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Virtualisation options

Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I have a customer with one old server, which is running as the (WIn2003) DC/File/Print, and also a Terminal Server for 15-20 remote clients.
I need to quote them a replacement, but was wondering if a Virtualised option would benefit them, seeing as they really do need 2 x new servers...
They are not too keen to spend a lot of money - but understand the importance, as the old server has began intermittently restarting...
Could anyone recommend a decent platform, (i.e. Vmware ESX?) for two servers, and detail the (virtualisation) product SKU's that I need to look for pricing for? I have had a small amount of exposure to Vmware, but I am open to suggestions.
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT Advisor
Top Expert 2008
For a standalone configuration I would recommend VMWare ESXi (free) on a HP DL360 server or Dell 2950.  A server with one or two quad cores CPUs and enough memory should be enough to support the environment that you're looking to virtualize.

For instance, a Dell DL360 G5 with 12GB RAM, single quad core, and 4x146GB (420GB approx available after raid 5)SAS drives would run under $4250 and would give you enough room for growth with an available second CPU, more RAM, and HDD.  A similar Dell would the job just as well.  I would spend a few bucks on vmware specific backup software such Vizioncore VRanger or ESXpress and $500 for VMWare Support


      Item    Unit cost  Quantity  Total price  

-Configurable- HP ProLiant DL360 G5 Server
HP ProLiant DL360 G5 Server
Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® E5405 (2.00GHz, 1333MHz FSB, 80W) Processor
HP 12GB Fully Buffered DIMM PC2-5300 6X2GB DR LP Memory
HP Smart Array P400i/256 Controller
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
HP 146GB Hot Plug 2.5 SAS 10,000 rpm Hard Drive
RAID 5 drive set (requires matching 3 hard drives)
2 Embedded NC373i Multifunction Gigabit Network Adapters
HP 1u Server 700w Hot Plug Power Supply
HP 1u Server 700w Hot-plug Power Supply
HP Redundant Fans
Integrated Lights Out 2 (iLO 2) Standard Management
HP Standard Limited Warranty - 3 Years Parts and on-site Labor, Next Business Day

Call for availability.

HP Care Pack, 3 Years, 4 Hours, 24x7, Hardware, ProLiant DL360

Estimated Ship Date
Subtotal: $4,763.001  
Business lease cost: (48 months)   »  Apply online  $135.412  
 I am buying through a HP Agent Partner.  
1HP is not liable for pricing errors. If you place an order for a product that was incorrectly priced, we will cancel your order and credit you for any charges. In the event that we inadvertently ship an order based on a pricing error, we will issue a revised invoice to you for the correct price and contact you to obtain your authorization for the additional charge, or assist you with return of the product. If the pricing error results in an overcharge to you, HP will credit your account for the amount overcharged.  
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Unfortunately I am slightly biased here due to being a VMware consultant. However I believe VMware is your best bet. It is well supported and is incredibly scalable. I have implemented it in companies that range from 10-20 staff to banks that have 3-5 thousand staff. All I can stress though is to get a qualified VMware consultant to come in and do the design and initial implementation. Too many times I have seen people implement their own solutions only to call a consultant to come in and fix all of their issues 6 months later.

Pricing depends on the customer in a lot of circumstances and will depend on the size of your solution. Licensing is the easiest thing to tweak for the salesman to seal the deal. Personally I would recommend Dell as a reseller only because of the constant headaches I have had with HP support. But have both put a tender response in so the decision is yours at the end of the day.

Hope this was some what helpful.
As you said you just need 2 Virtual servers, you may go for MS Hyper V which is currently doing well in the mid market. Cheaper than VMware. If you are looking for scalability, then yes, VMware is good but as per your requirement, i feel that Hyper V would fill.
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT Advisor
Top Expert 2008

How is Hyper V cheaper than ESXi? In this case we already have Windows 2003 license and we would have to purchase an additional license to run a second copy (windows server 2008).  The performance of ESXi is much better than Hyper V but Hyper V may be a decent solution depending on needs.  If there is a need to expand in the future capabilities such as HA and VMotion do not have a comparable solution with Hyper V.  

Note: I'm vmware and MS certifeid and install both for customers.


Ensure your hardware fits the bill for your server requirements. Are you planning on provisioning a Windows VM with all the services you've had previously (DC/File/Print/Terminal Services)? I recommend breaking them up into individual VMs - 1 DC, 1 File, 1 Print, 1 Terminal Services. The added cost is a Windows 2003/2008 Enterprise license that entitles you to running 4 VM instances. When searching for a server, be sure to have it include ESXi embedded, which is typically at no cost, but make sure to also include the Windows Enterprise license. Depending on how many processors you want loaded (1 or 2 Xeon Quadcore or Core i7 processors), your vendor of choice will include the appropriate license (1 or 2-CPU).

