Migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2 on a TinkerTry'd Supermicro SuperServer Bundle 2 8-Core Xeon D with built-in Intel RSTe RAID, by Steve Shanks

Posted by Paul Braren on Jan 25 2017 (updated on Jan 28 2017) in
  • Superguides
  • Virtualization
  • Windows
  • Introduction

    I'm pleased to present you with the result of a massive installation and documentation effort by a TinkerTry fan. This voluntary article was authored by Greater Detroit's Steve Shanks, who is currently a Senior Consultant at The Speedware Company. He volunteered to help speed folks right through finding 10GbE drivers, implementing RAID, configuring drive monitoring and more, all carefully documented as he deployed his beloved SuperServer Bundle 2. TinkerTry doesn't normally feature guest posts, but knew you'd really appreciate this exception, along with his related Install Windows Server 2016 & Hyper-V on a TinkerTry'd Supermicro SuperServer Bundle 2 8-Core Xeon D with RAID, by Steve Shanks.

    Having performed a successful migration from and replacement of one of his existing VM hosts to the SuperServer Bundle 2 and Windows 2012 R2, Steve purchased a second SuperServer Bundle 2 and has done the same for his other existing VM host. Smaller footprint, quieter running and less power consumption. Mission accomplished!

    Warning: This article is published on a at-your-own-risk basis, with no free support or guarantees implied, see also the usual detailed Disclaimer below. If you own a TinkerTry'd Bundle, you have a known-good Bundle, and you may want to leave your questions below for best-effort community assistance. I have not "TinkerTry'd" (tested) the exact configuration detailed in this article.

    iH8au4ckD0Y

    Note that Xeon D easily allows you to do nesting testing, running Hyper-V and VMware on one system, concurrently. Maximum flexibility and versatility for the IT Professional and amateur enthusiast alike. For even better speeds, you can dual-boot Hyper-V and VMware. That said, unlike peanut butter and chocolate, you'll want to keep your hypervisor's boot devices AND datastores (NTFS and VMFS) completely separate. Also note that Intel RST/RSTe hardware/software combo has its detractors, and isn't support by any VMware hypervisor.

    - Paul Braren, TinkerTry.com


    Contents

    Background and System Selection

    Install the Hardware

    • Not All 2.5” to 3.5” Conversion Trays Are Created Equal
    • Physical Drive Configuration
    • Summary

    Configuring the BIOS and RAID

    • Download the Manual
    • Standard Settings to Change
    • RAID Related BIOS Changes
    • Summary

    Preparation for the Install of Windows Server 2012 R2

    • Download the System Driver CD
    • Download the Installation Image
    • iKVM/IPMI IP Address Identification and Access
    • Mount the O.S. Image on the Server
    • Mount the Driver CD

    Installation of Windows Server 2012 R2

    • Fresh Installation
    • Do not Install Any Windows Updates
    • Time and Time Zone Settings
    • Install Drivers
    • Provision Hard Drives

    Configure Network

    System Name, Domain & Workgroup

    Windows Updates

    Installation of the Hyper-V Role

    Further Hyper-V Configuration through the Hyper-V Manager

    • Configure Hyper-V Default Locations in Hyper-V Settings
    • Configuration of Virtual Network Switches
    • Virtual Network Switch Properties

    Virtual Machine Creation

    Migrate VMs from the Newest Existing Server

    Final Thoughts

    Appendix A – Hardware Specifications

    Background and System Selection

    I have been running two host servers for seven and five years respectively. These servers are AMD based and run Windows Server 2008 R2 with the Hyper-V role installed to provide virtualization services for numerous VMs engaged in the pursuit of my consulting and development businesses. The ability to run multiple VMs of various operating systems each with hardware independence sure beat the physical server game that I played before that.

    These servers feature multiple LAN connections, RAID-1 arrays of disks and suitable UPS power conditioning. However, although disks have been rotated out on a 3-year rotating schedule and power supplies have been changed, they are at the end of their useful life and need replacing.

    Since the servers were built from components that I selected, the process of replacing them requires selecting new equipment, equipment that works well together and is reliable. That sort of decision making is tedious to say the least. Not only that, when things do not work out first time, there are all of the unknowns of whether the issues lies in one’s process or in the hardware itself.

    Enter TinkerTry. In doing some research for the nth time, I came across this site. And during that process discovered all of the amazing research that Paul Braren had done on exactly the process I was undertaking.

