Want to protect your cyber security and still get fast solutions? Ask a secure question today.Go Premium

x
  • Status: Solved
  • Priority: Medium
  • Security: Public
  • Views: 578
  • Last Modified:

ESXi vs. Hyper-V vs. Win 2K8 Enterprise w/ Hyper-V for RD/TS Environment

Experts:

A question of opinion.  Thanks to the input of the folks on this forum, I've elected to build and present a business case for migrating to a terminal service/remote desktop service environment at our medium sized company (about 100 users).

So, now I have to pick a hypervisor.  Currently, we use ESXi for our few virtual hosts, and I like using it.  It's simple, neat, and most of all - free.  I want to do my due diligence in comparing the other options, however.  Plus, our DBA *insists* Hyper-V is superior.

So, here's the current planned infrastrucure:
- 1 VM running RD Web Access and RD Gateway roles
- 1 VM running RD Connection Broker and RD Licensing roles
- 4 VMs operating as an RD Session Host for 20-25 users each

I see my hypervisor options as:
VMWare ESXi 4.1
Hyper-V 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008 R2 w/ Hypervisor Role

Any thoughts as to the ideal configuration?  I'm looking for input on how many hosts I'll need, the hardware required on those hosts, and most importantly what type of hypervisor is the best for this setup.

Thanks!!
Matt
0
mhentrich
Asked:
mhentrich
  • 7
  • 6
  • 2
  • +4
2 Solutions
 
kevinhsiehCommented:
First of all, I would eliminate Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V role. Hyper-V is superior because it is free and is easier to install because it is more pre-configured, and supports clustering and more RAM.

Since you already have ESX- 4.1, I would say that you should stick with it, but that also means that you don't have any clustering going on because you aren't paying for it. If you want HA clustering where you can move VMs between hosts, Hyper-V Server is still free, and VMware certainly isn't. You also may want to consider RemoteFX for improved graphics performance, especially if your users to anything graphics intensive or will be running over a WAN. RemoteFX is a Microsoft technology and is free, though I believe that it requires Windows 7 clients.

I would think that you can fit everything onto a single server, probably dual CPU with say 72+ GB RAM. It is hard for me to say because I don't have experience running larger remote desktop environments, and you haven't stated what kind of usage your users will have. Having one system for everyone is riskier, so I would consider two hosts. You can cluster the hosts, and/or cluster the RDWA and RDGW roles using Windows Network Load Balancing, use HA clustering for the connection broker, and then just have the 4 RD Session Hosts in a farm. You would also have extra RAM and probably CPU to run some other VMs as well.
0
 
jbvernejCommented:
Hello

First, IMO Vmware or Microsoft have the same level of capabilities for virtualization techno.
Main differences between these ones are the administration tools and licence's costs.

Second, your query lacks some important things in order to choose:
- do you want some high availability for your VM infra ?
if Yes you need :
* a minimum of 2 hosts and a SAN STORAGE (iSCSI of FiberChannel) to put VM's virtual disk on because you can't do some HA/vmotion/live migration etc with local storage on your virtualization hosts
* Editions/products restrictions like : vmWare HA/DRS/VMotion require a "Virtual Center" machine (another product from vmware which is not free $$$) to manager clustering and HA, or Windows 2008 with hyperv that requires Entreprise edition to make an hyperV Cluster,etc..

- be aware of Windows's license costs  - W2008 Entreprise  edition includes 4 VM license unlike the free HyperV Server has none (you need to pay each windows licence for each VM on an hyperV)

- to implement a RDS Farm , you need a load balancer techno  (NLB, external Hardware Load balancer, Virtual 'Hardware load balancer'). NLB is free but it could be difficult to implement NLB in virtualization platform (HyperV or VmWare require special configuration to achieve NLB load balancing)
0
 
mhentrichAuthor Commented:
Great info guys!  Here are my responses:

Do we require HA?
Yes, and no.  We have practically zero failover in our existing infrastructure, and everyone seems relatively OK with that.  If you asked the department head of the owners if we needed HA, they would say yes.  Then you'd hand the the projected costs, and they'd change their minds instantly.  So, I'm aiming for a middle ground - say we don't neccessarily cluster, but we keep snapshots of all our servers on hand so we can restore in relatively short order during an outage.

