SBS 2011: Hyper-V or ESXi, esp for backup

Posted on 2011-02-23
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I've purchased a new server and am preparing to install Windows Small Business Server 2011. I'm planning to virtualize to make future upgrades and disaster recovery easier. Also, have to run a simple linux vm for some chron jobs with our external web server. I would probably also run a second server instance for DC backup and/or printer server.

What I'm wondering is which hypervisor to use. I had been planning to use a Server 2008 R2 install with Hyper-V. But a colleague on another part of the project is telling me I should go with ESXi due to backup issues, performance, "it's just better".

I'm looking for advice on the subject. I don't have a lot of command line experience, and very little experience with vSphere. I'm also reading that to run a robust backup solution (We will have Backup Exec SBS 2010 R2) on ESXI you have to pay more. I've also heard that snapshots on Hyper-V don't work well.


Question by:jrockman13
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Philip Elder
ID: 34963866
If you are only running one guest OS then there really is no reason to run SBS 2011 virtualized.

Disaster recovery using the native backup or ShadowProtect by StorageCraft or like image based backup is excellent. We have done many with great success on the first two platforms.

Run the OS on the physical hardware.

If there are two OSs to be run as guests on the same hypervisor then go for it. We use Hyper-V exclusively for our own virtualization needs both for standalone and clustered applications. Others use VMWare with just as much success.

LVL 58

Accepted Solution

Cliff Galiher earned 250 total points
ID: 34964160
For a small install (two VMs if I read right and am counting the small linux VM) either Hyper-V or ESXi will work fine. Both are very capable hypervisors and both work well. VMWare does have some "advanced" featurese that arguably make it better in some circumstances, but those circumstances don't apply to you with the topology you the "it is just better" is a fanboy stuck in his product (whcih we can all be guilty of, so I'm not being too judgmental.,)

USe what you are comfortable with. If you are more comfortable administering Hyper-V and if there are cost benefits, use it. You won't regret it by any means. With R2...specially with SP1, performance is rock solid.

One final note about your question though, and this is not a limitation of Hyper-V....don't take snapshots of SBS 2011. This is true regardless of which hypervisor you use. Snapshots on domain controllers are just a bad idea and bad things happen. I've seen people break their SBS installs with VMWare just as much as with Hyper-V by ignoring the "don't take snapshots" advice.


Author Comment

ID: 34964191
I will be running a linux machine, which I would like to virtualize since so lightly I can't justify space on a rack for a separate box. And I read running Hyper-V as a role on the SBS is NOT supported.

I was thinking that if we had to recover to different hardware, it would be easier to do if the production server was virtual. Perhaps that isn't such a big deal with today's backup solutions.
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Philip Elder
ID: 34964339
Yes, that is correct. The Hyper-V Role is not supported _on_ the SBS 2008/2011 OS box itself.

ShadowProtect gives us better options for Hardware Independent Restore over the default backup. However, even with a VM setup there are HIR steps to clean up pieces of the previous virtualization host's setup.


Author Comment

ID: 34964451
I had intended to use BackupExec 2010 R2, but I will have to pay the upgrade costs from 2010 vanilla, so I could probably look at a different backup solution if that would simplify things.

We have a Dell T114 LTO3-060 unit. It's dual drive, rack-mounted, and connects via SCSI (not sure the exact connection). Our backup needs are 1. disaster recovery, 2. weekly full backup, nightly incremental, and 3. ability to granual restore email messages that people delete or a working file they accidentaly overwrote. Our current practice calls for a two week rotation, but I would like to push that to either three or four weeks.

Ability to achieve our backup strategy would heavily influence a decision on if and which hypervisor to use.


Author Comment

ID: 34964457
Oh, and I read your blog. Thanks. It was helpful information.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Philip Elder
ID: 34964481
While not specific to your particular setup check out the following post about mid-way down on what we do to back up virtualized SBS environments:


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