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Multi-Site | Recommendation Needed for Upgrades and Migrating to Hybrid IaaS

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  • Multi-Site | Recommendation Needed for Upgrades and Migrating to Hybrid IaaS

    Background Information

    I was contacted by one of our local clients here in SoCal to assist in resolving some issues the company was having when connected to their HQ up in the Bay Area. About a year ago, the President invested around $35K to resolve some of these issues, however, he is still having the same difficulty he was having previously. They currently have an individual handling all their IT infrastructure and purchases, however, he does not do IT for a living and it is apparent by the configuration of the existing equipment. Additionally, this same individual is seeking a $50K+ budget to resolve some existing issues.

    SoCal Location (Verizon via XO Communications)

    10 Workstations
    10 VoIP Phones
    Server: No Server
    Bandwidth: 50M/50M
    Cisco 2951


    Sites are connected via XO's MPLS service. This site has a 50M/50M connection. In order to run their LoB software, they connect to a Terminal Server located in NorCal and run it. The major compliant I am receiving from the users, ironically, is not that the Terminal Services session is slow. Instead, their major difficulty is getting their file shares to stay operating properly throughout the day. Occasionally the file shares become inaccessible. I've contacted their service provider (XO) to make sure the issue is not the connection between the sites.

    NorCal Location (AT&T via XO Communications)

    16 Workstations
    16 VoIP Phones
    Cisco 2951
    Sonicwall TZ-210
    Bandwidth: 20M/20M


    Sun Fire X4170
    • VMware VM 1 - Small Business Server 2008 (Exchange Server, SQL Server, File Server, AD, DNS, DHCP)
      • Exchange 2007 for Company Email (Note: Leveraging Public Folders Heavily)
      • SQL 2008 Standard for DBs for LoB Application (Note: SQL Should not be installed on top of SBS)
      • File Server - 600GB in Fileshares (Note: All workstations in SoCal and NorCal accessing this server for fileshares)
    Sun Server X4-2L
    • VMware VM 2 - Windows Server 2008 R2 (Terminal Server, Application Server)
      • Users connect to this Terminal Server to run their LoB Application
    • VMware VM3 - Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
      • ​Storagecraft ShadowProtect installed on this server to handle backups.

    Access to the fileshares on the server here from SoCal work only intermittently (major problem). There is no DFS or BranchCache setup. Please note that when connecting to the Terminal Server from SoCal there doesn't seem to be much latency, however, the fileshares continue to be an issue. If the issue/cause were bandwidth I'd expect the Terminal Server to be sluggish. It is not. As a result I have a strong feeling that the issue stems from the old Small Business Server. Tested the link between sites which appears to be solid. Contacted XO support to ensure the link between sites is good. They don't appear to be the problem.

    Information Request

    So I was posting to see if my colleagues here might be able to provide me some ideas in tackling this particular problem. Please note that we have a budget of around $50K. The solution proposed by the existing IT servicer involves purchasing yet another server, using VMware vSphere, increasing the bandwidth in NorCal and deploying a new SQL Server, new Exchange Server on this new hardware.

    The owner of the company is a great guy who is wondering why he keeps spending tens of thousands of dollars on equipment when it doesn't solve the problem. Honestly, he probably has enough hardware up there already to handle most of his load. He is also open to the cloud and if it makes sense would be willing to move to a hybrid setup and start offloading his onsite equipment. He plans on opening a few satellite offices in other surrounding states as well.

    I want to propose a solution that prepares him for the future (he is growing) and that does not require constant repairs. If it involves Azure and Office 365 great. If it involves third party services, that'll be great as well. I have a couple of ideas, but I was hoping to get some input from all of you to see what you are doing in the field for this type of scenario and to get ideas I might miss on my own.

    ​Thank you for your time and ideas and I look forward to hearing from you!

  • #2
    Do the problems affect users in both locations? If so you can probably rule out connectivity between the sites as the root of the problem. What kind of specs do the physical servers have? What kind of resources have been allocated to the virtual machines (vCPU, vRAM, etc.)? What kind of storage is backing these virtual machines (local disks, SAN, etc.)?


    • #3
      The users in the NorCal office do not experience this issue (this is where the servers are located). The users in the SoCal office have issues with the fileshare dropping and intermittent problems with the Terminal Server. Please understand that I am open to any approach to the resolution of this problem, especially one that prepares the company for growth and agility. They need to upgrade to a new version of Exchange for sure as they are running Exchange 2007 off of that SBS 2008 VM. We also need to move SQL off of that SBS 2008 VM as it is not recommended to be installed on a SBS. Also, that SBS VM is being used as the file server (this is the VM providing the fileshares). To be honest, I am thinking that the main bottleneck is that SBS.

      Here are some specs:

      Sun Fire X4170
      16GB RAM
      (2) Intel Xeon L5520 - ( Cores Total
      (4) 10/100/1000 NICs
      ( 1TB HDDs - RAID 10

      VM - SBS 2008 (Exchange 2007, SQL 2008, SQL 2005, Sharepoint, File Server, AD, DNS, DHCP)

      Sun X4-2L
      132GB RAM
      (2) Newish Xeons - (16) Cores Total
      (4) 1000/10GBase-T NICs
      (24) 1TB Drives (10K SAS) RAID 10

      VM - WIndows Server 2012 R2 (Backup Software)

      NorCal Networking (ISP=20M/20M)
      Cisco 2951
      Sonicwall TZ-210

      SoCal Networking (ISP=50M/50M)
      Cisco 2951

      I am not too sure how many vCPUs, etc. are allocated to each VM as I have not yet been provided the administrative credentials to fully explore their setup.

      Thank you for your time! I appreciate any ideas as to how to tackle this issue.

      - Hybrid Cloud recommendations?
      - Office 365?
      - On-Premise?


      • #4
        The users in the NorCal office do not experience this issue (this is where the servers are located). The users in the SoCal office have issues with the fileshare dropping and intermittent problems with the Terminal Server.

        That's a pretty good indication that the problem exists in the connection between the two offices. There are really three important factors that impact network communication:

        1. Bandwidth (capacity)

        2. Latency (delay)

        3. Packet loss.

        While there may be sufficient bandwidth between the two locations I would wonder what the latency between the two locations is and whether or not there's any packet loss. I'd start by looking at those factors.