vmware p2v project - general direction needed


I would like some design guidance. I have a new Dell T300 and will be replacing a desktop (I believe it's XP) machine that has been used as a server for a small database program . I don't know the exact specs, but I believe the new server has 3 sata disks, maybe 250 gigs each, and I believe 12 gigs of RAM. My goal is really to get the database off the pc, have the 4 clients log in to a domain (Windows 2008), and possibly use roaming profiles. I'm thinking the ESXi server would handle this.

I'm not sure how many different VM's to have.
Business apps:
Database- noted above, which will also need to be accessed via VPN (Ipsec and site-to-site), locally about 5 people access it.
Quickbooks- I believe a SOHO version of it. This also will be accessed via site-to-site VPN as well, most likely just one person will access it daily, and from across VPN
Backups (and other tools to experiment with!)- some kind of backup solution, probably linux (free!) based

As for the clients, I'd really like them to log in to a VM to use the database and save all their work (Word/Excel etc.) so I can support this whole thing remotely.

I know the new server came preloaded with Windows 2008 Standard, and I believe it's already configured with RAID5. So I'm wondering if I can take an image of that (P2V ?), and make it a VM Domain Controller. Then add other servers as necessary. I haven't fired up the server yet.

Sorry if my details are slim, just got slapped with this project...!

Trevor LocalAsked:
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za_mkhIT ManagerCommented:
Firstly, before you use ESXi, you need to ensure that your SATA controller is supported via the VMWare HCL. Search for VMWare HCL on google and then see if your hardware is supported. Of course you should have some redundancy for your storage since all yours VM's will be located on them, so your drives (x3) set should be minimum at RAID5. Sata RAID controllers are not so easily supported by ESXi ... I gave up using them ... hence check first!
Secondly, you can use VMWare Converter to convert your Win2K8 machine to a VM ... however maybe you should go through the basics of going through the setup routine first on it (you said you haven't fired the server up yest) before you attempt the P2V.
One server is not going to be enough for what you want if you want your users to log into the VM itself.
Regarding number of VMs ... since it is a small site:-
I would recommend that your Windows 2008 instance which you will configure to be a DC should also be your Database Server. You don't mentioned what database, but I will assume Access. By doing this, you can buy terminal licence cals for win2k8 which should mean that your users would be able to RDP directly into the server to do their work, achieving what you want - I only recommend this due to the fact that it is a small site, and I don't think security could be majorly breached by having the DB on the same server as the DC. Also I am trying to takes costs into consideration here. Maybe a Microsoft Expert (i gave up that a long time ago) could give a more defnitive answer. I think your quickbooks could also be hosted on this Windows 2008 instance..
What you shouldn't forget about also, is how to backup all these VM(s) ... with ESXi - are you going to shutdown the system to do backups? You obviously would want a full backup of your VM(s) so think about this too .. Few cheap solutions to recommend vRanger(ww.vizioncore.com)and Veeam Backup (www.veeam.com ) - But make sure you configure your backups solution properly - these tools have the ability to hose your AD if you don't follow the recommended guidelines.

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Trevor LocalAuthor Commented:
Hi - thanks for your input.

1. Hardware - I believe I have the Perc6/i with SAS drives (trying to verify that at the moment). Do the SAS drives have better support? I see the Perc 6/i controller on the VMware HCL list (which has a note to use megaraid_sas version I thought I found in my searches somewhere that the issue of the RAID controller on the newer Dell's are not an issue anymore. (?)

2. So I can basically build out the server as the DC/file and print/AD/ Terminal Services etc., then convert to an image and use that VM as a DC?

3. the database is an inventory management database. small, not very intensive on memory or proc (I've been told!). the clients also use a chat application, and they have their audio alerts with that app. I'm wondering if audio from a VM TS session will cause any issues. I haven't seen the client machines yet. I'm wondering about the benefits of separating the VM servers per each app. vs having them all together on one VM. I was assuming that separating would have benefits so that I wouldn't have to interfere with one server while working on another, if an issue arises. Assuming we'll want to pay for the licensing (which I assume will be the case) for more server CAL's etc.

4. I believe we'll be getting a hefty server/workstation at the remote site. I was planning on using that as part of a backup routine as well. send the backups after hours across VPN tunnel. possibly use something in the "virtual world" to help facilitate that..? So I'd also like to backup the VM's as you pointed out. Thanks for those links. I was planning on playing with a linux based VM for the backups and other random things that I will think is cool to test out! Does the ESXi need to be down to backup everything?

5. I have a question about 64 vs 32 bit. I doubt the database and Quickbooks are 64 bit capable. And does that have any relevance to the ESXi version I install?
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