Although server virtualization has been around for a long time, it is just now becoming a mainstream practice. The use of Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 allows for an easier means of server consolidation, a more manageable security baseline, and a more flexible testing environment. In this article we'll ask and answer five basic questions about the Microsoft Virtual Server platform.
The first question you may ask is what exactly is Virtual Server? Simply put, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 is Microsoft's implementation of a virtual server platform. This is a program that runs on a physical server, and allows you to create several virtual computers (known as virtual machines) that run on it independently. Whereas you typically have only one operating system running on a physical server, a virtual server allows you to have multiple operating systems running simultaneously.
Figure 1. Virtual Server allows multiple operating systems to run independently on one physical machine.
Here are the main benefits you can get by using a virtual server:
One of the best things about Virtual Server is that it is a free download from Microsoft. Before you can install Virtual Server you will need to download it from the Microsoft Virtual Server page. Virtual Server has some minimal system requirements you will need to review before installation as well, which are viewable at the website. The only other thing you must consider before installation is that Microsoft Internet Information Services must be installed prior to the Virtual Server installation in order to access its administration website. Once you have done all of this, you are ready to install Virtual Server:
Figure 2. Configuring Virtual Server to use Internet Information Services
All administration of your Virtual Server is done through the Virtual Server administration website. The address to reach this site is displayed on the installation summary web page that follows installation. This URL follows a standard format so that if you were to install Virtual Server on a computer named "CorporateVS" using port number 1024, the administration URL would be http://corporatevs:1024/VirtualServer/VSWebApp.exe?view=1. You can access this website quickly by either adding the URL to your Favorites, or by accessing it via the Start Menu under Programs > Virtual Server > Virtual Server Administration Web Site.
After installing Virtual Server you are ready to create your first Virtual Machine. From the administration web page, click "Create" under the Virtual Machine heading. There are several configurable options here, and as you begin to learn more about Virtual Server, you should learn what all of them do. Go ahead and name the virtual machine and configure the options to your liking (or simply accept the defaults) and click the "Create" button.
After this, you will be brought to the status view of the virtual machine you just created. To start it, simply click the thumbnail icon representing the virtual machine. To access the virtual machine, you can click the same thumbnail again to take remote control of the system. At this point you have successfully created your virtual machine and can begin to install your guest operating system on it.
Figure 3. Creating a virtual machine
Although we have covered several things, we have really only scratched the surface of what Virtual Server is and what it is capable of. For more information regarding Virtual Server, check out its Microsoft home page.
Chris Sanders is the network administrator for one of the largest public school systems in the state of Kentucky. For more about Chris, you can view his personal blog at http://www.chrissanders.org.
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