Since you have file and print server duties, make sure to load the server with additional NICs and configure the storage as a RAID10, RAID5 or RAID6 array. File and printing are more network and disk I/O intensive, so be sure to compensate their needs. Servers these days can be outfitted with 4-port (quad) NICs on the motherboard. I also recommend adding an additional 4-port NIC, since out of the potential 8 ports available, 2 ports will be assigned to the VMkernel port (1 from each controller), leaving 6 ports (3 from each controller, NIC teamed) for your VMs. This reduces contention for network resources. Most 2U rack-mounted servers like the Dell 2950 can sport 6 3.5" or 8 2.5" SAS or SATA hard drives. Since ESXi is embedded (running on flash memory on the mobo), you don't have to worry about it during your RAID configuration. Plan to set up your local storage purely for your VMs. I recommend doing a RAID5 + 1 Global Hotspare (you can do RAID10+2 spares, RAID6+1 spares). Make it one raw volume and have ESXi (through VI client) due the partitioning of the RAW storage = multiple VMFS volumes = 1 for VMs (or each VM has its own VMFS volume), 1 for Data, 1 for ISOs, Software, and backups, etc.

Are you looking for a rackmounted or tower type of server? The suggestions listed hear are rack-mounted, which may not be what you're looking for. Dell and HP both have a line of tower servers, which may suit your situation better. Because we're talking about 15-20, you may be leaning more toward SATA drives than SAS, which is fine for their environment.

There was a mention of Hyper-V. While you can go that direction by buying a server with a Windows 2008 license or use the Hyper-V edition (a free, stripped down 2008 server meant to only run Hyper-V), it still means patching the host machine every patch Tuesday versus patching the ESXi server once a quarter at the most. I won't go down the road about which solution is better because you can simply Google ESX vs Hyper-V and get 1000s of articles about it. The important thing is giving your customer the best solution for their budget.

To drive the cost down, do a tiered solution or one that builds on itself.
Initial acquisition
1 Server (Dell, HP, etc) - rackmounted or tower
1 Quadcore CPU (includes Intel VT or AMD-V)
8GB-12GB RAM (Gives each VM between 2-3 GB)
6 SATA/SAS drives (RAID10, 5, 6) - your choice of hard drive size and speed
1-CPU Windows 2003/2008 Enterprise (Required to separate services)
4-port NIC Onboard (2 for VMkernel port, 2 for VMs)

From this point you can then either scale up or scale out

Scale up
Add 2nd Quadcore CPU
Increase RAM to 16-32 GB
Add additional Quad-NIC
1-CPU Windows 2003/2008 Enterprise license (Required for each CPU)

Scale out
Server 2 with similar specs as initial acquisition server


Thanks all for your very informative answers. Just a few questions.
Please can someone clarify the Windows 2003 licensing requirements. I am leaning towards a Vmware solution, as I just feel Hyper V is not mature enough for me to implement into production just yet.

I already have a 2003 license for the old DC, If I chose to just create 2 x VM's do I not only need to purchase one more OEM 2003 license for the Terminal Server? Am I able to retain my existing Win2003 licence (+ Cals)? I was planning on just using an imaging product, to import the VM from the existing image..
The Enterprise version of Windows Server is significantly more expensive. The client is wanting to keep costs down as much as possible. Also. please clarify the situation of licensing per CPU, as I am not sure on this. Do you need 1 enterprise license per physical cpu, or does a Quad Core cpu need 4 licenses?

Also, am I able to transfer the TS CALS from the old single Server, onto the new VM?

Thanks again, once I am more clear I will assign points.

Microsoft Windows licensing are based on number of CPU (Not Cores) you have on your server. For dual Quad Core Xeon processors (8 logical cores), you are required to purchase a 2-CPU license which may or may not come with CALs.Typically, you'll get 5-CAL pack.

I did ask if you were planning on provisioning a Windows VM with all the services you've had previously (DC/File/Print/Terminal Services).

The thing about OEM is that they're tide to the hardware. You would need to get either a retail or volume license in order for you to legally run virtual machines. You may need to work with Microsoft during your license key activation process.

If you P2V your Windows 2003 server (Standard OEM), it will prompt you to activate it. The online activation usually fails, so you may have a better chance via their phone activation. At least it's automated now...if you go this direction, then you won't have to transfer TS CALS since they just move with your server a la P2V. Your TS CALs aren't tide to the server and thus may be transferred to another TS.
If Microsoft allows you to activate your Windows OEM license, than it's safe to say that you can just buy another license and be done with it, so long as the number of physical CPUs (NOT cores) of the new server matches the old one (Old server 1-CPU = New server 1-CPU). Otherwise, you're looking at buying additional licenses to in order to legally (according to Microsoft) run two Windows 2003 Standard Edition VMs.

1 Quadcore CPU (4 Cores) = 1-CPU Windows Server license
2 Quadcore CPUs (8 Cores) = 2-CPU Windows Server license
You can read more about OEM and P2V on vConverter 3.0.3 manual, Page 11:

As for licensing, why don't you try the following Windows Server Virtualization Calculators:

Microsoft - 2 Calculators


Hope this helps you with your virtualization project.


Sorry, if you wouldn't mind... Vmware esxi - is that 64bit? I assume so, also I assume I can install 64bit Windows2003 onto this platform?

Thanks a lot.

ESXi natively supports 64-bit, so long as your server has a 64-bit processor, which is the standard for Intel and AMD processors these days. It's safe to say that you'll be able to install Windows 2003 x64 on it.
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