Management Software:
I may misunderstand this part, but as of now we're looking to purchase one copy of vShere 5.0, which I've been able to use (the trial version) to manage our existing hypervisors without issue.  If I need to migrate a VM from host to host, I just use VMWare's free standalone converter to do so through the network.  Why not just do that?

SAN:
To keep things simple and flexible, I'd just as soon connect a couple of DAS boxes to a SAS switch.

Load Balancing:
This is a topic I'm not as spun up on.  My current thinking is that I will create a TS (call it TS1.domain.com) and assigning 20 users to it, then creating a second (call it TS2.domain.com) and assigning 20 users to that one, and so on.  All of these TS's would exist on a single virtual host (ESXi or Hyper-V), which would be connected to the network via a 10G SFP Fiber Optic line.  Given that arrangement, where does the need for load balancing come in?

Thanks!
Matt
0
Independent Software Vendors: We Want Your Opinion

We value your feedback.

Take our survey and automatically be enter to win anyone of the following:
Yeti Cooler, Amazon eGift Card, and Movie eGift Card!

 
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Hyper-V or VMware vSphere are both very good hypervisors. You are always going to have a battle with your DBA, because if you do not select Hyper-V, DBA will always blame the technology for why it's slow, not working to acceptable standards etc

What you need to establish is a fast capable performing datastore, whether you select VMware or Microsoft. Make sure you have lots of disks, more spindles = more performance = more IOPS - so single RAID 10 array, with lots of disks! (but I'm sure your DBA has ideas here as well, most do!).

RemoteFX, requires hardware GPU and SLAT capable CPU in the host Hyper-V hypervisor.

You may want to consider possibly Citrix or 2X Solutions which will load balance for you, to offer thin client solution.

But how we do rollouts, is we pilot the technology with a few users, 1-3 users initially, and then build up the users, week by week, 5 users at a time, check performance to build up a profile for the server, when the server gets to 90% CPU, based on user expectations and performance, you'll then know how your workforce operates, and the magic concurrent number of users per Virtual Server.

But I think your numbers are close 20-25 per VM server, but sometimes we've seen as low as 15 concurrent users per server.

Of course, if you use Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise Server, you'll get 4 VMs licenses for free, plus original host is licensed. (but the same deal can be also used for VMware!).
0
 
kevinhsiehCommented:
My understanding is that the RD Connection broker will balance users among the various RD Session Hosts. Otherwise, is you just assign users to one host or another via RDP file they don't need the connection broker.

Hyper-V Server can be used for a HA environment for free, though you do need shared physical or virtual storage. Windows NLB works fine for VMs under Hyper-V, and I imagine it works fine under VMware as well. I you do that with RD session hosts on more than 1 host, you will have most of the benefits of a cluster without the cost. Shared SAS is isn't that expensive for good performance for a few hosts.
0
 
mhentrichAuthor Commented:
Kevin:

Interesting!  I was wondering about the Connection Broker.  So, let me make sure I understand this:

If I build a proper RDS Farm, the connection broker will connect users to individual servers based on availability, thereby balancing the load automatically.

If I just build 4 seperate RDS servers and assign users specifically to a certain server, then there is no need for the Connection Broker.

I assume the reason behind the Farm is for redundancy/failover, but is there a performance boost?

Thanks!
Matt
0
 
kevinhsiehCommented:
There is no performance benefit of using a farm over manually distributing users among the RD session hosts, if your manual distribution is just as good as what the session broker does. I don't know how good the session broker works for load balancing. Otherwise, your understanding of the connection broker matches mine.
0
 
SysExpertCommented:
In esxi ( free ) you can move/copy VMs between hosts if there is shared storage or simply copy the files between the hosts by whatever means you have ( With the vm shut down )
0
 
Handy HolderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
You have a heck of a lot of failover in your current environment as far as desktops are concerned, it's just not documented or automated. If one of the user's PC explodes and the smoke leaks out they simply moves to another desk and borrows the PC of someone who is on holiday.

Even if you could physically fit the 100 users on one box do you think you could put up with them all complaining at once when you took the server down for maintenance at lunchtime and they couldn't even play 3d pinball let alone browse the web?
0
 
mhentrichAuthor Commented:
Quick Q:

When doing on research on Win 2K8 R2 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter, I came across a question about datacenter.

