Saturday, October 08, 2005

Setting up a W2K3 cluster using Virtual Server 2005

I'm setting up demos for some presentations I'm doing for Exchange Connections in San Diego. One of these demostrations will include building a 2-node active/passive cluster. I have done this before using VMWare. There is a really good article called A VMWare Clustering Recipe by Chris Wolf that was helpful in getting this working. Unfortunately, I can't find my VMWare license keys and they have been less than forth-coming in getting me another one.

So, I figured I would use Virtual PC, since I use that frequently in the Exchange Server 2003 Course 2400 class. However, clustering is no supported using Virtual PC since it does not support shared drives (and naturally, both nodes of the cluster need to access the shared disks).
Even though I'm not crazy about Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, I guess I'll give in and use it. I found a couple of great "how to" articles on doing this, but the best of the bunch is Setting Up A Windows Server 2003 Cluster in VS 2005 by Bob Roudebush. Thanks Bob! You have made one of my tasks this weekend somewhat easier.

If anyone from the Microsoft VS team is listening, I find the whole web interface to Virtual Server 2005 really klunky. I much prefer the VMWare or Virtual PC interfaces.


At 8:16 AM, Blogger Devin L. Ganger said...

I agree that the web interface is somewhat clunky, but I've gotten used to it -- and it's actually very nice when you have to share the server with other people.

When you're actually connecting to the VMs, on the other hand, VMRC.exe is the only way to go. It's the same basic ActiveX control used in the web interface, but since it's not wrapped in an IE instance it feels more responsive. I'll generally have a VMRC instance open for each VM, plus a single IE page to the console.

The other option that seems to be a big favorite for my co-workers is to make sure that your VMs have interfaces on the external network and enable them for RDP. I don't like this as much -- I prefer to have my VM networks be self-contained so I don't have to worry about rogue DHCP servers on the segment -- but it does work.

I hope that the next service pack/update works on speeding up the Web interface; I'd like to have the option to not put the machine thumbnails in the display, which I suspect would make it work a lot easier.


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