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MIS Systems Thread, SIMS/FMS SQL on VMWare? in Technical; Hello, Our SIMS system is very very slow, and I suspect the existing server hardware isn't helping (one mediocre Dell ...
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    Johan's Avatar
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    SIMS/FMS SQL on VMWare?

    Hello,

    Our SIMS system is very very slow, and I suspect the existing server hardware isn't helping (one mediocre Dell 1900 running the application shared & both databases).

    I am thinking of moving the DBs for both SIMS and FMS to a new & much more powerful server - this seems easy enough following the advice I had from Capita (time will tell). However, I was hoping to move it to a VM platform (like most of our servers now), but I am told by Capita that isn't supported.

    I know Microsoft SQL server & VMWare mixes very happily.

    I was wondering how other schools out there have setup their SIMS system & whether they have used VM/any other virtualisation system as the platform for their SIMS server?


    Kind regards,
    John.
    Last edited by Johan; 11th March 2010 at 09:50 AM.

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    matt40k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johan View Post
    I was hoping to move it to a VM platform (like most of our servers now), but I am told by Capita that isn't supported.
    Hope you have that in writing. The whole idea of VM is that the software doesn't know it's virtualized. The only reason I can image they would say this is if they provide "hardware" support. A number of schools have virtualized there SIMS server without any problems. So long as it's HVM so supports unmodified operating systems you'll be fine, which VMWare is.

    Just don't store the backups on the same virtual hdd!!

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    Johan (11th March 2010)

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    Cmd.exe's Avatar
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    I can't comment on FMS, but with SIMS - I spoke to Capita support only last week about this and they said it would be fine for us to virtualise our SIMS server. They said they support the application not the hardware; if you have a problem that they can't replicate on physical hardware, they won't be able to support you, but that is v. unlikely. They're all using VMs up at Capita anyway right?

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    Johan (11th March 2010), mrtechsystems (13th March 2010)

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    Johan's Avatar
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    It is nice to know that Capita are consistent then! I challenged him to the logic of what he said, particularly as I was only talking about virtualising the DB aspect. At that point he said it would be fine if I did after all!

    When it comes to wanting to virtualise the SIMS application portion, I will contact them again with the hope of getting to speak to somebody different!

    Are there schools out there who run SIMS for 1800 pupils and 300 member of staff (ish), where SIMS is running quite well? I am a little uncertain if throwing more hardware at the problem will totally resolve the speed issues!!!

    Thank you,
    John.

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    Cmd.exe's Avatar
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    We run SIMS for 1800 pupils and 300 member of staff (ish)!
    At the moment the physical sims server is a HP DL380 dual quad core with 4gb ram, running server 2003 and sql 2005. Mostly SIMS runs fine for our users, although some reports have taken an excessively long time to complete. We have yet to determine the cause of this.

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    Johan (11th March 2010)

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    danrhodes's Avatar
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    We have sims runnign on a virtual Hyper-V server and its runs better than it ever did on a physical box.

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    Johan (11th March 2010)

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    Johan's Avatar
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    That is fantastic news, your HP server is very similar to the VM platform we will be moving to. I am encouraged that it might make a difference now!

    CHeers,
    John

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    The official line from Capita when I asked was provided they support the OS you're running in the virtual environment, do what you like. The only caveat was don't expect the helldesk to be versed in such things if you ask them a virtualisation-related question.

    We run SIMS on XenServer and it's nippy as you like.

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    Please PM me with the details of the discussion you had with us that said that VM isn't supported by us. I will check it out and post a reply. We use VM all the time so I don't understand why this message is being given.

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    I've had this checked now and as I thought we do support SIMS on VM. We've made sure all of our support desk staff are clear on this now.

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    danrhodes (12th March 2010)

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    I have successfully used SIMS as a test installation on Virtual Machines, VMWARE fusion/server. We are about to virtualise in the summer and will most probably go the Hyper-V route as it's cheaper. ( i know! i'd love vmware but we're not allowed )

    I heard of many people successfully using SIMS on VM, and as confirmed now, Capita do support it.

    Some people do query the use of SQL on a virtual machine, yes it's supported and can work quite well, but it's about resource management. Ideally, you want to dedicate resources to SQL as it likes to have as much as possible. Especially in terms of disk access, you don't want a host server running many VM guests that are hammering the disk that your SQL resides on. Depending on your solution choice (VMWare, Xen, Hyper-V) and the implementation, these issues are not so bad.

    VMWare allows you to overallocate memory and be smart with resource management. With all, you can assign separate dedicated disk space (afaik), so the issues are of negligible relevance.

    My initial plan is to dedicate one server to host only SIMS (in VM), thus first seeing how it runs, and adding another smallish service as another VM later and see if it impacts performance. By doing this, moving from powerful physical server to less powerful VM, it will be a big test of how resource intensive SIMS actually is.

    I've found that it's often the SIMS application and the way it works that is slow, not necessarily the server / SQL server. Loads don't go too high generally, yet it runs slow, however i can go to the server and run queries directly on the database that return in seconds.

    There's a thread elsewhere with really useful info on optimizing SQL, and i don't know if it's mentioned there, but it's worth considering storing your ldf separate to your mdf and other disk related issues that can help performance. Worth a look if you are physical or virtual...

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    I think people forget how little SIMS actually uses. Most of the actual work is done on the client, so assuming SIMS server is just SQL, so long as the database is held in RAM it shouldn't matter too much about disc IO. DMS however is a different subject.

    Quote Originally Posted by vikpaw View Post
    There's a thread elsewhere with really useful info on optimizing SQL, and i don't know if it's mentioned there, but it's worth considering storing your ldf separate to your mdf and other disk related issues that can help performance. Worth a look if you are physical or virtual...
    I would doubt this would have much affect on SQL 2008 assuming your using the Capita migration tool (and it does what it's suppose to). Having the tempdb on another disc deffo help.

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matt40k View Post
    I would doubt this would have much affect on SQL 2008 assuming your using the Capita migration tool (and it does what it's suppose to). Having the tempdb on another disc deffo help.
    Please elaborate Matt. What is it 'supposed' to do? I haven't done it yet.

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    At the SUS, Jon said they will be using\recommending the Simple recovery model. Didn't think the model benefited from having the files split overall.

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    vikpaw's Avatar
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    i don't know. maybe i'm confusing splitting the tempdb off to the ldf....
    i'm sure i saw discussion somewhere about the ldf, especially if a hard drive failed but i can't think why now.

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