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Virtual machine configuration and installation in Hyper-V R2

Solutions provider takeaway: Virtual machine configuration in Hyper-V R2 isn't a one- or two-step process. Virtual machine installation requires you to go through the New Virtual Machine wizard.

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And during the virtual machine configuration process, you must make decisions about how much RAM to assign and how to set up a new virtual hard disk.

More on virtual machine configuration
Creating a virtual machine and VM configuration in vSphere

Configuration of the virtual machine

Virtual machine provisioning and configuration

Turning on Microsoft Hyper-V R2, a component of the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, requires little more than enabling its role in Server Manager. But after enabling its role, you have to perform a couple more steps to install and configure Hyper-V R2 virtual machines (VMs) for your clients.

Solutions providers need to create a new VM within the Hyper-V Manager console after installing and rebooting Hyper-V. The Hyper-V Manager is accessible through either the host's administrative tools or your customer's desktop (if it includes the Remote System Administration Tools).

First, launch the New Virtual Machine wizard in order to configure and install your newly created VM. From there, you will go inside the Hyper-V Manager tool, right-click the server you want to install the new VM on, and select New | Virtual Machine.

After virtual machine installation: Storage

To specify the name and location of the VM for identification purposes inside the Hyper-V Manager, click Next. The virtual machines are stored in a hidden folder on the Hyper-V host: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Hyper-V, which is a useful storage location when the Hyper-V host is not part of a Windows Failover Cluster. But you can change their location, and you should change the VM storage location of clustered Hyper-V hosts to a shared volume that is part of the cluster (via the associated checkbox and Browse button). Identify the location so you can later create the VM as a cluster resource for load balancing and failover purposes.

Clicking Next in the wizard brings you to the Assign Memory page, where you can decide the amount of RAM to be assigned to the VM. Keep in mind that RAM in Hyper-V environments tends to be a precious resource, and the lack of available RAM often prevents future expansion. You can change the amount of assigned RAM later on if the VM is powered down, but it is considered a best practice to restrict the amount of assigned RAM as much as possible.

You then have the option of identifying which network connection the VM will use on the Configure Networking screen. Prior to creating any VMs, you should create virtual networks in the Hyper-V Manager's Virtual Network Manager console, found in the Actions pane. Virtual networks are logical constructs that map one or more physical network cards to a virtual network switch that is managed by Hyper-V R2. From there, select the correct virtual network the VM should use and click Next.

Connecting virtual disks during virtual machine configuration

On the Connect Virtual Hard Disk page, you must decide if you want to create a new virtual hard disk for the VM, use an existing one or attach one later. Because the VM initially has an empty disk, you have to create a new virtual hard disk. New hard disks need a name, location and size and are stored in C:\Users\Public\Documents\Hyper-V\Virtual hard disks. Similar to VM storage, this location works well for nonclustered Hyper-V machines, but the VMs in Windows Failover Clusters should have their virtual hard disks moved to a cluster volume.

By using an existing virtual hard disk on this page, you can create a new VM that is based on a previously configured hard disk. For example, you can create a reference image that corresponds to a VM's standard build. There are two ways to speed up the VM configuration process here: (1) by copying that reference image to the virtual hard disk location before starting the New Virtual Machine wizard, and (2) by using the hard disk copy as an existing disk. Be aware that virtual hard disks can only be used by a single VM at a time.

The final page in the wizard has virtual machine installation options that explain how an OS will be installed on the VM. You may install an OS later, which is a good choice when you're using a preconfigured virtual hard disk, or you may install one via a boot CD/DVD-ROM or boot floppy disk. Boot CD/DVD-ROMs can be physically located in the Hyper-V host and referenced by a host drive letter or as an ISO image file elsewhere on your machine or network.

Using ISO image files via network shares is an excellent way to streamline OS installation from a single location. Remember that installing OSes over the network tends to slightly increase installation time. Boot floppy disks with a .VFD extension, which often work with an automated OS installation product to rapidly deploy an OS, can also be attached.

After you've completed the VM's initial configuration and created the VM by clicking Next and Finish, right-click the VM and choose Settings to view a large control panel where you can attach additional hardware to the VM, including disk drives, SCSI controllers, network cards, COM ports and so on. For new VMs, it is generally a good idea to configure additional hardware prior to installing the VM's OS, but it's not a requirement. This configuration enables the OS installation to locate the hardware and ensures that it is available once the OS is completely built.

Two configurations that may be under your radar and should be verified on this control panel are located under Management in the left pane. The Virtual Machine Start and Virtual Machine Stop actions identify what action the host should take when it powers on or off. VMs can consume a large amount of resources when they power on and, consequently, configuring them to either not power on automatically or to add an automatic start delay (found in the wizard) ensures that VMs and the host are not vying for resources when the host powers on. Staggering VM start times can also prevent a long delay in powering on. In addition, identifying what the host should do after powering off is important to power consumption. Options include saving the VM state, turning off the VM or shutting down the guest OS.

About the expert
Greg Shields, MVP, vExpert, is a partner with Concentrated Technology LLC. Get more of Greg's tips and tricks at www.concentratedtech.com.

This was first published in July 2010

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