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To VM or not to VM

A couple of years back, the prevailing attitude for server engineers seemed to be to try and virtualise everything except servers where there was heavy I/O (SQL, Exchange mailbox servers and so on)...

Have there been any changes within the virtual server industry to make virtualising these last mile servers any easier?
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neil4933
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neil4933
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1 Solution
 
BusbarSolutions ArchitectCommented:
Those servers run very well on ESXi or Hyper-v, I work for a service provider and all of these workloads are virtualized for a lot of customers
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BusbarSolutions ArchitectCommented:
but again careful design is always needec
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wullieb1Commented:
We have our SQL boxes virtualised and are in the process of virtualising our Exchange servers.

Our end users have noticed no discernable speed issues with the connection to the servers.

I will re-iterate what busbar says though and recommend a proper design for your systems.
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coolsport00Commented:
@neil4933 - I'm not sure where you heard that really, but I've had my Exchg 2007 box on vSphere for 3yrs; and SQL for just about as long....and both run well. Now, in saying that, no 2 environments are alike. You just have to do some perf testing. Collect baselines on your (assume current) physical systems, then create a test virtual environment and run perf tests on that. It's actually rare to see any Tier 1 app not perform just as well, or at least close to as well on virtualization technologies as they do on physical systems.

Now, I have seen some posts on here where users aren't getting good performance on Terminal Services VMs as they were on physical boxes. Not sure why that is exactly. I haven't run nor tested that technology.

VMware has some Tier 1 app "Kits" that has best practice, performance, & case study docs for review that you can look over to assist you in your planning:
http://info.vmware.com/?elqPURLPage=140?pc=sap&src=&cid=70180000000w9SQ
You just need to register (yes, for each one...why, I have no idea...it's an extreme pain in the a$$ IMO) :)

Hope that helps.

Regards,
~coolsport00
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coolsport00Commented:
Wanted to also add this - if your physical box, SQL let's assume, takes up a lot of resources (say it needs 8 vCPUs and many GBs of RAM), then there is what I call a 'break point' to where virtualization is not a viable alternative per sè because the main benefits of virtualization are better use of host resources and consolidation. If 1 VM takes up most of the host resources, you have miniscule consolidation ratio (i.e. VMs per host). On the other hand, with a VM, you have better provisioning, recoverability, transportability, & DR capability IMO.

There, I just now made that clear as mud didn't I? :)

Regards,
~coolsport00
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Nagendra Pratap SinghCommented:
I can confirm seeing heavily used Exchange 2007 and 2010 servers on VMware. They are working without issues.

I have also seen SQL on it and it works well but they may not be heavy load servers. For SCCM server's SQL role, VMware is fine.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
I would agree with your statement.

Depends on your storage, physical servers, virtual server usage, we spend many an hour, these days performing V2P, because the platform has been sized incorrectly.

Physical will always perform better! Virtual is always a compromise!
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Nagendra Pratap SinghCommented:
"Virtual is always a compromise! "

Well that is true for performance. But there are other things to consider in a server apart from performance.

We have payroll systems that are run once a month and the money paid out is not that much so performance is not much of an issue there (One simple example).
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
We aim with our clients to reach a target of 90% of physical hardware.

90% Virtual, 10% Physical.

It's getting better, faster processors, better storage, tiered storage, SSDs, it depends on how much you want to pay, for availability.

So to your questions:-

A couple of years back, the prevailing attitude for server engineers seemed to be to try and virtualise everything except servers where there was heavy I/O (SQL, Exchange mailbox servers and so on)...

Still is, been doing it for 15+ years....

Have there been any changes within the virtual server industry to make virtualising these last mile servers any easier?

Yes, many changes, it makes it a little easier. But some physical systems, are not cost effective for some of our clients to virtualise, but it depends on their business practice, some have a 100% virtual policy, and be damned with the performance, especially when you factor in the costs of the shared storage and hypervisor licenses (VMware), others like to tread more carefully, and do 75/25, 80/20, 90/10, and try systems out, periodically, to see if we are there yet!
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