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How do you do....it? Thread, Server Virtualisation..The options? Your opinions & feedback... in Technical; Originally Posted by dhicks In my experience, it does have a tendancy to crash and take the whole virtual server ...
  1. #16

    garethedmondson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    In my experience, it does have a tendancy to crash and take the whole virtual server with it - not sure if that's anything to do with virtualisation as such or wether it just conking out on a regular basis is what it does.
    Ohhhhhhh - that's not good. I'll monitor the situation when it happens. It will be the latest Sibelius version - 7. Ordered it the other day.

    I'm sure others will point out that mirroring is not a backup - delete a file on one half of the mirror and the mirroring system quickly and effciently deletes it on the other half, too. If by "mirroring" you mean RAID of some description then that's a good start, but ideally you should have some kind of diasaster recovery facility (server conks out, how do you restore it / get another to take over) and file/email/etc backup so people can restore stuff they delete by accident.
    No - my mistake. I know what you mean. So really is it not worth me mirroring the drives? What if I put the OS on one drive and the virtual machines on another drive? Then look at backup solutions? Or stick it all on one drive and get some backup software to back it up to the second drive? Or should I just bite the bullet and backup to a seperate NAS box? As you can guess I'm new to this virtual stuff. Our main fileserver gets backed up across the broadband network every night with the files being sent to LEA Towers. It's been a long time since I had to worry about AIT3/4 tape backups on our RM DCs :-)

    My experience is with Linux servers, in which case you install DRBD to mirror harddrives between two machines (like having a RAID-1 array split over separate machines) and have the second machine take over the running of the VM should the first one stop for some reason. You can do that manually, or use Hearbeat to do automatic failover for you. Some VM systems will also transfer live, running VMs between different physical machines for you, but as a failover solution for a school this is probably overkill - a service coming back up a few minutes after a server fails while a new VM boots is generally perfectly acceptable.
    I thought about looking at the Zen stuff but the Physical to Virtual application costs some money (not sure how much). The heartbeat sounds interesting as well. Will research that tomorrow.

    Thanks for your reply,

    Gareth

  2. #17
    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    I'm only a small school, but i have been using Hyper-V since it appeared in 2008.

    My setup is 2x Hyper-V hosts running 4 Virtual Servers each. Both hosts have local RAIDed storage, with 2 partitions (one for the OS, one for Virtual Machines). I have 4x network cards in each server and 3 are used between the 4 virtual machines. Approximate cost of the servers was 3k each

    We don't have a SAN, and Hyper-V currently lacks some of the more advanced features that vSphere and Zen have. i am looking forward to Windows Server 8, which will catchup with some of these features

    Backups are done to an iSCSI drive using DPM, and can be restored in a couple of hours.

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    mrbios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Ben View Post
    I'm only a small school, but i have been using Hyper-V since it appeared in 2008.

    My setup is 2x Hyper-V hosts running 4 Virtual Servers each. Both hosts have local RAIDed storage, with 2 partitions (one for the OS, one for Virtual Machines). I have 4x network cards in each server and 3 are used between the 4 virtual machines. Approximate cost of the servers was 3k each

    We don't have a SAN, and Hyper-V currently lacks some of the more advanced features that vSphere and Zen have. i am looking forward to Windows Server 8, which will catchup with some of these features

    Backups are done to an iSCSI drive using DPM, and can be restored in a couple of hours.
    Just like to point out that you'd probably find little to no performance change with a single network card in each server rather than one per VM, and vlans setup where required a 1GB link to a host is more than sufficient in the vast majority of cases.

  4. Thanks to mrbios from:

    Mr.Ben (23rd November 2011)

  5. #19

    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garethedmondson View Post
    Ohhhhhhh - that's not good. I'll monitor the situation when it happens. It will be the latest Sibelius version - 7.
    Admitedly my experience with Sibelious is now a couple of years old - I imagine it works fine now.

    So really is it not worth me mirroring the drives?
    Hang on - what sort of "mirroring" are we talking about? For any server, having your local storage be a RAID array is a good idea. If you're buying a new server you should probably aim for something with proper hardware RAID (not Windows-only fake RAID that needs a driver, but a proper dedicated RAID card - that'll probably cost you around 300). Maybe have a RAID 1 array for smaller, faster OS partitions and a RAID 6 array for data storage.

    If you mean mirroring accross the network, I think an backup solution is more practical for a traditional file server - there's little point in having a live block-level mirror of a file server unless you really need super-reliable uptime, your resources are better utilised making a backup that can restore people's deleted files.

