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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, SIMS Terminal Sevices - Some advice please? in Technical; We're about to merge with another local school and soon realised that their link to our server (currently 10mbit, to ...
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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    SIMS Terminal Sevices - Some advice please?

    We're about to merge with another local school and soon realised that their link to our server (currently 10mbit, to be upgraded to 100mbit) is not going to be up to the task of handling the amount of data SIMS is going to want transfer along it, so we're going down the terminal services route.

    However, my query to you all is, what kind of memory are going to need on this server? A quick look at task manager shows me that SIMS is using around 170mb of RAM running locally on my machine!

    What number of users can we realistically expect to get connected to the server at any one time? We don't have a server yet so I can't tell you how much memory it's going to have or any other specs for that matter, it's just an idea at the minute, I just wondered what others were doing and what kind of success they were having?

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    carvjo's Avatar
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    Here are the capacity planning documents in technet:
    Terminal Server Capacity Planning: Terminal Services Client (Remote Desktop)

    Remote Desktop Services is the latest incarnation of Terminal Services - and said to be a bit more efficient.

    We are putting in a load-balanced farm of 4 x 2008R2 servers (virtualised accross two good-spec hosts in our blade centre - each with 64Gb RAM and dual 6xcore processors) to cope with 200 connections - therefore we are looking at a density of 50 connections per server. This is probably an overkill - but we will find out when it goes live?

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    LosOjos (29th June 2010)

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carvjo View Post
    Here are the capacity planning documents in technet:
    Terminal Server Capacity Planning: Terminal Services Client (Remote Desktop)

    Remote Desktop Services is the latest incarnation of Terminal Services - and said to be a bit more efficient.

    We are putting in a load-balanced farm of 4 x 2008R2 servers (virtualised accross two good-spec hosts in our blade centre - each with 64Gb RAM and dual 6xcore processors) to cope with 200 connections - therefore we are looking at a density of 50 connections per server. This is probably an overkill - but we will find out when it goes live?
    SIMS.net isn't supported on 2k8R2 or 64bit clients (which is what a TS box would be) as yet.

    We have SIMS.net running in a citrix environment, and as you say @Los0jos; the memory usage of SIMS.net is not small. I've seen it go up to 250Mb or more when using assessment manager and the like. Personally, I'd be working with at least 256Mb memory per user.

    The other thing is, you can virtualise your TS boxes. I have 4 virtual citrix servers here, running 2003 R2 each with 4GB RAM each. (But that is also to run 57 clients which the kids use, as well as the 8 staff terminals).

    How many concurrent SIMS users are you expecting?

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    LosOjos (29th June 2010)

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    How many concurrent SIMS users are you expecting?
    As we use SIMS for registration and teachers tend to leave it running on their machine, I think we're looking at having around 50 users accessing SIMS via TS/RDS for registration every hour, then it would be sat idle with maybe 10 users actively using SIMS most of the day (even idle, SIMS hogs up a hell of a lot of memory though)

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    As we use SIMS for registration and teachers tend to leave it running on their machine, I think we're looking at having around 50 users accessing SIMS via TS/RDS for registration every hour, then it would be sat idle with maybe 10 users actively using SIMS most of the day (even idle, SIMS hogs up a hell of a lot of memory though)
    I'd be looking at a dual quad core xeon machine (this is my base for new servers), with 16GB RAM minimum, and a couple of pairs of 15k rpm hard drives. I'd then install 3 32bit terminal server machines onto xenserver or similar and get them to connect to those. I'd be looking at Windows 2008 Server 32bit (not r2) as you can do load balancing in 2k8 (via TS Session Broker) but need a third party package of some form to do it in 2k3. Each terminal server would then have 4GB RAM available to them.

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    LosOjos (29th June 2010)

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    dhicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LosOjos View Post
    What number of users can we realistically expect to get connected to the server at any one time?
    This thread might be useful:

    Hardware requirements for Terminal Server

    Bear in mind that your server will need to run SIMS and MS Office, as SIMS uses Office to do reports and so on. I'm guessing a Dell T610 with 24GB of RAM (so 512MB-ish per user) might just about do, but you're more likely looking at two such machines.

