Hardware capacity planning for vmware servers

Posted on 2011-05-07
Last Modified: 2012-06-21
Hi, we need to setup the following servers

AD controller
Exchange server
2 x SQL 2008 servers
2 x Application servers
1 x IIS server
1 x reporting server

For a financial firm's software system

Each server has a requirement of 4GB ram in our use scenario

How much RAM should the host vmware server have in order to accomodate all of these roles? The combined RAM of standalone individual servers would be 8 x 4 = 32GB, but does this change if we are using virtualization?

Also should we go with one physical server or two?

Finally - any considerations for storage? a ballpark for this system's server hardware ideally would be near ~$25k, should we go with SAN or just use 10k rpm hdd's?

Thank you!
Question by:darkbluegr
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    Expert Comment

    LVL 30

    Accepted Solution

    in vmware its ability to slice the vram and vcores is much better so if you say go for 32gb ram it means each vm can have 4gb but its not maxing out the vram which is what you need

    as for storage its a good idea currently to look at 10gbe as that currently a major topic in virtualization as it makes the virtual server much better. If you planning on a cluster you will need an iscsi or nfs path and that help especially if your server has a 10gbe hba on the isci switch as its important to have a seperate strage switch for iscsi so it doesn't get swapped with other network traffic

    so wht I am saying if you can only afford a few 10gbe hba's its a good idea to use them on your iscsi switch
    LVL 41

    Assisted Solution

    I would add as much RAM that you can afford and is cost effective. That way you can add more VMs and have more RAM per VM. I use Dell R710 servers which have 9 memory slots per CPU. 8 GB DIMMS is what is cost effective these days, but there seems to be some pricing wierdness is you try to populate every memory slot. I think that a good way to go is 6x8 GB RAM per CPU, for a total of 96 GB RAM per host. That should hold you for a while.

    IMHO 10 Gb Ethernet is too expensive and is not needed for most applications. You have a small environment and you aren't running enough machines to be able to saturate 1 Gb links, much less 10 Gb. The name of the game is IOPS for storage, which isn't dependent on total throughput. An iSCSI SAN using a single 1 Gb connection and a SSD backend will perform better in random IO than 8 GB FC SAN with some 15K disks, even though the FC SAN has a protocol and throughput advantage.

    BTW, your Exchange server requires at least 8 GB RAM if it has all roles. Your SQL and reporting servers will also perform better with more RAM. I recommend that you have two domain controllers. You should buy Windows Datacenter licenses for your hosts to cover the licensing of the VMs you will be running. A VMware host with a Windows Server Datacenter license for each physical CPU is licensed to run an unlimited number of Windows Server VMs of the same version or lower. That means that you could run 30+ Windows 2008 R2 VMs today on a host, but you wouldn't be licensed for Windows Server 2014 unless you were on active SA or you bought new licenses.

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