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Advice on how to setup Vmware Domain?

Posted on 2008-10-09
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I've read about a hundred post on this but thought it might help me to ask one of my own for my circumstances. I'm new to the company and I'm the one man show, small company.  

Our Organization:

Main Office
30 user

Hardware:
1 Dell 2900 Server:
      Windows 2003 R2
      2 (QuadCoreXeon Processors 2.5ghz)
      4gb ram
      Raid5 (3 250gb hard drives for the OS and data on different partitions)
       Raid1 (2 500gb hard drives for data)
      4 (Intel ProPT Dual Port 1gb Nic's)
      

1 file server <-- looks like old pc that was converted to file server (Windows 2003 R2)
      Not sure of detailed hardware but doesn't look like it's being used.


The Dell 2900 server is currently being used as the:
Primary DC

File Server

SQL 2005 Standard <- this is for a small custom application they had built to  handle our product inventory. They have been using it for over a year and the database is only like 10megs, 20megs if you include the logs.

Terminal Server <-- this is an issue since this is also the DC.


So to my question.

They are not going to let me purchase any more hardware for the time being, at least no more servers. So I am considering Vmware so I can setup this up a little better and provide some redundancy with what I have. I'm still a little new to AD and Domains but I'm confident that I can get this setup a little better than this. I was thinking that I would setup separate Vmware machines like this.

Primary DC (Virtual Machine)
File Server & Backups (Virtual Machine)
SQL Server 2005 (Virtual Machine)
SharePoint (Virtual Machine - this would be down the road, not right now)
Terminal/Application Server (Virtual Machine- only 2 apps to be shared which are Quickbooks and the special inventory application)
Secondary DC (physical file server - old pc maybe)

Now I'm not sure if this is correct or not since I've never setup a Vmware environment but I was planning on running this on Vmware ESXI 3.5 since now it's free.

I'm just looking for some advice on how to best plan to implement this need and fill in any holes that I have forgotten about.
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Question by:markj72000
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by:CAGdorf
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We started a virtualization project 1 year ago with two host servers and used the free VMWare Server v 1.0.  The nice part about the VmWare Server solution is if you have older hardware (such as that older box you mention) it will still install and run on it, just not quite as well as that new one you got.

If budgets have you sticking with two servers for all of this I would upgrade the RAM in the new one. Each virtual server requires a little overhead and you need to leave room for the host, even if you just use ESXi that requires a little RAM to operate. You might run the terminal server and the second DC on the old PC because that doesn't need as much horsepower as the other programs you mention.

Another alternative is the free Microsoft Hyper-V solution but you can only use that on the new PC not the old, and for consistency it would probably be best to run the same platform on both.

Our virtualization project has grown and we are now deploying Hyper-V into the mix and converting from VMWare.

I wish you the best with yours!
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by:Malli Boppe
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Another alternative is ESXi which is now free.Its not as straight forward as VMware server.but the good thing with ESXi is it can seee more than 4GB RAM.when you install VMware server on  windows 2003 server windows can see only 4gb memory.So you hav memory constriants.
I would say you should be okay to run all the servers on one box with 4GB. but I strongely recommend you considering ESXi.
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by:markj72000
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CAGdorf

Thanks for the reply. I thought about using the old server for the terminal server but since it's basically an old pc i was afraid that if i had a lot of users logging into the terminal server. Right now expecting around 10. Then it wouldn't be able to handle the load along with running the applications for each user.

mboppe:
I was thinking that i would use ESXI over Vmwareserver for the very reason you pointed out and also to save me a WinServer license.

How would you guys suggests i setup my Raids for those drives? It's seems sort of backwards right now. I usually do Raid 1 for OS and i've read you should use Raid 5 with SQL but i don't have a lot of experience with SQL. Also should i create a partition for each VMware machine or just create 1 large partition for all VMware machines and then create a 2nd and/or 3rd partition for the data. I'm assuming that any or all of the virtual machines can be given access to view any or all partitions that are setup.

thanks for the input.

Mark
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by:CAGdorf
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mboppe... The new VmWare Server 2.0 can use more than 4GB in a guest as long as the host OS is 64 bit.

Mark-
For us what we found works the best is we have 6 drives in one of our configurations so we use the first two as RAID 1 for OS. Then we do Raid 10 for the 4 drives and put the VMS on that. This way we get the best blend of Speed/Failover. We use the 15K RPM drives because the downside of using RAID 10 is essentially it is just as fast as using two drives in RAID 0. But it doesn't have the overhead of RAID 5.

A good source for RAID is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID


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by:markj72000
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So your running Vmware Server 2.0 and not ESXI server that is why you did the Raid 1 for the host OS? Do you believe Vmware Server is good enough to run in a production environment. Only reason i ask is everyone seems to think that is better for a test platform and ESXI is much better for production i guess that is because of maybe the better use of hardware.

I'm still not clear with ESXI how you manage all of the different Vmware machines. It's pretty easy with Vmware server to just jump form machine to machine with tabs or incase of 2.0 with that popup window but ESXI is kind of it's own OS and i guess installs on a designed partition or does it create a small one of it's own on a chosen disk?

In my case with the Raid since i have 3 250gb drives and 2 500gb drives i could just purchase 4 more 500gb drives and put them all in a Raid10 and then install and use ESXI. Then just partition the space up as needed for data and file storage.

But if i decided to stick with Vmware Server I could Raid 1 2 of the 250gb drives and then maybe purchase 4 more 500gb drives for the VMware machines and any data.

How's that sound to you guys?

Thanks for your time and effort with this..

Mark

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CAGdorf earned 500 total points
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we are running VmWare Server 1.0 in production. We are slowly phasing it out in favor of Hyper-V as we are getting the funding for Windows 2008. ESXi is faster then VMWare Server because there is no overhead of a host OS but it also is limited on what it can run on. It would most likely work just fine with your Dell box but not with your older one. (That was my biggest suggestion for using Server for if you decide you want both boxes virtualized).

Server ESXi uses a text based console on the server itself but it comes with a console that you can install on a management PC and you get the same effect as Server 1 or 2.

What we did to test ESXi is we installed it on a Dell Dimension with an Intel NIC (since the built in NIC was not supported by ESXi). So if you have a newer PC you could probably play with it on that to see if you are comfortable with it. I think that is what it should come down to is what you are most comfortable with and that works with your budget.
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by:markj72000
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CAGdorf :
I appreciate your input and time on this. I'll probably go ahead and give ESXi a try and maybe just load my backup DC on that old box with no virtualization or maybe only virtualize that one backup DC and nothing else running on VmServer 2.0.

Points awarded and thanks again.

Mark
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