    I thought about looking at the Zen stuff but the Physical to Virtual application costs some money (not sure how much).
    It might be cheaper, quicker and simpler not to bother - simply set up new Windows servers as virtual machines. A DC should be easy enough as you just have it replicate data accross, and things like printer servers and applications servers can be moved accross bit by bit.

  6. #20
    nicholab's Avatar
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    Dot hill might be able to do something in your budget I would also consider getting my servers second had from ETB-tech so I could spend more on the SAN. My person view is that most school should be able to run their server infrastructure in one 42u Rack.

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    I've never had any issues with Sibelius licence server running on a Win2003 VM on an ESX 4.1 host.

    You'll probably be quite surprised once you get into as to how "affordable" server virtualisation can be (I was in a position whereby I was comparing it with replacing approximately 8 physical servers which were all rather old/stupidly specced/not-a-real-server). I'm running two hosts with a dedicated SAN and as the discussions with suppliers went on the prices came down further and further. Plus it helps if you can be flexible when you purchase - if you can buy when it's the hardware manufacturer's quarter end you'll probably be able to get some very good prices. I did with HP and NetApp...

  8. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheScarfedOne View Post
    Stay tuned to my blog on here, and links over on Microsoft Schools blog as I will be detailing our solution using HyperV and two R710s, 1 MD3200 SAN. Didnt cost the earth either - I had a very limited budget too!
    Hi, any update on this blog TheScarfedOne?

    As far as our virtualisation proposal is concerned, we have seemed to narrowed it down so far to 2x R710s, 1x MD3200i with potentially VMware Sphere 5 Essentials Plus.

    But there are still other outstanding concerns/issues being:

    Amount of Hosts (nodes)
    Whilst 2 nodes are great, many have suggested n+1 (as if 1 node died, could the other node cope with the additional virtualised servers?)

    Backups
    Majority of solutions are now D2D. We are currently using Backup Exec 12 (combined with a Dell TL2000 LTO4 Tape Library) so the backup software would need updating anyway.

    But with Backup Exec 2010 agents in the region of 700 per (virtualised) server, that is a huge chuck of the budget.
    Alternatively, Microsoft DPM looks very appealing and cheap and I know that it works fine with Hyper-V, but I assume it could be used with VMware? (install DPM backup agent on each virtualised server combined VMware/NAS snapshots?)

    I was planning on using our existing backup server (Dell 2950) for the (newer) backup solution, but since it would be D2D (then 2T) the current local storage capacity would not match that of the proposed SAN - nightmare!
    This then gets me thinking; would we then need either an additional SAN (for backup) or another storage appliance of same (or more) capacity.

    Domain Controller
    Much debate online whether you 'should' still have a physical Domain Controller or not. Pro/Cons with both.

    I've thought about having a virtualised Domain Controller on each node (but on local storage) so if the SAN or other host goes down the domain is still available.
    Alternatively having a low spec 1U server (Dell R310) purely for a physical Domain Controller.
    I was planning on the Dell 2950 Server as a Domain Controller, but found out that Microsoft DPM cannot be installed on a Domain Controller!

    Hyper-V/VMware
    I've not ruled out Hyper-V, so still open to suggestions/recommendations etc from people using it.

    ...and breath and relax..
    I fully appreciate the benefits of virtualising servers but as mentioned there is no one solution fits all, but there is huge pressure (on the budget) to ensure that all areas are covered and to get it right.
    Virtualisation is meant to reduce the amount of physical kit, but before you know it you could easily end up with 3 hosts, 1 domain controller, 1 (or 2) SANS, backup host (with additional storage).

    Sorry, rant over.
    Last edited by MYK-IT; 23rd November 2011 at 04:53 PM.

  9. #23

    m25man's Avatar
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    We run 3 node Hyper-v clusters, ReadyNAS 12 Disk iscsi arrays
    Servers are HP dual quads or hex core 32/48 GB 4 or 6 Nic ports
    Dedicated L3 10GBe switch for node management and iSCSI
    Backup using BE2010 Hyper-V edition
    We settled for DL380's as they are generally quieter than their 1u counterparts.
    2008R2 Datacenter for the hosts as there is no limit on the number of VMs per host having a pair of 146Gb SAS drives means the OS can run the full GUI which makes things pretty easy to manage from virtually anywhere.
    These configs have been thrashed and over the past two years on we haven't had a single issue.

