STP Asia: Michael Noel’s ‘Best Practices for SharePoint 2010 Virtualization’

With six sessions being presented during the Sharing the Point tour, we've arranged them into two tracks consisting of a business track and a technical track.  In Beijing, I sat in on two of the technical tracks, Michael Noel's session on Best Practices for SharePoint 2010 Virtualization and Paul Swider's session on Developing Social Applications with SharePoint.

(I'm writing from the event in Manila where I've just seen Dux Raymond Sy and Mark Miller's business presentations, and I'll be completing the circuit in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday by doing one session from each track, wrapping up with Rob and Joel's sessions prior to the Vietnam-only "Ask the Experts" Q&A session.)

Michael Noel

Michael's was the first presentation of the day in the technical track, and in the course of his session, he distilled a wealth of valuable information on SharePoint virtualization.  Michael created a new SharePoint farm during his presentation by way of demonstration, and key takeaways, quotes, and best practices shared in his session included:

  • "SharePoint 2010 is very scalable."  For large virtual farms, you should "Break up SharePoint databases between the farm to scale out your data tier to take advantage of virtualization."
  • Speaking on the topic of NUMA, Michael said, "If you allocate more memory than exists, you can have performance go down."  "Memory-swapping is a performance-killer … when you're architecting your virtual environment make sure you keep your NUMA memory boundaries relatively large… I like to have them at least 8G of RAM."
  • Regarding performance monitoring:  "Pay close attention to your network latency and network bandwidth because these are good indicators of performance" and will alert you to potential problems.

  • Speaking to Microsoft's stance on SharePoint virtualization, Michael said that It's been "supported since 2007" provided that the following requirements are met:  the processor chip set in use must support virtualization;  it's DEP enabled; and virtualization software is Hypervisor-based (which is to say that they "use the resources of the host directly").  Michael cautioned that not all third-parties are supported, and that they must be Hypervisor-based.
  • Windows Server 2008 is Microsoft's Hypervisor (also called VMM).  Hyper-V R2 for SharePoint 2010 is the latest version and is what Michael installed for his farm provisioning demo.  Michael showed the configuration and jobs, as he had created the template in advance.  Connecting to the virtual machine and logging in, he showed a PowerShell script which allows him to auto-add the machine into a SharePoint farm, as well as a script to create all the service apps and ran the scripts to create the new farm.  Connecting to a SQL Server session, the script auto-created the config and central admin content databases, helpfully pre-pending the farm name courtesy of the PowerShell script.  The PowerShell scripts Michael used are available for download on Toni Frankola's blog.
  • Showing that the farm itself had been created, Michael said it "Takes about 30-40 seconds to warm up the app pool."  Opening Central Admin in the brand new environment, Michael concluded his demo by pointing out that the new farm had been "created in about 15 minutes running virtualization software," and pointed out that it was running on his home machine back in San Francisco at that.
  • 180-day free evaluations are available "at least in the states."

In conclusion, and despite the evident power and flexibility that virtualization provides, Michael cautioned that "You need to have specific reasons to virtualize."

Note:  All Sharing the Point slide decks will soon be made available for download here on the site.


Read our complete coverage of the Sharing the Point Tour:

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