    My givens were:

    1. Intel server processor based.
    2. RAID built-in.
    3. 2 LAN NICs built in
    4. 64GB memory minimum.
    5. Support Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor.

    My druthers were:

    1. SSD support.
    2. Small footprint.
    3. 3 or more NICs built in.
    4. Low power consumption.

    And that’s exactly what Paul’s Bundled systems provide: My givens and druthers. All of them. After a few emails were exchanged, I decided on the 8-core D-1541 based Bundle 2 which I sourced from WiredZone as their item SYS-5028D-TN4T-BUNDLE2.

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    The beauty of one of these bundled systems is that they basically work right out of the box. No assembly required. Well, except for installing hard drives.

    The system shipped the next business day after it was ordered and arrived 3 days later.

    The Supermicro system has four 3.5” hot swap bays and two 2.5” drive bays that are not hot-swappable.

    image4
    image5

    Separately, I also sourced from another vendor four Samsung EVO 850 SSDs; two @ 250gb as a RAID-1 pair for the O.S. and two @ 500gb as a RAID-1 pair for the VMs primary virtual HD. Additionally, a pair of Western Digital Black 2TB HDDs. These would also be paired in RAID-1 configuration.

    I also ordered converter trays for the SSDs to fit into the 3.5” drive bays. These were themselves bundled with the SSDs.

    All that is left is to select the host operating system and then commence the build.

    In my givens is a Microsoft operating system. Microsoft’s hypervisor Hyper-V can run as a role on a regular Windows Server edition or it can be a standalone operating system in its own right. However, when on its own, there is no GUI provided and, IMO, unless you support this stuff for a living, for the home virtual server, it is too much aggravation.

    I am on 2008R2 and so the choices are really, having discounted the stand-alone hypervisor:

    a) Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V role
    b) Windows Server 2016 with Hyper-V role

    I chose the former (option a) since it is a stable operating system having been out for a number of years. The only function it will perform is hosting services (plus later fax and print services).

    Microsoft Developer Network, MSDN, offers various subscriptions that include development server licenses. There are other programs too, such as BizSpark, that provide similar benefits. And many others.

    To summarize, we have the following hardware:

    • Supermicro D-1541 8-core bundle 2 64gb memory
    • RAID-1 pair for operation system: Samsung EVO 850 SSD 250gb
    • RAID-1 pair for primary virtual HD: Samsung EVO 850 SSD 500gb
    • RAID-1 pair for backup and secondary virtual hard drives: WD Black 2TB

    The plan will be to:

    1. Install the hardware.
    2. Configure the BIOS and RAID.
    3. Install Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V role.
    4. Migrate VMs from the newest existing server.
    5. Reimage that server as Windows Server 2012 R2 with Hyper-V.
    6. Migrate VMs from the oldest existing server to that reimaged server.
    7. Decommission the oldest server.

    This paper will deal with 1 through 4.

    Install the Hardware

    There is an excellent article and video on unboxing and installing hardware found here. That formed the basis for my installation process.

    Mentioned in the selection process is the fact that conversion trays were bundled with the SSDs to allow them to be mounted into the 3.5” bays. There were two problems with this: first, only two were needed. The server has four 3.5” hot swap bays. Two of these only would be occupied by the SSDs. The other two bays would be occupied by the WD HDDs and the other two SSDs would be housed in 2.5” bays in the chassis and not hot swappable.

    The second problem was the trays themselves. It seems that not all trays are built equal.

    Not All 2.5” to 3.5” Conversion Trays Are Created Equal

    If you order a Supermicro SuperServer bundle-2 or bundle-3, it is your responsibility to add drives to it since none come with it. The same may be true for a bundle-1 if you plan on adding additional disk storage.

    Today, you very well may install SSDs into your SuperServer since the price point is now very competitive. The server comes with 4 drive bays accessible from the front door and 2 that are attached within the case. The 2 within the case are for 2.5” drives only so SSDs mount naturally here since this is the main standard format for a SSD. The 4 others are hot-sway drive bays specifically sized for 3.5” drives.

    So if you want to put a 2.5” SSD (or 2.5” regular HDD) into one of these bays, you will need a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter, better known as a caddy.

    Just go to Amazon, for example, and order your SSD. You will likely get a choice to bundle a caddy in with it:

    image6

    Ah, I need a caddy. Check. Corsair is a known name. Check. 5 star rating. Check. Press the purchase button, wait a day or so and the pair of items arrive at your front door. Check. Could not be easier.

