Virtualization and Windows Small Business Server 2008

Updated: March 10, 2009

Applies To: Windows SBS 2008

What is Virtualization?

Today’s small businesses face increasing pressure to deliver more value to customers while at the same time managing a lean technology budget. Accordingly, it is becoming increasingly imperative to optimize physical network assets in order to manage the increasing levels of computing power and data capacity that small businesses require as they grow.

One way that you can optimize your computers that are running Windows SBS 2008 is by using the Hyper-V virtualization technology. Hyper-V technology enables you to run multiple operating systems concurrently as “virtual machines” on a single physical server. When configured properly, virtualization offers you the following benefits:

  • Server Consolidation.   You can use Hyper-V to consolidate multiple servers onto a single system, while keeping them isolated from each other. This way, you can make more efficient use of fewer hardware resources, and you can lower your management costs, effectively lowering your total cost of ownership (TCO).

  • Lower Power Costs.   With virtualization, you can also lower your power and cooling costs.

  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery.   You can use Windows SBS 2008 to regularly backup your servers to external storage drives. You can use these backups to fully restore the primary server. Hyper-V virtualized servers offer a degree of hardware independence and include additional options that can help speed server recovery in the event of an outage. Some of these options require either server clustering or additional monitoring software, however you may be able to make use of the hardware independence aspect of virtualization to decrease server downtime.


You can also use Windows SBS 2008 to fully restore the primary server to similar hardware.

  • Broad Operating System Support.   You can use Hyper-V to simultaneously run a variety of guest operating systems, including 32-bit and 64-bit systems across different server platforms, such as Windows, Linux, and others.

Terms and Definitions

Before continuing, it is helpful to understand the following terms:

  • Child partition
    Any partition that is created by the parent partition. Child partitions cannot create new partitions, nor do they have direct access to memory or devices.
  • Guest operating system
    The operating system that is running on a virtual machine. The guest operating system can be a full-featured operating system, or it can be a small, special-purpose kernel.
  • Hypervisor
    A layer of software that sits just above the hardware and below one or more operating systems. The hypervisor controls and arbitrates access to the underlying hardware. It is responsible for creating, managing, and deleting partitions.
  • Hyper-V technology
    A core component of Windows Server 2008, which makes it possible to consolidate multiple virtual operating systems onto a single physical computer.
  • Parent partition
    A partition that is created first, that runs Windows Server 2008, and that owns all of the resources that the hypervisor does not own, including most devices and system memory. The parent partition creates and manages the child partitions on which you create virtual machines and install guest operating systems. When the Hyper-V role is configured and the server is restarted, the installation of Windows Server 2008 that was the native operating system on the system becomes the operating system in the parent partition of the Hyper-V server
  • Partition
    In this document, a distinct portion of a storage device that functions as though it is a physically separate unit.
  • Primary server
    The first and main server in a Windows SBS 2008 domain. Installation media for the primary server is included with both Windows SBS 2008 Standard and Windows SBS 2008 Premium.
  • Second server
    The second server in a Windows SBS 2008 domain, which runs the Windows Server 2008 Standard operating system. Installation media for the second server is included with Windows SBS 2008 Premium.
  • Virtualization
    A general term that is used to describe the abstraction of computer resources. In this document, it refers to the process of configuring a second server in a Windows SBS 2008 domain to host one or more virtual machines.
  • Virtual machine
    A virtual computer that is located on a child partition, that is created by software emulation, and that has the same characteristics as a physical computer.

Virtualizing Windows Small Business Server 2008

By using Windows SBS 2008 Premium and the Hyper-V technology, you can create a virtual networking environment. When you create a virtual environment for your Windows SBS 2008 network, the overall configuration of the network is unchanged from a physical deployment. Because of this, running Windows SBS 2008 in a virtual machine is very similar to running it in a physical deployment.

This section describes the versions of Windows SBS 2008 that are available, and it provides an overview of the usual scenarios for server usage.

Windows SBS 2008 is available in Standard and Premium editions. The Standard edition runs on a single instance of Windows Server 2008. The Premium edition requires two instances of Windows Server 2008. The two server instances are defined as follows:

Primary Server:   The first server. This server includes Windows Server 2008, the component technologies that make up the foundation of Windows SBS 2008, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

Second Server:   This server runs Windows Server 2008 Standard, and, optionally, the Microsoft SQL Server® 2008 Standard Edition for Small Business database software for line of business applications.

Virtualizing Your Line of Business Application Platforms in Windows Small Business Server 2008 Premium

Windows SBS 2008 Premium includes SQL Server 2008 Standard Edition for Small Business, which enables you to run your line of business (LOB) applications on a second server. There are many reasons to run your LOB applications on a second server, including the following:

  • Architectural isolation from core network services, such as Microsoft Active Directory® Domain Services.

  • Isolation from other server software, such as Exchange Server.

You can also use the second server as a Hyper-V server to host virtual guest operating systems. This enables you to use the second server to host legacy operating systems in your Windows SBS 2008 network. For more information about this method of virtualization, see “Scenario 1: Installing the Second Server on a Hyper-V Virtual Machine” later in this document.

Virtualizing Your Servers Running Windows Small Business Server 2008 Premium

Windows SBS 2008 works in a virtual installation similar to the way it works in a physical installation. Because of this, you can configure a physical instance of the second server as a Hyper-V “parent” partition after server installation, and then you can install both the primary server and the second server on Hyper-V “child” partitions. For more information about this method of virtualization, see “Scenario 2: Installing the Primary and Second Servers in Hyper-V Virtual Machines on a Single Physical Computer” later in this document.


If you install the primary server in a virtual machine on the second server, it is recommended that you do not make the Hyper-V parent partition a member of the Windows SBS 2008 domain. However, virtual systems that are installed on child partitions can be members of the Windows SBS 2008 domain.

Because of the differences between virtual and physical environments, some software features behave differently, depending on the type of environment in which they run. As a result, it may be necessary to configure alternative solutions in your virtual environment. For more information, see “Technical Considerations for Using Hyper-V in a Windows Small Business Server 2008 Environment” later in this document.