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Small business set up - ESXi - Any Advice?

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  • Small business set up - ESXi - Any Advice?

    I am new to virtualisation and after some advice on my small business set up.

    I currently have about 30 users - and run 3 main servers:

    1x Win2003 SBS running AD and Exchange on Intel based server (1xXeon 3070 / 4GB RAM / Adaptec 3805 / 5x250G SATA in RAID 5)
    1x Win2003 Std File Server and terminal server for a couple of users (1xXeon 3070 / 4GB RAM / Adaptec 3805 / 5x500G SATA RAID 5 with 1 hot spare)
    1x Debian / MySQL / Apache box (3.0GHz P4 / Intel Server MB / 1GB RAM / 2x 200G SATA in software RAID 1)

    The Windows boxes have been running nicely for 2yrs but the 4.5yr old DB box is starting to struggle. It serves a PHP / MySQL application we have developed. The db data is critical to the business. The db data is up to 13GB and recently it has become really slow. Most of the data (12GB) is jpegs and pdfs stored in the tables. I am considering removing these to the file system.


    Anyway, I have a new Dell PowerEdge R710 (2x Quad Core Xeon / 32GB RAM / 6x300GB 15k SAS in Raid 10). I installed ESXi 3.5 and recently updated to ESXi 4. I have had it up and running with 4 VM's to test.

    I am thinking of running the following VMs on the Dell host:
    - Linux database server (production)
    - Linux database server (development)
    - WinXP to be used over RDP for accounting software
    - Other test VMs e.g web filtering software

    I am not sure whether to virtualize the Windows servers. If I could get ESXi on all three boxes then I guess I could move the VMs around if hardware failure occurs (but obviously not with local storage).

    Some of my questions:
    What is the best way to set up the linux database server using the local datastore? ie do I create one large VM or move the mysql data onto a separate partition?
    Should I be looking at a entry level SAN or use one of the boxes with Openfiler?
    What is a good backup strategy? The database data is critical and even an hours data lose would be a big problem. I am looking into mysql replication.
    Should I be looking at vSphere Essentials?

    Any advice is great. I still have a lot of learning to do

  • #2
    Re: Small business set up - ESXi - Any Advice?

    Originally posted by timmsy View Post

    Some of my questions:
    What is the best way to set up the linux database server using the local datastore? ie do I create one large VM or move the mysql data onto a separate partition?
    Should I be looking at a entry level SAN or use one of the boxes with Openfiler?
    Any advice is great. I still have a lot of learning to do
    45 views and not posts... I will throw my two cents in...

    What is the best way to set up the linux database server using the local datastore? ie do I create one large VM or move the mysql data onto a separate partition?

    Since all of the datastore space will be residing on the same disk subsystem creating seperate vmdk's more then likely will not offer any performance gains. However, having logical seperation between the OS drive and the DB drive may lend itself better for data backup and recovery.

    Should I be looking at a entry level SAN or use one of the boxes with Openfiler?

    That would depend on your budget. You can get into iSCSI based SAN's these days pretty cheap. The Dell EqualLogic series and the HP Lefthand SAN solutions are affordable and deliever great features for there price mark. If the budget isn't there, then using Openfiler on one of the other servers would work.

    -Jason
    MCSA/MCSE 2K3,MCITP:ESA,MCTS x 4,VCP x 2

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    • #3
      Re: Small business set up - ESXi - Any Advice?

      If you do virtualise the Windows servers, don't forget to retain at least one physical DC. Since your Windows boxes are working fine for now, I'd be inclined to leave them be - particularly the SBS - and to look at virtualising them later on when it's upgrade time. Just design your virtual infrastructure now to be expandable as required later on.

      I would recommend some form of SAN for what you're trying to do, 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.

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      • #4
        Re: Small business set up - ESXi - Any Advice?

        vSphere, a SAN, and 2 physical hosts brings a lot to the table as far as reliability and availability goes. Providing you license the right features, things like vMotion pretty much eliminate the need for clustering in many non-enterprise environments.

        You could use openfiler, but seeing as how critically important SANs are nowadays (and even more-so in VM environments), I personally would err on the side of going with an entry level SAN from Dell or HP with a good support contract. A SAN is the absolute last thing that you want to skimp on. If budgets are super-tight, consider R410 servers, or perhaps Hyper-V or XenServer instead of vSphere.

        A big factor is how you sell this system to up-and-ups. For the cost of a SAN + vSphere, you bring TONS of capability and benefits to your infrastructure.

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