Virtulization of exisiting servers

David
David used Ask the Experts™
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Hi there, after attending a seminar yesterday, I think the school I am currently at would benefit is savings buy consolidating our servers. we have a bunch of DL 360, DL 370, Dl 380 G5s, which act individually as 2 DCs, 1 exchange, 1 print server, 1 SQL server, 1 apps server, 1 file server

They all seem to not do too much (what’s the best software to use to track a week’s worth of utilization Average and Peak?)

At present im thinking the file server which only stores all the network drives, to temporarily move the data away and then convert that server into a virtual server and start moving a few servers like the apps and SQL server together as essentially they work together as well as the file server and possible print server onto it.

the spec of this server is 2 quad core 2.83 and 6 gig of ram

A lot of people say you need a separate NAS/SAN before virtualising?

What should my first stages be other then work out server utilization?

How easy is it to convert a fully working server to a virtual, for example a exchange server?
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1.Take an inventory of the Hardware & Software config of all your physical servers.
2.NAS/SAN come into picture when downtime is needed to be minimal and when you need features like vMotion, DRS,etc to work.

Top Expert 2010

Commented:
Well...first you need to look at VMware's HCL (http://www.vmware.com/resources/guides.html) to verify your servers are compatible. I have several DL380 G5's in my environment, so I certainly know those are. :) I have all my "high utilization" servers (file server, Exchg, SQL) all as VMs and converted them all. I recommend most certainly, as you've been hearing, external storage (NAS, SAN, iSCSI) and use RDMs (Raw Device Mappings) to those server (VM) types. Your CPU is plenty; you just need to bump up your RAM quite a bit (I recommend minimum of 32GB; RAM is fairly cheap anymore and only gets cheaper). Also, with those server types, assuming they're critical as they are in my environment, you'll want to have a cluster set up for failover/redundancy (2 exact server models).

You can download VMware's ESX software and test it out for 60days (https://www.vmware.com/tryvmware/?p=vSphere&lp=1&src=PaidSearch_Google_AMER-US_AMER-US_VI_VI_Download_Search_EVAL_VSPHERE&cmp=KNC-google&gclid=CMCbi43TyZ8CFRMMDQodUEwMHw). Play around with it extensively. It's pretty intricate, but once you get used to it, it's a nice/stable piece of software (a few quirks here and there, but what software doesn't have that?). :)

Let me know if you have further questions.

Regards,
~coolsport00

Author

Commented:
yes our 2 DL 380 G5s are identical, so from what your saying if we upgraded the ram, one could be the fallover server.

But thinking about it, is it possible to create the fallover server later after the main VM server has been created? That way i wont have to buy more equiptment at the moment.

Also do i need a NAS? Can i not just load up the DL 380 with extra hard drives?
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Top Expert 2010

Commented:
Well...to start, yes, I would just use the 1 server and test it out. The 2nd isn't really a 'failover', it's really a 2nd ESX server used for VMs. The only cost associated with making it an ESX host is adding RAM to it. The reason I suggest a cluster is for VMotion capability. For example, if you need to do maintenance on 1 host, you simply 'migrate' (VMotion) your VMs to the 2nd server, while they're running and then do maintenance on your 1st host with no downtime to your server and thus your end users.

You can use 'local' storage, but I don't recommend it, because you're looking at a single point of failure. If your server goes down, you're hosed (nice technical word, eh?) :P Also, you can't use other technologies that make VMware above the other hypervisors...you can't use VMotion (because you need shared storage between your hosts).

Regards,
~coolsport00

Commented:
For a school tight on buget you could look at one of the virtual SAN appliances, the one from StorMagic is free for a 2TB version and it can do HA so you can get things like vMotion by using only local storage - http://www.stormagic.com/SvSAN.php

This way you could use just the 2 380G5's, upgrade their RAM and internal disks to be identical, get in touch with VMWare and StorMagic for education-licences and away you go. Remeber to ensure your OS (Microsoft) licenses can be virtualised as not all can..

Author

Commented:
Hi, so to clarify with SvSAN all i need to do is create two servers which are identical, one for failover and this then this can be used as a SAN?

If this is correct how do i setup the system? Will it need VMWARE on it? Is just a windows server OS and then the SvSAN software?
Commented:
The SvSAN software installs as a plugin to vSphere so you need as follows:
2 servers with local storage, ideally identical
vSphere vCentre server
SvSAN installer

The SvSAN software then takes over the local storage on the boxes, mirrors them and turns it into a SAN (at least from the vCentre point of view). This will enable vMotion capabilities as well. The second server would'nt even need to be only for failover as you could load balance across both boxes.

Get in touch with Stormagic and VMWare and see what licenses and help they can give you, the academic programs have some very good prices for support and services, alternatively (not sure if it's allowed) I can point out some companies that may be able to assist.

Author

Commented:
Ok thanks, i plan to properly try this in our easter holidays in a few weeks
All the very best.

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