From the Chief Technology Officer at Marathon Technologies

Jerry Melnick

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Windows 2008: Blog Feed Post

Q&A from the Windows Server 2008 webinar

Our July 30th webinar “Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows Server 2008 Now” was very well attended, and as expected, generated a lot of good questions. So many questions, in fact, that we weren’t able to answer them all during the live Q&A portion of the webinar.

For your convenience, we’ve captured all of the questions below. Answers have been provided by our speakers, David Hanna, Infrastructure Architect at Microsoft, and Michael Bilancieri, Senior Director of Products at Marathon. The questions are grouped by topic, starting with Windows Server related questions and then Marathon everRun related questions following after.

How seamless is the migration from Windows Server 2003 to 2008?
It really depends on the workload. Active Directory upgrade is similar to the 2000 to 2003 upgrade, and should not be disruptive. Cluster migrations require a rebuild of the cluster. For IIS, many applications can be migrated easily. It’s best to look on Microsoft.com for migration info that is specific to your workload. Simply introducing a Windows Server 2008 server into a 2003 environment should be seamless.

Going from Windows Server 2003 to 2008, do you recommend upgrading or re-installing the operating system?
Microsoft supports an upgrade of the OS only – no applications. Most customers however, choose to reinstall with Windows Server.

What are the hardware requirements for this Windows Server 2008?
Minimum is a 1ghz processor, 512mb of RAM, and 20GB of disk space. Details can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/system-requirements.aspx

Do you have an actual laboratory so that I can practice Windows Server 2008?
You can find the TechNet Virtual Labs here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/virtuallabs/bb512925.aspx

Any difficulties adding a Windows 2008 Server into a 2003 domain? Anything to watch out for?
Adding Windows Server 2008 Member servers to the domain should not be an issue. There are no special things to watch out for, until you start adding Domain controllers. Note that if you add a 2008 member server, and do not extend the schema, some things will be unavailable, like the enhanced DFS capabilities in 2008.

Where can I get a copy of the Windows Server 2008 trial version?
You can obtain the trial version here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/try-it.aspx. Starting August 20th, you will be able to get R2 in the same location.

Can I do in-place upgrade AD server 2003R2 to Server 2008 without any problem? Also, can I do that same thing with Exchange 2007 server on SRV2003R2?
Microsoft only supports the upgrade of the Operating System from 2003 to 2008. We do not support the upgrade of Windows Server 2003 with applications, so the Exchange 2007 upgrade would not be supported.

Is it possible to use the same imaging deployment method for Windows 2008 physical and virtual machines (in VMware) for consistent builds?
It is possible to use traditional imaging methods for physical and virtual, however in the virtual environment, most customers tend to use template Virtual Hard disks to deploy systems, as it is faster and more flexible than imaging.

What is the difference between GPO and NAP?
Group policy is a part of Active Directory that allows for management of users and computers. NAP, or network access protection provides endpoint health checking for network clients. This integrates with network components to restrict or allow network access. Client NAP configurations can be controlled by GPO, and some GPO settings can be enforced by NAP.

Does NAP work for VPN connections as well?
Yes. It is integrated with Microsoft VPN as well as some partner solutions.

Does XP pro and 2008 Server talk well together? What’s a better path, upgrade your clients to Win7 then servers to 2008? Or vice versa?
XP will work in a 2008 domain environment, but it won’t be able to take advantage of all of the features of 2008. Vista is designed to complement 2008, and Windows 7 works best with 2008 R2 (or 2008). I would recommend deploying Windows Server 2008 for workloads that will gain the most benefit – this will allow you take advantage of it immediately. Then follow with Windows 7 when you are ready.

Do terminal servers have central management to manage users and applications?
There are a number of tools to centrally manage the environment. R2 adds a connection broker component that will publish apps from multiple servers. However, apps still need to be published on each server, and permissions need to be set that way as well. Citrix provides some great centralized mgmt tools that enhance the native tools.

