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Is there a benefit to using Virutal Servers on a domain server?

Posted on 2011-09-14
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I have several small offices (10-50 users) that are running 2 Windows domain servers to handle domain (redundant DNS, AD, sharing of AD roles, DFS, etc).  These servers also handle printer sharing and file sharing, in addition to any network applications, such as centralized A/V.

Up to this point, I have never setup and configured virtual servers within these 2 physical servers.  I have read so much about the use of virtual servers, but I am wondering if there is any benefit to running virtuals within my configurations mentioned above.  Are any of you doing this?  If so, what are the benefits compared to just running a single physical server instance?
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Question by:murryc
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satishpeta earned 668 total points
ID: 36540563
I thought of writing my own experience but then I found this which should answer your most of your questions:

http://www.petri.co.il/virtual_5_reasons_to_virtualize_your_servers_with_vmware_server.htm
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by:KGNickl
KGNickl earned 664 total points
ID: 36540572
By having virtual servers it makes maintaining them easier. Let say you installed an update or had to roll out updates then you only have to take down a server that has fewer apps. So less impact to the users and less risk with new features, updates, etc....

Also, with virtual servers the server is independent of the hardware for the most part. So easier to backup and move around.

I could see some benefits with them. The main thing would be migrating to them and the learning curve.
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by:c_a_n_o_n
ID: 36540675
I don't recommend using your Domain Controllers for anything else other than Domain Controllers.  You do not want to add any load or services that may eventually cause memory, CPU issues, and networking.

Each VM will use a minimum of 1 CPU and whatever memory the OS + APPs require to run, manually allocated to the VM.  Your Domain Controllers are likely configured with the appropriate hardware.

To use VMWare, I recommend an additional server for testing and using VMs.
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by:louisreeves
ID: 36540682
Wow. Great to get a chance to give an opinion. The question you as is likened to discovering money. The question is what type of money do I use? Coins or dollars? American or foreign? So goes your application
 And usage of virtualization. I can tell you it is best to start with a lab first. If you want to piggy back on my experience, I ended up using both . I have a good lab with hyper an. Play lab I'm Vmware. Start using it to test plans and senarios before you do them in production. Do things for fun. Once you form a strong opinion about a certain
Certain virtualization , you be ready to make production choices- my choice hyperv. My stuf works really good in it.
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by:louisreeves
ID: 36540683
Ps. Do not virtualize your domain controllers and don't virtualize your domain controllers
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by:kevinhsieh
kevinhsieh earned 668 total points
ID: 36541207
Are these several small independent offices, or are they all part of a single larger enterprise?

I am assuming that the offices are independent and that they are your clients.

The advantage of virtualizing is that you can add more services without having to add hardware. ALL of my physical writeable domain controllers also have Hyper-V installed. I run System Center Virtual Machine Manager inside a VM running on the DC. I also have two writeable DCs running as VMs inside my Hyper-V clusters, and I have four read only DCs in my clusters as well (DMZ). Just being a domain controller is such a lightweight operation that a 1 Ghz P3 with 384 MB RAM can handle everything just fine, so it is reasonable to have it doing other things as well. You can also run a DC inside a VM if you follow Microsoft's guidelines regarding snapshops and never ever restoring old copies of the VM. I do suggest you know what you are doing before attempting any virtualization on existing production hardware.

With virtualization, instead of buying a new box with a quad core processor just to run a new financial application, you can enable Hyper-V on an existing Windows 2008/2008 R2 server and create a VM for the application. You still need to buy all of the software, but you save $1000-$2000 on hardware, and you help the environment by not manufacturing and not running that new server. The limitations on what you can run on a virtualization host is usually RAM and disk IO/capacity. Fortunately those are both easy and relatively cheap to expand. CPU is almost never an issue.
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ID: 36541780
It seems like at prresent you do not have enough physical servers to justify virtualisation.
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