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Dell Feature and Functional Testing for Windows Server 2008

By Barun Chaudhary and Manjunath Narayanan
April 2008

Windows Server® 2008 is Microsoft’s first major Server Operating System release in five years. Dell’s close partnership with Microsoft has allowed engagement with the testing and development of this operating system for more than 4 years. Some of the highlights of Dell’s testing efforts include compatibility tests on Dell™ PowerEdge™ server platforms, testing upgrade and migration scenarios, and testing compatibility of OpenManage™, the Dell systems management software.
Whenever there were new features or technology included with the Milestone or Beta releases, Dell endeavored to ensure that as many of our platforms and OpenManage components were ready to support those features as possible. Based on the current status of testing, Dell is committed to supporting more than 40 currently shipping and legacy server platforms across 5 generations with Windows Server 2008. Supporting this number of servers has required significant development efforts to help ensure good customer experience.
Dell has a set of internal tools to track various parameters like test results, defect tracking, total time spent, driver or firmware changes, etc. Dell estimates it has spent more than 1800 hours testing currently shipping and future Dell servers for compatibility with Windows Server 2008. An additional 1700+ hours were spent at Dell to help ensure OpenManage will be compatible with Windows Server 2008 on as many platforms as possible. To serve this purpose more than 30 different configurations were tested on different Dell platforms. In addition to these efforts, Dell has spent more than 750 hours testing various Windows Server 2008 features on the entire supported server line. Different development teams within Dell—like Operating Systems Engineering, OpenManage, BIOS, Network, Platform development, Storage Controller & Equipments and other test teams—have worked with their partners world-wide to deliver new platforms, components and drivers designed to meet Windows Server 2008 requirements. Additionally, considerable work has been done to help ensure that as many legacy platforms as possible can be supported on Windows Server 2008. In the process of all this development and testing, Dell discovered and worked to resolve more than 500 issues specific to Windows Server 2008 and Dell hardware and software.
Dell is committed to the validation of Windows Server 2008 and its features with the following three objectives:
1. Support Windows Server 2008 on future and shipping platforms.
2. Support OpenManage on Windows Server 2008.
3. Support legacy Dell platforms to the fullest extent possible.
In order to support Windows Server 2008 on Dell platforms, Dell has spent thousands of man-hours testing Microsoft’s next generation OS, Windows Server 2008.
As part of Dell’s process for new product testing, the scope of the project was defined and test strategies for the product were planned. The overall Test Cycle is summarized below.

Test cycle at Dell for Windows Server 2008
§ OS Build Release Schedule: Dell received the Build Release Schedule from Microsoft, and based on this, a testing roadmap was defined. During different build releases, Microsoft often provided a list of the new features or functionality that were included in the release. Based on a feature’s availability, the Dell team extended the test scope and test plan to test the feature extensively. Any failure in the functionality of the feature was reported to Microsoft and was tracked by our defect tracking system. When a fix was available from Microsoft, Dell engineers performed a regression to verify the fix.
§ Test Execution Schedule: The particular Microsoft release was evaluated, and based on the test scope and test planning, the execution schedule was set to help ensure that any possible failure could be reported in time to be fixed in the next release.
§ Test Completion Approximation: Based on the feature configuration details and setup complexity, approximated time for completion of the test iterations was calculated.
§ High Level Risks: Finally, Dell engineering teams identified the potential risks for the test iterations and support of the OS on the platform under testing.

The overall test cycle is documented in Figure 1.


