficulty is to have another network card on the host machine (the “Internal” card), and connect all guest machines to this network. The first network card will connect to the cruel world outside (the “external” card). Of course the internal network now has to be on a different subnet and you have to take into account all the hassles of having two networks.

In this configuration, all the traffic coming in from the external network will be routed to the internal NIC only through NAT/Route relationships that you have configured on the ISA Server. However, it is important that you make sure all your virtual machines are never connected to the external NIC in order to secure them.

If you don’t have a spare physical NIC on the host hardware, you can also use a ‘virtual’ Loopback adapter for the internal network. I have described the loopback adapter in a previous post.

QicX event – Session 3 – 19th July – Doha

by Shijaz Abdulla on 19.07.2007 at 17:28

We had an awesome day today at Qicx – another action packed, highly interactive session. The venue was at the Qatar Red Crescent Society, Doha. Even though attendance was not as expected due to the holiday session, the excitement was unshaken.

I did the first session, and talked about System Center Virtual Machine Manager. I took the audience around Microsoft’s Dynamic Systems Initiative, Virtualization concepts, and discussed at length the Microsoft virtualization technologies – Virtual Server 2005 R2, Windows Virtualization Server, and System Center Virtual Machine Manager along with some live demos. The audience was great and the session was very interactive.

Boutros of ICT took the stage in the second session, continuing with his series of Exchange 2007 seminars. He took the audience around the Hub transport server role and MRM in Exchange 2007 with live demos. The session was very informative and resulted in productive discussions.

The two sessions went very well, and after a great meal, we had some group discussions. The event closed with a raffle draw, where people were asked to check under their seats to see if they had won. 🙂 Two lucky winners got prizes. Everybody who attended walked away with Windows Server 2008 Beta 3 DVDs and Forefront evaluation software.

Ankur, from Microsoft Consulting Services, Qatar is the founding member of QicX. He did a great job as always in arranging the whole event, inviting and managing the audience and sharing his expertise during the discussions. We think he’s cool. (yeah, we mean it!)

Oh yeah, and afterwards, we did this:
We jump-started Ankur’s 10 year old Wrangler which, in his words, “is a great car with a dead battery”.

Downloads/Resources from my presentation:

Meet the Windows Hypervisor

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.07.2007 at 14:46

The Windows Hypervisor is one of the key design features of Microsoft’s enhanced virtualization platform. A hypervisor is a virtualization platform that allows multiple operating systems to run on them. The Windows hypervisor will run on the ‘bare-metal’ server hardware, and will ‘host’ multiple virtual machines over it. The supported server hardware for the hypervisor may be based on Intel VT or AMD-V.

Such a platform gives us the benefit of isolation, better security (smaller attack surface), better performance (no unnecessary services – Hypervisor runs on bare-metal). The Hypervisor manages only a minimum set of hardware on the physical host machine – processors, APICs, system counters and physical address space. The focus of the hypervisor will be on scheduling and isolation.

Windows Virtualization Services (WVS) will be launched not long after the Windows Server 2008 “Longhorn” release scheduled for later this year.

Windows Virtualization Services (WVS) will be an installable server role in the upcoming Windows Server 2008 (Longhorn) operating system. As of now, Microsoft plans to launch this functionality within 180 days of the release of Windows Server 2008.

Sitting on top of the hypervisor will be a parent partition or virtual machine that manages the rest of the physical host hardware such as IHV drivers, processor power management and hot-pluggable devices. This can run the Windows Server 2008 ‘Server Core’ with just the required functionality and low footprint/attack surface. The virtual machine guests talks to the Hypervisor via ‘hypercalls’.

Looks like VMWare ESX has got new competition!

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) is a management tool that supports managing virtual machines that run on Virtual Server 2005 R2 and, eventually, WVS. I will be talking about SCVMM on 19th July 2007 at Doha.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Preview: 19th July, Doha

by Shijaz Abdulla on 06.07.2007 at 20:08

Qatar Infrastructure Community eXperts (QicX) user group is conducting its third quarterly session on July 19th at Qatar Red Crescent Society, Doha.

I will be presenting at the event on System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) Beta 2. I intend to give an overview on SCVMM, the virtualization concept & vision, and a demo on SCVMM.

The session is free to attend, but requires registration. There will also be other informative sessions by experts at this event. To register for this event or for more details, click here.

Making Virtual Server guests talk to the host machine

by Shijaz Abdulla on 05.07.2007 at 12:18

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 is a free tool from Microsoft that lets you run “virtual” machines on your computer (like Microsoft Virtual PC or VMWare).

So how do you transfer files from your host machine to a virtual machine running on Virtual Server? Or, how do you make the virtual machine communicate with your standalone host that is not connected to any external network?

The answer is Microsoft Loopback Adapter.

When you install Loopback Adapter, you get a new virtual network adapter installed on your machine, which can be used to communicate between the host and guest machines running on it.
To install Microsoft Loopback Adapter, go to Control Panel –> Add hardware –> ** –> Network Cards –> Select ‘Microsoft’ and look for ‘Microsoft Loopback Adapter’ and install it.

You simply apply an IP address on the Loopback adapter that’s from the same range as the virtual machines and configure your VMs to use the Loopback card for the network connection and you’re connected!

Loopback adapter is available in all releases of Windows including Windows Vista.