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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, Best way forward - Virtulisation in Technical; Originally Posted by MrWu Interesting discussions here, and some of you guys have an IT budget that would put a ...
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    mrbios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrWu View Post
    Interesting discussions here, and some of you guys have an IT budget that would put a banking corporation to shame.
    I'm in kinda same position really. I do appreciate the benefits of virtualisation but I'm of the attitude that it needs to be done properly if you are going to bung all your servers into a SAN, that is DOUBLE up on everything for redundancy. I've recently priced up a very nice 3 host and SAN with fibre switch, and even utilising my existing equipment the whole project was approaching 30k+ which very hard to justify to Bursar when to him it looks like 4 boxes and a shed load of cables lol. So back to what Abutters mentioned using local hosts and good backups...this might be better solution for some. It's also setting up realistic expectations with SLAs with the SMTs, although in truth all this will go out of the window when they can't host a class due to 1 hour downtime.

    So I'm on a crossroad as well .... Does one choose a well designed VM+ SAN ? Local storage with VMs ? Go back to old school, single servers with good backups? Maybe looking at important servers in the school(fileservers,exchange,sql) and clustering those?
    You're looking at it from the "doing it all in one go" sense though, i can't speak for others here but personally i've rolled out and implemented my virtualisation plan in stages over the course of 3-4 years. No massive 30k spending on one go, instead we've spent varied amounts each year for the past 3-4 years, (never more than 10k in one go apart from one year when we reallllly needed a new core switch which came out of capital expenditure) implementing bits and bobs as we go and slowly gearing it towards being a very fine tuned system, this way also allows you to keep up to date.....if we had done everything in one go 4 years ago then i expect we'd be seeing a need to spend lots in one go again in a few years time which to a bursar wouldn't have been viable.

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    That would have been the sensible way to do it.

    Unfortunately I wish the SMT had a bit more common sense, they talked to me about this massive project when I started before Christmas where decision has already been made to go wireless, whereby the recommendation I made was to look at the infrastructure, server and Electrics first. Being new boy or honeymoon period they did find the money but the date and deadline to get whatever done never shifted from September 2012, which in a way I shot myself in the foot for suggesting a strategy lol!

    On the good side the school has been upgraded to OM3, UPS phase 1 done, new digital displays, DPM sorting out all backups, Forefront replacing Sophos, Exchange 2010 migrated, Windows 2008 domian installed, test wireless with Unifi installed...they can't complain for lack of progress.

    Summer will be insane, school wide wireless, replace all switches / core + VLAN, Replace filservers, virtualise, windows7 roll out, new terminal server farm etc. new email domain, new website.

    PS hardest part I find working at a school(my background was corporate) ICT does not have a huge voting power on decisions. Still, nice busy place to be!

    Sorry I digress from the thread, but mrbios I would love to be where you are right now, you seem to have your setup nicely organised.

  4. #48

    fiza's Avatar
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    @mrbios - I think I will be taking a few steps back and slowing things down

    I think I will start with the server I have and start testing/playing on that with Hyper-V and some test VMs.

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    With the old single box paln you stay on the treadmil of refreshing all the hardware and going through the pain of migrating from all the old servers to new servers, and that cost soon mounts up.

    With VM, if the performance is a bit lack luster. Chuck in some more virtual ram or an extra virtual proc.. If the Hypervisor is being stretched then It's time for an additional one and split the load.

    We could never do what we want with traditional servers, partly because of power, heat and space restrictions emposed during new build.

    Rob

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    This is or main site server room, we have another cabling closet on this site. The other site has a 4 Cab server room and 4 small cabling closets.

    Some of the equipment ( Dell Stuff ) was from our old buildings but we have put them to good use as VMware and Xen standalone hosts using lcoal storage. Still more work to be done as we have only just released the legacy EMC san from it's former duties.

    cab3.jpg
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    Rob

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    zag
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    I've had my servers virtualized for a few years now.

    I wouldn't bother with SANS or redundancy personally. Thats more use for datacenters and banks who need it 24/7 100% uptime thing and are willing to pay through the nose for it.

    In a school a few rack servers, hyper-v and a good bit of backup software is all you need. I think it cost us less than 6k to do the lot.

    If I had a local hard disk fail, I would simply restore the full Hyper-v server backup I make every 2 weeks, then the latest nightly database/file backup. Everything could be up and running in 45mins.

    Virtualization makes disaster recovery so much easier.

    And yeh don't do it all in one go. We have really benefited from the advances in technology by doing it over a number of years. Just as an example the original servers I bought for about 1k came with 16gb of ram. These days I can get 32GB RAM and an SSD drive to boot for that.
    Last edited by zag; 22nd June 2012 at 12:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    Anything you want to know? We've had 4 + 1 JBOD in the time i've been here (ALL still running, 1 about to be decommissioned for being 7 years old)
    Do you use them as an iSCSI target for VMs?
    What's the performance like? (I'm running a Netapp FAS-2020 here... and the performance is adequate but not amazing, so I have considered using a secondary SAN to speed up the more disk intensive VMs...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pantscat View Post
    Do you use them as an iSCSI target for VMs?
    What's the performance like? (I'm running a Netapp FAS-2020 here... and the performance is adequate but not amazing, so I have considered using a secondary SAN to speed up the more disk intensive VMs...)
    Yep I'm using two Eonstor DS S12E-G2140's as my VM iSCSI targets, each one has 3 RAID6 arrays in a tiered storage setup, one of those Eonstor DS's has a JBOD off it with 2 more arrays for file storage, then there's an older A16E with two more arrays synchronised via DFSR with the JBOD file storage.

