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  • Moving towards virtualizing production server

    I have a fairly large client (for me anyways) that has 9 servers in one location. They need to add two more servers.

    So I know there are advantages to going virtual and I think these two new servers might be a good place to start. I was initially thinking of just getting one giant server box with plenty of DAS to host 2 or 3 VMs and adding more boxes as we move more to VMs.

    But then I was talking with a Dell rep and he was suggesting going with a SAN that would be more scalable and give better performance (and we could leverage servers that we already have).

    So the question is does anyone have recommendations for evaluating what is the best infrastructure to implement?

    PS - this client is not scared of spending money. They'll put $100k or more towards this project if it makes sense to do it.

    Thanks!
    Regards,
    Jeremy

    Network Consultant/Engineer
    Baltimore - Washington area and beyond
    www.gma-cpa.com

  • #2
    Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

    Originally posted by JeremyW View Post
    PS - this client is not scared of spending money. They'll put $100k or more towards this project if it makes sense to do it.
    Are they hiring?
    Wesley David
    LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
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    • #3
      Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

      A salesman who wanted to tell you the merits of his company's product? Never!

      Depending of course on what services you intend to virtualise (and what their IO requirements are) and naturally what virtualisation technology you'd be using, a SAN may offer considerable benefits over DAS. Centralised storage with the flexibility offered by X gig of space being tied to server Y could be a major advantage - at a price of course.
      Gareth Howells

      BSc (Hons), MBCS, MCP, MCDST, ICCE

      Any advice is given in good faith and without warranty.

      Please give reputation points if somebody has helped you.

      "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the Earth." (Exodus 9:15) - I could kill you with my thumb.

      "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you." (Genesis 9:3) - For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three.

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      • #4
        Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

        I would also recommend two servers, so you can implement Clustering for the Hyper-V server as well as for VMs on the machines, if needed. You can then easily relocate a VM o the SAN to another server, if required. You could also purchase System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
        Last edited by Virtual; 11th August 2009, 23:16. Reason: Changed wording

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        • #5
          Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

          Thanks for the replies guys.

          Looks like I didn't mention that we are wanting to initially run a SQL server and a web server.

          Future: looking to eventually put Exchange server, file server, Citrix, and another SQL server.

          This is a big project and we are in the planning stages. Actually we are evaluating the feasibility of the project. I want to make sure everything is compatible and that we'll have enough resources for what we virtualize.

          Getting SCVMM is in the plan.

          Thanks!
          Regards,
          Jeremy

          Network Consultant/Engineer
          Baltimore - Washington area and beyond
          www.gma-cpa.com

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

            I see. Clustering sounds the best idea with a SAN. You can then use the Hyper-V server clustering and application clustering within the VMs.

            You could look into another SAN (or compatible storage device) to maybe allow you to replicate the SAN data to an off-site location or another device onsite that has a tape backup system attached. I believe Double Take can be used for this.

            SANs are built highly available but are still a potential single point of failure. As budget is not option, you could consider an identical SAN to replicate to.

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            • #7
              Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

              Personally I would usually be reluctant to virtualise SQL Server due to the high IO involved and the memory consumption. I'd strongly advise a SAN from the start, coupled with some very beefy servers to run things on.

              Originally posted by Virtual View Post
              SANs are built highly available
              Most of them, yes...
              Gareth Howells

              BSc (Hons), MBCS, MCP, MCDST, ICCE

              Any advice is given in good faith and without warranty.

              Please give reputation points if somebody has helped you.

              "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the Earth." (Exodus 9:15) - I could kill you with my thumb.

              "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you." (Genesis 9:3) - For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

                Originally posted by JeremyW View Post
                I have a fairly large client (for me anyways) that has 9 servers in one location. They need to add two more servers.

                So I know there are advantages to going virtual and I think these two new servers might be a good place to start. I was initially thinking of just getting one giant server box with plenty of DAS to host 2 or 3 VMs and adding more boxes as we move more to VMs.

