I have a small business client that's being spun off to run independently from a larger organization. They want to start from scratch and will be on their own premises. I'll be setting up a new 2012 Domain Controller/File Server and a second 2012 server to host an industry application. The plan is to install Hyper-V core on the bare metal, and then the new DC, creating a new domain, and finally the second app server.

The problem is configuring the Hyper-V core on bare metal. I can't join it to the domain as the domain doesn't exist until I install the new DC. Am I better off installing 2012 standard w/ both Hyper-V and DC roles and then just running the second server as a VM or is there a preferred way to handle this chicken/egg situation?


The preferred way to handle this situation is not to create a dependency like the one you're describing. So, either have your entire domain (including the DC) virtualized as Hyper-V guests, or to build a DC on a separate, bare metal server. Additionally, you always want to have more than one DC, so your proposed setup is a bad idea for that reason as well.

I prefer to keep at least one DC on bare metal, and given how lightweight a DC is, I tend to use an older and/or cheaper server for that role, so I would buy a second server on the cheap, use it to create my domain, then use the server you have as a Hyper-V host, and create a virtualized DC and a virtualized app server.

  • Hmm, so is it feasible, to 1) install the Hyper-V in workgroup mode. 2) Install the DC as a VM. 3) Join the Hyper-V to the new VM DC, and then 4) Set up a second physical box as a secondary DC? I'd set up the stand-alone DC first, but I'll probably need a couple of weeks to get the hardware and procure funds for the 3rd Windows Standard license needed. – Monofurioso Feb 13 '13 at 15:51
  • @Monofurioso Yes, that's doable. – HopelessN00b Feb 13 '13 at 15:57
  • @Monofurioso For a small business customer, I question whether it is a good idea to use the free Hyper-V Server as that is a bit more difficult for them to deal with. You can always install Windows Server 2012, configure all the base infrastructure settings (computer name, IP address, etc.) and then uninstall the Server Graphical Shell if you want to minimize the attack surface. This will then allow you to locally manage the server using graphical tools such as Hyper-V Manager and even join the domain. As long as you only enable Hyper-V on the host, you still have the license to run 2 VMs. – Harold Wong Feb 13 '13 at 23:42
  • That's interesting that I can use Std, but install only Hyper-V role, then remove the Graphical shell. I'm not concerned about the client management. It's my responsibility as they're a spin-off business from my Main gig, and I'll need to admin. However, the standalone HV server is an absolute bear to administrate in workgroup mode if you're planning to create the DC as a new VM. If it won't use a license to run Std as HV only, I may consider that route. – Monofurioso Feb 15 '13 at 4:02
  • Yup, so long as the installation is only running Hyper-V, you are legally allowed to run two Virtual Machines of Windows Server without any additional licensing. – Harold Wong Feb 18 '13 at 21:03

Using Hyper-V Server or Server Standard with Hyper-V has trade-offs. I would use the Hyper-V Server, setup the DC VM, then join the Hypervisor. Ideally you want to keep the DC server as free from other roles as possible. This makes for the most reliable installion, and the least chance of something getting off into the weeds.

Note: Hyper-V Server will start without the domain. A Hyper-V Cluster will not however.

  • Thanks to both Chris S and HopelessN00b. It seems pretty clear it's wise to keep a 2nd physical DC, and this is true regardless of the Hyper-V scenario. Too bad it's going to cost a second Server license (Standard gives you Hyper-V and 2 VM licenses) to set this up properly. – Monofurioso Feb 13 '13 at 16:01
  • Yep... Which is unforately why it's pretty common to go with SBE and just pile everything on one server. Also, since most small businesses are much more sensitive to CapEx than OpEx the licensing tends to work out well for the consultant. – Chris S Feb 13 '13 at 16:07

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