Archive for the ‘Server Core’ Tag

Server Core and SQL Server   Leave a comment

As I’ve mentioned in the past I’m not a supporter of Server Core as a Hyper-V plattform but when it comes to other roles I see it as a great option.

I’m currently building a new lab at my new employer and one of the things I wanted to try out was running SQL Server 2008 R2 on Server Core R2. It’s not totally straightforward, and most importantly not supported by Microsoft, but Joachim Nässlander has all the details in his blog.

The only thing that tripped me up, because I didn’t read the comments as I normally would, is that for the full version of SQL you need to add the “/IAcceptSQLServerLicenseTerms=true” to the install script.

Posted 26 September, 2011 by martinnr5 in Elsewhere, Tools

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So, how about that Server Core, eh?   1 comment

If there is one thing that divides the Hyper-V community it has to be how much VMware sucks; “a lot” or “a whole lot”. Also; if a Server Core or a Full installation is the best way to go for your Hyper-V hosts.

In a majority of these blog posts I’ll sound as if I and I alone hold the unquestionable truth in any and all matters pertinent to Hyper-V but don’t let that stop you from questioning me in the comments and I’ll do my best to use simpler words and speak slowly.

Let me start by stating that Server Core can be quite useful, not just as a Hyper-V host. Let me follow up by explaining why I think Server Core is a bad choice for a Hyper-V host.

First of all, if you really need a slimmed down version of Windows to run Hyper-V on, why not go with Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 instead? It’s free, it scales up to 16 nodes and you manage it the same way you manage a Server Core installation. Yes, the Hyper-V Server allows for “only” 1 TB of RAM and only 8 CPU but that should be enough for most of your needs.

That you can’t use it for more than Hyper-V is a moot point as you really shouldn’t be running anything else but Hyper-V on a Hyper-V host anyway, at least not in production.

The only argument for a Server Core installation that holds water is that it requires a lot less updates and patches. Still not enough to warrant a Server Core though in my opinion. If you follow Microsofts best practice for securing a Hyper-V host and use common sense when managing it then it should be just as secure as the rest of your servers (and some of these both could and should be run on Server Core).

That you need less resources to run a Server Core installation compared to a Full installation is also not enough to convince me. You still need space on your system drive no matter what and that extra gig of RAM that you might save with a Server Core installation is not worth the hassle of managing a Server Core installation.

Because this is where my main beef with running Hyper-V on a Server Core installation lies; management.

When reading other posts on the subject you hear that you have a lot of tools at your disposal that alleviate the need of a GUI; the entire RSAT suite, sconfig, netsh and other included CLI-based tools as well as third-party tools such as CoreConfig.

When scrutinized, these tools don’t hold water though.

RSAT is extremely handy and I use it daily for managing DNS, AD, Group Policy, DHCP, and so on but on the whole it’s not all that useful for managing a Hyper-V host. Hyper-V Manager does a great job managing a working Hyper-V host and Failover Cluster Manager handles clustered hosts quite nicely. If the cluster is operational, that is.

Allowing for Server Manager to connect to a Server Core is a breeze (“winrm quickconfig”) but Server Manager is very limited to what it can modify on a remote server so you still need to remote desktop to the Hyper-V host and get your hands dirty.

Sconfig, netsh and so on are very useful and can do a whole lot but again mostly for a functional server.

CoreConfig is a great tool put together by some very talented people but why install a CLI-based server only to use a GUI developed by a third-party developer for managing the server? If you go with the Full installation – which you already paid for – you get the GUI as well, one developed by Microsoft no less.

Configuring a single server Hyper-V host based on Server Core won’t give you an ulcer but when you need to juggle four or more hosts in a cluster with multiple VLANs, iSCSI-based storage and a couple of other networks on top of this you quickly grow tired of the limitations of Server Core. Not to mention if you need to do some serious troubleshooting in this cluster (which I, by the way, have done for the past couple of weeks).

There’s just so much overhead when it comes to getting all the components to fit together when all you have to work with is a limited subset of the whole toolbox.

Please use Server Core where the security policy of your company dictates it or for Domain Controllers, DNS, DHCP and similar single purpose servers that require a minimum of work to manage or troubleshoot and where RSAT does a great job.

A Hyper-V host though can (and most often will) require complicated maintenance that’s made even more complicated by using the blunt tools that Server Core provides.

At least according to me.

Posted 29 April, 2011 by martinnr5 in Opinion

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