26 Feb.

Project TWIAD Part 2

After a false start due to some hardware issues, I’m pleased to report that Project TWIAD is live.

The current setup of the server is as folllowing, with an explanation behind these decisions:

HP Microserver N36L – I had one
8GB RAM – RAM is cheap
250GB Boot Drive – Included drive
6TB Windows RAID 5 Array (4x2TB drives) – I had 5 of the same type of drive, so I have a spare. It’s been years since I’ve used software RAID, and I didn’t want to stay at RAID 0 or 1 as supported in hardware
BIOS patch to enable full speed on the 5th and 6th SATA ports – probably not what you want to do a in a production environment, but this is a playpen.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise – I had the licence, and it supports 4 VM instances so I have some room to grow
Hyper-V role installed

Much of the above can be changed to suit your preferences, and you can argue about some of the decisions made above, but for now, that is the environment this series of posts will be based upon.

While building the host instance of Windows Server 2008 R2, I chose to disable Windows Updates so that I could test this OS install against Threat Management Gateway (TMG) once installed. The additional Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual instance install went smoothly as expected, and my first experience with TMG was pleasant. It’s been many years since I had done anything with the ISA family of servers (I did my Proxy 1.0, Proxy 2.0 and ISA 2000 MCP certs if that helps date my experiences…).

As soon as I had this VM up and running I downloaded the Internet Explorer Administration Kit to build a proxy setting package for Internet Explorer. Yes, I know that doing this manually would have been easy, but as I scale out the test environment this small piece of automation will save some time.

There where things didn’t go quite as they planned, but it wasn’t a disaster. Building out a 4 x 2TB  drive array takes several days, and I was building VMs on this array while it was building, which had a big impact on performance during this period. I also encountered issues with the first drives I tried to use in the array not being the appropriate sector format for Hyper-V, which meant I had to shuffle quite a bit of data, and then the correseponding drives between servers. This took time, way too much time.

Before installing the Windows Intune specific BITS caching rules, I updated the TMG VM via Windows Update, accepting all of the updates on offer. As you could imagine, this took quite a while, mainly due to the degraded disk performance while the RAID array was being built out. The mapping of bytes in and bytes out on the assigned NIC to the TMG VM was close to a 1:1 mapping, as would be expected. It got much more interesting though as most of the same updates were applied to the host instance of Windows Server 2008 R2. Very little internet traffic, and NIC traffic higher than my internet connection can supply.

Technically I have a 100Mb/s download speed at home, but it’s rare for any single download to come close to saturating it, but with TMG in place I was getting bursts greater than what a 100Mb/s could provide, which meant my Gb/s infrastructure was what was delivering. The speed of download impact wasn’t the goal here, however, just watching the cache efficiency, via the NIC properties and via the TMG cache perfmon counters. So far, so good.

The next piece was running the sample TMG/ISA script provided by Paul Bourgeau at the Windows Intune team blog, which adds support for BITS caching of the Windows Intune traffic, which will get tested and reported upon shortly. As I finish this up a Windows Intune powered Windows 7 64 bit non-SP1 client VM is being built from scratch. I’ve deliberately avoided any process that will help automate this or reduce the download requirements, such as installing from SP1 media or applying SP1 prior to hitting Windows Update, so that we are seeing the worst possible way of doing things. The first round of Windows Updates on offer to this VM is 296.2MB, and it’s currently sitting at 45% complete.

Once all the updates are complete, I’ll be back, with some images to help liven things up and show the real impact of what’s happening.

Total Comments: 1

Comments

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