We all have one of those old servers sitting quietly humming away in the rack. That everyone knows needs to be replaced but no one wants to touch because it does that really important business function X or stores all the data for app Y that just can’t go down. Then one day something happens to that server and *poof* that server is no more or you get a scare when the RAID card or some other part decides to give up the go.
Recently I found myself in the first scenario where the good all SBS server that’s been quietly humming away decided to have a system board failure on a Sunday morning. Thankfully the tech hoarder that I am I had another server of the same model sitting at home propping up the ol’ nerf gun. What I did know but didn’t want to think about was that this old server I had spare was also just as old as the one that failed. After transferring the drives etc over to the new old server everything looked great and was running without error. However Monday morning at 4am it decided to drop the RAID card and give up. Thankfully I also had a spare one of these (I know so much *stuff*). Thankfully this managed to get the server back to life before the business day started.
At that point I decided I really like my weekends and weekday sleep-ins. After some investigation I had decided that the best thing to do in the short term is to virtualise the server onto some newer more stable hardware. That evening I ran the VMware Standalone converter on the server and just a couple of hours later the server was so I thought happily running away in VMware. The next morning however I awoke to find a number of server failure alerts and a SBS VM that does not want to do anything but sit at the ‘Applying Computer Settings’ screen.
Needless to say the Tuesday at work was not a chill day in the slightest when trying to fire up the physical server it decided that it had done its duty and was not working anymore. Which with the help of some other IT support got us to the conclusion that the VM is the only way forwards. After a number of coffee’s and a fair bit off cussing we found that the reason for the VM freezing and failing to run any services such as exchange was that the old hardware which obviously was no longer connected was still hiding away in the device manager. After removing all the hidden raid cards and chipset devices the VM decided that it is going to work perfectly.
So if you were like me and have a physical server that you have virtualised to VMware and it wont behave take a moment to check out the hidden devices in the device manager. It might just save you a few grey hairs.