    You screw the SSD into the caddy, screw the caddy into the hot-swap tray that came with the server. Press it into place and…

    Not so fast there. The tray does not go all the way in and you cannot close the fastener. What’s up with this?

    Here is the answer…

    This particular Corsair caddy (CSSD-BRKT2) does hold the 2.5” drive. But it places it in a position such that the power and controller connections of the SSD are not quite in the same exact place as the same connections would be found on a 3.5” HDD. This represents no problem if you have a regular server where you are connecting power and controller cables. But for a hot-swap bay, these need to be in the exact same position as a HDD because that is where the fixed connectors are at the back of the hot swap bay.

    So back to the web you need to go and that project that you had planned for today, or this weekend, gets put off. Plus you need to make a return, plus…. You get the picture.

    The bundle above adds about $8-$10 to the price of the SSD. Not much money which makes pressing the bundle button easy to do. A bundle for your SuperServer bundle. Pun intended.

    image7

    So what to do…. You could buy a caddie that looks like this…

    This has a connector for the SSD in the middle and has the correct HDD connector positioning at the back (front left in this image). This would be fine, but personal, I prefer to have fewer electrical connections and this adds an unnecessary one.

    A better choice is to go with one you know puts the SSD in the correct place in the first place.

    You bought a Supermicro SuperServer, so why not go with the product that matches your bundle? Here it is:

    image8

    Supermicro p/n MCP-220-0043-0N, in the $10-$15 range depending on where you buy it. Not just is it a caddy (yes there is one in there, so if you prefer to put that in your original supplied tray you can do that) but it is the whole ball of wax. Ready to go, guaranteed to fit and get you going. Just crew in the SSD, pull out your empty tray and slot this one in.

    So when you’re looking for that SSD adapter or caddy, make sure that you get one that will do the job.

    Physical Drive Configuration

    Bay 0 is the bottom of the 4 hot swappable bays and 3 is the top one. Bay 4 is on top of the hot swappable cartridge and bay 5 is on the left side. My preference is to house drives that make up a RAID-1 pair in adjacent bays.

    Bay Controller Disk
    0 0 Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB (466GB SSD)
    1 1 Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB (466GB SSD)
    2 2 WDC WD2003FZEX-00SRLA0 (1.8TB HDD)
    3 3 WDC WD2003FZEX-00SRLA0 (1.8TB HDD)
    4 4 Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB (223GB SSD)
    5 5 Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250GB (223GB SSD)

    Summary

    Buy the appropriate conversion caddies and follow the instructions in the video for all other installation tips.

    One more thing: Everything about the Supermicro system is first class quality and implementation.

    Configuring the BIOS and RAID

    Download the Manual

    A link to the manual can be found here:
    https://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/Xeon/D/X10SDV-TLN4F.cfm

    Standard Settings to Change

    In the video of the installation, there are very few suggested changes to the BIOS from those values configured on the delivered system. Just make those changes plus identify to the BIOS any SSDs.

    Menu Section Setting Default New Value Comments
    Advanced/Boot Feature Boot NumLock State On Off Personal preference.
    Advanced/Power Configuration Restore on AC Power Loss Last State Last State You may also use Power-On which will turn on the server even if it was off before.
    Advanced/SATA Configuration Port n SATA device type Hard Disk Drive Solid State Drive Do this for all SSDs.
    Boot Settings Boot Mode Select DUAL UEFI

    RAID Related BIOS Changes

    In addition to the changes recommended in the installation video, there are RAID-specific ones:

    Menu Section Setting Default New Value Comments
    Advanced/SATA Configuration Configure SATA as AHCI RAID Needed for further RAID configuration. You must reboot after setting this to get the RAID configuration utility to appear on this menu.
    Advanced/SATA Configuration SATA RAID Option ROM/UEFI Driver Legacy EFI
    Advanced/Intel RSTe SATA Controller* Create RAID volumes with the utility exposed on this menu section. See below for mapping.

    * Change “Configure SATA as” to “RAID”, save settings and reboot for this option to be shown.

    image9
    image10

    The process of creating the RAID-1 pairs is very simple. Select the Create RAID Volume and from there, select from the list of drives which ones you want and then name the volumes. At the end of this process, here is the set of names created for RAID-1 pairs:

    image11

    After that you can select any volume to see the details of it:

    image12

    Summary

    The BIOS modifications are minimal and straight forward. Make sure to reboot after selecting RAID mode for the Configure SATA as option. This will expose the RAID configuration utility on that same screen after the reboot.