                But then I was talking with a Dell rep and he was suggesting going with a SAN that would be more scalable and give better performance (and we could leverage servers that we already have).

                So the question is does anyone have recommendations for evaluating what is the best infrastructure to implement?

                PS - this client is not scared of spending money. They'll put $100k or more towards this project if it makes sense to do it.

                Thanks!
                Here are my thoughts:

                SQL 2005/2008 can be virtualized. You have to come up with metrics for I/O requirements on your physical box and then apply it to your design.

                PassThrough disks attached to a SAN will get you the performance you need in relation to SQL.

                For Exchange, the Mailbox Server role servers should be physical and can be on DAS or a SAN. The desicision is based on funds. You can virtualize the remaining CAS and Hub Transport roles.

                A SAN isgong to be your best bet to get your Hyper-V infrastrucure going. With the upcoming release of Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V 2.0, you will have Live Migration built in which will give you the redundancy on a Host level. This is very important moving forward and you should carefully consider this before going production with 2008 Hyper-V which doesn't have the feature as of yet.

                With that said, we prefer Dell Equallogic PS Series SANs which are iSCSI based. As you add arrays you scale out performance so performance will increase as your enviroment grows. You can also put an Array offsite and replicate to it. All features are included in Equalogics portfolio unlike many other vendors who charge you A'la carte for very necessary and important features that they intentionally leave out during your initial SAN purchase.

                As for Citrix, piece of cake. We have 14 Hyper-V guests in a Farm right now and can clone servers as needed to grow the farm.

                Make sure you get enough RAM in whatever servers you choose. We went with the new Intel Nehalem Xeons because you get Hyper Threading as well as very heavy VM consolidation due to the new archetecture of that Processor Line. Also make sure you stick with 1 vendor across the board. Currently you cannot use LiveMigration to go from AMD to Intel or vice versa.

                Hope this helps and please feel free to ask any additional questions. I had to do most of this research over the past 3 months and have learned alot regarding best practice and design.

                -Justin
                Last edited by JHakimi; 12th August 2009, 21:26.

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                • #9
                  Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

                  Out of interest, why would you avoid virtualising Exchange mailbox servers but not SQL Server?
                  Gareth Howells

                  BSc (Hons), MBCS, MCP, MCDST, ICCE

                  Any advice is given in good faith and without warranty.

                  Please give reputation points if somebody has helped you.

                  "For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the Earth." (Exodus 9:15) - I could kill you with my thumb.

                  "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you." (Genesis 9:3) - For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

                    Originally posted by gforceindustries View Post
                    Out of interest, why would you avoid virtualising Exchange mailbox servers but not SQL Server?
                    All depends on your I/O requirements. Maybe the load on SQL is much lighter than the Mailbox servers per enviroment.

                    Also there is support for virtualizing Sql2005/2008 per microsoft. I dont belive they have signed off on the EX2007 Mailbox servers yet.

                    I believe the products go through a Hyper-V Q&A and get a final seal of approval.

                    We will have around 2000 users on Ex2007 so I am not interested in taking a chance to virtualize those Mailbox servers. SQL was a physical box that was converted to virtual so we could do planning on metrics beforehand.

                    Hope that answers your ?.

                    -Justin

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                    • #11
                      Re: Moving towards virtualizing production server

                      Thanks Justin! Very informative.

                      I'm actually looking at the EqualLogic PS6000VS for starters and then have a PS6000E to replicate to.

                      I do know that the only Exchange setup that is supported on a VM is Exchange 2007 on Server 2008. While this client is large for me, it's not very large compared to some of the environments some of the guys around here support. It's only about 250 - 300 users. So right now there's only one Exchange box and it's been doing fine but if they continue to grow then we'll need to scale it.

                      Thanks for the comments. I'll post back when I'm less tired and have more questions.

                      Regards,
                      Jeremy

                      Network Consultant/Engineer
                      Baltimore - Washington area and beyond
                      www.gma-cpa.com

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