    Edit: am a wolly, naturally 32-bit server with 24GB of RAM isn't going to be much use - localzuk, above, sounds like he has the right idea. I still think 24GB of RAM in one machine might be the most cost efficient configuration - more than that and you have to start buying extra fancy/expensive RAM, at which point it's time to simply buy a second server.

    Edit (again - am having a particularly incoherant day today): You could, of course, simply buy a whole bunch of smaller, single-processor machines with 4GB of RAM each, which might be cheaper short-term but bear in mind that there's bound (hopefully...) to be a 64-bit SIMS client turning up sooner or later, at which point you can switch a larger server to run Server 2008 64-bit instead of having to chop it up in to multiple virtual machines.

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    Last edited by dhicks; 29th June 2010 at 12:36 PM.

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    LosOjos (29th June 2010)

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    LosOjos's Avatar
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    Thanks all for your help (feel free if anybosy else has anything to chip in), I've got some good ground now for suggestions of equipment we'll need to purchase

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    carvjo's Avatar
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    If you want to go 2008r2:
    The SIMS client will run on 64bit - (it certainly runs on Windows 7 64bit - search the forums - SIMS 64bit) - but probably won't be officially supported for some time - and some modules such as Nova-T 4 - no chance..
    If you can put up with this - you can address more RAM and get away with one server for 50 users..
    Try it in a lab - and use something like "The Remote Desktop Load Simulation toolset "..
    Set RDS to 'time-out' idle users after a suitable period of inactivity - this will free resources for those who genuinely want to work..

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    dhicks (29th June 2010)

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    Quote Originally Posted by carvjo View Post
    The SIMS client will run on 64bit
    Set RDS to 'time-out' idle users after a suitable period of inactivity - this will free resources for those who genuinely want to work..
    Might be handy to have SIMS open and ready-to-go for registration, though - might do better to set a password-protected screen saver to a minimal timeout (3 mins?) so all the teacher has to do is type their password and SIMS is ready to use. I get the impression that's maybe how this school intends to use SIMS - might simply have to plan on having 50-odd SIMS clients in RAM constantly.

    --
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Might be handy to have SIMS open and ready-to-go for registration, though - might do better to set a password-protected screen saver to a minimal timeout (3 mins?) so all the teacher has to do is type their password and SIMS is ready to use. I get the impression that's maybe how this school intends to use SIMS - might simply have to plan on having 50-odd SIMS clients in RAM constantly.

    --
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    Yeah that's how things work at the minute, otherwise teachers get frustrated at waiting for SIMS to load and don't bother doing their register

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    going back to the original post - here's a thought!

    ..as an alternative to publishing the whole terminal server desktop and requiring teachers to login to the PC on the desktop - then via RDS.. why not use App-V (or Citrix XenApp, or 2X application Server) to just publish SIMS as an application on the teacher's desktop?

    You will still need a beefy terminal server or two - but will be so much more seemless for the user..

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    We use 2 load balanced terminal servers for SIMS access each with 4GB of RAM in them. The can comfortably support 30-40 concurrent users each. These were purchased 2 years ago, but if I was looking to get them now I would have put 8GB in.

    Localzuk mentioned Session Brooker - i've had terrible trouble with this and as a result when some staff logon to the TS it requires a double login as the session brooker balances the load. I personally which I had just stuck with plain NLB - just a thought!

    Also worth looking at is RemoteApps (part of Server 2008 RDS) which gives the impression SIMS is running locally.
    Last edited by adamf; 29th June 2010 at 09:26 PM. Reason: added a bit

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    dhicks (7th July 2010)

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    rsenior's Avatar
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    I setup as a test ,a dell r800 with 4 gb and 160 gb hardrive with server 2008 and apps publishing to publish sims .We now use the same server for staff to access sims from home and even with 25 user on at a time it still runs well.

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    From talking with one of our schools, the only problem they have with SIMS on 64bit is System Manager ... so he is going to run that on a virtual workstation instead.

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