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ESXi and Terminal Servers

Hello,

I need to deploy 2 terminal servers, Windows 2k3 or 2k8 and Ubuntu. These will be used by 10 - 15 developers and office personell who will sometimes be using resource instensive applications. ( Photoshop, Fireworks, Eclipse debugging, etc.) Users will access Windows over RDP and linux over XDMCP and NX.

I was planning on installing both operating systems on the same physical server ( 2x Nehalem Quad Core, 16 GB RAM ) under ESXi, but have been hearing stories of people remigrating their terminal servers back to physical hardware due to performance problems under vmware.

Are there typical pitfalls to avoid, best practice guidelines for terminal servers under vmware?
Anybody having success or problems with such a setup?

Please comment if you've had experience, I'll spread the points around the most helpful comments.

Thanks!
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alpha-lemming
Asked:
alpha-lemming
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5 Solutions
 
nappy_dCommented:
16GB of RAM I don't believe is enough RAM for 10-15 users, especially for Photoshop.  Photoshop on a standalone workstation requires minimum 2GB of RAM, before installation.

For some tips take a look at these links:
http://www.thincomputing.net/blog/citrix-and-terminal-servers-on-vmware-esx-3.html
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lnkevinCommented:
There is no issue for RDP running on ESXi that I am aware of. For performance wise on TS, you may just want to add more physical NICs on the physical server. You can assign each of your physical NIC to a VM and a separate NIC for your VIC. This set up will resolve the network performance and separate your Linux and Windows network protocol.

K
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ryder0707Commented:
The issue here is not actually your esx setup and i think your host is good enuf as a start, the main problem actually related to the RDP protocol itself, rdp is not designed to handle rich & demanding media application like photoshop, cad, video editing or even 3d modelling. RDP is and old protocol mainly for accessing remote machine with gui but not to transport the gui itself, so the solution to use a modern protocol that is designed to cater these kind of applications, the protocol is called PCoIP, you also need desktop management suite to present virtual deskstop to users, for this you need vmware view

For more information regarding vmware view + PCoIP refer http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/VMware-View4-PCoIP-IG-EN.pdf
and if you are wondering what kind of PC or machine user need, they really just need a basic, or just get thin client device like wyse P20 which fully supports PCoIP ofcoz, you can view the device at http://www.wyse.com/products/hardware/zeroclients/P20/index.asp

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lnkevinCommented:
Ryder0707,

PCoIP is a great new innovative technology. Thanks for sharing it. However, the charts don't show much difference in latency over LAN; they do in WAN. Do you have any ideas if it's compatible with ESX/ESXi 3.5? Do you happen to know about the cost?

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nappy_dCommented:
My bottom line still remains Photoshop from is virtualized Terminal session(or Physical) machine is NOT a good idea...
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Handy HolderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
16GB memory not good either, with 3 memory busses per CPU RAM is best balanced using DIMMs in 3s and 6s so therefore 12, 24, 36, 48 GB etc.
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Michael WorshamInfrastructure / Solutions ArchitectCommented:
RDP/Terminal Services was not designed for resource intensive applications (i.e. Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, AutoCAD, etc). In fact, you will encounter server and client side issues if you intend on using RDP for this type of activity.
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alpha-lemmingAuthor Commented:
Let's not overstress the Photoshop thing.
What I meant was, most users will be using mail, browsing, using office application or using an ide and subversion/cvs clients. Occaisionally one of the guys will be touching up the website or working on a broschure, but we're not a web design or graphics shop by any means.

I'm hoping to get some input from folks who actually have had succuss or failure with ESXi and Terminal Server.

o That's a very good point about distributing memory among busses, thanks.

o Vmware view looks really cool, but it's also not free as ESXi is.
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nappy_dCommented:
I am using TS and Citrix. Please read the link I provided. Also start with 4GB ram allocation to each virtualized guest and monitor from there.

Make sure you jave a separate spact to store your tsprofiles and home dirs. Clear the profiles at logoff.
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Michael WorshamInfrastructure / Solutions ArchitectCommented:
I have deployed many ESXi plus Terminal Servers, but only for basic general business applications (i.e. Office, Outlook) & basic server needs (i.e. Small Business Server 2003; RHEL 5.4 running Apache web server, MySQL database server & SVN; Windows 2003 w/ Terminal Server + Office 2007).

Ubuntu as a Terminal Server would work, but the XDMCP/NX clients will also run into the same limitation as Windows RDP does for/if using the Eclipse IDE, as that application is Java-based, thus will eat up a lot of guest VM memory. If the terminal server instances were all 'text' based (i.e. no X-Windows, GNOME, KDE), then there wouldn't be a problem. However since Eclipse IDE requires X-Windows, it will cause the VM environment to chew up memory in a heartbeat.
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ryder0707Commented:
alpha-lemming,

Occasional use of photoshop by few number of users should be fine, dont forget to create resource pool for the VM you plan installing the photoshop

But i'm sure the terminal server is fine for other work related purposes as long as the resource is there, should not be an issue
In my current company, we have many devolopers accessing their work at TS but engineers accessing different TS server to do support
So, in my opinion it is still fine, if you can limit photoshop thingy by RP
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