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The cool stuff - DE and virtual disks


TheGeekGuy
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Who needs DE and Vail. A bit harsh I know.

 

Since Microsoft broke one of the features that made the Homeserver great its time to leave the broken ship.

 

So, I tried something new and succeeded. Not only that but it includes a better way to handle DE and OS replication. There is naturally a downside, cost. To replace DE that will cost you but read on this is cool stuff.

 

What you need is:

- One drobo-fs configured in a dual-drive

  failure mode and at least 3x2TB drives

  [mine is 5x2TB] connected to Gigabit Router/Switch

 

- One PC running VMWare Workstation

 [Mine Runs Win7 Ultimate x64 with

  VMWare workstation] connected to Gigabit Router/Switch

 

- Purchase a Windows Small Business Server 2011

  Essentials license or download it from TechNet!

 

Why skip Vail? It has a limit of 10 PCs / Users, SBS2011 Essentials has a limit of 25 computers/users and it offers the dashboard and the same user interface as Vail. In short this is an improved version of Vail.

 

On to the cool stuff:

On an always on PC with i5 or i7 processor and minimum 6GB of ram [Mine is i7 with 12GB] install VMWare workstation. Create a new VM with 500GB of disc space and set 4GB of ram. Place the virtual disk image on the drobo. Mount the SBS2011 ISO file as your DVD drive and lastly set the network to bridge mode. Now install the OS.

 

Once your system is running create one UserID and password and pick another PC in your household. Open internet explorer and go to http://servername/connect    this will install the connecter software on the PC and when asked enter the UserID and password you just created.

 

You are now well on your way to run SBS2011.

 

- - - -

 

This will also work if you install Vail or Windows HomeServer v2.

 

The cool factor:

Using drobo as your backend gives you a lot of benefits. Drobo manages the pool of physical storage for you, the same as DE in the original HomeServer BUT. Lets say your 500GB hard drive you configured is running low. You simply power down the server in the VM and in the VMWare console double click on the 500GB hard disk and click utilities and type the desired space you need i.e. 1024GB click apply and boot the server.

 

Congratulations you now have DE and can expand your drive size without using "move to folder" and your OS drive is protected as well.

 

Tip for the more technical person. Speed up the install by pointing the 500GB hard drive virtual disk to your local hard drive and install the server. Once its running, power it off. Move the file to the drobo and change the virtual disk path in the VMWare console to the drobe and power on. This will cut your install time by 30 or more minutes.

 

 

Let me know what you think ...

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SBS2011 essentials does not have dhcp so once you set VMWare to use bridge mode the server will get it's ip from your router. This way all your pc on your home network can access the server both wired and wireless.

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The only I asked was that you mentioned SBS which will become the default DHCP server on your network. Essentials is the same as WHS except a domain is created and client connections are increased from 10 to 25.

 

SBS comes with 5 CAL's but any machine on the same LAN will still have internet access thru the gateway.

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Guest no-control

Let me know what you think ...

 

I think you're crazy, but that's just me.

 

 

Also most people are crying over the loss of DE (removed due to it being broken BTW) because of the cost and perceived(wrongly) complexity of RAID. I don't see how buying a $500 drobo and setting this all up using a $200 desktop OS, a $500 Server OS w/ 5CALs (the 20CAL version is well over $1000), and a $200 VM hypervisor. Is simpler and cheaper than WHS2011 with standard RAID 1/5 configuration.

Not to mention the loss of transfer speed from that drobo model. The increase of overhead from running all of that is well beyond most of the WHS users. Did I mention the cost of the hardware just to run all of that? Nope better add in another $500 minimum for drives and you'll need a PC to run all of that VM overhead.

 

While creative, It would be cheaper to just run WHS2011 with a Drobo on the network as an iSCSI SAN

 

SBS2011 essentials does not have dhcp so once you set VMWare to use bridge mode the server will get it's ip from your router. This way all your pc on your home network can access the server both wired and wireless.

 

Say what? SBS2011 does have DHCP/DNS server capabilities.

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I agree that this is a costly solution, however, If a WHS is someone's only solution then WHS is the better option. My suggestion is geared towards looking beyond WHS. You get the data protection, you get the WHS and you get .... whatever you need. You can spinup a VM fast and keep using it. I new WHS OS comes out, OK, Spin up another VM and keep the data redundency and all its features.

 

Buying a few more hard drives and raid card gives you the solution you need right now. If this works for someone that is okay too, I tend to build solutions where your investment can grow and adapt to your ever growing needs [iT Geeks have tech needs]. Use the same setup when the next beta version comes out.

 

On the DHCP note, yes the capabilities are there but not enabled. DNS is enabled by default for hosting Active Directory. I have this solution running and SBS2011 Essentials is not the gateway my Linksys E3000 router is handeling that role. However, SBS2011 Standard edition does have DHCP enabled, so essentials is really good for this solution.

 

In short, if ones need is just to get another WHS with data redundency yes get a hardware RAID card with drives 0 and 1 configured in a RAID-1 and additional 3 drives in a RAID-5 and the box is just that a WHS.

 

This is all great info and a great site to hash out thoughts on this situation microsoft has put us in. I love the feedback.

 

PS. on the cost side, you are covered when you have your own TechNet subscription for less than $300. If I am wrong on that lat me know, I want to be license compliant.

 

 

Say what? SBS2011 does have DHCP/DNS server capabilities.

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SBS2011 essentials does not have dhcp so once you set VMWare to use bridge mode the server will get it's ip from your router. This way all your pc on your home network can access the server both wired and wireless.

????? Who uses DHCP to get IPs for servers??? Everyone I know sets static IPs for servers.

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Which is the better place to issue IP's, the router or a server like Server 2008 R2? I have always liked my pfSense router to issue the IP's because it is almost never down. Dang Server 2008 has to reboot almost every other week due to some update. Is one better than the other, and if so why?

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For most home uses you want whatever your DNS server is to also be the DHCP server so that those records are always in sync. You probably wouldn't have a problem splitting them up though if you really wanted to. I personally always recommend DHCP so that the DNS server always know about the clients on the network. That way you can also easily tell if you have connectivity by doing ye 'ole ipconfig.

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