I've read a few similar questions but wasn't clear. I have a small office (13) users and recently purchased a new single server (this is all I have to work with for now).

Server specs

  • Memory - 16G
  • Drives - 6 SCSI (2TB)
  • Processor - Dual Quad Core

I plan on making the Hyper-V host the DC and then 2 VMs, one for a file server and the other an application server.

Question - since I am restricted to this single server, would it be a big issue making the Hyper-V host the domain controller?

Your input greatly appreciated.


While the scenario you describe would work, the "best practice" approach is to not run any roles on the Hyper-V host other than Hyper-V; all services should run on virtual machines running on the Hyper-V host.

The hardware you describe should be more than capable of running three Hyper-V hosts; especially since a dedicated DC for 13 users would require minimal disk and memory resources.

The best option would be to obtain a single Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise license; this would entitle you to install the Hyper-V role on the hardware as well as up to four additional virtual instances of Windows Server 2008 R2 running on your Hyper-V host with no additional licensing cost.

If, however, you plan to use existing licenses for your application and file servers, another option would be to install Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 on the hardware to host your virtual servers. Hyper-V Server is free to download and use; however, no licensing is included, so any virtual machines you create must be individually licensed. Hyper-V Server is based upon Server Core, so the footprint and exposed surface area are very small. The UI provided with Hyper-V Server will assist in configuration of the machine for remote management; in this scenario, you will create and manage virtual machines on Hyper-V Server using the Hyper-V Manager MMC from your workstation. (Microsoft provides good information on this topic in the Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Getting Started Guide)

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    Agreed, although the standalone Hyper-V hypervisor is totally free, and comes with all of the features you would require for the number of VMs being talked about here. – Mark Henderson May 18 '10 at 22:46
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    Good point, Farseeker... while Enterprise licensing would offer both expandability and flexibility, those features may not be valued--particularly if Saif has already obtained two Windows 2008 Standard licenses! A good approach would be to deploy Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 on the hardware and install two Windows 2008 Standard virtual machines; the Active Directory role could then be added to the file server virtual machine. – jnaab May 18 '10 at 22:55
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    @Holocryptic, Hyper-V Server doesn't have a core type install, it's already more stripped down than core. MS chose poor names for the OS and the Service. – Chris S May 19 '10 at 0:48
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    You can install Server 2008 R2 in either a "full install" with Hyper-V (convenient if you plan to manage things from the host partition) or a "core install" with the Hyper-V role; doing so provides you with additional functionality and licensing rights depending on whether you use Standard, Enterprise, or Datacenter editions. The discussion above focuses on "Hyper-V Server 2008 R2" which is a separate free-to-download-and-use product that has a (rather robust) subset of the functionality and limited licensing rights. It is not a "core install" but is "core-like" in that it has a minimal UI. – jnaab May 19 '10 at 18:54
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    Ah, so you will manage Hyper-V from the host partition; that will work fine (and is how I built my first few Hyper-V hosts)... What "Edition" (Standard, Enterprise, etc.) is your 2008 R2 install with Hyper-V? – jnaab May 20 '10 at 13:23

If I understand correctly you are talkling about hyper-v Server 2008 (not Windows Server 2008 with hyper-v role enabled). If so I think you will have no domain until you have the DC running within one of the VMs.

To administer the hypervisor (using Hyper-V manager MMC from your workstation) you will need to set up a workgroup to manage the VM's until they are running. It can be done (that's how I manage my hyper-v server at home) but you will probably need to use the HVRemote power shell scripts to get it setup.

Hope that makes sense.

  • +1 For mentioning the annoying issues with actually getting connected management to a Hyper-V Server that's not yet in a domain... kinda catch 22 thingie when you "need" a domain to easily managed Hyper-V Server but you need to manage it to set up a virtual DC and domain ^^ – Oskar Duveborn May 19 '10 at 12:52
  • I am talking about Windows Server 2008 with hyper-v role enabled. I want to make that server a primary DC, then just add 2 additional VMs. – Saif Khan May 20 '10 at 1:36

Works, but I would NOT Move the file server to a vm - what for?

I have a similar setup(just 2 computers) here, and I use the DC also as file server. As all file acces is via DFS anyway (so the server name is never part of file access) this has no negatives, and I save having a VM just to provide a function that is core to the OS anyway.

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