Datacenter is sold in 1 CPU, 2 CPU, and 4 CPU packages and has an unlimited number of virtual licenses along with it.  My question is: are the virtual instances restricted to the same number of CPUs?

For example, if I purchase/install Windows 2008 R2 Datacenter 1 CPU version on a 1 CPU server, then install Hyper-V standalone on a 2 CPU server, can I use my Datacenter virtual licenses on new VMs on that Hyper-V installation?

Thanks!
Matt
0
 
kevinhsiehCommented:
No, because the licenses are assigned to the hardware. I suggest you buy two dell R710 with single Xeon 5620 processor, 96 GB RAM, redundant power, rack rails, iDRAC6 Enterprise, and SATA RAID 1. My cost is about $3800 each plus taxes and shipping. Buy two Datacenter CPU licenses, and you have covered all Windows Server VM licenses for two hosts and a combined 192 GB of VMs in the cluster. Pricing for Datacenter seems to be all over the map on CDW, but worst case should be about $2200 per processor. Dell sells it with the server for about $3900, which I assume is not OEM (would need to check, because OEM won't work for the second server). My workloads would do very well with 64 GB of RAM and a single quad core processor. Adding a second CPU in the host requires a second Datacenter CPU license on the host, which adds an addition $1950 to the licensing cost on the host.

You can run Hyper-V Server on the host, and have the Datacenter license assigned to it for the purpose of licensing VMs. Same deal if you were running VMware Hypervisor.
0
 
L4NetCommented:
I've been managing VMware based solutions for several years now and I recommend you simply stick with VMware.  Your environment is small and simple (that's great).  Purchase two decent sized servers to be used as hosts, shared storage is needed in the form of a SAN, and then go with one of the VMware Acceleration Kits to get all the features such as clustering, HA/DRS, etc.  Yes, you will incur costs but always remember - you get what you pay for.  Currently, vSphere is up to version 5 so go ahead wit hthe latest version.  And the VMware solution is the most complete, robust, and extensible solution available - regardless of the marketing you read.  It's definitely worth the investment.
0
 
mhentrichAuthor Commented:
Kevin: I *think* I get you.  Now 2K8 Enterprise isn't licesnsed by CPU, so could I apply those virtual licenses elsewhere?

If you can't tell, what I'm trying to avoid is running an Operating System (2K8) with a hypervisor on top of it (Hyper-V) with more guest OS's on top of that (2K8 again).  I'd much rather put a standalone bare-metal OS in place (Hyper-V) and my guest OS's on top of that and call it good.  But, I also want to take advantage of the great licensing options MS is putting out there for 2K8 with virtualization.

So, ultimately I'd like to buy either Enterprise or Datacenter, install it and set it up as my Hyper-V Manager, then install Hyper-V (standalone) elsewhere and install my guest OS's there, using the licenses I gained by buying Enterprise or Datacenter.

L4Net: I like VMWare too, ESXi has worked great so far.  Dollar for dollar though, it's getting hard to make an arguement against Hyper-V.  Also, my DBA is an ardent Hyper-V guy, and I'll have to hear how ESXi is the problem every single time we have a server issue for the next several years if I go with VMWare :P

Matt
0
 
kevinhsiehCommented:
I don't think you understand how Microsoft virtualization rights work. A Windows Server license is assigned to a single piece of hardware (think motherboard). All of the virtualization rights only apply to VMs running on that piece of hardware. The virtualization rights can not be split up nor transferred to any other piece of hardware. The virtualization rights do not require that you actually install the Windows Server OS on that hardware on bare metal, or as the hypervisor or management partition. You get the virtualization rights if you use VMware, Hyper-V, Citrix Xen Server, or any other virtualization technology.

The Enterprise Server isn't licensed per CPU, which only means that it costs the same for a single CPU server as an 8 way server, and everything in between (I think 8 way is the limit in Enterprise). With Datacenter, an 8 way server would cost 8 times as much as a single CPU server, from a Microsoft licensing standpoint.  

My environment is that I use Hyper-V Server for my hosts in HA clusters. I assign Datacenter and Enterprise licenses to the hosts to cover the licenses of the Windows VMs running on those hosts. Management is done via Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 2008 R2 Servers.

