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Hardware Thread, Power Edge R300 and virtualisation in Technical; The company i work for boght a new server 1 year ago (spending over $30,000). Here is the configuration: Hardware ...
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    Power Edge R300 and virtualisation

    The company i work for boght a new server 1 year ago (spending over $30,000). Here is the configuration:
    Hardware and SoftwareVirtual Server Host – Hardware
    • Dell PowerEdge R300
    • Drobo Elite 4TB

    Virtual Server Host – Software
    • VMWare Essentials – Operating System
    • VRangerPro – Backup with 3 year supportSmall Business Server 2008

    the drobo was divided in 4, in order to manage the following functions: email and sql, printers, applications and web server.

    Now... we have had so many problems since installation... slowness, full use of memory, server rebooting by itself.

    We ask another IT company to look at our configutaion, and these are there findings:

    Currently the “idle” system demand is at 40%, which is on the high side (6% is the standard idle percentage that we like to see).
    The current Dell PowerEdge R300 server is not recommended for a virtual environment because it is not built for multiple processing tasks (running SBS, Exchange, SQL, etc. all at the same time). It is designed for a single service, not a multi-virtual service environment.
    The Dell R300 is the hypervisor host for the virtual machines and the Drobo is the host for the virtual hard drives. This is causing performance issues because the Dell R300 relies on the network to access the virtual hosted hard drives on the Drobo, and not the local hardware, to manage your services (SBS, Exchange, Avanti, Small Business Financials, SQL Server Database, Print Services, Trend-Micro, Terminal Services and the Web Server).
    It is our recommendation that new hardware be purchased to eliminate the latency and performance issues that are occurring. We suggest buying two of the PowerEdge R710 rack-mountable servers for two reasons: redundancy and performance (should a power supply, mother board or RAM failure occur you will have a backup). We like to minimize single point of failures with mission critical hardware. The other benefit of this set-up is that it will allow differential virtualization, which allows you to have separate Active Directory servers. For example, if the server hosting Active Directory goes offline, all of the other servers dependant on the Active Directory go offline until the Active Directory comes back online. By having two servers and two separate Active Directories you eliminate this issue.

    Can this be true? Can the first IT company be soooooooooo far off?
    Advice needed! Please

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    glennda's Avatar
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    my main point would be is the drobo connected via Iscsi? does it share a network port with the normal network? if so then the first thing i would do is setup a dedicated nic (or 2/3 ideally) to host the ISCSi connection only and then have another 1/2 for the Virtual servers to talk to your normal network.

    As for the Hardware side i can't comment as never used dell hardware in my life.

    But the idea of two virtual hosts is a good and preferable to have the resources on both servers that if 1 died the other could take up the slack
    Last edited by glennda; 7th July 2011 at 08:06 PM.

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    jamesfed's Avatar
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    Could you post the full specs for your R300?

    Having a look through the email though and the specs on the Dell website the R300 does appear to be very similar to the HP DL120 which is designed for single use applications (say running a backup server or a low end web server) not for multiple purpose tasks and certainly not running VMs.

    If you have a browse around here you will find both lovers and haters of Drobo as well – mostly (as far as I can tell) being the haters though with similar reports to what you are getting about network bottlenecks and drop outs.
    Personally we run 2x HP DL165 G7s which both have 4x2TB SAS drives in which appears to be very similar to what your new company is suggesting and this setup works perfectly for us with rarely seeing anything more than 10% processor usage.

    So in my opinion yes your first company got things seriously wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfed View Post
    Could you post the full specs for your R300?

    Having a look through the email though and the specs on the Dell website the R300 does appear to be very similar to the HP DL120 which is designed for single use applications (say running a backup server or a low end web server) not for multiple purpose tasks and certainly not running VMs.

    If you have a browse around here you will find both lovers and haters of Drobo as well – mostly (as far as I can tell) being the haters though with similar reports to what you are getting about network bottlenecks and drop outs.
    Personally we run 2x HP DL165 G7s which both have 4x2TB SAS drives in which appears to be very similar to what your new company is suggesting and this setup works perfectly for us with rarely seeing anything more than 10% processor usage.

    So in my opinion yes your first company got things seriously wrong.
    Thank you for your feedback! ... I was afraid to hear that! i have a quick question... how many users do you have for exchange? we have 20 users..
    I talked to Dell people, and they told me that R300 is ok for virtualisation... that probably i didn't have enough memory.... could that be the case? or it's just a bad configuration, since we are running SQL, Exchange, our own web page, printers and small applications???

