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MIS Systems Thread, Virtualise SIMS in Technical; Our policy is to set up the SIMS Host as a dedicated server and a SIMS workstation. Setting up the ...
  1. #46

    jinnantonnixx's Avatar
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    Our policy is to set up the SIMS Host as a dedicated server and a
    SIMS workstation.
    Setting up the server this way has several advantages:
    • More effective and efficient support which can isolate and
    establish whether a problem is caused by a network, a
    client or a software issue.
    --- This is a non-sequitur. This conclusion doesn't follow from logical reasoning.

    • Some legacy SIMS modules are 16-bit and will not run
    on Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit) - which negates the
    advantages of the workstation set up.
    --- You don't run client apps on a server. You're introducing extra complexity.


    • SIMS itself is 32-bit, so there are no performance
    enhancements gained by installing a 64-bit operating
    system.
    --- There are plenty of advantages to running 64 bit server and 64 bit SQL server, and plenty of disadvantages to running 32 bit server software. The SIMS client is indeed 32 bit, but the architecture of the underlying servers is opaque. A high performance back-end is better than a low performance back-end.

    • During upgrades it is sometimes required to access the
    SIMS client application - this saves the need to move to
    another machine.
    --- This is an argument? Seriously?

    • During support and upgrades, it is sometimes necessary
    to reboot a server. If the server is used for other purposes
    and running other software, this affects all users
    (sometimes in the classroom) in addition to SIMS users.
    --- An earlier argument stated that running SIMS client on a server is a positive thing. Yet now running other software on a server is a negative thing?


    • If the server is not dedicated to SIMS, performance may
    be affected and conflicts can occur - making it more
    difficult and time consuming to isolate issues.
    --- Quite so. Which is why you don't install client software on a server. Logging in to the server and running the SIMS client will degrade the server performance.
    Last edited by jinnantonnixx; 28th February 2013 at 10:49 AM.

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    Gongalong's Avatar
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    This particular text is a little softer than what we were told before, which was basically that anything other than the recommended server OS was an unsupported environment, so we felt we had no choice, sadly. It's one of only two non-2008 R2 servers, the other of which is 2003 for some ancient MFL software.

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    jinnantonnixx's Avatar
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    I find that odd. What's the difference in support between 2008R2 and other servers? If it involved the disassembly of core dumps I could understand....

    Of course there is licencing - if there's no cash to shell out on servers then that's another matter.
    Last edited by jinnantonnixx; 28th February 2013 at 10:53 AM.

  4. #49
    Gongalong's Avatar
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    Well the difference in support being as per the previous blurb.

    Licensing's not an issue as we have Datacentre (or whatever it is that allows us to install any Server OS on a Hyper-V system).

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    Which begs the question, would there be that much difference in performance between 32 and 64 bit? We would have been running 32 bit on our previous physical SIMS server.

    I'm not well versed in server performance analysis e.g. where to check for network and disk performance bottlenecks, and I know even less about SQL server performance analysis. And perhaps it's just the case that our physical Hyper-V servers and/or SAN don't have enough oomph.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gongalong View Post
    I'm not well versed in server performance analysis e.g. where to check for network and disk performance bottlenecks, and I know even less about SQL server performance analysis. And perhaps it's just the case that our physical Hyper-V servers and/or SAN don't have enough oomph.
    Perfmon. Specifically look at disk queue lengths and run it for a couple of days. Ideally, you'd have metrics from the physical server to compare against, but I'm guessing you don't. Quest also provides free trials of SQL profiling tools (be aware you'll get a fair amount of sales calls). Trial Downloads and Freeware for Quest Software Products.

    And the Microsoft Guidance on SQL tuning: Performance Monitoring and Tuning How-to Topics

    --

    And I don't think much of your CC's "optimum support", their reasoning is at best spurious and they appear to be more interested in making their lives easier than providing support.

  7. Thanks to pete from:

    Gongalong (28th February 2013)

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    Thanks pete. I'll have a look.

    Curiously our CC's IT team also say this re. virtualisation, suggesting that other schools have had issues: While Capita supports virtualisation in principle, schools need to ensure that the machine hosting the virtual SIMS Host has the capabilities and performance
    required to run all virtual machines, whilst not compromising any machine.

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    nicholab's Avatar
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    My view is do it as you get very little support on these things.

  10. Thanks to nicholab from:

    Gongalong (28th February 2013)

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    pete: I've got the graphical side of perfmon running (Average Disk Queue Length, Average Disk Read Queue Length, Average Disk Write Queue Length, Current Disk Queue Length). Is there anything else I should be doing? e.g. capturing the data to file (which I'm not sure how to do)

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    zag
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gongalong View Post
    Which begs the question, would there be that much difference in performance between 32 and 64 bit? We would have been running 32 bit on our previous physical SIMS server.

    I'm not well versed in server performance analysis e.g. where to check for network and disk performance bottlenecks, and I know even less about SQL server performance analysis. And perhaps it's just the case that our physical Hyper-V servers and/or SAN don't have enough oomph.
    I've tested this theory many times and there will be no difference whatsoever in speed with 32 and 64 bit.

    Personally I would get a SQL analaysis tool to see whats going on. Also don't forget that too much ram on a virtual machine can cause problems with MS SQL server performance as it will create a huge memory footprint if a lot is available. I'd recommend 4GB, that's what ours runs on and its very quick. We do run ours on an SSD drive though.
    Last edited by zag; 28th February 2013 at 02:35 PM.

  13. Thanks to zag from:

    Gongalong (1st March 2013)

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    Gongalong's Avatar
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    Any recommendations on which SQL analysis tool to use, and what to monitor? Unfortunately I have zero knowledge in this area.

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    Perfmon is currently showing the following (running since yesterday):

    Avg. Disk Queue Length: Average = 0.060, Minimum = 0.000, Maximum = 0.545, Duration = 1:40
    Avg. Disk Read Queue Length: Average = 0.126, Minimum = 0.000, Maximum = 0.919, Duration = 1:40
    Avg. Disk Write Queue Length: Average = 0.028, Minimum = 0.000, Maximum = 0.188, Duration = 1:40
    Current Disk Queue Length: Average = 0.160, Minimum = 0.000, Maximum = 4.000, Duration = 1:40

    I have a feeling based on the durations though that this is just showing the last 100 seconds of data (viewing via the graph).

    As above, I've never used perfmon before.

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    jinnantonnixx's Avatar
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    SQL Activity Monitor is a good tool.

    Performance Analysis Using SQL Server 2008 Activity Monitor Tool


    Here's a thread that covers a lot of possibilities
    Peaking CPU on server
    Last edited by jinnantonnixx; 1st March 2013 at 12:28 PM.

  17. #59

    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Some free tools here that were mentioned a while back, includes an SQL one and a a few VM ones. Worth a look, and no sting in the tail. Free Enterprise Management Software - Network Performance Management, IT Help Desk & Desktop, Server Management

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    Trying really hard not to flog a dead horse with this Thread but was wondering how people had got on with virtualising SIMS? We have ours virtualised and to be honset, we are thinking of returning to physical due to the issues members of staff are having during the day (massive latency when trying to run reports etc.). We have boosted the processors to 4 sockets/2cores per socket (thinking to switching these to 2 sockets and 4 cores to get the quad core as per the recommended specs) and 24Gb of RAM but duing the day, it can run like a dog and sometimes will lock up if someone is running an intense job (new in-take etc.).

    Just looking for how people got on and more importantly how they have setup the VM in order to run SIMS on in.

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