In order to support my SharePoint 2010 demo environment I have become quite a fan on Microsoft Hyper-V. I admit that I did not enjoy the learning curve and that there are a few “features” missing that would make it significantly easier to use as a portable demo environment, features that I have grown quite attached to in both Virtual PC and VMware. Now before you get all protective of Hyper-V I do understand that it is not intended for the use to which I am putting it. I mean, I suppose, drag and drop from host to guest could be considered a security hole in a production virtualization environment and “local shares” could present a performance issue…but is it that hard to add it to tools that I can choose to disable? Anyway, I got over all that by using remote desktop to connect to my guests rather than Hyper-V Manager. The remote connection makes up for almost all of the missing features.

Demo Configuration

When I set up my environment I wanted it to be as close to “reality” as I could get. I know it’s easier to run a single or dual machine configuration, but I love working on the real thing. I would rather struggle through a permissions problem in development and solve it early than have to “discover” the issue in testing. So this is my environment.

Purpose OS RAM (GB) Disk (GB)
Domain Controller WS2008R2 0.5 21.4
SQL Server 2008 WS2008R2 2.0 38.4
Exchange/OCS WS2008 Std 1.0 25
MOSS 2007 WS2008R2 2.0 27.4
SharePoint 2010 WS2008R2 3.0 50.8

 

Disk Space

Wow, look at how big my VHDs are! So, I admit, I did not care that my VHD files were getting big. I mean on my last laptop space was an issue with only 340GB. This new one has 1TB. I have been running the following configuration for a few months. I was pushing up to the SharePoint Conference and I had a LOT of stuff on my mind. Now that I am building my Beta 2 environment it was time to look at some disk optimization alternatives. I chose Perfect Disk. When there are so many players in this space I chose Perfect Disk because they have a comprehensive suite of options that cover every platform that I use. (Windows 7, Windows Server, Hyper-V and Windows Home Server). One brand to cover all of your options, I love it.

Installation, Preparation and Configuration

For stand alone machines it could not be easier. Choose the right version install it and follow the wizard. For Windows Home Server and Virtual Environments it take a little reading first, though here is the bottom line. For your HOST you install the Server Version (the Hyper-V guide says you can install the Hyper-V version but the guys at Perfect Disk said you can do it either way.) For your Hyper-V environments you download the Virtual Version and “Install” it on either the host or one of the guest machines. This actually builds an installation point for you to deploy the Hyper-V version to all of your guest machines. The cool part is that the Hyper-V versions check the HOST for when to begin to defrag, helping to decrease the impact of defragmentation on the performance of the entire system. Now, as I said, I am running a demo environment and I want to choose when to defrag, so I opted for “Manual” mode.

WHS Side Note

I did say they have a Windows Home Server version as well. Installation here is not as straight forward. I struggled to find the installation instructions on their site and made a few mistakes along the way. I would LOVE it if the installation “read me” popped up BEFORE any of the bits were deployed. In the case of WHS, you install it on a PC on your home network and then copy the Add-In to your home server’s Add Ins directory. Then it will be recognized by your server as available for installation. The license includes a client license for one additional PC (presumably the one you started the installation from).

The Enterprise Console

There is an option for organizations that want to centrally manage the defragmentation process. Perfect Disk has a product called Enterprise Console that the Perfect Disk clients can report to to monitoring and management. This can be deployed along with your Hyper-V clients for total control of all processes, a very cool option.

The Proof

I have very simple requirements, make my drives smaller and don’t impact performance. Perfect Disk really delivers. You have several options for defragmentation, I chose to use the “Defrag on reboot” option to get the best possible defragmentation. Following defragmentation, I shut down each server and use the Hyper-V management tool to Compress the disks. Here are the results, I recovered 58.4 GB of disk space.

Purpose Before (GB) After (GB) Delta
Domain Controller 21.4 11.6 9.8
SQL Server 2008 38.4 16.0 22.4
Exchange/OCS 25.0 23.0 2.0
MOSS 2007 27.4 19.0 8.4
SharePoint 2010 50.8 35.0 15.8

 

The Aftermath

After firing up all my machines and working them for a day of programming and demonstrations each had grown about 2-4 GB. The performance is great! I should mention that before I started them all back up I also defragged my host machine so that the VHD files would be optimized on the host. It has been about 4 days since I ran the defrag and the performance continues to be stellar. I am very happy with the ease of use and fitness for my purpose. If I were running a production environment I could see the advantage of better disk optimization on disk allocation and my investment in physical drive space. Great Job!