Will 2008 support XP clients?
Yes. 2008 will support XP for many things including Terminal Services, with RDP 6.1 client, NAP, with XP Sp3, Group policy preferences and many other features. Windows Vista and Windows 7 however, are able to take advantage of more features.

I have two Windows 2008 servers that are going to be setup as a cluster for Exchange 2007. Is there a document for setting up the “heartbeat” connection between the two servers?
There are many documents on technet that will help. When you build the cluster, the validation wizard will check the configuration of the heartbeat network to make sure its configured appropriately. Typically, a 2 node cluster will use a cross-over cable, although a non-routed VLAN on a switch also works. Some docs:

Step-by-step guide for basic 2-node cluster: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731844(WS.10).aspx
Validating an Exchange 2007 Cluster: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb676379.aspx

Is Server 2008 with Exchange supported on VMware?
Exchange Server 2007 SP1 on Windows 2008 is supported – see here for details: http://www.windowsservercatalog.com/svvp.aspx?svvppage=svvp.htm

Is it possible to run a 2008 DC with 2003 DCs without any sort of hacks or work-arounds?
Yes – it is possible. You’ll need to extend the AD Schema and install a 2008 member server, then promote it to a DC. There are some documents here: https://blogs.msdn.com/canberrapfe/archive/2009/04/08/adding-a-2008-domain-controller-to-your-2003-forest.aspx

Regarding the NAP, once a client is quarantined, is there a policy or rule that the admin must create to get the client healthy? Meaning, is it automatic or does the client sit there until someone checks the quarantined clients and fixes the issues?
NAP can be configured to auto-remediate certain things – turning firewall on, turning on autoupdate, etc. For AV, or patches, users can be directed to a web page with simple instructions or links to update the client.

Has load balancing improved with 2008 and TS?
It has been made simpler. Many customers found NLB to be complicated for what was needed on Terminal Services. TS on 2008 uses DNS round robin for initial connection with the TS Farm, then load balancing across nodes is handled by using RDP session load balancing.

How many CALs are included in the bundle of Windows Server 2008?
There are different bundles with 5, 10, or 25 CALS. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/pricing.aspx

How many machines can run on a single user MS Windows Server 2008, because we want to move to VMware soon.
Microsoft supports up to 192 VMs on Windows Server 2008, and 384 on Windows Server 2008 R2. Typically numbers will not be anywhere near this, as other system resources will bottleneck. Details can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/hyperv-faq.aspx#HyperVWindowsServer2008Specific

Is MS Windows Server 2008 VMware built-in?
Microsoft’s virtualization solution, Hyper-V, is built in to Windows Server 2008 and R2.

How would Hyper-V handle the VMware over committing resources, for example, is ESX server only have 8GB RAM but it can assign 16GB RAM to the VMs because it holds the memory and only releases it when it is required. The main reason for Exchange on a ESX box is not a good idea.
Hyper-V does not support over-commit of memory resources. To assign 8gb of RAM to a VM, you must have 8gb available. This improves performance and security.

What happens when a file which has been transferred/shared to a branch using Branch Cache is opened in the main office? Will the branch be informed about this and vice versa?
When clients use branch cache, each file is referenced by a hash. When a client tries to retrieve a file from the central office, it checks the hash of the file, then compares it to what is in the local cache. If the file has changed, then the hash would have changed, and the client would retrieve the updated version. The branch is not informed if the central copy is opened, only if it is changed, through the hash mechanism.

What is the maximum supported DFS server in 2008? In 2003 I think it is less than 70GB and that was not enough for me.
The File Replication Service in Windows Server 2003 had trouble with replication when data sizes got too big. Windows Server 2008 uses DFS-R (Distributed File System Replication) for replication – this uses an algorithm call Remote Differential Compression, which compresses files, and replicates only changes. This makes replication more efficient, an able to support large volumes of data. The limits that existed in 2003 for data size are either removed, or raised greatly.

