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Running Quickbooks Enterprise V12 on Terminal Server 2008

Posted on 2012-09-09
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Hi,
  I need to setup a server based system for my customer who will have 3 active users on Quickbooks Enterprise version. The user base will be around Five thorough the year, but peaks  up to 10  people during the tax filing season in April. They have about 400 clients ranging from single taxpayer to small to midium size businesses who depend on their tax services. My customer provides full tax service to some and some customers send them "accountant version of QB data".

  I have setup servers for my customers, but never set up Quickbooks Enterprise and Intuit told me that they would walk me thru the installation process, so I am worried about that part. They also told me that Windows 2008 Server R2 is compatible with QB Enterprise, but not Windows 2012 that I just purchased.

  I would like to understand what kind of demand QB has on system so that I can prepare the system in terms of resources like HD space, Memory allocation .. etc.

  That said, I have a new server box with lastest CPU, 32MB RAM, 2TB of HD (RAID). I purchased  Windows 2012 Server (that comes with Windows 2008 R2 license) and SBS2011 VL.
  My plan is to install W2012 on the server box to run Hyper-V and install two VMs - one for SBS2011 (DC, AD, Exchange, Printers, User Data and QB Data)  and one for W2008 R2 as terminal server (where I will install QB client/program only).

 Some experts on the board recommended that I DO NOT set up QB Enterprise on SBS2011 due to Exchange. Rather I would need to setup another (W2008 R2) VM just to run QB Enterprise.

  My question to you (hopefully you have experienced in installing and managing QB Enterprise) is if it is necessary to dedicate a separate server/VM just to run QB Enterprise.

Thanks.
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Question by:sglee
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by:Rob Williams
Rob Williams earned 400 total points
ID: 38381633
I am not a hardware guy so hardware allocation should be left to someone else, but using 2012 as a host and SBS 2011 and a second server as a terminal server is very common and works well.  You cannot run QB on the SBS primarily because it cannot be used as a terminal server, however running QB on the terminal server works very well.  It older versions of QB there were some tweaks required but in recent years it is very easy to install on the terminal server, basically the same as on a workstation.  On the SBS you will install QB, but only the database components.  The install will ask you if you want full install or just database.  I see no need for a dedicated QB server for that many users, you can use the terminal server for QB and other applications simultaneously.  You say QB mentioned it is not supported on 2012, that may only mean they have not fully tested it yet, I suspect it will work OK, but as you say your VL will have downgrade rights to 2008 R2.
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by:sglee
ID: 38381643
@RobWill
You are right. Intuit tech guy said (1) install QB DB components on SBS2011 (2) Run client/install QB program only on Terminal Server.  (3) Since they have not tested QB on W2012, they could not recommend other than it is compatible with W2008 R2. I agree with you that probably QB would work on W2012 TS, but I can't affored to take the chance, just in case there are errors in using QB and Intuit tech won't get involved in helping me.

FYI I am going to open another question (within an hour) regarding allocation of the system resources (CPU, RAM, HD) in Hyper-V setup to do what we discussed here and I would be very much interested in hearing what you have to say.
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 800 total points
ID: 38381646
QuickBooks V2012 (Pro or Enterprise) works fine on Server 2008, so that should be no problem. I have clients do this.

So by extension, it should work fine on Server 2008 Terminal Server.

My experience differs a bit from RobWill, and I would definitely set up a separate server for QuickBooks. It is not a real resource hog but works best on its own server. Also, since this is terminal server, you can install QuickBooks right on the terminal server and then people can log into TS to use it. They will not need QB installed on their workstations.

.... Thinkpads_User
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38381648
regarding allocation of the system resources (CPU, RAM, HD)

QB does not need much HD space (program plus database). It should work fine with 2Gb of memory and it runs fine with a 2GHz CPU.  

... Thinkpads_User
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by:sglee
ID: 38381654
@Thinkpads_User
Are  you suggesting that I install both QB Database components AND QB Client/Program Files on the Windows 2008 R2 Terminal Server?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38381666
If all your users use TS to access QuickBooks, you do not actually need the server engine to be installed. However, I would be inclined to install it anyway as it does not hurt anything. Yes, I am suggesting, of course, installing the QuickBooks program on the Terminal Server. That is where users will run it. I would also keep the ledger on the same physical partition as the Program and Server engine.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 38381674
Personally I like the data on the SBS as it is fully backed up every night. We don't back up terminal servers, but rather make a copy of the VHD every few months as there is no data and the process is just to make it easier to rebuild if necessary.  However the data could be on the TS.

What else will the Terminal server be used for?  Sounded to me basically for QB and maybe Office apps which would all work fine together.  If you had another highly resource intensive application you might want a dedicated server.

