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Hardware Thread, New server deployment - sanity check? in Technical; I am trying to move my Junior school away from its current configuration of two W2003 servers one running 5 ...
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    Smile New server deployment - sanity check?

    I am trying to move my Junior school away from its current configuration of two W2003 servers one running 5 admin users +SIMS and the other the 650 curriculum users to something more robust, more available and more maintenance friendly.
    To this end I am thinking to buy 2 Dell 2950 servers with 2x 72gb SCSI disks in RAID 1 running Citrix XEN and then set up separate W2008R2 virtual machines for each of my main tasks, email, SIMS, file server, etc.
    I am hoping to set up a third server (dell Poweredge 850) as an iSCSI target stuffed full of big SATA drives ( It doesnt have to be fast) and back this up to our 4TB backup server and then to our off-site server for critical stuff.
    Once I have this running at home ( no space at school) I will install into a new rack in our new build ( if it happens) and then migrate services over to it. That will leave the old servers available to be added to my server farm if I need more grunt or want to take a physical server down.
    After some very enlightening conversations at with ric at BETT who showed me his set up from his laptop I am hoping I am on the right track but as no one I know( including my ICT support company ) has done this yet I thought i would lay myself open to the collective ridicule of my peers and ask for any guidance \ advice etc !

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    Do it, easy as pie. I would use hyper v though. 2 cluster nodes with processor and ram available, one san with loads of disks. Stick starwind on the san so it can be used as an iscsi target (only by 2 clients tho...otherwise think windows storage server) and your away. Virtualise your existing setup and then create new vm's as you need them to migrate services. if your using w2k8 r2 enterprise you'll be entitled to run 4 virtual machines per node. Best of it is because servers need either grunt or disks you can buy them second hand from forums sponsers, I got my nodes this summer for £500 each and paid a little more for my san.

    Worth thinking about your next move too, if you expand will you replicate what you already have so you have 2 sans or will you want to add extra nodes into your cluster.

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    sparker (29th January 2011)

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    Thanks Strawberry,
    is Hyper V charged for as Citrix Xen is not unless you need the automatic failover ( which I would like but think I can recover my VM's quickly from my storage, hope fully minutes not days). I am buying second hand Dells (Adam at 1st technologies on ebay - very nice chap) to start this on as my nodes so I don't have to touch the production servers until I am confident, hence the new kit but I don't have the money for a new (or second hand) SAN so was hoping to use the old Dell 850 instead?
    I am assuming that I would not be able to virtualise my existing servers without stopping the school for a while and as we have only just recovered from a major outage ( hence the need for high availability ) I am opting for the safe route. It is the need for a SAN that concerns me, do I need dedicated SAN hardware or can I re-purpose a server? I did find an article on setting up a W2k8 server as an iscsi target but not sure if it is appropriate? Thanks for your help!

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    Nope, Hyper-v is free, including clustering and comes with Windows server anyway so unless you need a bunch of nix vms its probably easier.

    You can repurpose a server as an iSCSI target using something like Freenas if you need to.

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    sparker (29th January 2011)

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    Thanks Synack, I was thinking of running an Edubuntu thin client server as well as I have all the kit ( but not all the expertise) and wanted to give the kids and the teachers knowledge or other OS . I tried it last year but couldn't get it to work with AD and haven't had time this year ( I am the only tech and I am part time with 560 kids 100 staff and 200pc's) but I will have 'spare' servers after this so I guess I could run it on another server if you think it is better than Xen.
    BTW I was at out technicians conference this week and Edugeek seemed to come up as the answer to every problem so well done - you are a lifeline to many of us especially in Junior schools who often don't have formal training but are still expected to keep all the plates spinning!

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    Xen is still a good solution but for what you want with a couple of servers that can be quickly moved between servers for free hyper-v may be a better fit. The free version is avalible from the MS site and is comand line only but the standard managment tools from Windows server work for it meaning that it is very easy to manage from that point of view. You should still be able to get edubuntu running on it but it may not work as well with resource shareing as it would on Xen. The good thing about the MS solution is that it is optimized for Windows an 2008 R2 has all the required drivers builtin.

    If you are having that many seporate servers then you are probably best getting 2008 R2 enterprise liscences that cover one host install and up to four virtual instances per machine. Enterprise also supports clustering hyper-v so it is probably your easiest solution. Just install 2008 R2 on each, cluster them to enable shared storage and add the hyper-v role to each.

    You can convert your existing server somewhat reliably using disk2VHD which can take an image of an existing server and prep it to be a virtual machine. You don't want to do that with DCs though as you should migrate AD by joining another server and promoting it to a DC then moving all the roles off onto the new box.

    Welcome to Edugeek anyhow if no one has said it before me, I also work in several primaries and totally understand the sometimes difficult expectations that come with them.

