Tips and tricks

SQL Server in an App Volumes AppStack

VMware App Volumes was designed for multiple applications scenarios. One of the scenarios that was supported, before VMware acquired the Cloud Volumes company, was to deliver Server based applications in AppStacks.

I’ve been asked multiple times in the last year about App Volumes and Server based AppStacks. VMware stance has not changed and it’s not officially supported but I thought I would try a couple of applications and see how they work.

I decided to tackle SQL Server 2016. To reiterate, this is not something that VMware supports but thought that for development environments, for testing and QA, it might be something that people want to use.

The chosen Virtual Machine is a Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition, domain joined. The only pre-requisite to installing SQL Server is that .Net 3.5 component be active. It usually is, since so many other software use it but if you’re building a test server, from scratch, this is not a component that is enabled by default.

Provisioning SQL Server 2016 is very straightforward. Create your AppStack as you normally do, then run the SQL setup wizard. The process starts the same as you normally do but you do this on a server VM. You will see this window on the Server VM once you start the provisioning process

then, I grab the ISO file from MSDN. Main reason is that the MSDN version comes with product key. I copied the ISO file locally to the provisioning Virtual Machine (the Win2k16 server), then mounted the ISO and launched the setup.

Choose the New stand-alone installation.


As previously mention, no need to worry about the product key, since this is an MSDN ISO, it comes with the install. Accept the EULA, then let it complete it’s pre-checks. You should see something similar to this:

Then, you choose the feature you want. This is where my setup might be different than yours. I choose to only install the basic Database Engine, Analysis Services, Reporting Services and the Management Studio. A lot more options are available, those were the only one I wanted to test.


Go through the other setup options and when you reach the service page, configure the service to run as “NT Authority\System” and the service type to Automatic.

Once you have finished the installation process, you can check that the service starts properly and you should also open the SQL Management Studio at least once to connect to the environment and validate that connection works.

Once that is done, finishing the provisioning process by clicking on the Ok box (as shown earlier). You will be asked to reboot the server VM. You need to login to the server one last time, to complete the provisioning process (same process as usual with any App Volumes AppStack).

You can then use this AppStack on your Server VM’s as you would with normal desktop AppStacks.

Again, this is not something that is officially supported by VMware but it works! I’ve been using it in my home lab as a published application (SQL Management Studio).


Let me know what you think.

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