Fig. 1
Dell has carried out functional and feature testing for Windows Server 2008 in four categories:-
· Hardware Dependent Feature testing
· Operating System Feature testing
· Drivers testing
· OpenManage testing

Hardware Dependent Features:
· WHEA (Windows® Hardware Error Architecture)
· OA 2.0 (OEM Activation)
· WinPE 2.1 (Windows Preinstallation Environment)
· TPM (Trusted Platform Module)
· ACPI (Advance Configuration & Power Interface)
· Native IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface)
· Dell RAC 4 and Dell RAC 5 (Remote Access Card)

Operating System Features:
· WDS (Windows Deployment Services)
· Windows Server Backup
· BitLocker™ Drive Encryption
· WER (Windows Error Reporting)
· WinRE (Windows Recovery Environment)
· Removal Storage Management
Drivers testing:
· Native and non-native network driver testing
· Native and non-native storage driver testing

With Windows Server 2008, there are a number of features like WHEA, ACPI support, TPM, etc. that required a change in the system BIOS for supported Dell platforms. Engineers at Dell have consistently worked to provide a BIOS that meets these requirements. As Windows Server 2008 added new functionality for customers, Dell provided enhancements to the system BIOS to help ensure that as many of the supported servers can support the additional functionalities as possible and customers can make best use of the new features. However, it is important to note that some of Windows Server 2008’s new features -- including WHEA, OS Watchdog Timer, and TPM BitLocker -- are hardware dependent, and as a result, are not available on some of the platforms Dell plans to support. If you have specific questions about available features, please contact your Dell sales representative.
For operating system feature testing, Dell has contributed to the development by partnering with Microsoft during the testing cycle and getting fixes in order to make a feature functional on Dell platforms.
Dell has worked hard to identify needed drivers and worked with our partners to get as many drivers “built-in” to the OS as possible. Our device driver testing has shown that we have made great progress with this, as more than 85% of device drivers for 5 generations of servers are native with the operating system. All the native drivers and non-native drivers that Dell uses were tested to check for failures and to help ensure that unused native drivers would not have conflicts or other issues. For the drivers that are not native with the OS, customers can obtain them by using either the System Build and Update Utility (SBUU) media shipped with Dell servers or by downloading them from Dell’s support site at http://support.dell.com
During the test cycle, Dell identified the functional impact of the new features mentioned in the above bullet points and conducted rigorous testing of Dell servers with the operating system in those areas. Some of the major impacts are mentioned below:
Dell carefully implemented changes over several releases of the affected system BIOSes and tested these through multiple broad system test cycles, as well as numerous specific compliance tests. The changes implemented were used and tested throughout Windows Server 2008 testing, and went through at least two full quarterly Extended System Test cycles.
WHEA - Windows Hardware Error Architecture (WHEA) is a new feature with Windows Server 2008. Dell has implemented this feature through the system BIOS for all shipping platforms that are expected to receive the Designed for Windows Server 2008 certification.
OA 2.0 - With Windows Vista® and Windows Server 2008, Microsoft and Dell have worked together to develop OA 2.0 which is an anti-piracy technology for these operating systems. OA is an alternative to Windows Product Activation (WPA) that does not require activation over the Internet. OA helps customers avoid the hassle of the activation process and this feature is supported on all Dell systems that ship with Windows Server 2008 installed.
BitLocker - One of the key security enhancements from Microsoft is the BitLocker Drive Encryption introduced with Windows Server 2008. This feature can be used to encrypt the entire drive and can prevent a system from booting without the proper token or password. Dell has helped simplify the BitLocker encryption implementation by providing servers expected to receive Designed for Windows Server 2008 certification with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM). A TPM is basically a secure micro-controller that adds cryptographic functionalities, so that an external key or storage device is not needed, but the system remains secure. The Dell PowerEdge™ server implementation is designed to meet or exceed Microsoft’s requirements of TPM Specification 1.2 compatibility. Dell has performed substantial testing of TPM/BitLocker on numerous Dell systems, and worked with Microsoft to help make the BitLocker configuration simple and secure.
Windows Server 2008 supports the latest two generations of DRAC (DRAC 4 and DRAC 5). Because the Windows Server 2008 installation technique is quite different from preceding versions, a substantial amount of firmware development work was done to help maximize performance and reliability of remote installation using virtual media.
Apart from the above functional and feature testing, Dell has tested the operating system features that are part of Windows Server 2008. An example of this is Windows Deployment Services, a feature that enables customers to do a network-based deployment of Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 because legacy systems may not have a DVD-ROM installed and some systems are incapable of booting from a USB device.
To help customers migrating from previous versions of operating systems, Dell has conducted a significant amount of testing on Windows Server Backup and partnered with Microsoft to help ensure that our customers are provided with a fast and easy method of restoring their data from the backup media. Windows Server Backup utility does not support tape devices; therefore, data restoration from tape media could not be achieved. As an alternative, Microsoft provides an NTBackupRestore utility that allows restoration from tape media. Dell has put great effort in testing Microsoft’s NTBackupRestore utility to help ensure that our customers can restore their data backed up by Windows Server 2003’s NTBackup using Dell tape devices. Customers are advised to check the migration document available on http://dell.com/ostechsheets. More useful information about migration can be found in the Dell podcast at http://i.dell.com/images/global/vlog/quicktime/ent_ws2008migration.mp3.
Dell has developed and tested failover clustering solutions on more than a dozen variations of Dell servers and storage. The clustering feature in Windows Server 2008 helps to achieve higher availability of applications and services. We have tested the interoperability between Dell servers and different storage arrays and tested the cluster functionality under various stress and failure conditions with the goal of delivering customers a pre-configured, pre-tested, fully supported clustering solution to help ensure minimum downtime for critical services. Clustering in Windows Server 2008 is supported on a variety of 9G rack/blade and newer servers. For more information about HA Clustering Solutions on Dell platforms, please refer to www.dell.com/ha