    All of them are reliable, did have a stick of ECC cache memory die in the A16E a while back, but that's an incredibly rare occourance for a stick of ECC memory to completely fail though, so i think we were just unlucky there. As for performance, they're pretty good, for a short period of time we had the entire VM storage on ONE 4 disk RAID6 array on the A16E, only time they visibly struggled was during backups.

    What sort of VMs are you looking to improve performance on, SQL perchance? I find the SANs themselves cope with everything i throw at them, the only limiting factor is disk IOPs which could be the issue in your case?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiza View Post
    How would people recommend I proceed?
    SANs are, in general, more suited to larger setups (probably half a dozen or more processing nodes), just because it takes some economics of scale to make them worthwhile - decent speed / latency connections between VMs and their virtual harddrives (i.e. preferablly fibre channel) and failover (i.e. preferably mirrored SAN hardware). For the average school (or, indeed, small business) setup I'd aim to use local storage on each processing node. You can have instant failover by real-time mirroring volumes between physical machines - set the machines up in pairs, preferably in different physical locations for extra security, and have them mirror each other's virtual machine volumes. In the past I've used Xen and DRBD for this, and this is my current home server setup, and it can allow for good instant-recovery abilities.

    However, in my experience, most schools and smaller businesses don't actually need proper, millisecond-response failover. Sudden, unexpected, catastophic hardware failure should, hopefully, be very rare, and a few minutes of downtime while you boot up VMs on another machine are generally perfectly acceptable. This gets rid of the need for real-time mirroring of virtual machine images in exchange for taking regular backup snapshots instead and having those snapshots exported to a different storage volume. This is also rather easier to set up as a proper backup solution, with previous versions of virtual machine images available in case of disaster or configuration problems.

    I'd use that Dell R510 as your main VM host, hosting your Domain Controller, print server, MIS server and general applications server(s) on local storage. Give the R310 an equal amount of local storage and have it regularly take backup snapshots from the R510 (have the R310 host another domain controller, though, don't take images of the first domain controller, DCs don't restore well from image backups as they use a lot of time-sensitive data). You can host as many extra VMs as you can fit on, although you might want to bear in mind that if one machine conks out one day you'll want to be able to run a minimally functional system on one machine.

    Use one of your other servers as a dedicated file server for user files - we've found FreeNAS to work well, with a nice, GUI-based interface and support for ZFS. Bear in mind that ZFS' best feature, block-level deduplication, takes a lot of RAM - your file server might need 8GB or more of RAM and a decent processor to make best use of ZFS. Have another dedicated server, with at least 1.5 times the file server's storage size, as a backup for the file server, with regular snapshots or backups available so users can get to previous versions of files.

  12. 4 Thanks to dhicks:

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbios View Post
    What sort of VMs are you looking to improve performance on, SQL perchance? I find the SANs themselves cope with everything i throw at them, the only limiting factor is disk IOPs which could be the issue in your case?
    Yep... disk IOPS is the issue with SQL... oddly enough everything else (including Exchange 2010, which surprised me) is perfectly happy.
    Last edited by pantscat; 22nd June 2012 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Poor grammar!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pantscat View Post
    Yep... disk IOPS is the issue with SQL... oddly enough everything else (including Exchange 2010, which surprised me) is perfectly happy.
    Does your NetApp box support SSDs? even if it was just the two SSDs in RAID1 would do the job, you can leave the OS on regular storage and just move all the mdf and ldf files on to newly allocated SSD drive. Did the exact same thing only yesterday (granted i'm sort of trialling consumer based SSDs in my SAN, though a guy local to us has had a lot of success with the same attempt)

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    @mrbios - that's a very good question. I have a feeling there is no official support for SSDs in the Netapp chassis yet. But I'll do some research!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pantscat View Post
    @mrbios - that's a very good question. I have a feeling there is no official support for SSDs in the Netapp chassis yet. But I'll do some research!
    I should add though, that in an ideal world i'd say RAID6 minimum for an SSD array when using consumer rather than enterprise ones, as due to the way the drives wear when it finally comes to them failing they're all likely to fail around the same time (not mega close...but certainly closer than hdds) so having that bit of extra redundancy makes you feel that bit safer

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    Quote Originally Posted by pantscat View Post
    Yep... disk IOPS is the issue with SQL... oddly enough everything else (including Exchange 2010, which surprised me) is perfectly happy.
    Exchange will cheerfully use pretty much all the RAM you can throw at it, and the more data it can cache in RAM the less disk access it has to do. Print servers are something that benifit from having a local disk available for spooling large print jobs - even if you have centralised storage you could always make a small local disk available for the print spooler.

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    Oddly I find our print server doesn't really have much of an IOPS issue. Just SIMS...<spits!>

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