Yesterday I learned about a resource for configuring virtual BizTalk instances in conjunction with the use of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. This guide is available on MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc768518.aspx) or via a white paper download. This guide is very interesting because it pushes along the guidance on how to implement a scalable solution with BizTalk in which host instances are spread out on different servers for maximum performance.
The general MSDN guide for scaling out is at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa546759.aspx, and an article for scaling out receiving hosts is at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa577415.aspx. The benefit of the new Hyper-V guide is it shows much more of the details for different configurations of BizTalk host instances. The general scaling out guide basically makes the assumption that individual host instances will be physical machines. The Hyper-V guide represents the host instances as virtual machines with the guest OS of Windows Server 2003. It is important to note that this guide does not recommend or endorse BizTalk running in a host OS of Windows Server 2008, although this is technically possible. The guide does use Hyper-V included Windows Server 2008 for the host OS. It is important to remember that BizTalk licensing is based on the number of processors, any number of virtual instances may be installed with BizTalk on the same server. Here is a partial picture from the Hyper-V guide showing the relationship between the host with Hyper-V and guest BizTalk virtual machines:
Another one of the strengths of the Hyper-V guide is it shows a considerable level of detail about how scaling out the SQL Server instances should work, including having SQL Server instances virtualized as well. Interestingly, the SQL Server virtual machines ARE running on Windows Server 2008. Many file-level details such as filegroup organization and the separation of data files for SQL Server is discussed, which is very helpful for people who are planning on using Hyper-V with SQL. Another valuable detail is that specific examples of SAN implementation with RAID modes is also discussed. This extends the information previously available in the scaling out SQL Server for BizTalk installs article (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa578625.aspx).
One of the values of this guide is that it helps reduce the cost and risk of entry for a customer into a Windows Server 2008 environment. Although BizTalk Server 2006 R2 is not officially supported on Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V as discussed in this guide enables some of the major strengths of Windows Server 2008 to be applied indirectly to BizTalk Server 2006 R2 host instances such as utilization of a larger amount of RAM and host OS performance improvements that would not be possible with the previous version of Virtual Server 2005. For companies not willing to run BizTalk Server 2006 R2 due to the risk of not being officially supported, this solution provides a documented workaround.
Check out the guide and have fun virtualizing BizTalk with Hyper-V!