OpenManage Testing
OpenManage (OM) is a systems management utility provided at no additional cost to Dell customers when they buy Dell servers with Windows Server 2008 installed. Using OpenManage, customers can perform management tasks like monitoring the system state, upgrading drivers and firmware, running diagnostics, etc., OpenManage 5.4 is the first version supported for Windows Server 2008. Under OpenManage there are sub-components as mentioned below.
· OpenManage Server Administrator
· IT Assistant
· Online Diagnostic
· System Build and Update Utility
· Dell Update Utility
· DRAC UI
Considerable code change, testing and validation effort have gone in to OpenManage development. Dell has spent nearly 10 months in development of the OpenManage stack to support Windows Server 2008. During these 10 months of development, the OpenManage team has worked directly with Microsoft to help ensure exceptional compatibility and customer experience for platforms supporting Windows Server 2008.

Table shows the list of servers supported with OpenManage 5.4.x.

Servers OpenManage Support Servers OpenManage Support Servers OpenManage Support Servers OpenManage Support
PE650 Y PE1855MC Y SC1435 P PET105 N
PE2600 Y PE1850 Y SC1430 P PER200 Y
PE2650 Y PE2800 Y SC440 P PER300 Y
PE4600 Y PE2850 Y PE2970 Y PET300 Y
PE6600 Y PE6800 Y PE1950 Y PEM600 Y
PE6650 Y PE6850 Y PE2900 Y PEM605 Y
PE750 Y PE860 Y PE1900 Y PET6051 Y
PE1750 Y PE840 Y PE1955MC Y PER805v1 Y
PE800 Y PE6800-800T Y PE6950 Y PER9051 Y
PE1800 Y PE6850-800T Y PE2950 Y
PE830 Y PE850 Y


Y=Yes
P=Partial support (Available with only SBUU support)
1 Supported in OM 5.4.1

In-House Developed Tools: As part of Dell’s testing and validation efforts, teams at Dell have developed a number of tools. A few of them are highlighted below.
Dell Readiness Advisor Tool
Dell is committed to supporting Windows Server 2008 on more than 40 platforms including some 6th and 7th generation systems. For customers with systems that are not shipping with Windows Server 2008 factory installed, Dell has developed a tool called Readiness Advisor Tool. Using this tool, customers can evaluate the suitability of upgrading to Windows Server 2008. These reports are helpful and concise, with Dell-specific information and warnings about possible problems.
Dell has extensively tested this tool to help ensure that the hardware database is consistent. Performance was the touchstone during the development of the tool. For more information on this tool visit:

Filter Driver Removal Tool
The Filter Driver Removal Tool was developed to help customers in removing the filter driver for PERC 3/Di and CERC 6ch devices. Dell developed this tool to help enable customers to automatically remove the filter drivers for these devices. If customers do not have the latest drivers for PERC 3/Di and CERC 6ch, they may face some unexpected behavior during upgrading their systems from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008 with these devices. Customers can download the Filter Driver Removal Tool at http://www.support.dell.com/
Native Driver Tracking Tool
During the development phase, Dell tracked the list of drivers in-box with the Operating System. To help make the process as foolproof as possible, Dell automated the task for tracking the list by developing the Native Driver Tracking Tool. Whenever a new build was made available, this tool would produce a report of the list of drivers available with the build.
Throughout the testing and development process, Dell worked with Microsoft and our hardware partners to help ensure the maximum possible support for our hardware. Dell is committed to supporting Windows Server 2008 on more than 40 platforms, with more than 85% of system drivers for supported Dell platforms built into Windows Server 2008. After testing and evaluation, we carefully determined our supported systems list based on the criteria below.

§ System Requirements: Microsoft has published a list of minimum and recommended hardware specifications (available at this link http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/system-requirements.aspx). Dell provided substantial input to Microsoft based on our testing and closely reviewed each generation of our servers for standard and optional hardware components, capabilities and install base to help customers minimize waste in having to “forklift” systems to move to a new operating system.

§ Microsoft Certified platforms: Dell has run Windows Logo Kit on many Dell platforms to obtain “Designed for Windows Server 2008” certification from Microsoft. As part of this process, more than 11 currently shipping Dell Servers and all future shipping Dell servers are expected to get certified by Microsoft as “Designed for Windows Server 2008” and 21 additional servers are expected to receive the “Supported for Windows Server 2008” certification from Microsoft. Below is the list of servers that are expected to be certified by Microsoft and the edition of operating system supported on the platform.

Anticipated Microsoft “Logo” Certification

Number Model Designed for Windows Server 2008 Logo Supported for Windows Server 2008 Logo X64 Support X86 Support
1 PE1900 III
2 PE 1950 III
3 PE 2900 III
4 PE 2950 III
5 SC 1435
6 PE 2970
7 PE M600
8 PE M605
9 PE R300
10 PE T300
11 PE T605
12 PE T105
13 PE R200
14 PE R805v
15 PE R905
16 PE R900
17 PE 1855MC
18 PE 1850
19 PE 2800
20 PE 2850
21 PE 6800
22 PE 6850
23 PE 830
24 PE 850
25 PE 6800-800T
26 PE 6850-800T
27 PE 860
28 PE 840
29 SC 440
30 SC 1430
31 PE 1950
32 PE 2900
33 PE 2950
34 PE 1955MC
35 PE 6950
36 PE 800 (SATA Mode)
37 PE 1800 (SATA Mode)



§ Dell Supported Platforms: Based on the hardware configuration and supported components, Dell defined a set of platforms Dell intends to support with Windows Server 2008. Under Dell supported platforms (i.e. “best efforts”), we have 8 legacy systems that do not have all the new hardware features to meet the Designed for Windows Server 2008, but have been tested and supported by Dell.
Dell Supported i.e. “Best effort”

Number Model x64 support x86 support
1 PE650
2 PE2600
3 PE2650
4 PE4600
5 PE6600
6 PE6650
7 PE750
8 PE1750



For additional resources, please visit the following technical sites:
http://www.dell.com/longhorn
http://www.dell.com/windowsserver2008
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008

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Information in this document is subject to change without notice.