Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

    I want to build a new IT infrastructure for my small business, actually just myself at the moment, but I want to make the IT to be somewhat scalable, so I can add more users in the future.

    The business is to provide consulting and I basically need normal office infrastructure with phone, fax, email, copier, printer. In addition, business specific software (database, workflow management, etc.) exist from several vendors and I'll want to try and compare them. Each of these business solutions has its own requirements regarding server technology: Some are based on Oracle and others uses Alfresco, for instance.

    I have two locations, a home office and a shared office: In the shared office I only have a desk for myself.

    Ultimately I imagine to have a fully working IT infrastructure at both locations, with some sort of synchronization mechanism in place so that all the data is stored at both locations, resulting in a sort of (automatic?) backup solution.

    Space for computer equipment is very limited in the shared office, as everything is on my desk. Currently I have a router, a desktop computer and a small NAS for data storage.

    I am about to replace the desktop computer with a new one, which I want to use as a workstation and on which I want to run any required server software as well, in virtual machines, under vmware Workstation 7.

    As for the hardware specs of the new desktop machine: It has the Yeong Yang YY-7302 case (a SFF desktop case), which I intend to equip with three CHENBRO SK51201 drive bay units to get 6 hotswap 2.5" SATA drives. Motherboard Intel DQ57TM. This has an onboard SATA controller, but maybe I can use its PCIe 2.0 x16 slot for an Adaptec RAID Controller card, to get a truly server grade disk subsystem in this desktop machine. Have just sent an inquiry to Intel to ask if this x16 slot, which is intended for video, also supports the Adaptec 5805 RAID card.

    One reason to use hotswap drives is easy deployment of system changes: I want to build an identical computer system for the other location (home office) because I hope that system changes made in one location can then be applied at the other location by simply swapping the drives.

    Now, I hope this whole concept makes some sense; don't hesitate to tell me if it doesn't.

    I imagine I'll have individual virtual machines for different things:

    - Microsoft Exchange Server
    - Network services (RADIUS, etc.)
    - Oracle server
    - Alfresco server
    - Accounting software
    - PBX
    - Other

    I wonder how I should best use the 6 disk drives (that's the maximum number of drives possible with the mentioned case):

    If I want to be able to copy drives (for deployment to the other location), one drive bay should probably be used as the copy target. So only 5 drive bays are left for actual use.

    Options to use the 5 remaining drives:

    a) 5 individual drives, no RAID
    b) 2 drives in RAID1, 2 drives in RAID1, 1 individual drive
    c) 2 drives in RAID1, 3 drives in RAID5
    d) 4 drives in RAID 5 or 10, 1 individual drive

    Depending on the number of virtual machines, I may need to partition a drive, or a RAID volume, because I reckon each virtual machine requires its own disk partition?

    I like RAID 1 for the added security over individual drives.

    As mentioned I have a NAS for data, but access to the NAS is not very fast and for databases PCIe attached storage may be preferable. So I should also reserve some disk space for data.

    How about using option b), with a first RAID 1 volume for operating systems, a second RAID 1 volume for database and other data storage and the individual drive for workstation use?

    Or maybe reserve 2 drive bays as disk copy targets, so an entire RAID 1 volume can be copied in one operation?

    Alternatively I can resort to making all system changes at the home office first, where I can have more drive bays, so all 6 drives of the shared office computer could be used for the system (3 RAID 1 volumes, for instance).

    Is the idea to "easily" deploy systems by swapping the 2 drives of a RAID 1 volume something intelligent?

    I could go on with more questions, but I'm afraid I don't really know what I am talking about and therefore I shall rather stop here. Any comments or opinions on my IT system "in the making" would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    astra4
    Last edited by astra4; 24th May 2010, 14:56.

  • #2
    Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

    Originally posted by astra4
    Depending on the number of virtual machines, I may need to partition a drive, or a RAID volume, because I reckon each virtual machine requires its own disk partition?
    Each Virtual Machine is a VMDK file. The VM has nothing to do with a Partition or Volume except that is where they are located.