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    sparker (29th January 2011)

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    Thanks Synack, I was wary that I was asking a lot of daft questions but really appreciate you helping me out.
    So how does this sound: I get my new (to me ) 2950 servers and set them up with W2k8 enterprise, cluster them and add some hypervisors to have enough machines to take on the roles. I am expecting them to only have 73GB Raid 1 scsi so will need to add another server Dell Poweredge 830 as an iSCSI target.
    I then DC Promo one of my new machines virtual or other wise and set that as my DC. I can then demote one of my existing production servers 2003x86 and start migrating roles onto the hypervisors.
    Then I can reinstall them with W2k8Ent and add them back in as extra grunt or storage.

    BTW the school is distributed across two sites connected by a GbE fibre pipe so would putting them on either side enhance my DR? If I lost connectivity between the two can I configure which one carries on as DC?
    I am hoping to install an Aerohive managed wifi network ( cannot use Ruckus in this scenario because of the lack of virtual controllers) to avoid this single point of failure but still wondering what is the most robust set up to keep them two sides of the school working if they lose their connection. I cant see them both carrying on as they would get out of step, wouldn't they?

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    The first chunk sounds right, to use clustered storeage the two Hyper-V servers need to be in the same domain, you can either join them to your existing domain or some people like to make a seporate AD domain just for the hyper-v servers. This just means that they can then both be attached to the same iSCSI target and share the filesystem so that if one drops you can quickly spin them up on the other host.

    The DC promo stuff sounds right, in order to promote the 2008 syste to a DC you will need to run a schema update on your existing 2003 domain using adprep32.exe off the 2008 CD. Once this is done you can promote the 2008 VM to a DC and move the FSMO roles over to it and then once everythign is moved demote the 2003 box.

    With regard to the distributed sites you may run into issues with speed passing iSCSI traffic between sites so probably best to keep them all in the same area. One thing you could do is have a RODC (read only domain controller) at the smaller of the two sites, this would not help with files but would with logons, you could also install branchcache on it to help speed up document and file retrival from the main site.

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    sparker (29th January 2011)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sparker View Post
    set up separate W2008R2 virtual machines for each of my main tasks, email, SIMS, file server, etc.
    It's worth mentioning that SIMS is still only supported on Windows Server 2008 so you won't be able to run it in a VM which has 2008 R2 installed. The hosts can (and should) be 2008 R2 though.

    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    You should still be able to get edubuntu running on it but it may not work as well with resource sharing as it would on Xen.
    Edubuntu 10.10 should be fine shouldn't it? The Linux kernel (from v2.6.32) now includes integration components for Hyper-V.

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    sparker (29th January 2011)

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    synacks on the right route there, Only think i would suggest is not using disk2vhd but find a spare desktop and put scvmm on it, much more reliable and useful for creating and managing virtual machines.free for the first 180 days, then a rebuild ;O).

    If it helps I was going to use a 2950 as a san, 5 15k sas disks with a spare should be good enough for most small scale virtual setups, the san will be the bnit that really costs the money so it might be worth buying 2 2950's as sans and using 4 cheapo nodes rather than spending a fortune on an enterprise san.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arthur View Post
    Edubuntu 10.10 should be fine shouldn't it? The Linux kernel (from v2.6.32) now includes integration components for Hyper-V.
    Did not know that they had got it integrated, last I checked you still needed to install the VM components and it only supported up to dual virtual CPUs. If this is the case it is good news and it has been ages since I check so it is likely that most of those shortcommings have been addressed.

    Also for the recycled servers you may not need enterprise as you are not running VMs and don't need clustering on them so you could get away with standard on those which is cheaper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SYNACK View Post
    last I checked you still needed to install the VM components and it only supported up to dual virtual CPUs.
    You can now have quad core CPUs and use synthetic NICs (among other things), although you still need to enable the Hyper-V drivers by editing /etc/initramfs-tools/modules.

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    SYNACK (29th January 2011)

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    Hi Synack
    Very excited by the RODC, would and RODC stay up if it lost its connection to the parent server? It is a perennial problem that the fibre link ( buried 40cms down in a filed that routinely has holes dug on it and large marquees put up, plus various inspectors turning the power off to the comms cabinet when they feel like it) will fail so something that would keep both sides running when the link is down would be great, might be for minutes or hours rather than days.
    I'm ok with the server prep as in my last disaster when I tried to upgrade to Server 2008 only to find exchange 2003 wouldn't!

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    Thanks Arther - I didn't know that so I suspect you have just saved me a lot of time on the phone to Crapita!

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    Hi Strawberry, Do you think I could use my Poweredge 830 with some sata drives on it as an iSCSI target for now? Once I have moved all the servers around I will have some more it and can use a 2950 but I don't want to mess with the current servers until I am confident with the new kit



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