    We are seriously considering dumping the BE as DPM is so much cheaper on a schools agreement and it integrates with SCCM & SCOM 2012

  10. #24

    glennda's Avatar
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    I run a 5 host system using linux kvm and an Oracle File System cluster. connected via multiple trunked 1gb network cards. Hosts are a mixture of DL380 G5's and DL360 G7's with a range from 16gb to 64Gb ram each.

    From my stress testing i did KVM came out quicker then vmware

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    We have just put in a new san, 3 hosts and 2 switches.

    The San is a NetApp FAS 2040 with 15k SAS drives for server storage and SATA drives in a seperate disk shelf for 'slow' storage.

    The hosts are all HP DL360 G7 with 48gb RAM each, opteron processor, quad nic's, redundant PSU etc.

    The switches are HP Procurve.

    We then have a 4th host in another building which is a HP G6 and has an MSA60 and auto loading tape drive attached to it so we can put backups to tape using Backup Exec 2010 and put them into a fire proof safe in a third building.

    The hosts are running ESX with VMWare on it.

    Got installed last week and is very sweet!

  12. #26
    cpjitservices's Avatar
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    We have 2 IBM servers running Xen & KVM both with about 10 machines on each, we have only just moved to Xen / KVM and can see a difference between that and VMWare which we were using the performance differences are amazing!! We have both Servers on 1GB trunks to the switch which is a Juniper EX2200 - the only thing is that we are adding new machines to Xen so we have to upgrade our RAM abit in both servers.

    I wouldn't go back to VMWare now if someone paid me a million pounds, KVM and Xen have a nice interface which is very simple to use! we are looking at getting a back up server to host all the VM's on one box and we are going to load ProxMox (Proxmox - Proxmox VE) which is a web front end for KVM & Xen, the migration was simple and can easily migrate VM's from one node to the other.

  13. #27

    glennda's Avatar
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    @cpjitservices not seen proxmox before - looks quite cool might give it a go

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTFM View Post
    We have just put in a new san, 3 hosts and 2 switches.

    The San is a NetApp FAS 2040 with 15k SAS drives for server storage and SATA drives in a seperate disk shelf for 'slow' storage.

    The hosts are all HP DL360 G7 with 48gb RAM each, opteron processor, quad nic's, redundant PSU etc.

    The switches are HP Procurve.

    We then have a 4th host in another building which is a HP G6 and has an MSA60 and auto loading tape drive attached to it so we can put backups to tape using Backup Exec 2010 and put them into a fire proof safe in a third building.

    The hosts are running ESX with VMWare on it.

    Got installed last week and is very sweet!
    Hi RTFM

    Was this is installed by yourself, or did you get assistance from the hardware supplier?
    What capacity is the MSA60 (for backup) in relation to the capacity available from the new SAN?
    With the SAN have you used RAID 5,6, 10 etc? and what % proportion have you allocated for SAN snapshots?

    Have you got a 'physical' Domain Controller? and have you installed vCentre virtually? (ie initially installed onto one host, then setup a cluster so it still works if a host goes down)

    Are you backing up on a file level? or VHD image level? snapshots? or a combination?

    Sorry to ask so many question, but greatly appreciated if you could offer some feedback.

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    We have VMWare Essentials Plus on 3 HP DL380 servers sitting on top of an Infortrend SAN. The SAN is quite low-end (despite costing 8k fully loaded) but still managed to survive a controller failure and 2 hard disk failures without causing any downtime (except for a few VMs which were on a LUN that was mis-configured, but even they came back when we re-mapped the LUN, and didn't even need rebooting, seems VMWare freezes the VMs if it looses connection to the disk).

    If you go for VMWare or HyperV, I would have a good look at VEEAM for backup. We put it in over Easter, and its brilliant, used to use Backup Exec, but the cost would have been much higher, and the product isn't as good, we just use it now to ship the VEEAM backups to tape. It de-dupes the backups, so they take a lot less space than the live VMs (although our full backup is still over 1TB!) and takes a complete snapshot of the whole VM so you can restore everything instantly. We restored one VM in under 10 mins using the instant recovery feature which runs the VM live from the backup file, very cool technology.

    They support VMWare now, and will support HyperV in v6 which should come out soon.

  16. #30
    cpjitservices's Avatar
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    Just loaded Proxmox onto one of the backup servers and it's fantastic - I'd recommend anyone using Xen & KVM to give it a go!!!!!

    Might I add that Yes It's Open Source!

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