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Archive for August, 2010

How to move virtual guest servers from Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 to Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment
  • System Notes: Windows Server 2008 Standard x64, Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard x64

Now that Windows Server 2008 R2 has been out for a while, and I have gained some experience with it, I have found it to be much easier to work with than Windows Server 2008, although honestly the differences are not that great. It’s simply more refined and it really does seem as if Microsoft listened to their customers and worked all the kinks out.

I have one production Windows Server 2008 Standard x64 that we use simply as a Hyper-V host for four virtual server guests, all running Windows Server 2003 R2 (in both x86 and x64 editions). We now want to upgrade the 2008 server to R2. Concise information from Microsoft on doing this can be found at this link.

Test scenario:

  1. Build a Windows Server 2008 Standard x64 host server running the Hyper-V role, complete with Service Pack 2 and all patches available through August, 2010.
  2. Add Windows Server 2003 R2 virtual guest servers, both x86 and x64 editions. Add Service Pack 2 and all patches available through August, 2010 to both guest servers. Add various file shares for testing purposes after move to Hyper-V R2 host server.
  3. Use the Export feature of Hyper-V to export guest servers for later import to Hyper-V R2 host server (see link provided above).
  4. Build a Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard x64 host server running the Hyper-V R2 role, complete with all patches available through August, 2010.
  5. Import guest servers to the new host server using the Hyper-V R2 console. Make sure to use the “Duplicate all files” option (see Additional Notes below).
  6. Start and verify guest servers, including network and share access, and review the Event Log for any errors.

Additional Notes:
When importing servers to the R2 host, make sure you select the “Duplicate all files so the same virtual machine can be imported again” option, if you want your virtual guest files to go to the default set of folders on the R2 host (see this link). I figured this one out the hard way, before reading the details provided in the link. I also received a few errors during the Import process of the virtual guest servers. They related to a change in the network configuration and network switch name, and were easily correctable through the Settings interface for each of the servers. Don’t forget to update the Hyper-V Integration Services once the guest servers are imported to the new R2 host.

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Categories: Hyper-V, migration, R2

Moving from Barracuda Spam Filtering to Google Message Security (Postini)

August 5, 2010 Leave a comment
  • System Notes: Barracuda Spam & Virus Firewall 300

At the organization that I work for, we decided to move from an internally hosted Barracuda Spam & Virus Firewall 300 appliance to externally hosted Google Message Security (Postini) for spam filtering. This will have several benefits, the primary one being that we save the Internet bandwidth that was previously being used for inbound spam messages that just ended up getting dumped by the Barracuda in the first place. We also save on the power, rack space, and potential failure of the Barracuda device itself.

This decision was not made because of dissatisfaction with the Barracuda. It has worked very well over the past 5 years, and our only ongoing complaint is the incredibly slow response of both the user and administrative interfaces (as an aside, when I asked Barracuda Support about this, they suggested using Chrome or Safari due to the fact that the JavaScript engines are much faster in those browsers; I did so, and they were right; but this doesn’t help the fact that we are like most organizations and standardized on Internet Explorer internally).

So far, after a month of use, the Google Message Security system is working well. The users have adjusted with very little complaint, and I have received some appreciation that the Google interface is much faster than the Barracuda, and also that they can access their spam quarantines remotely.

Here are some of the differences I have found between the Barracuda and the Google Message Security (Postini) interface:

  1. GMS (Postini) blocks more spam than the Barracuda. My own account was averaging 3 spam messages a day with the Barracuda, I now average 1 spam every 3 days.
  2. GMS (Postini) shows much more offensive spam in the user quarantine than the Barracuda did. So far, no user complaints with this, but some of the spam messages subjects I have seen showing up in the quarantine are just about as sexually offensive as you can get. This was not the case with the Barracuda, it seems it did a better job of blocking sexual content outright.
  3. GMS (Postini) only saves quarantined messages for 14 days. The Barracuda was adjustable, and we had ours configured to store messages for 90 days.
  4. The GMS (Postini) Reports are not configurable for daily/weekly/monthly delivery. I put in a support request about this, still a no go. I will miss the daily quick summary reports of both total and spam message activity that the Barracuda provided. I hope this is a feature that GMS adds in the future.
  5. The only way to report a message as spam that landed in a user Inbox with GMS (Postini) is to forward the message in question as an attachment to spam@postini.com. There isn’t a nice one-click button you can add to the toolbar in Outlook as there was with the Barracuda. Also, the spam message must be sent as an attachment, and not just forwarded. I’ve already spent time training several users on how to do this.

Overall, the conversion to Google Message Security (Postini) went very well. This was our first test of putting a service “in the cloud,” but I don’t think it will be our last.