As for resources, SBS will want at least 14GB of RAM, the more the better, 1 or 2 for the host, and the rest for the terminal server.  Though the TS will run fine on 2GB, the more user, the more RAM it needs.  Processor performance seems to be less of an issue.  Again hardware is not my specialty.

You will find there are various configs and all may be quite acceptable.
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by:sglee
ID: 38381682
@Thinkpads_User
Are you saying that I install three separate VMs like below?

VM#1  SBS 2011 (DC, AD, Exchange, Printers, User Data)
VM#2  W2008 R2 (just to house QB Database components)
VM#3  W2008 R2 (to run Terminal Service and QB Client program that will draw QB data from VM#2)
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38381690
You do not need 2 VM's for QuickBooks. Set up one VM as W2008 as you showed above. Install QB, the Server Engine (for completeness) and the QB database (company file) all on one server and all in the same partition on that VM. It is, of course, most likely you would only have one partition for your VM. But one VM will do it (just keep it for QB only).  

... Thinkpads_User
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by:sglee
ID: 38381700
Unless it is imperative to dedicate a server just to run QB Database component, I like the idea of running QB Database component on SBS2011 and run MS Office Apps, QB Client and Terminal Service on W2008 R2 from simplicity standpoint.
Can someone argue againt the idea of running QB Database component on SBS2011? Is QB that CPU and RAM hungry app? Or is it that QB is very temperamental and will not co-exist with other apps in SBS2011? Or Intuit Tech Support won't help in case of trouble if QB is on SBS2011?
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 38381716
I have no disagreement with your configuration.
Intuit has no problem with the data on another server SBS or otherwise.  There requirements just state that the data must be on the same LAN, i.e. you cannot access the data over a VPN  (you can access the TS over a VPN).  I would however recommend a gigabit network connection between servers, you will have VM's so that is no problem.  The old QB database was very "chatty", the newer MySQL is better but still more so than accessing documents.
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by:sglee
ID: 38381718
VM#1  SBS 2011 (DC, AD, Exchange, Printers, User Data)
VM#2  W2008 R2 (Terminal Service, Word/Excel, QB Database components/QB Client program)

and I can schedule a batch file to copy QB data files (*.QBW) from VM#2 to VM#1 which is backed up every night.

Sounds like a good plan?
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 38381729
Yes no problem to copy over the data, but as mentioned personally I would put in on the SBS, that is why they have the data connector, it is built into the install just for that purpose.

Again my thinking is terminal servers are treated much like workstations, no critical data, no mirrored drives, and in many cases, not backed up.  Adding scripts with user permissions, and schedules that can change or fail only adds to potential backup failures years later.  SBS will provide a backup report, your script can if you write it that way but few do it.
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Cliff Galiher earned 800 total points
ID: 38382164
I suppose I will be the one to be contrary and strongly urge you to set up three VMs. You already have the licenses so there is very little reason not to.

Here is why I recommend it though:

Search the Microsoft SBS technet forums using the terms SBS 2011 and variations of freezing, locking up. Etc.

Now search experts exchange for the same. Then google, then bing.

You'll find it is a commonly asked question and reported issue.

Now I can also tell you that while not all users come back and report the fix, I also see a lot of these through Third Tier. And 9 times out of 10 it is a 3rd party app that is spiking in sudden memory usage (usually loading a database) and exchange and SQL (installed by SBS and used for WSUS and the internal reporting feature) do not release the memory fast enough for the OS to cope. End result, there isn't even enough free memory for the OS to page out and the whole thing hard-locks.

I can also tell you the top culprits in 3rd party programs. And among them, quickbooks. Where I find quickbboks on SBS 2011, I find a freezing SBS server. And uninstalling quickbooks invariably resolves the ticket.

You have the license, you can create a small VM with minimal RAM and hard drive space, and in the process sidestep the whole issue. The risk/reward in my mind is heavily slanted to running QB on a different VM.

-Cliff
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by:John Hurst
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Can someone argue againt the idea of running QB Database component on SBS2011? Is QB that CPU and RAM hungry app?

QuickBooks does a huge amount of I/O and (having done it myself), keeping it to a separate server improves QB performance. With virtual machines, it is so easy to do. But you only need one server for the whole thing.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:sglee
ID: 38382653
The more I hear about it, it sounds like I will be better off setting up QB Enterprise on a separate server/VM to avoid the possibility of troubles. Even though I hoped to manage all tasks in two VMs, it is true that I have extra license to setup another VM, so that is not an issue.
Here is a revised plan:

W2012 running Hyper-V
VM#1  SBS 2011 (DC, AD, Exchange, Printers, User Data)
VM#2  W2008 R2 (Terminal Service, Word/Excel, QB Client program)
VM#3  W2008 R2 (QB Database components)  ** I will copy the QB database to SBS2011 daily.

