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mmungerFlag for United States of America

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Looking to Virtualize

I am the IT Manager at a small company and I have decided to convert our data center to a virtualized environment.  This decision was reached with the following goals in mind:

1.)  Limited IT Resources
2.)  Rapid Low Cost Server Expansion
3.)  Decrease downtime in case of disaster.

I am looking for feedback from others who have made this transition.  What things should I do to prepare for this transition?  

Our current environment includes the following:
1 Exchange Server
2 Domain Controllers/Print Servers
5 Application/File Servers
2 SQL Database Servers/File Servers

We are looking at an entry level SAN device and two PowerEdge Servers for the new system (budget $45,000).

Currently, I am looking for good reading material on setup/administrating a virtual environment.

All feedback is welcome!

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
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Firstly, welcome, your Journey into Virtualisation starts here...

I'd recommend Mike Lavericks site RTFM Education

http://www.rtfm-ed.co.uk/vmware-content/the-rtfm-guides/

Mike's written lots of guides, and there are many Links to Most VMware Blogs.

But I think you need first need to decide on a platform

1. Hyper-V, VMware, Xen and others?
2. How resilent do you want the system to be? All eggs in one basket, how much is 1hrs downtime worth to the business.
3. Have you decide on Dell Servers for definate?
4. What current stortage requirements are you using and growth for the future?
5. What CPU utilization are you current estate using?
6. What backup and DR are you currently using?
7. What networking are you currently using, does this need to be upgraded?

Before I start getting into recommend technology!

just some starters for 10.
Limited IT Resources - partner with a Good VMware Partner (Consultancy) to implement the system and/or provide On-Going Support.
Hi

As a complement of hanccocka reply, also is good plan to run some tools on your present environment to prevent future growth and also to get a maximum performance.

Some of the tools

http://www.vmware.com/products/capacity-planner/ 

http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/solutions/insightdynamics/vse-overview.html


VM sprawl and Virtual Infrastructure growth is one of the thinks that we need to check on the future Infrastructure. Because Virtual environments always grow in the future, and is best to create a Virtual Infrastructure that will grow in the future.

So Servers and Storage must have some "space" to grow in the future.

Hope this can help

Jail
@BestWay: I concure with my Expert Jail, too much server sprawl going on in our offices!

(it's so easy, now, click, click and another server!)
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1. Hyper-V, VMware, Xen and others? -  I already run ESXi and I have been using VMWare for several years and I find it to be very good.

2. How resilent do you want the system to be? All eggs in one basket, how much is 1hrs downtime worth to the business.  - 1 hr ok - 3 hrs not good!

3. Have you decide on Dell Servers for definate? -  I deal with Dell for the most part.  I am not a huge fan of HP.  But I think this is like a Ford vs Chevy thing for geeks.

4. What current stortage requirements are you using and growth for the future? -  When you say storage requirements, total space of current servers + future growth?  

5. What CPU utilization are you current estate using?  10-15 on each server.

6. What backup and DR are you currently using?  Sonicwall CDP and Acronis True Imaging

7. What networking are you currently using, does this need to be upgraded?  Dell Power Connect 5424 Managed Switches.

Thanks for the info.
1. VMware - okay good choice.

2. So good resilent servers from Dell and SAN from Dell. Should keep you good stead. So offerings of vMotion, DRS, HA may be of interest, depending on the licenses you puchase from VMware.

3. Dell - okay.

4. Yes, exactly how much is required now, and future growth for SAN/NAS based usage.

5. Okay, low as expected.

6. Are you happy with Acronis True Image, or could look at the many third party options, Veeam Fast Backup, Vizioncore vRanger Pro, pHd Virtual eSxpress - all available in trials. or VMware's vDR included in some Licensed Versions - these all need storage to store backups.

7. Okay.
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2.)  I was planning on purchasing vmotion as part of this package.

4.)  1.5 TB Current Usage -> 3.0 TB future expansion or more

6.)  True Image does its job for now but I would be willing to look at other solutions.  The Sonicwall CDP is for file level/application backup (Exchange/SQL).  This device lacks a paper trail and error messaging.  

Thanks for your input!

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RonStack

You may want to check out www.xiotech.com also for your SAN. The system is very easy to manage and I haven't had any issues yet. They have their own management console to take care of creating LUNS, assigning LUNS to servers, snapshotting, etc. Pricing should be in your budget for a Magnitude 3D 4000 model.

They also offer cross site replication if your company decides that it is necessary. I have been working with virtualization for less than a year, but have experienced a lot already. When you start converting your physical machines to virtual I would highly recommend going through and removing hidden devices in device manager.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315539

I have looked for a good guide or book to read for a good general understanding and best practices guidelines, but never came across one.

Something you will want to get a very good understanding on is licensing with VMWare. They offer very nice features, but are likely to exceed your budget for items like VMotion, Vcenter, etc. My company currently runs ESX with High Availability, which I haven't even explored yet.

While looking at licenses make sure you don't overlook ESXi, the free version of VMWare. It is surprising how similar ESXi and regular ESX are.

No problems, if you have any specific questions, post back, check profile
Hi

The new Veeam Backup & Replication v5 now have a feature that you manage backup of AD and Exchange mail accounts, and also for SQL. I have not test this yet, plan to test this first weeks of next year. But this is a very complement from Veeam to Veeam Backup. Because many costumers have Veeam for VM backup, and another backup tool for data backup. If this new features from Veeam work like VM backup, this is a very good advantage from Veeam on backup Virtual environments.

I am not a Veeam employer, but a big fan of this product. As a Backup and also Replication, is for me the number one product. And with this new features I think will be more powerful and even better.

Acronis Image is not a good product for VM backup.

Regarding the Virtualize Systems, again my opinion VMware is the number one, and no product can get the powerful and features that VMware provide. Citrix/Xen is also a good product, but VMware beat anyone.

Since ESX is running is last steps, you must use ESXi.

Regarding Hardware, I also like Dell servers. Most of my costumers use HP, but Dell have some good servers.

I think your biggest problem maybe the budget. Licenses can take a very big pie of that budget. And after you will not have much money for a good Storage.

This is my $.2

Hope this can help you.

Jail
VMware deprecated a very useful component called Guided Consolidation from vSphere.

This was available till VI 3 was in place and still can be downloaded from the VMware website as a 60 days evaluation software.

VirtualCenter 2.5 U6 is the one which you should download and install it in your environment.

Download Link : http://goo.gl/SWiMo

It supports upto 100 Windows physical boxes and gives excellent reports on which ones are good candidates for virtualization and which are not.
Our clients use Guided Consolidation in vSphere 4.0.

and as far as I was aware it's nor been removed from vSphere 4.1, here are some screengrabs!

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert PRO / EE Fellow/British Beekeeper)
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hanccocka - Thanks for clarifying that :)
@arunraju: No problems. thanks for your kind words.
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Thank you to everyone!  This is going to be a fun project.
hanccocka - I was right about the deprecation of VMware Guided Consolidation in future releases of vCenter,

http://goo.gl/SAiXJ

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