SharePoint 2010 Development Environment Rig

So I finally bit the bullet 3 weeks ago and decided that my Fujitsu T5010 Tablet with Windows 7 Ultimate 8Gb RAM (1033Mhz DDR3), G.Skill Vortex 128SSD and secondary 320Gb 7200rpm HDD was just simply not cutting it running VM’s in VMWare Workstation 7.

So I invested in a new Lenovo W510 with 12Gb RAM (stole the 8Gb out of tablet and put base 4Gb back in that) and put my SSD in this and used the Ultra Bay III adapter to put my 320Gb 7200rpm HDD in it also. I wasn’t patient enough for the HD+ screens as there is about a 3 month wait, but the screen I have is great and the docking station supports dual DVI out for my planned dual 24" LCDs.

The Task Manager brought a smile to my face with all those CPU’s running and 12Gb RAM (will eventually replace the 2x2Gb with 2x4Gb bringing me to 16Gb max for machine).

With the new rig built I decided not to simply copy over my VM’s but to rebuild them from scratch and just copy over the source files I’m working on and the content databases. In doing so I decided to try out splitting my SP2010 environment over multiple VM’s, for a few reasons:

  • give me some experience with building a multi-server farm, allows me to try things that are closer to customer environments
  • see how SP2010 reacts not using a domain admin user for everything on a single farm J
  • re-use the AD VM and SQL VM for both SharePoint Server 2010 VM instance, a TFS2010 VM instance and a SP2007 Enterprise VM instance (eventually will build a SharePoint Foundation 2010 and WSS 3.0 VM’s also

So far I have found that this performs a lot faster than my original single server VM and I’ve been very impressed with it. I’m continue to reduce the RAM that the AD VM is using and took Bob Fox’s advice and used Windows Server 2008 R2 Core for this to keep it nice and slick! It is tempting to try SQL 2008 on Core too, but this is unsupported and not many are talking about this just yet ;-)

The disadvantages of this approach obviously are:

  • snap shotting SP2010 environment doesn’t snapshot AD and SQL making it harder to roll-back etc.
  • when booting up VM’s time it takes to boot them up in order: AD, SQL, SP2010
  • extra disk space required (OS duplicates) it’s about 70Gb for AD, SQL, SP2010 which I actually have running on my SSD along with host OS

I really like VMWare Workstation 7 approach over Boot-VHD because:

  • missed having Windows 7 as base OS for normal non SharePoint stuff (e-mail, blogging, surfing, tablet functionality etc.)
  • would only allow single server or possibly booting into HyperV and running hyper-v’s from that (did try this and was super fast)
  • also found a few times that when my VM I was booting to in Boot-VHD mode that when it crashed it screwed the pooch on my base host OS so I had to rebuild…wasn’t happy!

I’m loving this approach and will continue to blog any more findings on it.

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