Adventures with Virtualization

Those of us needing to run BI software in virtual environments are well familiar with the challenges of getting things running smoothly, especially if you are using a laptop as your lab or demo environment. We have a new set of challenges with Windows 7, and with SharePoint 2010.

Challenge #1 – SharePoint 2010 requires 64 bit OS, and the only MS virtualization software that allows for 64-bit is Hyper-V.
Only problem with running Hyper-V is that you cannot sleep a machine with Hyper-V, so if you’re using you laptop as a lab machine, you need to retain an OS that will run productivity apps and sleep. I set up my old laptop using the technique described here and it works well. I haven’t repeated the process for my new laptop yet, but I plan to.

Challenge #2 – Windows 7 Virtual PC requires Hardware Assisted Virtualization
Apparently this is no longer true, but I’ve wrestled with this one for months, in fact in early March I returned a machine that didn’t support hardware assisted virtualization because I needed to run Windows 7 VPC. . MS just released a version of Virtual PC that does not require hardware assisted virtualization

Other tips that have worked well for me:
  • Use a fast disk – I was using a 7200 RPM eSATA external drive – faster than the 5400 disk commonly found on laptops. Now I am using an SSD drive- even better.
  • Store the VHD in a compressed folder. This one struck me as counter-intuitive but anecdotally seems to work.

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