Hyper-V harwdware advice

Posted on 2011-04-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I am planning to virtualize sbs2003 with Hyper-V and add Sharepoint Foundation and SQL on a Server 2008 virtual machine on the same box.

There are 60 users.

The sbs2003 should have a capacity of 250GB and the Server 2008 virtual machine requires 1TB.  Also thinking about backup, what hardware especially details about storage configuration do you reccomend?

Question by:JimBurg
    LVL 20

    Expert Comment

    by:Svet Paperov
    It depends on your budget. Any new server will do the job.

    The most important component is the RAM because you cannot share it and you need to provide enough RAM for your virtual machines. Do not count too much on the dynamic RAM in 2008 R2 SP1, it is not really useful in your setup.

    For the storage you can chose between DAS, means internal disks, and iSCSI. Generally iSCSI NAS could provide more capacity.

    As backup solution you could use Windows Backup included in Windows 2008.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    You want plenty of room to grow especially with RAM but several drives will increase IOPs
    the HP ProLiant DL370 G6 Server has several options and I sure Dell has a similiar model as well.  Go with big sticks of memory so you can easily add more as needed.
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    What's your budget?

    There are several configurations that might work but your budget might impact the future capacity or redundancy you are able to build in.

    It costs a lot of money to deploy a new server and a majority of that expense is llabor and software licenses.  Cutting corners can force a server replacement earlier.  And whenever a great new IT tool is delivered to an organization, the use often grows far beyond the initial expectations and capacity estimations.

    The following link is a model/feature comparison.  You can find something comparable in HP/Dell:

    Our current standard for a scalable, future proof server is this server and config supports about 100 users with plenty of resources for the future:
    IBM x3650 M3 Model 7945-E3U (About $3700 not including hard drives) We use these for everything including SQL, Hyper-V, etc.
      - Intel Xeon Processor X5650 6C / 2.66GHz (this is a 6 core processor and there's a socket for a second 6 core processor)
      - 12GB/192GB/DDR3 (comes bundled with 12GB RAM)
      - 16TB (no hard drives are bundled)
      - 2.5" SAS
      - RAID card is bundled so all you need to purchase is hard drives
      - Multiburner CD/DVD bundled
      - Redundant power supplies bundled

    300GB SAS hard drives are about $550 each
    600GB SAS hard drives are about $800 each

    One of our SQL servers has the following disk configuration (this server and config supports about 100 users with plenty of resources for the future):
      - Mirrored 300 GB drives for the OS
      - Mirrored 300 GB drives for the SQL Transaction Logs
      - 4 x 300 GB drives in RAID5 for the SQL database

    This server also is a Hyper-V host for 3 Windows 2008 x64 Enterprise virtual SQL servers that are used for testing and development plus one production Terminal / Remote Desktop Services Server.

    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    Correction on hard drive prices:
    The 300GB SAS hard drives are about $400 each

    Author Comment

    For What kind of RAID configuration would be suitable for these two virtual guests?
    Is it enough to have a RAID array for the Host, and one for the guests to share or would each guest require their own array?
    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution

    >For What kind of RAID configuration would be suitable for these two virtual guests?
    At least mirrored drives for the Host server OS and RAID5 for the Virtual machines.  But see below for a best practices scenario for SQL.

    Is it enough to have a RAID array for the Host, and one for the guests to share or would each guest require their own array?
    Guests can share a RAID array if the workloads would typically be ok on a physical server.  If the load would be too much to do on a physical server using the same array then it would make sense that it would also have the same IO/performance issues with the Virtual Machines.  60 users doesn't sound like a lot on a brand new 4 or 6 core server with appropriate other specs however it comes down to knowing more about what you're really doing with SBS and Sharepoint.  The good news is that with Virtualization you can Export the VM to another physical server if you need more capacity in the future.  It's very easy.  Therefore a sensible config, see below, might be fine for the long term; but if not you can always change things and/or get a new server.  Moving Virtual Machines around is very easy.

    To summarize, are you saying the following:
     - 1 physical server running Hyper-V
     --- 1 Virtual server running sbs2003
     --- 1 Virtual server running Sharepoint Foundation plus SQL on a Server 2008

    In general, with SQL the best practices performance option is to locate the Transaction Logs and Databases on separate disks / partitians.  On a fast system it might be ok to put everything together but I'm going to recommend best practices here.

    If the above example is correct a top notch RAID configuration might look like this:

    Host Server OS partition (C:)
     -2 Mirrored hard drives

    Transaction Logs (for the Virtual machines) (D:) - Best with mirroring because the Write performance is typically better on RAID1 than RAID5
     -2 Mirrored hard drives

    Virtual SQL databases (for the Virtual machines) (E:) - Best with RAID5 because SQL databases do a lot of Reads, not just Writes.
     -3 or more hard drives in RAID5

    Setup both of your Hyper-V Guest Virtual Machines to have 2 virtual hard drives (1 on the Mirrored D: partition for the transaction logs and the other on the D partition for the SQL database files)

    If your budget is tight you might eliminate the Transaction Log RAID set and put them on the Host OS partitian but the problem with that is that Transaction Logs, if there are issues or if they're not properly maintained, can explode rapidly in size and potentially fill up a partition; especially if space is low.

    BTW if you're planning to virtualize an existing server you might use one of the P2V (Physical to Virtual) tools out there to copy the existing machine directly into virtual space.  That way the existing server doesn't really change.  If you're interested I can post some solutions and info on your options here.

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