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Upgrade server 2003 /XP domain to new technology advice please

Posted on 2011-03-22
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Last Modified: 2012-08-14
HI all, this could be a complex one but essentially I have taken over a medium size business as the IT manager and need to put forward a proposal to upgrade our IT infrastructre. We are a charity so funding can be tight, but money can be spent if justified.
Essentially what I have currently is three server 2003 servers,  2 are running SQL 2005, exchange 2003 and active directory. Not much else, except the usual file server print server roles and a small number of terminal server licences (8) for a remote connection to an app running on one of the SQL boxes.
We have approximately 60 users but more than likely not all logged on at the same time due to shft work etc.
What I hope to do is upgarrde to server 2008, with windows 7 professional clients. Exchange 2010 and SQL 2008 x64. Sharepoint
The question I want to ask is what are the possibilities of doing the above using Xenserver and Xen desktop? or VMware for the servers and Roaming profiles on PC clients? using OEM machines.
One main stipulation is the need for users to be able to sit at any machine in the building and still have the same familiar desktop etc. Roaming profiles will do this I know, but I hear Windows 7 makes this tough? Xendesktop seems to be the winner here but can anyone help me with recommendation for hardware or any pitfalls they may have seen when doing this...
I am open to any advice and options. But it will boil down to things that make the project blow out of cost and effort.
appreciate any answers
Thanks inadvance
Craig
MrBungle50
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Question by:mrbungle50
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Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 35194715
I am not at all familiar with the Xen products, but here are some considerations for you:

1. I assume (based on your time zone) that you are in Australia - in which case, check with DonorTec (I am not Australian, but I've heard of them being equivalent to the US "Techsoup.org" which provides qualifying non-profits EXTREME discounts to various software licenses, including Microsoft Products (Extreme meaning, in the US, 95% or so off list price - basically a 5% "administrative fee).

2.  Hyper-V is free and with Service Pack 1, provides enhanced capabilities for VDI (if you want to look into that) and for hosting multiple VMs with the ability to over-commit memory to specific OS platforms.

3.  While it depends on what you need, what you have now (and how well it performs) can give you guidance as to what you need in the future... if your database server is using a lot of CPU right now, then you probably want more CPUs (CPU cores) on a new box... if it's sitting at 5-10% utilization, it's probably not necessary to get lots of CPUs (cores).

For a user base of 60, I would probably encourage at least 16 GB for the Exchange Server, SQL depends on your utilization... 4 GB may be enough... or maybe you need MUCH more.  A 2008 DC doesn't need much at all - 2 GB would be fine.  (heck I wouldn't worry about 1 GB).

You COULD consider SBS 2011 - but you are close to your limits on that - 75 is the cap and with 60... it's a questionable decision to go that route as any real company expansion could result in the need to (expensively) migrate away from it - on the other hand if most of your users ONLY access company computers (don't get e-mail on their phones or access it remotely), then you MAY find device based licensing works for you and this limit MAY be less of a concern.
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by:mrbungle50
ID: 35194773
HI Leew
Sadly Donortec have gone into bat for us on the Microsoft licneces and we do not qualify for the charity licences as offer care in the patients home and not in a specific facility. It wasa  tough battle but MS sttod their ground. Shame as we are the oldest charity in southern australia. (115 years) So we are stuck with volume licencing.

So if I read your answer correctly, Hyper-V will offer a platform to run Virtual machines? Can I run Xenserver and Xendesktop on Hyper-V? might be a stupid question? sorry!
I agree with the RAM usage for Exchange 16GB would be great, Exchange seems to eat as much as you can give it. I guess the same goes for SQL.

Any thoughts on XenDesktop and what sort of hardware I would need to run all those clients and the servers?
One main reason for the interest in XenDesktop is the ability to not have to purchase new client PC's. The simple pentiums and core duos we have currently will handle running the Xendesktop receiver and the rest would be done on the servers?
But, will this blow budget out madly due to the sheer size of the hardware I will need to run such a thing?
Otherwise I will look at new OEM clients and just virtualise my servers?
As I said this is a tough one. I have browsed the web for examples of people who have introduced Xendesktop to an operation , but nothiung in enough details as yet.

Thanks for the prompt response
Craig
Mrbungle50
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35194878
Again, I have no real experience with XenServer or XenDesktop - I can say that if you want to go VDI, VDI is probably the MOST EXPENSIVE form of virtualization and form of Terminal Services.  It may make sense... I've never implemented it, but there are very few scenarios I've heard of that make me feel it's the best option.  Terminal Services (Remote Desktop Services) are often less expensive and can accomplish much the same goal for a much lower cost.  

Hyper-V and VMWare ESX(i) are the same basic technology - they vary a little in how they do things... but it's a bit like Choosing between OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office.  VMWare has historically had the edge, in part because Hyper-V is so new by comparison, only being released in 2008, but it's what I've used and not had any problems at all.
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by:mrbungle50
ID: 35194941
Great stuff thanks again Lee. I think I need to pretty much ask my Citrix sales guy what the costs and specs must be for the right machine to do the job.
Finally, are there limitaions on how many VM's you can have on Hyper-V before it starts to cost?
Citrix have a limit of 4 servers before you pay for each above this.
Thanks
Craig
MrBungle50
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35194963
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 35194969
Note: Hyper-V comes with Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise, and Data Center.  There is also a free version you can download and the free version of Hyper-V doesn't have any special limitations.
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by:amichaell
ID: 35195529
Just a quick note regarding XenDesktop:Yes you can run XenDesktop on Hyper-V, though if money is a concern it is probably not the best route.  You are looking at two Delivery Controllers, multiple hypervisors (at least two for sixty connections), a Web Interface server (preferably two), a License server, and maybe two servers for Provisioning Services unless you go with Machine Creation Services.
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by:mrbungle50
ID: 35195721
Thanks Amichaell, good advice.
there is so much to think about, do you have any idea of the spec a machine would have to be to runa all my VM servers and desktop clients at the same time?
Cheers
Craig
MrBungle50
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by:amichaell
amichaell earned 250 total points
ID: 35197912
The DDCs, Web Interface, and License servers don't need tremendous horsepower.  At the absolute most I would use two cores and 4GB for each running Windows 2008 R2.  For each desktop VM you are likely looking at a single core with 2GB at most.  The hosts should have multiple network interfaces (at least four), particularly if you use Provisioning Services.
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Author Closing Comment

by:mrbungle50
ID: 35236562
Thanks guys, I am now looking at sevreal solution both using the data you have supplied me with. No decision made as yet. But your advice has given me the knowledge to move forward and start looking at providers and quotes.
Cheers and thanks
Craig
MrBungle50
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