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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Whether to virtualise our main servers in Technical; Thank you to everyone for their thoughts, especially to Domino who gave me some extra tips in person at BETT. ...
  1. #16

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    Thank you to everyone for their thoughts, especially to Domino who gave me some extra tips in person at BETT. The apparently universal approval for virtualisation overcomes my doubts. I will definitely get researching and try to introduce it.

    Apart from the documentation of whichever virtualisation system we go for and these forums of course, are there any other sources of information on virtualisation that anyone would recommend?

  2. #17
    penfold_99's Avatar
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    I would virtualise everything but keep 1dc on a physical box (only running the ad services) as if your are backing off your host servers to a San and everything dies, users will be able to still login and get to the internet.

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  4. #18

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    Virtualisation is a total no brainer, modern servers are totally bored with the load of a standard windows server, just add more ram and make them run 10 or 12. I've got a big environment, but I would virtualise in any environment just for the benefits of role separation and the ability to add a new server for any new roles that come along.

    Veeam for backup is an absoloute marvel. Mine runs through about 6TB of servers every night in about 6 hours.

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    Jollity (30th January 2014)

  6. #19
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    Whether to virtualise our main servers

    Virtulisation is a no brainier. A modern two socket server will have ample processing power, however get as much memory as you can afford. A SAN is nice if you have the budget, but with Veeam not essential; however you will need to backup to a NAS or fast (USB3 or SATA) external hard drive. Hyper-V on server 2012 R2 is a vast improvement over 2008 and very nearly as good as VMware. I would recommend that you run a separate physical DC.
    Last edited by SeanVin; 28th January 2014 at 10:52 PM.

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  8. #20

    glennda's Avatar
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    Yes!!

    Get 1 x this - HP ProLiant DL380p Gen8 E5-2690v2 2P 32GB-R P420i/2GB FBWC 750W RPS Server(709943-421)

    add another 32GB ram into it. Then stick 8 x 450 or 600gb drives in it. If you are going local storage ensure you get a 2gb FBWC raid card. also don't install ESXI to USB stick if going the VMware root, install to a Good Quality SD Card (these servers have a slot directly on Mobo)

    i would also recommend if you are going to get a machine at the other end of the building (like current) then I would Custom build a powerful desktop with SATA drives to replicate using Veeam to.

    Note: a replication is not a backup, you need to ensure you backup also to Nas or similar.

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    Jollity (29th January 2014)

  10. #21

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    If you are going to do it, do it properly. The first thing you need to do is define how meny virtual servers you need. 1 or 2 AD/DNS? DHCP? Printers? MIS? File Storage? Personnally I'd say seperate them in to as meny individual roles as is practicle. No sense haveing the Webserver and WDS sitting on the same VM when they can have one each.

    Next up, work out how many CPU cores, Ram and disk space each of those individual VM's need. From this you can work out how meny CPU cores, Ram and hard disk your physical servers need. For a 100 computer school I think it'd be tough to justify more than 2, maybe 3 host servers.

    For two host servers make sure they are spec'd to run at 1/2 CPU/RAM/Disk capacity when every thing is on and working. For three host servers you work to 2/3 capcity (4=3/4 capacity, etc - assuming all servers have the same capacity). This means if one server fails the other can take up the slack.

    Finally, I think you might find SAN's an unnecerssary expense on a small network. You might get away with a top end NAS with iSCSI as shared storage. Personally, I'd go for local storage in this scenario. Hyper-V (and no doubt VMWare too - haven't used in a long while) allows you to replicate and synchronise across hosts without using any shared storage. I believe it can do auto failover without shared storage now, so if 1 server goes down the others automagically take up the load.

    For networking, without at a NAS, you want two networks 1 "management" interface for you to connect to the server on and 1 "switch" interface for the VM's to use. If possible go for 2 bonded NIC's on the switch interface. If you are using a NAS/SAN with iSCSI, then youd need a third network dedicated to that - again best as 2 bonded NIC's if possible.

    Also, you'll need Windows DataCenter. All license problems solved with one purchase - run as meny VM's of any version of Windows server as you need/like
    Last edited by tmcd35; 29th January 2014 at 08:29 AM.

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  12. #22

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    Virtualisation is definitely the way forward, splitting server roles, creating new servers will make your life easier in the long run. I've used VM Ware in a large school, amazing to see how little resources are used at times despite large number of user accessing servers.

    Veeam for backing up your VM's is fantastic product, would highly recommend to anyone.

