Being an on the road consultant, I have to be portable. I have a server at home that is nothing more than a desktop machine with a Core I7, 16 GB of ram and a 3TB 7400 RPM disk. I use GoToMyPC to remote into the machine which allows me to do some testing and development with some rather resource hungry VMs …or at least performant enough for what I use them for. Being able to remote into my home machine is good, but I also I need to have development access when I can’t get through the Internet while on the road and at least need to be able to work on VMs while remote. Even in this day and age, some hotels have extremely bad connectivity. Who Knew!!!??
When I am on the road, I have a choice of either a Lenovo 430S with a 4 core I7, 16 GB of ram, 2 5400 RPM disks, but no touch screen, heavy, only a 2 hour battery life, or a really nice Windows 8.1 Samsung Series 5 Ultra ultra book with a touch screen, but a Core I5, 8GB of ram, 5 hours of battery life and a 128GB main drive. I use Hyper-V on Windows 8.1 as my travel machine. I like to travel light and normally use the Samsung as my daily driver. The choice was, be productive, or use my really nice, light, Samsung. I use Hyper-V in Windows 8.1 for my development images as I do not have to dual boot with a server OS any more, aka Windows 7.
I had one of those “Ah-Ha” moments this weekend. I was building a single VM SharePoint development image; SQL 2012, SharePoint 2013, Office 2013 , SP Designer, Visual Studio 2012 using my Active Directory VM while using a USB 3.0 5400 rpm drive to house it all. Performance was yet again worse than horrible while building. This is fine for most script testing etc, but I want to use this as a development image. In examining Resource / Task Manager, this process was totally IO bound. CPU and ram were hardly being utilized. Being a Core I5 and 8GB ram, I thought this surprising that the bottleneck was all the IO.
Having a Tiger Direct a 10 minute drive away is a dangerous thing. I purchased a 128GB SSD and a USB3 case. I moved my AD and development image to the new SSD USB drive and the performance was spectacular. I can now use my Samsung and have an emergency image to work on. The performance is so good, I am currently using this as my main play / development image. Too bad all (80%) my consulting work is now moving Office 365 and SQL Azure.
The move to the SSD USB drive worked for me. Check your resources while you are using VMs on a development laptop, might be an easy IO Fix.