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Xserve Virtualizing Windows Server 2008

Posted on 2010-09-05
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Hello All,

I would like the input of those smarter then myself on this situation.  I have been asked to update my companies infrastructure which is currently a various mix 5 poweredge servers running server 2003 standard. I would say my companies biggest focus is on file storage / availability and uptime of Exchange/BES, and the hosting of our website.  

I have spoke with Dell about upgrading my systems and they want to sell me a san, and 3 r610's with 24GB of Ram a peice to allow me to virtualize these 5 servers into 3.  My problem is their plan comes out to be about $40,000 and personally i think that is just way to much.  Not money wise, but the actual infrastructure.  I feel like they are selling me a high end sports car that I will no where near fully utilize.    My question is...

If I deploy 1 Xserve 8 Core with 24 or 48 gb of Ram and migrate my current 5 servers to run on the Xserve virtually, is this something that would run efficiently?    Am I just trying to cut corners and being cheap?  

Any input on this would be great.  
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Question by:ITshon
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by:woolnoir
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something like parallels bare metal http://www.parallels.com/uk/products/server/mac/baremetal/ would do the job pretty well. It depends a lot on the utilisation of the servers you want to virtualise but unless its something crazy ( i dont class file server or exchange as crazy ) then you should be fine.

One of the benefits of doing it with a xserve, is that the xserve allows virtualisation of OSX server.
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by:woolnoir
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My advise (including the above) would be to max out the serve, thats THE most important aspect in this scenario.
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by:ITshon
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Really the companies needs arent that outlandish.  I feel horrible trying to justify spending money on a san and 3 new servers, plus software when I am rather confident this can be done with just one xserve running 5 WS2008 installs virtually (using parallels of course) and a few TB of drive space.  

I dont have any body i can talk to about this situation besides stupid sales people who of course inflate everything.  

When it comes to running these virtual machines, they each will need their own NIC installed on the server correct?  
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woolnoir earned 250 total points
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You arent being stupid or cheap, you are trying to make more efficient use of company property and resources, your plan should be applauded. I would agree with your assesment, running 5 VM's on a fully specced xserve sounds fine.

In terms of the NIC usage, each VM can be configured to used bridged networking, using the primary NIC of the xserver. If you want to be even more efficient you could use NIC1 for the host networking, and configure all the VM's to use the secondary ... or something distribution thereof :)
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by:ITshon
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Thanks for the response and endorsement.
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by:roylong
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I've just seen this and would love to know the performance you get if you go ahead with this solution.

I am a died in the wool mac geek and also a know a fair bit about virtualisation and vmware - knowing what I do, I would go with the Dell style version of the set up.  How many users is the system supporting, in which sector of business and what future expansion needs?
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by:ITshon
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I have about 40 users locally and about 10 offiste that access the domain and the shares daily and about 300+ users whom have mailboxes that could or could not access them daily via RPC over HTTP or owa / activesync/BES.

Our file shares are 90% XLS, DOC's etc.  The other 10% might access the shares really hard during the day transferring video/media files.

Also I have about 40 of these users running their mydocs off a server (not something I implemented and plan on killing one day soon)

Im thinking a Xserve MAXED out using parallels could easily handle what I need, and if at any point I can just buy another Xserve.  I can stomach spending 12k or so on a new xserve over dropping just 12k on a SAN alone, not to mention another 15k on servers.

I am going to do more research on this before i go drop the cash, but I would love to keep people up to date on the deployment if this is the road I travel.  I know just running WS2003R2 virtually on my Macbook through parallels is rather clean and impressive, i can only imagine how cool it could be running on Xserve.  w
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by:roylong
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just make sure you don't have any bottlenecks regarding disk I/O or network.  Running windows 2008 r2 on a MacBook through parallels is one thing when it's just you accessing it - I have a VM on parallels on my MacBook too,  win 2008 r2 and SQL server 2008. It's a whole different ball game though, once you have multiple users accessing the systems.
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by:ITshon
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roylong - I totally agree.  I am by no means thinking a MB could handle multiple clients.  I think my bottleneck will be the switch that will be feeding the Xserve.  I have yet to come up with a networking scheme that I am comfortable with.  

I have these delusions of setting up multiple Airport's connected to a switch in where I direct a certain amount of users to by using GPO which will load balance the WAP's and totally ditching running Cat5 all together.  

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