What's the benefit of Virtualization

Back to basics - what is the benefit of virtualization for a small business?
If everyone has to log into a computer, why have them connect to a virtual computer?
We use a terminal server for remote user access.
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Andrej PirmanConnect With a Mentor Commented:
One single SBS 2008 is better to be run on bare metal, not as virtual machine.
But one thing bothers me - you say you are using TS for remote access....but how? You ahve only 1 SBS2008, so where is Terminal Server?
...or you are talking about 2-3 clients, connecting to max allowed 3 terminal sessions in admin mode?

For best analysis you should provide some more info:
- how many TOTAL servers you have?
- How many of them you plan to virtualize?
- How many clients on LAN?
- How many clients via Remote desktop?
- WAN throughput?
- How many changes are you willing to do? Are you going into minor changes, or would you rearrange your network for next 5-7 years?

1.) One way to go is with single SBS2008 on bare metal. I suggest against virtualization in this config.

2.) The second option is to buy some better machine to use as a host for VMWare ESXi. You may run 3-5 servers on it without problems, especially if all of them are from same series (2008 R2, or 2008). In this case you may benefit ONLY in case you fill this server up with many disks, preferably fast 15k SAS, and configure at least 2 RAID arrays. If you use single RAID 1 array for all virtual machines, you will most probably run into performance problems.

For example, you can setup one DC virtual server, with sole role being a domain controller (with DNS and DHCP).
Then another File Server, being mainly file storage server. I suggest using separate LUN/RAID array for this.
Then finally Terminal Server.
And Database server, which uses its own RAID array.

Advantage would be separated roles, and useage of separate RAID arrays, which will gain performance inside single server hardware.

3.) Maybe the best option would be to go with VMWare VIEW, meaning you will have on SERVER side some virtual machines (as above, but without Terminal Server).
But most benefit is on client side, where you will use ZERO CLIENTS:
- as ChiefIT said, you gain A LOT on security and ease of managment of clients
- you can deploy updates and patches on client template...and voila, all clients are patched in the morning
- clients use ZERO CLEINTS, which are cheap, and nowadays already built into monitors, so all most users will have is Monitor and wireless mouse and keyboard. No cables, no computer box, no vents, no space occupation, no noise...wonderful!
- if client brokes, no problem - just seat user behind neighbour's machine and it continuse working where he left. No profile copying, no files transfer, no printer remapings, nothing, just continue working.

I deployed such a configuration to many schools, health institutions, hospitals...works like a charm. They work both, locally and from remote locations, being directly via WAN, or through IPSec tunnels, and experience is much better then with clasic RDP (ok, maybe Windows 7 RDP client is comparable). But the beauty is that all those problematic printers, barcode scanners and SecureID cards work without problem on VMWare View, while on MS RDP there were lots of problems.
I recommend.
How many servers does the Small Business currently have?

If its 1 and if it has an onboard remote access card like DRAC or iLO, VM isn't going to give you that many benefits. Infact the only advantage I can see is that if the machine fails it may be quicker to restore if you can get access to the VM image.

Using a desktop OS instead of a Server OS in the case of TS gives the better user experience. It also gives you a more "Personal" touch. You don't need a TS or a TS licensing server and the TS Cal's.

Having the OS in a VM instead of actual hardware makes it easier to replace the hardware, as the VM doesn't care about that. There are very thin clients available for VMware which run a better protocol than the RDP protocol used by TS, and that is much better suited for multimedia streaming.
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I was asked to assist schools in the local Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC). We used VMware to deploy imaged machines. There is a HUGE security advantage to deploying VM imaged machines. VMware is extremely difficult to infect. If infected, just destroy the image and create a new one... This is one serious advantage to VMware. There is one other to reduce hardware servers. you can deploy servers as a VM computer. Now this requires thorough knowledge of server configurations. While at the CCDC, we were deploying servers. For things like sharepoint and Exchange over VM images, you must have your AD server up an running prior. Otherwise you will probably have an issue...

Now, with that said, there are many pitfalls. Like I stated you have to deploy your servers IN ORDER. Then you have to conentrate on IP configuration and Security IDs (SIDS) on the servers. It can become quickly confusing on what to deploy first, then what to deploy next. Also you have to set the time synch, etc... Lot's of configuration management comes with VM imaged machines.

-Security and the ability to quickly fix a machine by deploying a new image are benefits.
-Configurations management, and system scalability / convergence difficulty are pitfalls.
Andrew-TAuthor Commented:
Thank you for the quick replies.

There is 1 SBS2008 server supporting the general network chores, including Peachtree, 1 DB application server, and the TS server.

If I had an application server I could off load the Peachtree, printers and file shares.  Would this be worth the setup of a virtual server? Would I need 2 servers as virtual servers?

I guess I'm old school, but it seems easier to use standard servers, roaming profiles and swap a PC if it dies while you rebuild it.
Andrew-TAuthor Commented:
Labsy - there are 3 servers

Zero Client sounds like a great desktop solution.

I can see this would be an investment in hard drives and processors, but would replace a lot of desktop cost.
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