    Preparation for the Install of Windows Server 2012 R2

    Download the System Driver CD

    A link to the driver CD can be found here: https://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/Xeon/D/X10SDV-TLN4F.cfm

    Download the driver CD. If there is one beef I have about this system is that there is no driver CD included. Yes, there is no drive on the system to read it, but normally one has plenty of these available.

    The link leads to a choice of an ISO or an archive RAR file. Download your preference. If you download the archive, then extract the ISO from it. The ISO is what you need.

    image13
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    Download the Installation Image

    You will need an ISO image for the installation CD/DVD. For this install, the name of the image used was en_windows_server_2012_r2_with_update_x64_dvd_6052708.iso from July 2015.

    Refer to the resources in the appendices for links for various Windows releases.

    iKVM/IPMI IP Address Identification and Access

    You will need to obtain the address of the iKVM interface. This is displayed on the VGA screen in the bottom right corner. See the unbox video at the 40:40 mark for information on this.

    When you have that address, you can then use a regular browser to access that address. This will give you a certificate warning that you should ignore. The default user name and password are both ADMIN in uppercase.

    image16

    Once the user name and password are authenticated, you will be presented with a status display. This displays the firmware and the BIOS versions: 3.26 and 1.1c respectively are the latest versions available and come preinstalled so no updates are necessary.

    image17

    From here there is the capability to virtual mount ISO images. This can be done via the Virtual Media menu but it is not always clear what entries are to be made. Instead, use the Java interface.

    First select Remote Control from the menu, then Console Redirection, then Launch Console. After a series of prompts from the Java engine, you will get the remote access console. Go to the Virtual Media menu:

    image18

    From there it is intuitive what to do and is also shown in the video https://tinkertry.com/supermicro-superserver-sys-5028d-tn4t-bundle2-12-core-unboxing-and-assembly. Look for the 53:31 mark for further information.

    • Select a device from the device tabs: 1, 2 or 3.
    • Logical drive type: ISO
    • Open Image: browse to your image
    • Plug In: check the status is plugged in.

    Mount the O.S. Image on the Server

    Mount this into device 1:

    image19

    Later on you can unmount it using the Plug Out option.

    Mount the Driver CD

    In addition to mounting the operating installation DVD, you should also mount the driver CD previously downloaded. This will be the ISO and not the RAR. This should be mounted using the iKVM software as above.

    image20

    Later on you can unmount it using the Plug Out option.

    Installation of Windows Server 2012 R2

    The goal of this paper is not to go through every step of an operating system installation but to direct you around the landmines that you would unnecessarily waste significant time overcoming.

    Having said that, upon a new reboot, the server will go to a boot menu where you can boot from the O.S. ISO.

    Fresh Installation

    Remarkably, the install is straight forward. The only real choice is to decide which drive of the three RAID volumes you will install the drive on. For this case study, it is the volume named EVO850-250.

    At the completion of this step, there will be many devices that do not yet have drivers installed.

    Do not Install Any Windows Updates

    At this point in the install do not install any Windows updates.

    Time and Time Zone Settings

    You should select the time zone and time settings for the server. There should be internet access if you have the server so connected such that the time will refresh from a NTTP time server.

    Install Drivers

    The driver CD was previously mounted on a virtual drive. Execute the setup.exe.

    Install the RAID drivers

    The first drivers to install should be the RAID drivers. Select Intel Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise. This will lead to a warning message:

    image21
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    The issue is that the Windows install installed a version 12.0.1.1019 and that is a more recent version number than the one that comes on the driver CD.

    image23

    Well, the answer here is to plow on anyway. The truth is that the driver version and names are messed up. The correct action is to install the drivers from the driver CD without regards for this warning as the driver is in fact newer, though with a lower number.

    Press Yes to install the “older” driver. Immediately, you should reboot and then examine the driver installed:

    image24

    So the name is different, the date is newer and the version number is “older” (4.2.0.1136 versus 12.0.1.1019). Really, this should not have been identified by the installer as an older version of the same driver because it is actually a different driver.

    The good news is that now you do not have to worry about picking Yes because there has already been a guinea pig for this!

