Remote DC as a VM?

Hello Experts,

I want as many opinion on a proposal I have for our remote site.
*We are running a 2003 AD shop in our corp office.
*Our remote site has an old Dell server running 2008. It used to be a DC serving up DNS and DHCP for the local users. Over the past couple of months, it's had many problems (hardware and software) and we eventually demoted the server so it's basically doing nothing now.
*We tried time and again with consultants to get the remote server back on as a DC, but DNS was a huge hurdle and no one could get it working properly. Both consultants recommended that we wipe out the server and reinstall it fresh.
*So now, those remote PCs (only 14 of them) have static IPs and their DNS is now pointing all the way back to our Domain Controller.
We will eventually purchase a replacement server, but will likely occur in February or March. So now for my idea:

Is it a bad idea to install VMWare Workstation on the existing remote 2008 server and install a new version of 2008 server, promote it and run DNS and DHCP?
When the new physical server arrives, I can install VMWare Workstation on it and just move the existing VM.
I know people will scorn the idea of putting it on VMWare, but since it's a remote site with no IT people, I'm thinking that if we have problems in the future, I'll be able to move the DC (VM) to a different machine with minimal downtime.

What do you guys think?

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Why not a type 1 hypervisor instead? Just setup Hyper-V.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
or VMware ESXi for free?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
VMware Workstation is a Type 2 Hypervisor, other Type 2 Hypervisors include, VMware Server 2, VMware Player 3.0, Virtualbox 4.0, and Parallels.

Type 2 Hypervisors are SLOW.  In most reviews and experience, they perform at roughly 30-40% hardware capability.  That means an OS in a VM run off VMWare Workstation will likely perform at best like it has an 800 MHz CPU if you have 2 GHz physical CPU. You install Type 2 hypervisors onto of an existing host operating system.

If you use a Type 1 Hypervisor, you get MUCH better performance. ESX, ESXi, are all Type 1 hypervisors - they (based on experience and reviews) typically get 80-90% hardware capability - so that same VM run off the same 2 GHz CPU should operate more like it has a 1.6 GHz CPU instead of 800 Mhz. Type 1 hypervisors are installed on the bare metal of the server.

Type 1 Hypervisors also include Hyper-V.
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Can you use a good desktop comp? I cant afford a "server" at my house and only use desktops. Some with as little as 1 gig and running exchange, dns, dhcp ....
pulpboy99Author Commented:
Can Hyper V or ESXi be installed on top of Windows 2008?
Remember, ther server is all the was across the country and I have no way to physically install anything on it via bootable CD.  
Jessie Gill, CISSPTechnical ArchitectCommented:
Instead of vmware workstation please use ESXi, it is also free but way way better. Doing what you say is fine, we do it with all our remote sites also and have had no issues.  VMware holds over 600 critical servers for us as we have a massive VMware infrastructure.

Vmware ESXi has massive performance gains over workstation and you do not need a base OS to be installed other then the ESXi which can run of a usb drive.  Also Vmware has ESXi iso for Dell servers so it will most likely find all your drivers and such.

Also as you stated moving VM's gets easy to since they are just a nice little file., Either way I think you are on the right track here and do not see any issues with what you are doing.
If Windows 2008 23-Bit was installed on the remote server, you couldn't install Hyper-V...  Having a virtual DC isn't a big deal as long as there is a physical one in the network that can be contacted as well...  You don't want to put yourself in the situation where you can't log in because the DC is down and the DC is down because it's a virtual server (and whatever is hosting that virtual server is also down).

Can you do this? Certainly.  Will it ease the move of the virtual machine to a different platform in the future, yes.  Is it the most optimal?  Probably not.  I'd be more curious why the consultants couldn't get the 2008 box re-promoted to a Domain Controller first though!  

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
No, it's a Bare Metal Hypervisor, you must replace the OS.
I'd probably rather go for VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) and not VMware Workstation, Performance will be much better, and if you don't need all the extra features you can use the free version. The only issue could be that your server might not be on the HCL.

If your Server can't run ESXi, then of course VMware Workstation or even Player (which is free), or also Oracle's VirtualBox would do fine as a temporary solution. You can move those VM's to an ESXi server without problems later.

Personally I would always setup my servers as ESXi servers, you are much more flexible as you can easily move the VM's to other hardware if something should break.

Apart from that, since the remote server is running 2008, you could enable the Hyper-V role, provided the hardware supports it.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
To be clear,  if you're running a 64 bit version of 2008 then 98% hyper-v is just a role you add. In 2008 R2 it is definitely a role you add. It is not available in 2008 32bit editions and though rare in my experience, there was a ski in 2008 that didn't include it.
pulpboy99Author Commented:
So I guess I can put Type 2 Hypervisor, VMWare Workstation on top of the existing 2008 server for now. And when I get the new server, install ESXi on it.
Would the existing VM file from the Type 2 Hypervisor work on the Type 1 ESXi server?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes, you can convert it using VMware Converter for free.
pulpboy99Author Commented:
Thanks for the input guys.
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