    What CPU and how much RAM will you have in your physical machine?
    I also do not understand what you are trying to achieve with the Hot Swap HDDs. Is it your intention to remove a drive or two and take them home to your other physical machine? Not a really crash hot idea as it could easily end up with a trashed RAID.
    1 1 was a racehorse.
    2 2 was 1 2.
    1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
    2 2 1 1 2

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

      Slightly but wouldn't you be better with SBS for the microsoft side
      Since you get (with the premium edition) a second server license, you could run your oracle etc on a separate box or virtualised
      Tom Jones
      MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
      PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
      IT Trainer / Consultant
      Ossian Ltd
      Scotland

      ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

        Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
        Each Virtual Machine is a VMDK file. The VM has nothing to do with a Partition or Volume except that is where they are located.
        Oh,... does this VMDK file contain everything, including virtual disk space to which the OS of the virtual machine is installed?

        What about the idea to use separate drives for system and data? is that not relevant in a virtual environment either?

        What CPU and how much RAM will you have in your physical machine?
        I intend to use the new Core i5 680. Have 16 GB RAM (4 x 4 GB, DDR3, Non ECC). Maybe I'll use only 8 GB for this machine and the other 8 GB for the home office machine.

        I also do not understand what you are trying to achieve with the Hot Swap HDDs. Is it your intention to remove a drive or two and take them home to your other physical machine? Not a really crash hot idea as it could easily end up with a trashed RAID.
        Yes that's it. By hot swap I just mean easy to replace, with a tray that slides into the drive bay. My experience is that I spend quite some time to make a computer behave the way I want it to. Once it does, I want to deploy that disk image at the other location to make that computer behave the same.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

          Originally posted by Ossian View Post
          Slightly but wouldn't you be better with SBS for the microsoft side
          Since you get (with the premium edition) a second server license, you could run your oracle etc on a separate box or virtualised
          I haven't made a choice regarding OS yet, except that I intend to use Windows 7 as the host system, because I want to run all the server things in virtual machines.

          The reason for this is that, as I was told, the virtual machines can be started as Windows services, i.e. in the background, without need to log into an account of the host OS. So I can have them running and nobody can tamper with them, that's very useful, especially for my shared office.

          But regarding SBS, I once read something that this wasn't compatible with Oracle or that there are restrictions or something.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

            OK, not sure about SBS and oracle, but I would have thought that on separate boxes they would be OK

            Remember Win7 is definitely a "home" OS, so not recommended for server use, even as a host -- there is HyperV Core, a free server 2008 implementation that you could run everything on -- worth some research, as it is very rare to have "free" and "Microsoft" in the same discussion!
            Tom Jones
            MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
            PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
            IT Trainer / Consultant
            Ossian Ltd
            Scotland

            ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

              Originally posted by Ossian View Post
              Remember Win7 is definitely a "home" OS, so not recommended for server use, even as a host
              Can you explain that?

              -- there is HyperV Core, a free server 2008 implementation that you could run everything on -- worth some research, as it is very rare to have "free" and "Microsoft" in the same discussion!
              It doesn't need to be free.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

                You are talking about hosting virtual production servers on a Windows 7 box, presumably using Virtual PC
                MS do not recommend virtual PC as a solution for servers running constantly -- HyperV is much preferred, if only because you can start servers automatically when the host reboots. It is the same with VMWare Workstation and the various server products
                Tom Jones
                MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
                PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
                IT Trainer / Consultant
                Ossian Ltd
                Scotland

                ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

                  Thank you for your comments.

                  The purpose of my question is that I am about to build the mentioned, new desktop computer and I am trying to make sure that I get the basic structures right, mainly regarding the disk subsystem (number of drives and how to use them).

                  What kind of software and servers I'll finally want to run on this machine has not been determined yet. Running certain things on a machine at my home office only, with some sort of remote access for users at the shared office, may be an option. Identical installations at both locations, with some sort of mirroring / synchronization mechanism, is just an idea of mine.

