Recommendations on Windows Virtual Servers setup ?

We are planning to buy 1-2 Dell servers with Windows 2008 R2(64-bit) operating system.

Since most of them have already moved to virtual environments, we are planning to do the same thing.  This will cut down the number of servers.

Here are the specs we usually buy when we go with standalone servers:

Dell T610 server
Intel Xeon 3.0Ghz processor (  dual - 2 processor(8x2=16 cores))
Raid 5 with one huge chunk of space around 300GB
Windows 2008 R2 (64-bit)

Now with the same above specs if I wanted to setup a Virtual Host server which can handle 2 Virtual Machines with the above specs.

1)  What kind of virtual host server specs do I need to look at ?

2)  What operating system is recommended on the Virtual Host machine ?

3)  Which virtual software would work well for setting up the virtual machines ( two of the windows 2008 R2 (64-bit) operating systems) ?

Any other tips are much appreciated in the above setup.

Thanks in advance
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AmitIT ArchitectCommented:
VMware is the best solution for virtualization.
OCUBEAuthor Commented:

 VMware is for virtual software.

 How about the virtual host operating system ?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
In my opinion, saying "vmware" alone is misleading and inappropriate.  VMware what? Workstation? Server? Player? ESXi?

You'd be foolish to run a type 2 hypervisor.  You want a type 1, either ESXi or Hyper-V.  ESX is the most popular and for good reason. Microsoft is making advancemrnt with Hyper-V and that's what I use.

Understand - a type 1 *is* an oprrating system itself, there is no "host" operating system with them. Hyper-v uses windows to present and interface to you, but it is an OS in and of itself.

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OCUBEAuthor Commented:

thanks for clarification.

So which one do you recommend for the Host hardware ( i mean which OS/software) ?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I prefer hyper-v but many will argue for VMware with good reason. If you haven't played with either, you should and you shouldn't make your decision for PRODUCTION systems in a business environment based solely on recommendations here with no.practical experience with either.
In terms of hardware, what is appropriate depends on what you need your VMs to do. I have no idea why you would spec out the machines that you have for a physical server. Most servers have most processor cores idle most of the time. Why would a physical server need 16 cores?

The type of disks and RAID level used depends on what you need the storage system to be able to do. RAID5 is never my default because of cost, availability, and performance reasons. My default is RAID1. If you need more capacity and/or IOPS, then look at RAID 10 or RAID 5.

32 GB RAM is a lot for a physical machine, even most database servers.

Virtualization changes a lot of this up. I give my server VMs 1 GB of RAM to start, and work up from there if they need it. My largest SQL server has 16 GB RAM. My Exchange server has 12 GB. DC has 1.5 GB. I run lots of VMs on my hosts, and am "all in" with virtualization. My largest server has 144 GB RAM and two low end quad core Xeons. Even with all 30 VMs running, this host still has most cores idle most of the time, so you really don't need to spend $$$ on high end processors for normal business applications.

RAM and disk performance limits how many VMs you can run on a host. Taking an average workload, the 610 you spec'ed only need to be single socket, RAM is okay, better to use RAID 1 or 10 using SAS drives, and performance should be pretty good. VMware vSphere Hypervisor or Microsoft Hyper-V both work well, but you need to research them both to see which best meets your needs.
OCUBEAuthor Commented:
Now cost wise which is cheaper ?

VMware Esx, exsi, Hyper-V ?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
LICENSE cost, BOTH ESXi and Hyper-V are free. (is ESX still sold?)

But learning and management and support costs depend on what you are familiar with and how easily this stuff comes to you.
Nagendra Pratap SinghDesktop Applications SpecialistCommented:
I recommend Esxi  5 because it can do all versions for windows and so many versions of unix/linux etc.
ESXi is only free in a stand alone environment. It costs $$ if you want to cluster it, have access to backup APIs, etc. It costs $$$$ if you want the higher end features, some of which you may not consider higher end. Hyper-V can do everything it can do for 1 low price: $0. That may or may not be a good deal for you. It depends on what you need.
OCUBEAuthor Commented:
Since we are new to this Vmware ESXi .

Do they have any support contract which we can buy for any 24x7 tech support. We might have lot of technical questions during installation and ongoing maintenance.
You can view VMware's support offerings here.

Hyper-V is covered under the same options as all of Microsoft's other enterprise products. You can also run Hyper-V as part of Windows Server 2008 R2. In order to have full functionality such as clustering under Windows 2008 R2, you need to use Windows Server Enterprise or Datacenter, which cost more than Windows Standard.

If you are reasonably technically capable, you should be able to implement ESXi or Hyper-V on your own, or use a local consultant.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I believe Hyper-V Server (which is free) also offers clustering.
OCUBEAuthor Commented:
If we use ESXi as host , does it have the capability of taking a quick backup/image
of the guest OS (windows 2008 R2 64-bit) and be able to restore it on any other
ESXi host PC.
Nagendra Pratap SinghDesktop Applications SpecialistCommented:
Yes, ESX can do it but you have to poweroff the machine. Using the image on another ESXi is easy but moving it to a physical PC or Hyper-V may not be direct.
OCUBEAuthor Commented:

In your last reply you said ESX can do it.

Does it mean ESXi can do it or the regular ESX can do it ?
ESX is old product. ESXi is current.
Nagendra Pratap SinghDesktop Applications SpecialistCommented:
Frankly you need to see some videos about virtualization on youtube.

It will take 1-2 hours at most and you will have a better idea about the products and the terminology. You need to know what is ESXi/VMware/VIclient/Vswitch and related terms

Rushing into Virtualization without some reading is exactly the same as constructing a Datacenter without knowing what a server/storage/switch does.
OCUBEAuthor Commented:
Will do .

Thanks for the advise.
OCUBEAuthor Commented:
Quick questions to the gurus here:

1) If we are planning to installed 3 VM's using this ESXi on a Dell server.
    Is it recommended to get the Dell host server with 4 NIC's  ( 3 for VM's and 1 for host) ?
   ~ when I was going through youtube installation videos someone suggested to have
      multiple network cards, so each VM can have its own NIC for performance.

2)  Does underlying host machine's RAID configuration impact performance on the
     VM's  ?  

3)   Is there a limit on the number of Cores per CPU to have on the host machine
       where ESXi will be installed ?

4)   Is there a limit on the number of Cores per CPU to have on the VM guest machine ?
1) VMs can share NICs. Modern Dell server ship with 4 NICs, which is more than enough for the purposes that you are describing. You only need 1 or 2.

2) Yes, your underlying storage system will affect performance of your VMs, especially for things that are storage related.

3) VMware licensing can be confusing. There appear to be limits where you need to pay higher licensing costs if your processors have more than 6 cores each. I am not an expert, I use Hyper-V.


4) Not sure what you mean. VMs generally hae vCPUs, where there are no "cores".
OCUBEAuthor Commented:
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