What is the standard vs. reduced footprint for Windows 2008?
Processor requirements for Server Core and full Windows Server 2008 are the same. Minimum memory recommendations of 512mb are also the same. While the system requirements on Microsoft.com don’t list separate requirements for Server Core, it typically requires less disk space than a full installation. Additionally, Server Core has fewer roles to install (only 9), fewer services running, and has no GUI.

Are there any plans to integrate snapshot technology within Hyper-V?
Hyper-V already supports snapshots at two levels. First, it supports snapshots of the Virtual Machine itself, through use of memory copies and differential disks. The other snapshot capability is a snapshot backup, performed by the host Hyper-V system, using Volume Shadowcopy Services to back up the running VMs.

When will Hyper-V R2 be released?
Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V R2 released to manufacturing on July 22nd. General Availability will be in October. Volume license customers should have access to the code on August 19th. More details are available here: http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/archive/2009/07/22/when-to-expect-windows-server-2008-r2-rtm.aspx

Can everRun protect a workload that is physical on one side and virtual on the other?
everRun does not install INTO a Windows system, so it isn’t able to protect a ‘physical’ system in this sense. Many of our customers choose to keep some of their applications isolated to a physical server with no other applications or VMs on that host while protecting them with everRun. This is done by creating a single Windows environment within the everRun environment. Although the capability is there to create multiple, a single is the desired approach.

How does everRun handle data stored on NAS?
everRun can use any product data that resides on any type of storage. everRun sees the storage repository as a disk volume and can mirror between any two.

How many licenses for the operating system do I need for this solution? Do I need two licenses for the application (i.e. Exchange) as well?
Typically two licenses of Windows are required, however the Enterprise edition provides benefits when running in virtual environments. Please check with Microsoft on this and with your application vendors as all vendors have different licensing terms for redundant/high availability systems.

How well does everRun work with dissimilar hardware (i.e. at the DR site using older servers)?
There are some requirements for similar server components. If two supported servers are utilized and one happens to have a slower processor, the application may run at the slower speed, depending on the level of protection chosen within everRun.

Does everRun replicate all server data including application data like SQL databases?
Yes. The entire operating environment and all disks, including the OS, application, and application data are mirrored.

Is everRun effective for small companies? For example, an Exchange environment for less than 200 users?
Absolutely. Many of our customers are smaller to mid-sized businesses who require an availability solution that is simple, effective, and doesn’t require SAN storage or dedicated IT staff to manage.

Does everRun support MS Small Business Server?
Yes. Our everRun solution will work with any version of Windows Server, 64-bit or 32-bit. We work for small scale solutions all the way up to enterprises.

Will everRun support Exchange 2010 DAG location geographically?
We are still researching Exchange 2010 capabilities and how they can best be supported by everRun. At this time we are not yet clear on how DAG will or can be supported.

How are system upgrades handled in the everRun environment?
A single upgrade is performed on the single exposed Windows environment. Both of the redundant systems will be updated automatically by everRun. everRun also offers mechanisms to reduce the risk and associated downtime of system upgrades.

How does the actual SQL server app run in the everRun environment?
Exactly the same as it does in a non-everRun environment. everRun sits below the Windows environment therefore there are no application changes required.

The everRun software sounds great, but it requires two physical servers. Any hope of moving forward to do the same work within a VMware or Hyper-V environment?
Today everRun supports virtualized environments running on Citrix XenServer. We announced a joint development agreement with Microsoft back in early 2009 to provide everRun Fault Tolerance within a future version of Windows/Hyper-V.

How is everRun migrated with Windows 2008 hypervisor?
everRun will support a future Windows/Hyper-V release as part of the joint development effort between Microsoft and Marathon.

What system resources are used by everRun?
A small (varies a bit by the application that is running) bit of CPU and memory overhead is consumed by everRun.

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Jerry Melnick (jmelnick@us.sios.com) is responsible for defining corporate strategy and operations at SIOS Technology Corp. (www.us.sios.com), maker of SIOS SAN and #SANLess cluster software (www.clustersyourway.com). He more than 25 years of experience in the enterprise and high availability software industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Beloit College with graduate work in Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Boston University.