The process of assigning a license is simply buying it and declaring for your records which piece of hardware it is assigned to.
0
 
kevinhsiehCommented:
FWIW, I agree that dollar for dollar Hyper-V server is a really good deal, especially since VMware seems to want to charge per VM, and is using the installed RAM as a proxy to get there. Having a host with 96 or even 144 GB RAM isn't that unreasonable, but VMware seems to want to charge an arm and a leg for that, and Microsoft will let you virtualize it for free.
0
 
mhentrichAuthor Commented:
Kevin: So what about this - set up Hyper-V standalone server, install 1 2008 R2 Datacenter *guest OS*.  Can I then create an unlimited number of 2K8 R2 VMs on that host (the standalone hypervisor, not on top of the Datacenter install)?

Thanks!
Matt
0
 
L4NetCommented:
I hear ya!  On the cost issue, when comparing apples for apples and taking into account the advanced features, VMware is a far better choice.  I base this on direct comparison between HA and DRS capabilities, scalability and more importantly cost.  Yes, I know it sounds odd, but cost. :)  DO a direct cost comparison between VMware and Microsoft and build out on paper a 3 host cluster offering HA, DRS, resource allocations, and even FT.  

I think it really depends on the environment you're trying to create.  If it's small and no plans exist to grow it and you can tolerate small amounts of downtime then the Microsoft product would work, wince you already have it included.  However, if the environment is a true production environment requiring little to no downtime running mission critical apps, VMware is the only infrastructure able to achieve all of this.  

As for keeping your database on HyperV, I completely understand and have came across this many times.  Many DBS's feel that running a Microsoft DB on top of a Microsoft virtual environment offers benefits and they should work to always keep this configuration.  However, in reality it's just the opposite.  VMware's DRS capabilities alone, tied in with affinity/anti-affinity rules, make the enrionment so much more capable for SQL.  The ability to fine tune and tweak the environment dedicated to the DB server is extensive and your control is very granular.  A Vmware environment will allow the DBA to do everything they've wanted to the DB and more, without the underlying hassles of existing on top of virtualization based on a general purpose OS.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Microsoft guy and love their OS's.  But only for their original purpose which is general purpose use.  They aren't built for dedicated virtualization, now does it offer the advanced features I've come to rely on every day.

Either way you go you'll have a great setup.  And I'm confident if your DBA were to start managing a DB residing in a VMware environment, he'll be won over.
0
 
kevinhsiehCommented:
Matt, try this on.

Install Hyper-V Server. Assign as many Windows Server Datacenter CPU licenses to the host as you have physical CPUs in the host (you don't actually DO anything other than to make a note in your records). Create and run as many Windows Server VMs you want on that host. The VMs can be any version of Windows Server you want up to and including the version of Windows Server Datacenter that you bought, and they can be any edition you want (Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter).

It would be perfectly legal to run 384 (Hyper-V limit for concurrent VMs) copies of Windows Server 2003 R2 standard, for example. No need to INSTALL Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter anywhere.

@L4Net, I don't see how buying Enterprise Plus, or even possibly multiple Enterprise/Plus licenses just so I can effieciently use my hardware with 144 GB of RAM pushes the choice towards VMware based on cost, certainly not when I can do it for free. Yes, I have HA, for free. I bought the System Center Datacenter Suite which gives me Operations Manager, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, and Virtual Machine Manager, none of which is important to keeping my environment running smoothly, but that does give my DRS and resource allocations to do a direct comparison, and I am still way better off from a licensing and equipment cost. I am not saying that Hyper-V is better from any technical capability standpoint, but for many environments it has a very good price/performance edge. Your BMW may capable of 120 MPH, but it costs twice as much as my Ford and I only drive 70 anyway, so who cares?
0
 
mhentrichAuthor Commented:
Excellent opinions everyone, thanks!
0

Featured Post

Free Tool: Path Explorer

An intuitive utility to help find the CSS path to UI elements on a webpage. These paths are used frequently in a variety of front-end development and QA automation tasks.

One of a set of tools we're offering as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

  • 7
  • 6
  • 2
  • +4
Tackle projects and never again get stuck behind a technical roadblock.
Join Now