Build a complete Windows network infrastructure with One Server.
Many small and medium companies are wondering how to minimize costs but still cover their needs for running a decent infrastructure.
Here is one solution that we propose to our customers, or if you have the skills you can do it yourself.
A typical small or medium size company with a Microsoft based infrastructure will need an Active Directory server, an Exchange server for email services, a File or SharePoint server, and an Application server.
All these servers can be installed as virtual instances on a single physical server.
Based on Microsoft policy for licensing for Virtual Environments when you buy a license of Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, you are allowed to run up to four software instances at a time in virtual operating system environments on a server under a single server license.
Here is an overview of the main steps for this all in one network setup:
First decide on the physical server that you want to buy.
Depending on the budget you want to allocate, you could start from $1200 and can go easy over $5000. Entry level servers from Dell, HP, and IBM are a great option if you are on a small budget. Depending of your supplier, you can have an HP Proliant ML150 for about $1900, or IBM ThinkServer 11051 for about $1300.
Please keep in mind that hard disks prices for servers are higher than those for hard drives destined for SOHO market, and can increase your server price substantially.
Regardless of the server model you decide to buy, we recommend you to consider a number of 5 hard drives. Two HDD of maximum 250 GB size will be mirrored for the server OS. The other three hard drives will be configured in a RAID5 cluster, and could be from 500 GB to 2Tb, depending on how much you want to spend. The bigger they are the more available storage space for your virtual machines.
16 GB of memory is minimum recommended, for you will need a minimum of 2 GB RAM for each server, and 4 GB if you have an Exchange Server and 8 for SharePoint server.
Last step, after you chose which OS to use, is to proceed to its installation, which for both of them is pretty much straight forward, then plan and allocate resources for your virtual servers. Run your 4 instances of Windows Server 2008 at the price of one, and all the virtual servers on one physical server.
A step by step tutorial is beyond the purpose of this article, but we hope we gave you an idea on how you can save money using virtualization and existing free quality software. Use the same formula to expand your network and add more physical servers that will host even more virtual servers.
We used Microsoft Windows Server 2008 in this example, for it’s a common platform nowadays, but the same recipe applies to Linux/Unix servers as well.
If you have questions about this setup, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to answer them.
Use Windows 7 Upgrade version to do a clean-install
The secret is that the setup program in Windows 7 Upgrade version will accept an installed copy of XP, Vista, or an unactivated copy of Windows 7 itself as evidence of a previous installation.
This enables you to “clean install” an upgrade version of Windows 7 to any formatted or unformatted hard drive, which is usually the preferred method when installing any new operating system. You must, in essence, install Windows 7 twice to take advantage of this trick.
Run Microsoft’s free Upgrade Advisor, before you install Windows 7 on a machine that you are not sure is Windows 7 compatible
Here’s an overview of the steps that are required to clean-install the Upgrade version of Windows 7:
Step 1. Boot the PC from the Windows 7 DVD.
Step 2. Select “Install Now,” but do not enter the Product Key from the Windows 7 packaging. Leave the input box blank. Also, turn off the option Automatically activate Windows when I’m online. In the next dialog box that appears, confirm that you really do want to install Windows 7 without entering a Product Key.
Step 3. Correctly indicate the version of Windows 7 that you’re installing: Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate.
Step 4. Select the “Custom (Advanced)” install, not the “Upgrade” install.
Step 5. Windows 7 copies files at length and reboots itself one or more times. Wait for the install to complete. At this point, you might think that you could “activate” Windows 7, but you can’t. That’s because you haven’t installed the Windows 7 upgrade yet. To do that, run the DVD’s setup.exe program again, but this time from the Windows 7 desktop. The easiest way to start setup again is to eject and then reinsert the DVD.
Step 6. Click “Install Now.” Select Do not get the latest updates for installation. (You can check for these updates later.)
Step 7. This time, do enter the Product Key from the Windows 7 Upgrade packaging. Once again, turn off the option Automatically activate Windows when I’m online.
Step 8. On this second install, make sure to select “Upgrade,” not “Custom (Advanced).” You’re not doing a clean install now, you’re upgrading to Windows 7.
Step 9. Wait while Windows 7 copies files and reboots itself. No user interaction is required. Do not boot from the DVD when asked if you’d like to do so. Instead, wait a few seconds and the setup process will continue on its way. Some DOS-like, character-mode menus will appear, but don’t interact with them. After a few seconds, the correct choice will run for you automatically.
Step 10. At the Windows 7 login screen, enter the username and password that you selected during the first install.
Step 11. You must “activate” your copy of Windows 7 within 30 days, or it’ll lose functionality. To activate Windows 7, click Show more details in the Welcome Center that automatically displays upon each boot-up, then click Activate Windows now. If you purchased a legitimate copy of Windows 7, it should quickly activate over the Internet. (If that is a problem you could activate by calling Microsoft on the phone)
Last but not least. Do you need to have a valid product key of Windows XP or Windows Vista? Yes you do.
Henceforth, please make sure you qualify for an upgrade license before buying one. If you don’t qualify for an upgrade license, even though this workarounds might technically succeed, your license is not valid.