    With this software installed, you can now control your RAID from Windows. This is comparable to the AMD tool named RAID Xpert.

    image25

    With this software you can:

    • Monitor RAID volume status
    • Create new ROAD volumes
    • Remove failed drives
    • Rebuild existing volumes
    • Break RAID volumes into non-RAID drives

    At this time, you can configure email notifications so that you receive an email when the RAID status changes:

    image26

    Check all of the options of what to receive, specify an SMTP host, a sender email address and one or more recipients. The sender and recipient can be the same user. Press Apply Changes to save it off.

    Install Intel Chipset Device Software

    This is the first choice on the driver CD. After installing this software, you should reboot the server.

    image27

    After this install, the RAID drivers are still good and there are just two devices that have no driver:

    image28

    Install 10G Ethernet Drivers

    The two remaining devices with drivers are the 10G Ethernet ports.

    There is an option on the driver CD to install the X557 10G driver. You can select this, press Yes twice and nothing much seems to happen:

    image29

    Instead, go to the device manager, select the first of the two Ethernet devices, right click and select Update driver software:

    image30

    Then, pick Browse for software on this computer and select the driver CD, along with checking include subfolders and press Next:

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    The driver will be loaded successfully:

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    Repeat this process for the second port. After that is completed, all ports are now configured and all devices have drivers:

    image33

    Install SuperDoctor 5 (SD5)

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    Pick all of the default settings and it will complete:

    image35

    Test run it from the desktop icon that was installed...

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    Login with the default user name/password of ADMIN/ADMIN. There is one more piece of software to install for this. Scroll down to the hard drives and install the Smartmontools so that the monitoring of the drives can occur:

    image37

    After the next reboot, the status of these will be reflected correctly:

    image38

    A note of warning here: there is a bug in the SD5 software where it caches information on the drives installed. If you have a non-RAID drive installed and you later RAID-1 this drive, the status will be reflected correctly in the BIOS, and in the Intel RSTe monitoring software installed previously. However, it will not be reflected correctly in SD5 which will indicate that the driver that was in the system originally is now missing.

    image39

    This can be fixed by uninstalling the SD5 and then re-installing both it plus the Smartmontools.

    Provision Hard Drives

    Use the disk manager to define partitions, format and name volumes. Use the Computer Management console for this purpose. Once completed, it will look something like this (although the newly formatted volumes will be 100% empty unlike this image):

    image40

    I split up my HDD into two volumes and allocated names accordingly:

    Disk Volume Size Drive Usage
    SAMSUNG EVO 850 250GB RAID-1 250GB C: O.S.
    WD 2TB RAID-1 WD2TBVOL1 740GB M: Non-primary VHDs, scratch space.
    WD 2TB RAID-1 WD2TBVOL2 1000GB N: Backup VHDs
    SAMSUNG EVO 850 500GB RAID-1 500GB V: Primary VHDs

    Configure Network

    At this point in time, internet access should be available. The network is defined as a public network and there are 4 NICs assigned to it.

    image41

    If you want to make the network private and rename it, this can be done in local policy. Run GPEDIT.MSC then select Windows Settings/Security Settings/Network List Manager Policies and pick the network name, Network in this instance...

    image42

    Double click the network name, then select a name for it, change the type to Private on the Network Location tab:

    image43
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    The network will now be shown as private with the new name if one was selected:

    image45

    Now pick Change advanced sharing settings from the left side of the screen and then, for private networks, turn on network discovery so that this server see other systems on the network (if you so wish)... Also, if you turn on file and printer sharing (if you wish), the machine will be visible to other systems:

    image46

    If you want to allow remote access to the computer (which you likely do since iKVM is not likely to be your choice), enable this in Control Panel/Security Settings/System Properties/Remote...

    image47

    You might also chose to rename those connections too. I chose to use names that define their speed as I find it makes it easier to distinguish them:

    image48

    System Name, Domain & Workgroup

    You can also change the machine name at this point as well as joining a domain or workgroup. That is done in the Control Panel/System and Security/System. It will require a reboot.

    Windows Updates

    Now is the time to do Windows Updates. There are approximately 200 of them to download and somewhere north of 1 GB of download to be done. There are a number of reboots in this process. Keep repeating the process of checking for and installing new updates.

    You should set your preference for when updates are done. A good preference for a hosting server is to download but not install:

    image49
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    There are almost 200 updates to download and install:

    image51

    Check for updates again. This time, they will install. Of course, you could have changed the Windows Update configuration to automatic install first, done the updates and then changed the setting to download by ask what to install.