    Thank you again!

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    jamesfed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ech2000 View Post
    Thank you for your feedback! ... I was afraid to hear that! i have a quick question... how many users do you have for exchange? we have 20 users..
    I talked to Dell people, and they told me that R300 is ok for virtualisation... that probably i didn't have enough memory.... could that be the case? or it's just a bad configuration, since we are running SQL, Exchange, our own web page, printers and small applications???

    Thank you again!
    We use Live@Edu for our Exchange so all off site - the one thing you do want to keep in mind with Exchange is its best to use local storage so although 20 users shouldn't tax your server much anymore will be a hog.

    The R300 is OK for virtulisation in the sense that its processor supports Virtulisation however the servers Motherboard only supports 24Gb of RAM - by comparision the HP DL165 can take upto 256Gb and running virtual machines is all about having more than enough RAM to run all your services.

    I think your real bottleneck is in the processor (if you post the specs of the CPU it'll be easy to tell in an instant) but if you are running SQL and Exchange that Drobo won't be helping either.

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    Here are the specific specs:

    Memory: 16 GB memory @ 667MHz
    Processor: Xeon X3323 with 4Cores @2.50GHz (Intel® Xeon® Processor X3323 (6M Cache, 2.50 GHz, 1333 MHz FSB)with SPEC Code(s))
    Hard Drives: 2 x 160GB Drives @ 7.5k RPM

    Thank you for your feedback...... I can increase the RAM to 24GB (max.)

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    jamesfed's Avatar
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    Personaly I'd scrap it get a DL165 G7 or a DL385 G7 for about £1,500/£3,000 with 24 GB of RAM using DDR3 - 1333mhz instead of 667mhz making it soo much faster with the RAM.
    As your new company suggests some local storage would work a treat - 15k SAS drives for SQL and Exchange and 7.2k SATA for general data and the 8 core AMDs will eliminate any chance of the processor being over taxed.

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    TheScarfedOne's Avatar
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    Ive gone even further than that! Dell R710 - 2x Quad, 146GB Ram, 2x 300GB 15k for OS, and Dell MD3200i SAN with 8 x 2TB drives in separate arrays for VHDS, SQL Stream and Data

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    jamesfed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheScarfedOne View Post
    Ive gone even further than that! Dell R710 - 2x Quad, 146GB Ram, 2x 300GB 15k for OS, and Dell MD3200i SAN with 8 x 2TB drives in separate arrays for VHDS, SQL Stream and Data
    Anything that gets the job done I guess!

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    TheScarfedOne's Avatar
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    Mind you - I did want to make sure I dont have to do this again any time soon. At mo, there is not enough kit to sustain the system its running

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    I don't understand why the first IT company put you in a SAN/NAS to serve 1 single virtual host. The whole point of that infrastructure setup is to have redundant virtual hosts which take over for each other in case of failure or maintainance. It sounds to me like the first IT company had a guy who wanted to have an experiment with virtualisation and SANs but didn't really know what he was doing.

    The second IT company isn't wrong, they are telling you the way it should be, whether you want to spend the money on redundant servers is up to you.


    BTW is that $30,000 US dollars? You have been well and truely robbed. We've got some R200's here which are specced right out (and from memory the only difference between them and the R300 was the number of RAM slots), and IIRC they cost us around £700 before tax.


    Is the R300 only got 2 hard drive slots? If so thats no good. But if it does have 4, like the R310, they backup your virtual hard drives, pull the hard drives out of your Drobo, pop them into your R300 and reinstall ESX. That will eliminate an network latency problems you will be having - IMO this is where your problem lies;

    A proper virtual / SAN setup will be set up like this;

    Multiple virtual hosts connected by multiple dedicated iSCSI/SAS/fibrechannel switchs to multiple SANs containing many hard drives and at least 1 SSD. The virtual servers and SANs will then have dedicated management NICs which connect to your main network (vLANed off), and the virtual servers will also have extra NICs which connect them to your main network.
    As you can see your setup isn't even close. But for $30,0000 you should have been half way there tbh



    Anyway, the way I would fix this is to get 2 R510's with the 12 hard drive backplanes. Stock them out with 12 hard drives of the capacity you would need to run every service on a single server + some room to spare, >20%. Install ESX on both of them and spread the services between the 2 R510's. Find one of the many scripts for ESX which snapshot the virtual machines and backup the data to the Drobo.
    That way if one server goes down you can copy the backed up virtual machines to the other server and you're back online.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 8th July 2011 at 09:30 PM.

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