                  At the moment I have make decisions regarding the hardware of the new machine, i.e. how many disk drives and how to use them (what to put on which drive).

                  I want to use 2.5" drives because they are more quiet than 3.5" drives.

                  I think I'll get the CHENBRO SK51201 hotswap bays in any case. They allow easy hard drive replacements, which can only be useful, even if finally I won't do the "system deployment by harddrive swapping" as I imagine it right now.

                  The purpose is to be able to run all sorts of server systems (with low work load) on a single computer. I am looking for something that makes sense for production use, and that allows me to add further virtual machines in order to run yet to be determined further server software in the future.

                  My feeling tells me that the structure of the disk subsystem (number of disk drives and what they are used for) is a key element in this context and cannot be changed easily afterwards and that's why I'm trying to get this right at the beginning.

                  Unfortunately I'm new to virtualization. I bought a copy of vmware workstation 7 in a shop and the still shrink wrapped box sits nicely on my shelf...

                  @Biggles77: You tell me that each VM is a VMDK file. Does that mean that the OS I want to run on the VM and any software to run under that OS is "physically" installed into this VMDK file? So I don't need to provide a spare disk or partition in order to add a new VM, no matter what file system is required by the OS I want to run under this new VM?

                  Wow!? I reckon I should probably just try this out, the learning by doing approach...

                  But I need to get the hardware first, so what shall I do about the disk subsystem? May is turn out useful to have as many as 6 hard drives? Is it a good idea to get a hardware RAID controller? What would be an apropriate disk structure for what I want to do? I reckon I need to define the RAID structure before and independent of any operating systems to be installed. Is it useful to make individual RAID volumes for OS and DATA?

                  This is what I'm trying to figure out right now. Anything else I will have to look into at a later stage, I think, but don't hesitate to correct me if I'm wrong.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

                    Originally posted by Ossian View Post
                    You are talking about hosting virtual production servers on a Windows 7 box, presumably using Virtual PC
                    MS do not recommend virtual PC as a solution for servers running constantly -- HyperV is much preferred, if only because you can start servers automatically when the host reboots. It is the same with VMWare Workstation and the various server products
                    Ok, I read something about ESXi from vmware. Could try if that works, apparently it's quite picky about compatibility with desktop hardware.

                    I took vmware workstation because I figured that would let me run a virtual instance of Windows XP as well. Some applications I regularly use only work with XP.

                    Apparently there is a tool called FireDaemon that makes it possible to start vmware workstation virtual machines at boot of the host:

                    http://blog.gr80.net/post/autostart-...ndows-restart/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

                      @Biggles77: You tell me that each VM is a VMDK file. Does that mean that the OS I want to run on the VM and any software to run under that OS is "physically" installed into this VMDK file? So I don't need to provide a spare disk or partition in order to add a new VM, no matter what file system is required by the OS I want to run under this new VM?
                      That is correct. Each VHD (VPC or VS 2005 SP2) or VMDK is it's own virtual system. The really sweet thing about this is that you can copy the VHD or VMDK to another machine (that has obviously had the appropriate VPC or VS 2005 or VMWare installed on it) and you can have the Virtual Machine up and running very quickly. I have seen this done in a Train Signal Lab. From the time Virtual Server 2005 console was opened until the VHD file was connected to it, the Virtual Machine started to boot was 53 SECONDS!! Once the Virtual had booted it was all ready for production operation. Try installing an operating system, installing updates, configuring it, adding applications all in 53 seconds.

                      With the appropriate version of Windows 7 you can run XPMode. This would fix your XP only apps.

                      You might like to take a look at TechNet if this is for your business and training. http://www.technet.com

                      Train Signal used to have a Lab for VMWare Server & Workstation but due to it's age have withdrawn it. Pity as it would have suited you perfectly. However they do have other VMWare Labs. http://www.trainsignal.com/VMware-Training-C6.aspx

                      You would have to look on the VMWare site to see what version(s) are available for free. VMWare is a good choice since it will do 64bit software and multi CPUs. I am unaware if Hyper-V R2 is capable of that yet but if it is then TechNet would be a better option.