    Once they are installed, repeat the process until everything is up to date. You can also inaugurate the optional updates:

    image52

    Installation of the Hyper-V Role

    We now have a fully operational up to date Windows Server 2012 R2 installation. The next step is to install the Hyper-V role. This is straight forward:

    The Hyper-V role is installed through the Server Manager and the Configure this local server option.

    image53

    We will be configuring this server for the role. So select the Role-base or feature-based installation option:

    image54

    Pick your server from the list and press Next:

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    Select Hyper-V and then accept the additional features that will be installed due to this selection. Then press Add Features and then Next:

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    Having selected Hyper-V, press Next:

    image58

    You do not need to add any extra features, so just press Next:

    image59

    Next will appear the Hyper-V configuration. Press Next at the intro screen:

    image60

    Next up will be the virtual switch configuration screen. I prefer to not configure them in this wizard, but to do them individually after the role has been installed. So uncheck all of the NICs and press Next. Note that this screen is from another install. For the SuperServer, there will be 4 NICs listed here which should all be changed to be uncheck before you press Next.

    image61

    Next up is virtual machine migration configuration. This is an advanced use of Hyper-V and is beyond the scope of this paper. You can read up more on it here:
    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831435(v=ws.11).aspx.

    Nevertheless, if you want this capability, you can set up the network settings with the Hyper-V Manager later. So make sure that the option is unchecked and press Next:

    image62

    The next configuration topic is setting up default locations for virtual machines and hard drives. At this point, just use the default settings. We will change them later. Press Next:

    image63

    The final step is a confirmation. Check Restart the destination server automatically if required and press yes, then press Install.

    image64

    The install will now proceed and you can monitor the progress until it is completed and the server will reboot.

    Further Hyper-V Configuration through the Hyper-V Manager

    The Hyper-V is controlled through the Hyper-V Manager which is a tool available in the Server Manager console:

    image65

    This displays the Hyper-V Manager which displays the status of all VMs (there would be none at this stage of the installation):

    image66

    When there are configured VMs, the display would look something like this with the status, CPU usage, memory and up time being displayed:

    image67

    Configure Hyper-V Default Locations in Hyper-V Settings

    This step could have been done during the role installation. If it was not done there, or you want to change the current settings, it is done through the Hyper-V Manager and the Hyper-V Settings action:

    The default settings are on the C: drive. I prefer to reserve that drive for the O.S. and a few other items. Instead, the V: drive is the one that is allocated in my plan for both VM machine configuration files as well as primary virtual hard drives (VHDs).

    Create folders in Windows Explorer and then configure each of the items:

    image68
    image69

    Configuration of Virtual Network Switches

    In order for a VM to communicate with a network, there must be a network switch available for it to use. These are all virtual and are configured in the Hyper-V Manager.

    Hyper-V defines three types of network:

    Network Description
    External The virtual switch is connected to a physical network card. The host server may or may not be configured to be able to access the network. If no host access is permitted, VMs that share this switch are isolated from other VMs and the host. This can be useful if those VMs are to be isolated from others from a network perspective. My configuration only has external networks defined.
    Internal The virtual switch implements a network that exists only within this host server. Any VMs connected to this switch can communicate with each other and the host server (assuming appropriate other network settings within those VMs).
    Private This is the same as an internal switch, except that the host server cannot access the network. Thus it is private to the VMs.

    External Network for LAN Access

    In order that a VM has access to a LAN, an external network needs to be defined.

    image70

    This defines a network that can communicate through the #2 1G Ethernet port. In this configuration that will be connected to a LAN. The fact that I have named it 192.168.1.xxx Network has no bearing on the actual addresses available on the LAN. It is just a switch and just like a real one. So, any VM connecting to that switch would be need to be configured as if the switch were real. So, for example, it might be configured like one of these:

    image71
    Dynamic DHCP
    image72
    Static DHCP

    More on this later.

    External Network for Internet Access

    Although the external network defined in the prior section (External Network for LAN access) could have access to the internet through that LAN, there would typically be a firewall in place for that.

