Virtualization provides real benefits for dev/test/production, reducing physical server count, cost, provided isolated environments, problem duplication etc... Today we have Virtual PC, Virtual Server providing software virtualiztion and soon we'll have Windows Server 2008 Hyper-v virtualiztion which provides type 1 hardware virtualization - see https://www.microsoft.com/virtualization/solutions.mspx for our overall virtualization strategy. You can get the latest release candidate of Hype-v from http://connect.microsoft.com.
The general recommendation for running Hyper-v Windows Server 2008 based Virtualization solutions is to run it on the Windows Server Core, two great reasons, first less software surface area to be attacked and secondly it reduces the likelihood of having to patch the host system, important as you don't want to be restarting a host system that is potentially supporting a number of important production guest systems...
Configuring Windows Server Core
So being the curious lad I am I decided to fire up Windows Server 2008 Standard Core and see what was involved in configuring a core system. First observation is that it installs unbelievably quickly, got it started up, got logged in as administrator and then was confronted with a command prompt, ummm, ok what now, somewhat scary for a guy whose used to discovering how a system work via a GUI !!
With a bit of digging around I found the following useful resources to get me started with configuring the system
Ok the above was fine but a little tedious so with a bit more digging around I stumbled across CoreConfigurator, ah now we're talking, a simple VB app (no .NET Fx on Server Core) app with a UI that allows you to set up the firewall to allow remote GUI management to connect, network config, install features, join a domain etc. I first installed CoreConfigurator a handy client system and copied the files from it's install directory on to Server Core and was off, so if you are not a command line kinda person then definitely worth checking Core Configurator, thanks Guy!!
Power Management Configuration
Given the system I set up is not going to be heavily used then wanted to make sure the power config was set up as I like, mostly that the disks power down within a reasonable time, to do this you need to use the Powercfg command line - see Powercfg Command-Line Options, found it easy to put these commands in to a batch file. From the Server Core command prompt you can fire up notepad to amend as required!!
Ok, so now I had Server Core ready, willing and waiting I wanted to configure new virtual machines using the Hyper-V, I installed the Hyper-V Management MMC Snapin on to a Vista SP1 client that was in the same domain as Core Server connected as admin and was away setting up Hyper-V...
That said, it's quite possible that you wont have your management client and Core Server in the same domain so there are a great set of how to articles on connecting the Hyper-V management client in various scenarios, check out the "How to Articles" on remote managing Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 Core from John Howard's blog here.
Don't forget to enlighten your guest Operating Systems, there are Integration Services for XP SP3, Vista 32 Bit, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 32 & 64 bit and SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 SP1. The Integration Services adds in the VMBus and the VSC (Virtualization Service Client) for Disk, Network, Display IO and significantly ups IO performance.
Virtualization Team Blog
Definitely worth keeping an eye on the Virtualization Team Blog at http://blogs.technet.com/virtualization/ for a stack of tips, tricks and announcements!!