VMware Configuration Help Needed

Samster80 used Ask the Experts™

This is my first post, thanks in advance for your help and input.  I am new to Virtualization, all advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have a Dell PE 2850 that I will using in a production environment that will be used as the failover box for IIS and a SQL DB.  My plan is to utilize ESXi 3.5 and run two virtual instances:
1.  Server 2005 Standard (32-bit) w/SQL Server 2005 Standard
2.  Server 2005 Standard (32-bit) (running IIS)

Dell PE 2850 Specs:
2 x Intel Xeon 3.60GHz CPU
8GB Memory
6 x 146GB HD, 10K SCSI

Currently, I have RAID configured for 3 RAID 1 drives.  I am thinking of the following for each HD:
HD1 = ESXi Host and SQL DB (one small DB)
HD2 = Server 2003 w/SQL
HD3 = Server 2003 /IIS (one site)

The questions I have are:
1.  For a failover box, does the above configuration sound fine?
2.  When installing the OS on the virtual boxes, what specs should I use: (for both the SQL and IIS box)
-Memory allocation?
-Number of virtual CPUs?
-Hard Drive size?
3. When another virtual Hard Drive is created on HD1 for the Database, how do I get Windows Server to recognize this drive?
4. Is it necessary or best practice to have the DB on a separate HD from the OS?

Please list any other thoughts or concerns you may have.

Thanks again,

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If i were you I would run Server 2003 without VMWare and operate IIS and SQL Server on the 2850. Without any virtualization.

Use Disk 1 for OS and rest for DB


My DBA is strongly against going this route for security purposes and would like to see both IIS and SQL on separate boxes.  


You have two physical boxes I believe that you're trying to fail over onto 2 virtual boxes?
If you had a VM + 2 servers setup already (your would just have to duplicate what was done).

-> Dedicate the Physical Disks to the SQL VM, increase spindle speed by doing RAID 10 accross 4 drives)

-> Allocated a Virtual Disk of Proper Size to the IIS VM with a Separate VM Disk for IIS Logs.
Use 3.5GB or ram each.
Then again I don't exactly know how much I/O does your production IIS server do aside from network, and how many assemblies it reloads from disk and keeps in cache.

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That is if you are trying to setup a fail-over for two real servers.


Sorry, I should have added this to my first post.  

Yes, I have two physical servers; one running IIS and the other SQL.  The PE 2850 box will be used for failover for both physical servers.

I've added one virtual instance to ESXi, the SQL box.  Now, when I go into the VI Client and add another Virtual Hard Disk, it shows up on the OS device manager but I'm unable to access the drive, meaning its not under the "Hard Disk Drives".  How do I access and use that Virtual Disk from Server 2003?


Thanks for your input, I was able to configure the virtual disks and add them on the OS side.  So thats taken care of.

The only thing left on my side is to confirm your suggestion about RAID.

So, beings how this box will be used as a failover box, is their a problem with my design?
HD1 = Vdisk1: ESXi Host  |  Vdisk2: SQL DB
HD2 = Vdisk1: Server 2003 w/SQL
HD3 = Vdisk1: Server 2003 (IIS)

If I understand correctly, you're suggesting:
HD1 = (RAID1; 2 drives) Vdisk1: ESXi Host  |  Vdisk2: Server 2003 (IIS)  |  Vdisk3: IIS logs
HD2 = (RAID 10; 4 drives) Vdisk1: Server 2003 w/SQL  |  Vdisk2: SQL DB

Is this correct?  If so, what are the pluses and minuses of going this route?

Thanks again for your help,
The only reason why I suggested going this route is that I believe your servers are BUSY, so during a fail over that load will transfer to the third server VMWARE (IIS/SQL) both.

It is not typical of IIS hitting the disk harshly  -  if its serving up some small amounts of static content and an ASP/C# application only IIS is smart enough to cache those.

It is however typical of a a database hitting the disk harshly.

Unless IIS is used to stream huge blocks of binary content such as audio or video, IIS will not
need high speed disks. While  the SQL server that will hold transactions will.


But before you do anything. Can you run perfmon an log a a couple of values of interest over a busy period on the two live servers before you make your setup conclusion

See how many connections IIS is serving, is it equal to the SQL connections. How many transacton per minute and disk queues on both.

Log them to a file with 5 minute intervals. Then have a think about what resources will be a bottle neck on what in the current application state.

I gather you're using only one server and vmware due to physical space constraints or power issues.

Most importantly is IIS serving out a vast amount of Images, Audio Files, Video.


Our site is really pretty basic and does not do images, audio or video files.  I looked over my notes from the other two physical Dell servers to see what RAID they are running.  

The DB server is a Dell PE2950 with 4 HD.  
73 GB 15K x 2 = HD1 at RAID 1 for the OS/SQL
146GB 10K x 2 = HD2 at RAID 1 for the DB

The ISS server is a Dell PE 1950 with 2 HD.
36GB 15K x 2 = HD1 at RAID 1 for OS and Site

Going off the specs of the current production servers, I think that RAID one will work fine for our current needs.  I should have looked at the current production servers earlier to confirm their configuration.  

I appreciate your help on this.


Thanks for your help with this.  


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