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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, XenServer vs ESXi in Technical; ...
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    XenServer vs ESXi

    Hi all

    I am planning to virtualise our servers in the summer. We only have 7 servers but there all getting old, so planning to get 2 HP DL180 G6's.

    Storage will all be local RAID as we do not have the money for a SAN and backups will be manually exported to a NAS that we already have.

    I just canít make my mid up which one to go for Citrix XenServer or VMware ESXi. Just wanted to know what people think of both of these products.

    From what I can see is that Citrix has a centralised management console plus live motion but do we really need it for 2 servers. Also what are conversion tools like for both of them.


    Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Last edited by Kamran7860; 28th May 2009 at 06:24 PM.

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    nicholab's Avatar
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    Use Falconstor (Network Storage Server Virtual Appliance http://www.falconstor.com/en/pages/?pn=NSSVA) or Lefthand networks software to create a virtual SAN!

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    Kamran7860 - Are you going for the 'free' or 'paid-for' solutions from Citrix and VMware? I assume you're talking about a free solution of ESXi without vCenter and the 'non-Essentials' version of XenServer.

    Personally based on my testing, I'd go with Xen if I was going for a free solution and VMware vSphere/ESX for a paid-for solution. I found Xen's free solution to have better and less cut-down features than VMware's, and it's also quite a bit easier to set up and configure. On the flip side, VMware vSphere/ESX with vCenter is a much more enterprise-level solution with more advanced features. I guess it comes down to what you can afford and what features you consider essential. If you're going with local storage rather than a SAN then you're not going to be able to make use of the failover functionality anyway so the free version of Xen may well do everything you need.

    (I'm assuming there's no budget available for a 'cheap' SAN like a Sun 7110?)

    Cheers,
    Chris

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    Yep i am looking at the free solutions. Ive just been testing them and i like both. The only problem is the

    XenConverter its not been able to convert all of the Test servers. VMware vCenter Converter on the

    other hand has done them all with no problems.


    Nope no budget for a SAN yet but maybe in the in a year or two. What do you think for the hardware

    HP DL180 G6's or Sun Fire X2200 M2's. I am not sure if ESXi will work on the HP. However the SUN can

    according to the sales guy.

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    We're mainly a Dell shop here, and I'd definitely recommend looking at them for servers. HP have never wowed me with their stuff, but if you've already got a lot of HP kit then it might be easiest to stick with them. They should really have hardware that's VMware certified so just give them a shout and I'm sure they can find the right server for you. I've never had any Sun servers, but the Sun 7410 we've got has really impressed me. It's got 24 drives in it and it's the coolest running thing in the server room, it actually chucks out cool air!

    Cheers,
    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamran7860 View Post

    Nope no budget for a SAN yet but maybe in the in a year or two. What do you think for the hardware

    HP DL180 G6's or Sun Fire X2200 M2's. I am not sure if ESXi will work on the HP. However the SUN can

    according to the sales guy.
    I'd go for the Sun hardware based on the fact that the out of band management is great on Sun servers. Everything is included, unlike with other companies where you have to pay to unlock certain features!

    Sun also seem to pack much more then everyone else into the same size space

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    I think if you're quick you may be able to get a matching grant application in to Andy at Cutter (his username on these forums is linescanner).

    By not using a SAN you're missing out on one of the most important and beneficial reasons for virtualising - the ability to failover virtual machines from one physical host to another in a matter of minutes.

    I would reconsider not using a SAN to be honest - if one of your physical hosts fails for whatever reason all the VM's on it will be down, and stay down until it can be repaired / replaced (providing you have actually managed to back up your VM images!)

    Butuz

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamran7860 View Post
    What do you think for the hardware

    HP DL180 G6's or Sun Fire X2200 M2's. I am not sure if ESXi will work on the HP. However the SUN can

    according to the sales guy.
    We have a couple of EXSi setups on HP DL140 G3 and it works really well.

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    pod
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    Checkout backing up your virtual machines on Esxi, isn't straight forward in my experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    By not using a SAN you're missing out on one of the most important and beneficial reasons for virtualising - the ability to failover virtual machines from one physical host to another in a matter of minutes.

    I would reconsider not using a SAN to be honest - if one of your physical hosts fails for whatever reason all the VM's on it will be down, and stay down until it can be repaired / replaced (providing you have actually managed to back up your VM images!)

    Butuz
    So I can understand what you propose can you confirm:

    You store the host images stored on the SAN.
    On the virtualisation host you mount the SAN and run the image.

    And could the virtual servers also point to another storage area on the SAN e.g. user areas.

    I'm assuming something like iSCSI for the SAN ?

    Regards

    Budgester

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    Duke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by budgester View Post
    You store the host images stored on the SAN.
    On the virtualisation host you mount the SAN and run the image.

    And could the virtual servers also point to another storage area on the SAN e.g. user areas.

    I'm assuming something like iSCSI for the SAN ?
    Figured I'd drop a quick reply as no one else has yet:

    On the SAN you make make some space for your virtual machines, be it an iSCSI LUN or a NFS filesystem. Within the Xen or ESX management console you add/attach the storage which makes it available to your physical hosts. When you create a virtual machine its virtual hard disk files are then stored on the SAN which is independent from any of the hosts. If a physical host dies then another one automatically takes over and boots up the virtual machines from the SAN. Your downtime goes from several days to get a server running again to under two minutes.

    Yes, there's no reason why your virtual machines can't use the SAN at a file-level too for storage (or block-level if you wanted iSCSI attached storage). You treat your virtual machines just like a physical one, and you could map a drive on them too the SAN, or even use CIFS to have your client PCs and users working directly on it.

    A SAN is typically block-level, which will usually be iSCSI. However, if you're looking at a unified storage system like the Sun S7000 range then you get iSCSI, NFS and CIFS all free. NFS apparently gives better performance than iSCSI with ESX, but the principal is the same. With CIFS your Windows users can directly access the box with \\san\share.

    Hope this helps,
    Chris

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    All of VMWares stuff works very nicely with HP stuff.
    Two reasons as to why:
    1) Its says on their site.
    2) The conference i was at the other day with HP/VMWare heavily advertises the 'link' that the two companies and their products have.

    .

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    Quote Originally Posted by pod View Post
    Checkout backing up your virtual machines on Esxi, isn't straight forward in my experience.
    Do it with a script.

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    Cheap free SANs

    Kamran,

    I've tested ESXi with OpenFiler, FreeNAS, StarWind iSCSI SANS

    Openfiler is by far the best performing SAN.

    We're about to go into a live test in a production environment in my company.

    Just FYI, SAN is still possible on a low budget.

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    We have been fortunate enough to have taken advantage of the Sun advantage program... 2 4150 Sunfires with 56 Gb Ram each for the price of 1.... linked to a Dell iscsi target. 6 servers on each with failover, HA etc.
    Yes and space for data areas. 2 servers are Novell. Implementing this month....

    Oh yes ESX enterprise on both..
    Last edited by sirsir; 17th June 2009 at 08:36 AM. Reason: left out vital info

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