Is it advisable to put everything(winSBS2008, software router, asterisk pbx) on the same box with vmware esxi?

Posted on 2010-09-21
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-10
I have used all of the above on vmware with varying degree of success.

I have a client who wants to upgrade his current servers(pentiumD for win2k3, optiplex pentium workstation for untangle router, and optiplex C2D workstation for asterisk trixbox)
I was thinking to move to a dual processor Xeon server with 8Gigs and quad network card, RAid 5 SAS

Is this a good idea or should we go to less powerfull servers and keep all systems separate.

Is anybody doing this now? how is the performance?

Thanks for your input.

Question by:BroadSurf62

Assisted Solution

Armenio earned 400 total points
ID: 33730236
Id go with a hardware router always (but thats just me )
SBS and astrix on a VM should be fine just be sure that if your using very high-volume exchange od SQL then you may want to use a passthrough disk also id recommend taking a look as Hyper-v as you can have a server running hyper-v and the OS you want on it with no resources used to host a base OS But I just really like Hyper -v (I know I know you all dash M$ but i think its a really good product fro free and as you sticking to the same provider i find things work very well) and its free

we have had a similar set up using HP server of SBS and TS in VM worked well but was only a small users set (just be aware that if your 1 single server goes down every thing stops including your phones and internet if your using a software router) Hens  my liking for hardware router  
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Expert Comment

ID: 33730251
There is a loaded question!  There are so many factors to consider that a simple "yes it is fine" or "no don't do that" is nothing but opinion.

What it comes down to is both will work.  You need to be looking more at the business side over the technology side for the right answer.

What is your budget?  Several less powerful servers may end up being cheaper if you have the rack-space available.  Then again, if your risk tolerance is high you might end up throwing all of this on a "small" server and saving money with the VMWare.

What is your tolerance for single point of failure?  If you are going to drop everything onto a single box, everything goes down should that box die (no matter how many internal redundancies you add in the server itself, a server is still going to have some SPOF vulnerabilities)

Do you really want a software router on your sever?  What if topology changes and you need to move the router for whatever reason?  For that matter, do you really want a software router (but I digress...)

Are you looking to gain some of the really cool advantages VMWare gives you?  Most of these come to play in my mind for a large environment with several servers (like shifting a server on-the-fly from one physical piece of hardware to another physical piece of hardware!  That stokes me for so many reasons!)  Even in a small environment though you can get some great benefits with VMWare, especially in the area of disaster recovery.

Are you prepared to take on the care/feeding of VMWare?  Going virtual does add some administrative load, but not much IMHO.

Basically, what I am suggesting is that you start asking "why would I use VMWare and collapse to a single box" as well as "why would I use multiple servers" and build a business / financial case.  Then follow that path.
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Expert Comment

ID: 33730259
Hear, hear armeniospinola -- hardware routers all the way ...it is not just you ;-)  I'd never stick a software router into anything but a lab.
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Author Comment

ID: 33730294
You bring up good points.
Don't have much experience with hyper-v yet
will not be using SQL only exchange and file sharing.
For router.  lately we have good results with untangle professional version (were using watchguard before)
I am of course thinking of keeping the old machines as backup for router and asterisk.
Server will be upgrade so here backup only.

But will someone absolutly advise against this for performance or maybe other reasons.


Author Comment

ID: 33730379
Hello MDs-Cos,

you bring up good points too.
I will do the math on cost.
I was thinking on a powerful dual processor server with raid and redundant power supply. It will be more expensive than 3 less powerful ones but these won't be raid5 or have redundant power supplies if they want to compete in price.
SPace and cooling was also a consideration for us. We live in a hot climate.

Now on the router issue I want to know if they are really less secure if you give it its own network cards.
If people think that software are not as secure what about Astaro. They give you both software and hardware. Isn't the hardware built on a intel MB?

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Expert Comment

ID: 33730441
If you like gambling this is an excellent solution. If you are not a gambler, I would recommend you implement at least a two node server solution with a shared fibre or iscsi storage. In this configuration you have the ability of failing guest OSs between hosts without skipping a beat(so to speak).

Like many have pointed out how much are you wiling to spend?
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Expert Comment

ID: 33730470
>But will someone absolutly advise against this for performance or maybe other reasons.

With a RAID5, you are already limiting the storage. Don't know what kind of storage requirements you have, but we've got a couple of TB of artwork, mostly Photoshop and some video.  When we make transfers, we suck up some bandwidth on the server NIC, but have an separate array for this storage.  Also, our Exchange and other data are on RAID10.

I've got rack space, so it's easier for me to keep separate servers.  If starting from scratch, I still wouldn't roll it all into one.  My 2 cents.  YMMV.  I don't have a compelling reason to put all the eggs in one basket.  I've got space, and I own the equipment.  In a hosted environment or limited square footage, there are justification for it.

But, IIRC, the ideal virtualized environment wouldn't throw all servers into one box, then leave it be.  You'd have two servers (or a mini-cloud) for redundancy.  But that gets more complicated because now you need separate storage, not local-attached.
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Expert Comment

ID: 33735645
Going to be difficult to failover Asterisk since it needs an ISDN card in the server, also don't think you can do passthru for it on Hyper-V,  but can on VMware.
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Accepted Solution

mds-cos earned 600 total points
ID: 34034945
On the router thing, here are some reasons that I go with a good hardware router every time:

1>  Reliable devices.  I've had routers and switches sitting in the most awful "network closets" just humming away for years without a glitch.  Stick a computer in the same closet and guaranteed failure.

2>  Purpose built, meaning they are fast.  Of course if you are running a software router on a fast enough computer with really good NIC cards you are going to have good speed.  But a good router is designed from ground up for performance to do what it is meant to do -- route packets.

3>  Less to go wrong.  With a software switch you have multiple layers of failure since the routing software is riding on top of everything else.  Certainly there are failure points in a router (I used to head up the engineering team for a large co-location company where we pushed the limits of our Cisco and Juniper routers....so I certainly got to see a lot of failure points) --- but there are a lot more of these with a software router since you have the underlying OS in place.

4>  Easy / fast to fail over if something breaks.

As to your question about security -- a router is not properly a security device.  Sure, it has some security features in it because it seperates traffic. but it's primary function is to route packets.  That said, yes a software router is less secure than a hardware router.  Why?  Same reason a software firewall is less secure -- the OS.  Unless you really know how to harden your OS there are going to be vulnerabilities that a lot of people know how to exploit.  On the other hand, finding somebody who can compromise a properly configured router is a bit more challenging.


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