Server 2003 Cluster running virtual servers

Hi Experts!

Currently, we are running a bit of a hodge podge as far as our server infrastructure is concerned.  We are running 2 Win2003 AD servers, 2 Exchange 2003 servers in FE/BE config, and a storage server with 1TB total storage in a Raid5 config (drives are SATA).  We also want to ad a Terminal Server to this, and switch all our users to thin clients.  What we are looking at doing is consolidating these into two identical servers (that will be clustered to share resources and provide high avail) running Microsoft Virtual Server.  I am a total rookie at clustering and what it needs.  I am aware that in order to cluster, you need a type of shared storage, but my question is, can I cheap out and get a half decent NAS, or do I need to go with the full fibre channel SAN?  Oh, as far as backup is concerned, we have about 2Gigs of file backups, plus system state for the AD and Exchange servers.  I am currently running backups to a hot swapable SATA drive on my storage server, which is then removed off site and replaced with another every week (we have 4 that we rotate through).  

If anyone could please help me through the hardware requirements of this configuration, or has any advice on a simpler way to do this, please help.  Thanks Experts!!!

Dredd
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dredd0606Asked:
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pmarquardtConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You are not required to use a SAN as PGM554 noted above. You must use shared storage that the machines used for cluster nodes recognize as local storage. This can be iSCSI, Fibre Channel, or a SCSI array connected to the nodes. What you are trying to perform is called "Virtual Server Host Clustering". Microsoft offers a step-by-step guide to perform the steps required to complete this process.

You will need to read the following: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=09cc042b-154f-4eba-a548-89282d6eb1b3&displaylang=en

If I might suggest a platform for iSCSI, look at http://www.openfiler.com for a cheap easy iSCSI solution for your shared storage needs.
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pgm554Connect With a Mentor Commented:
You don't necessarily need a SAN to cluster using virtual servers.
since the VM's will run on one machine,the RAID disks within the server itself could serve as you shared storage.
Just remember that separate spindles will make the system more responsive.

I would go 64 bit OS as the host because you are going to need to address RAM  above 4 gb to run what you are attempting to do.
You would be looking at at least a 4 way Opetron or Xeon with about 8 gb RAM  to start.

If you really want to do this right,I would look at VMware ESX server with vmotion and a small EMC SAN of some sorts using some pizza box servers.
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dredd0606Author Commented:
I must not have been clear with my question.  What we want to do is have 2 real servers clustered for high availability, and have the cluster running virtual machines.  That way if we have a hardware failure on one of the servers, the other one will be able to keep us alive.
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pmarquardtCommented:
Thanks for the points. Good luck building your cluster solution!
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