                      I have setup Virtual Server 2005 SP2, on a Server and there is an option for the Virtual Server to start without logging onto the physical. The UPS is set to do a graceful shutdown if the power is off for a set time period. The Server is configured to restart once power is restored to the UPS. Virtuals Start once physical one starts.

                      Hyper-V is a step above this and has a few more wizz bang tricks in it's box. R2 seems much better again. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserv...perv-main.aspx Bit of light reading for you.

                      Regarding your 2.5" HDDs and your reason for getting them. Noise??? On the 3.5" HDD they now have a 5 year warranty on a 1TB (or is it 1.5TB) and above drives. You can even get quite ones, Samsung HDDs are quite and WD have a special one that is quite but is spins slower and performance drops as a result. If you got 2 x 1.5TB HDD and put them in a RAID 1 you have capacity, redundancy AND a long warranty. You will have 2 HDD instead of 6 small ones. With the money saved (not Adaptec controller, no hot swap bays) you could have 16GB RAM in each machine because with Virtual, RAM is King.
                      1 1 was a racehorse.
                      2 2 was 1 2.
                      1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                      2 2 1 1 2

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

                        Ok, I get it, the VMDK file represents a "virtual disk".

                        I've done some cursory reading on this subject and found this question someone asked over at the vmware communities:

                        http://communities.vmware.com/thread/261896

                        Here's the part I find interesting:
                        Have existing ESXi 4.0 server running on an HP ML370 G5
                        VMWare boot partition is on a 72GB RAID 1 drive set

                        Have two current VM's hosted on this server, one a Windows 2008 Server acting as a file server. The second a Windows 2008 based Exchange 2007 server.

                        Each VM exists on a 72GB RAID1 drive set as well.

                        Both VM's address a separate RAID 5 array for data store.
                        The VM in question "exists" on a first physical disk (RAID 1 volume) and it stores data on a second physical disk (a RAID 5 volume) for data storage.

                        In addition, the second disk also used for data storage by a further VM.

                        In terms of VMDK files, does this mean that each of the virtual machines has two VMDK files, i.e. a first VMDK file stored on a RAID 1 volume and containing system files and a second VMDK file stored on a RAID 5 volume and containing data?

                        If that's how this is to be understood, then I think I like this approach. A copy of the VMDK file with the system files represents a system backup. The association of system and data files with separate physical disks may also improve disk performance, I think.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

                          Ok, I get it, the VMDK file represents a "virtual disk".
                          NO, the VMDK file(s) represents the WHOLE computer and installed software. Additional VMDK files can be added if extra HDDs are wanted.

                          Based on the above quote, I think you really need to go and get a tutorial or do a course before trying to setup VMWare as your knowledge of the subject is not adequate yet.

                          The description of the VM you have put into your post looks like a complex production machine. When you first start, considering your inexperience with virtuals, make and keep it simple. You have to learn to crawl before you walk and then run.

                          Please do not take any offence at what I have said as there is none intended. All of us on this site have started at some stage with no IT knowledge. As you gain experience it does get easier, sort of, and that experience allows you to figure things out.
                          1 1 was a racehorse.
                          2 2 was 1 2.
                          1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                          2 2 1 1 2

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Small Office IT System on 6 HotSwap Drives HowTo?

                            Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
                            The description of the VM you have put into your post looks like a complex production machine. When you first start, considering your inexperience with virtuals, make and keep it simple. You have to learn to crawl before you walk and then run.
                            No problem. I just need to get this new computer up and running quickly, just as a workstation, so I can use it to get some work done. I can take my time to add the virtualization and server things later.

                            Still, I suppose you agree that changing the structure of the disk subsystem later would be a headache and to give this a thought at the beginning is therefore sensible. Using separate physical disks for SYSTEM and DATA seems like a good idea to me and the man I quoted in my previous post seems to do just that, with a RAID 1 for the system and RAID 5 for data. I wonder why you dismiss that as "complex".

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X