    If you want a VM to be connected directly to the internet, for example, it hosts a web server, an email server or something that may or may not be behind a firewall, then you would typically reserve a separate physical NIC for that purpose. In this case, you do not want your host server to have access to that network (nor vice versa) and so you would configure your external network virtual switch so that it was not shared with the host server. The only difference between this one and the prior one is that one setting:

    image73

    An example of this would be where you define, within your webserver VM a static IP address which coincides with one provided by your internet provider. The physical network port would be wired to the provider’s modem, such as that provided by the Comcast Business Internet Service.

    Virtual Network Switch Properties

    Once a physical port has been defined for use with an external network provided by a virtual network switch, that NIC is no longer part of the network connections from this host. After the above two virtual switches were defined, the 1g devices no longer show up here:

    image74

    Compare that with the image when the network was made private (see Configure Network above) where all four are present.

    Note that these devices all still appear in both device manager and a list of network adapters, though the configuration of each is very different now. Regular on top and virtual network switch on the bottom:

    image75
    Regular
    image76
    Virtual network switch
    image77

    Virtual Machine Creation

    The primary exercise here is to migrate VMs from an existing Windows Server 2008 R2 system that is being decommissioned. Nevertheless, here are the steps necessary to create a new VM and the first step in installing an O.S. on it.

    A new VM can be created through the Hyper-V Manager. From the Actions panel, for this server, select New and then Virtual Machine:

    image78

    Press Next to dismiss the splash screen. Then enter a name (optionally specify a location for the VM’s configuration that differs from the default) and press Next:

    image79

    Pick a generation for the virtual hard drive. This choice is beyond the scope of this article. For more information see https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-docs/compute/hyper-v/plan/should-i-create-a-generation-1-or-2-virtual-machine-in-hyper-v.

    Here the selection is Generation 1:

    image80

    Pick the amount of memory for this VM. No need for dynamic memory on this server with 64GB of memory. Information on dynamic memory (possibly for low use VMs) is found here:
    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh831766(v=ws.11).aspx

    Press Next:

    image81

    Pick a virtual network switch to use. There is more information on virtual switches in an earlier section on virtual network switches:

    image82

    Pick a size for the virtual hard drive and a location (which are both left at their defaults here):

    image83

    An O.S. can be installed now or later. Later is picked here:

    image84

    The summary is next. Note that the number of processors for this VM has not been specified at this point. Select Finish to continue:

    image85

    The VM is now shown in the Hyper-V Manager display. The status is off:

    image86

    The final step before loading an O.S. would be to adjust other VM configuration settings like number of processors, additional network switches and additional drives. Select Settings under the VM’s panel:

    image87

    Modify processor count:

    image88

    Add a new hard drive to one of the controllers:

    image89

    The resulting dialog offers a choice of controller, unit, an existing or new file:

    image90

    Selecting new offers choices of type, size and format. You can find further information on this subject here:
    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc742509(v=ws.11).aspx.

    When the VM is fully configured, an O.S. can be installed. The simple way to do this is to mount an image file onto a virtual DVD drive and then power up (start) the VM. The O.S. installation will commence as the VM boots from the installed DVD image.

    The steps for this are described in the companion article for Windows Server 2016 found here.

    Migrate VMs from the Newest Existing Server

    If you are going to migrate existing VMs from one server to another, you need to have a target machine that essentially matches (or is very similar to) the source host for hardware resources. For an individual VM, this is easy for processors, memory and virtual hard drives. Where it can be problematic is in virtual network switches. Fortunately, since the Supermicro server has four NICs (in addition to the iKVM port), the chance of your needing additional NICs is probably remote. Thus the virtual switch configuration should be a non-issue.

    The typical process for moving a small number of VMs from one host to another is to export the VM from one machine, move the files created to the new machine and then import the VM.

    I say small number, since if you have a large number, then you are likely using Microsoft System Center to manage your VMs and so likely not interested in this article!

    It’s not so straight forward with Windows Server 2012 R2 if the source of the VMs is a Windows Server 2008 R2 or earlier version. Those would be if we were going to Windows Server 2012.

    Why is this?

    This snippet is found at https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn303411(v=ws.11).aspx which describes the features that have been removed from Windows Server 2012 R2:

    image91

    What does it mean? Well, it means that the format of the VM configuration file of Windows 2008 R2 is no longer supported. This means that you cannot just export a VM from Windows 2008 R2 and import it into Windows 2012 R2. This seems unbelievable that Microsoft would do that, but it is true. There is much written on the web about this particular issue. Anyway, it is what it is.