    At the Bett Show last week I had a look at the Dell PowerEdge VRTX server, looks a great bit of kit if you are buying a new server for this project, I would consider their 4 hour warranty as well so you are covered just in case.

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    Jollity (29th January 2014)

  14. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solutions_James View Post
    Virtualisation is definitely the way forward, splitting server roles, creating new servers will make your life easier in the long run. I've used VM Ware in a large school, amazing to see how little resources are used at times despite large number of user accessing servers.

    Veeam for backing up your VM's is fantastic product, would highly recommend to anyone.

    At the Bett Show last week I had a look at the Dell PowerEdge VRTX server, looks a great bit of kit if you are buying a new server for this project, I would consider their 4 hour warranty as well so you are covered just in case.
    They had the VRTX at BETT? dammit!

    the only Dell bit of server kit I've been remotely interested in for a long while and I missed it....

  15. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Hyper-V (and no doubt VMWare too - haven't used in a long while) allows you to replicate and synchronise across hosts without using any shared storage. I believe it can do auto failover without shared storage now, so if 1 server goes down the others automagically take up the load.
    Is that with HyperV Server 2012 on or is it in 2008 R2 aswell?

  16. #25

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiza View Post
    Is that with HyperV Server 2012 on or is it in 2008 R2 aswell?
    I think it was introduced with 2012. Not sure if SCVMM is needed as well, I don't think it is. We have a very high speed/high capacity SMB NAS set up for shared storage which was designed aroudn 2008R2. Had the feature been available then I think I would have used local storage on our network.

    On a side note, just looked at Dell's website - the VRTX doeslook like a very, very interesting all in one option! Maybe a little pricey, but could be worth it.

  17. #26
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    Virtualise, it'll be the last upgrade you ever do. (maybe not) p2V your hardware servers onto a new virtual environment (you can schedule this) then fire 'em up change the network card settigns and they'll be up and running like nothing changed in minutes. Once virtualised you can pick em' apart with the security of snapshots etc. The stress relief of being able to role back a fluffed setting or restoring an entire copy of the server if something goes wrong is bliss. no more ASR disks!!!!

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  19. #27

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    Thank you again all for further useful advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by tmcd35 View Post
    Next up, work out how many CPU cores, Ram and disk space each of those individual VM's need. From this you can work out how meny CPU cores, Ram and hard disk your physical servers need. For a 100 computer school I think it'd be tough to justify more than 2, maybe 3 host servers.
    How would you go about working out CPU, RAM and disk space requirements for a VM? Do you measure performance on existing servers or guestimate? How much overhead should be allowed for the OS on each VM (particularly how much disk space for system files)?

    Quote Originally Posted by glennda View Post
    i would also recommend if you are going to get a machine at the other end of the building (like current) then I would Custom build a powerful desktop with SATA drives to replicate using Veeam to.
    The example server spec is really helpful, glennda. Are you suggesting the powerful desktop could actually be used as a virtual host if the main server is down or is the idea just a quickly accessible copy of the virtual machines in case of disk failure?

  20. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by chazzy2501 View Post
    Virtualise, it'll be the last upgrade you ever do. (maybe not) p2V your hardware servers onto a new virtual environment (you can schedule this) then fire 'em up change the network card settigns and they'll be up and running like nothing changed in minutes. Once virtualised you can pick em' apart with the security of snapshots etc. The stress relief of being able to role back a fluffed setting or restoring an entire copy of the server if something goes wrong is bliss. no more ASR disks!!!!
    Certainly sounds like a plan for the other servers, though probably as a phase 2 after upgrading the main ones. Do you have any issues with the drivers in doing this? Presumably the virtual hardware cannot perfectly reproduce the original?

  21. #29

    tmcd35's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jollity View Post
    How would you go about working out CPU, RAM and disk space requirements for a VM? Do you measure performance on existing servers or guestimate? How much overhead should be allowed for the OS on each VM (particularly how much disk space for system files)?
    It's exactly the same as spec'ing physical servers to do the same tasks. What does the OS you are using recommend? What does the developer of the software you are using recommend?

    If you are virtualising existing servers then yes look at current performance measures for those machines.

    Also, if using Hyper-V, don't forget to spec an additional core and 2Gb for the host OS. (I'm not sure what VMWare asks for the host, probably 1core and around 512mb).

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    Jollity (31st January 2014)

  23. #30
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    Make use of VMWare Converter it's a free tool. You can convert any powered on machine to a VMware ESXI Host (Converter classes it as a Physical Machine).

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    Jollity (31st January 2014)

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