Review: The Rational Guide to Managing Microsoft Virtual Server 2005

The Rational Guide to Managing Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 is an ideal book for who has to start fast.
It permits the reader to explore the large majority of product’s features but it’s not overwhelming.

Chapters 1 and 2 cover basic concepts of server virtualization and product itself, listing benefits of the technology and scenarios where it’s useful.
These chapters also mention competiting products like VMware solutions and Xen, but also alternative approaches like application virtualization.
The biggest bonus of Chapter 2 is a comparison between Virtual PC and Virtual Server, something newcomers always ask, and a clarification on virtual machines compatibility between the 2 products.

Chapter 3 briefly covers planification phase, detailing minimal requirements for host OS and suggesting how to size it depending on virtual machines you plan to run.
It also mention hot topics like licensing and products support inside virtual machines.

Chapter 4 details product installation and configuration steps, clarifying some process issues reader could encounter with several real-world tips.

Chapter from 5 to 8 are dedicated to virtual machines management, with a particular focus on virtual hardware.
Virtual storage (Chapter 7) and virtual networking (Chapter 8) architectures are extensively covered, with comparison between concurrent options.

Chapter 9 is all about security and help readers to understand and correctly configure several aspect of the product, from access to virtual machines to access to web management interface.
File systems permissions, running services for Virtual Server components, web server permissions are covered in an understandable way.

The last chapter, 10, is dedicated to advanced concepts and includes critical tasks like performance monitoring and resource allocations for virtual machines. Both critical in the fine tuning phase.

Three more chapters are available only online for registered readers and are highly recommended to further improve fine tuning capabilities when using Virtual Server in serious implementations:

  • Bonus Chapter A: Optimizing disk performances
  • Bonus Chapter B: Optimizing network performances
  • Bonus Chapter C: Virtualization best practices

At the moment of writing this one is the only book entirely focused on Virtual Server 2005, covering the R2 version and being assured in quality by Mike Sterling, Product Manager for Windows Virtualization at Microsoft.

If you are looking for a starting point to become operative in no time and without efforts for a small project or personal use this book is a good choice.
And since it provides a wide coverage of topics you’ll always have starting points to futher deepen your knowledge.

If instead you are looking for the definitive guide to virtualization and Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, planning a hardcore use in your company, then you should look somewhere else.