    Oh, and the reason that it is not a problem for Windows Server 2012 is that the feature is deprecated and still present. Thus the export and import strategy works fine.

    So what are the solutions?

    From https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn872560(v=ws.11).aspx, the suggestions are:

    Method Comments
    In-place upgrade Not available here since this is new hardware.
    Manual copy VHD and VM configuration files. Well, this is not really an option since you cannot import the Windows Server 2008 R2 configuration files. As the article there notes: “Exporting a virtual machine from Windows Server 2008 R2 and importing it on a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 is not supported.”
    Migrate to Windows Server 2012 and then migrate to Windows Server 2012 R2 Seriously, Microsoft?

    There is plenty of debate on the web about why Microsoft does not make this easy. It’s not an unusual situation. In fact, it was quite normal at the time that Windows Server 2012 R2 was released.

    So what to do?

    Since this is a home lab site, the focus is on enthusiasts who have home labs or are professionals with similar kinds of arrangements. Therefore, for those, the solution is relatively painless since the number of VMs to be migrated is small. In the author’s case it is about a dozen total spread over a pair of hosts.

    The solution is to create a new VM as per the prior section, except to do the following:

    1. Note the configuration of the source system, noting all VM settings.
    2. Copy the VM’s VHD(s) to the new platform.
    3. Create a new VM as per the prior section, using values appropriate for the source system’s VM configuration except:
      • Specify the existing VHD copied across that represents the C: drive and do not create a new one.
      • Add any additional VHDs to the configuration each specifying one of the other VHDs copied for that VM.
      • Add any additional network switches to the configuration for each of the source VM’s additional network. This obviously assumes that comparable network switches are configured for this host when compared with the source host.

    Once the VM is created per the above, it can then be started. It should start normally except that there are likely naming issues with the network switches and you will simply select the appropriate switch from those just configured for the VM for each one for which a warning dialog is shown.

    After that, the VM should be operational.

    This process works for VMs with multiple virtual disks and multiple virtual switches.

    Final Thoughts

    Using the procedures described in this article, the author has successfully moved the following VM guest operating system types from prior Windows Server 2008 R2 hosting to Windows 2012 R2 running on the new Supermicro server:

    • Windows Server 2012
    • Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2
    • Windows 10
    • Windows 8
    • Windows 7
    • Windows Small Business Server 2011
    • SuSE Linux

    Appendix A – Hardware Specifications

    See the Specifications tab here.

    image92
    image96

    Appendix B – Resources

    Windows Server Evaluations

    All Windows Server versions are available as a free download for evaluation purposes. The Hyper-V standalone version is available as an evaluation with unlimited duration. Full server versions typically carry a 180 expiration. At the end of that evaluation, it is generally not possible to upgrade to a paid version. [Jan 28 2017 clarification added below]


    From: Steve Shanks
    Sent: Monday, January 23, 2017 11:36 PM
    To: Paul Braren

    I thought that I should probably give you explicitly full rights to what I sent you. You have my permission to use and publish the contents in part or whole in any way you want, with or without attribution. There, that should be broad enough!

    Send me a ping when you have published it. I have a friend I want to show, someone I want to show how easy it is to do this and to get off of his myriad of physical servers.


    Jan 28 2017 Update

    In response to "At the end of that evaluation, it is generally not possible to upgrade to a paid version." above, special thanks to redditor jcotton42 for his response on /r/sysadmin:

    This is wrong, you can go to paid using dism: dism /Online /Get-TargetEditions to discover the editions you can upgrade to, then dism /Online /Set-Edition:<edition> /ProductKey:<key> /AcceptEula then reboot
    See more here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj574204(v=ws.11).aspx

    Somebody out there tested this lately on a Server 2016 evaluation? Please drop a response below, so others will know.


    Jan 28 2017 Update #2

    Steve Shanks:

    Yes, that was a mistake. Here is the 2016 information: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server-docs/get-started/supported-upgrade-paths which says in part "For releases of Windows Server 2016 prior to 14393.0.161119-1705.RS1_REFRESH, you can only perform conversion from evaluation to retail with Windows Server 2016 that has been installed by using the Desktop Experience option (not the Server Core option). Starting with version 14393.0.161119-1705.RS1_REFRESH and later releases, you can convert evaluation editions to retail regardless of the installation option used."


    See also at TinkerTry

    Xeon D Home Datacenter

    superservers

    Hyper-V

    Windows 10

    VMware vSphere


    See also