All good here?
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 38382747
Looks like it to me.
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by:John Hurst
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@sglee  - I strongly recommend you keep your QB Client programs and your database and Server Engine on the same server. This works and it keeps the QB Input Output separate. I am not trying to save you a license; rather, I am trying to suggest the best performaance. QuickBooks works at its best with the database right next to application.

If later you wish to add a server to test another approach this is fine.

.... Thinkpads_User
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by:sglee
ID: 38382764
@thinkpads_user
"keep your QB Client programs and your database and Server Engine on the same server." - would you mind sharing your configuration in terms of each VM and its role in the way that I displayed above?
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by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 800 total points
ID: 38382778
Matter of opinion I suppose. In a single user environment I'd agree with thinkpad_user. But with terminal services applications and multi-user applications, I never run any database on a machine that will host multiple user sessions, often applications are not written to support this...and last I checked, quickbooks enterprise is the onky version of QB to support RDS and they recommend the database on a different server in an RDS setup. Admittedly the last RDS setup of QB I did was in 2010, but they rarely change things that drastically.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38382790
At this point, I am not using Terminal Services as my client do not have that need.

However, at standard approach is to put QB on workstations and the Database/Server engine on an SBS server. For very small clients that works.

One client was running into performance issues, and I put the Database/Sever engine on a separate, single use virtual machine. Performance increased dramatically.

Now, QB always works well when the ledger is local.  So then put these things together and I think you will get best performance on Terminal Server when the ledger is local to the application.

If QB has to go through the network to a different location, performance reduces. If it is all virtual machines, it will probably work fine, but I prefer the unified approach from my experience.

.... Thinkpads_User
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by:Rob Williams
ID: 38382806
I don't like putting the database on the TS as it is optimized for foreground services (running applications), where SBS or a file server is optimized for background services (such as file and print sharing).

If you were adding a SQL database for 30-100 users, no question I would have a dedicated serer to host the database, but you are talking about 3 users and maybe 10 in peak season.
 
I have never run into a problem running the QB database on the SBS, but Cliff's job allows him to see far more systems than I.  Intuit support is notoriously bad and 90% of the time wants to blame your network first and then your system next so the more dedicated it is to their product the faster you get them to deal with the real problem  :-)

If you want the third server, your only cost is resources (RAM) as you have the licensing, but with SBS, and 10 user TS, you are approaching the limits of your 32GB if you add another server.
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by:sglee
ID: 38382809
To all experts,
I understand pros and cons on each approach.
I tend to go with the idea of keeping QB Database and client together on the same VM.  I am MS ACCESS programmer and it make a lot of difference in terms of speed whether the database is local or from across the network. Based on what I have seen with my customers with QB Pro, I noticed that it was VERY slow opening *QBW when data file resided on another computer.
That said, if possible, I would like to keep QB database/QB Client/Terminal Service altogether in one Virtual Machine running W2008 R2. Let me talk to Intuit about possible conflict between Terminal service and QB and go from there.
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by:sglee
ID: 38382845
Come to think of it, whether QB database engine / files resides on the SBS2011 or Terminal Server VM, they are all VMs. That means they are all on the same physical server. So I don't know if the performance will ever be an issue because the data does not travel across the network. They are all right there.
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 38382847
Perhaps a bit off topic, but a situation I feel is relevant at this point. Add two drives (internal) to any machine and copy a large file. Very fast. Now copy that same file over USB2. Painfully slow. Copy from one machines to another over a 100mbit switch. Slightly faster. A gigabit switch (and NICs) ...reasonable. Then over a 10Gbit link, you are usually back to the disk being the bottleneck. The network overhead becomes rather small.

Admittedly, the MS jet database engine (the engije behind Access, among other things) has its flaws, and for major database work SQL is a far better choice. With that said, Jidging how QB will perform based in some anecdotal Access experience is unfair to QB...and for that matter Access. Access falls over with a lot of simultaneous users or with very large data sets, but that'll happen locally just as easily as over a LAN. Give it 10Gbits and it scales well.

This is true for ANY cloe t/server application, including quickbooks. And I see "install it on the same machine" thrown out a lot without actually using performance monitors to identify bottlenecks.

Putting an RDS server and a separate database server as two VMs on the same physical host? Your bottleneck will be your disks most likely.k unlessmyou push data outside of the virtual switch,The MS virtual switch between VMs is blazing fast, and if you install the hyper-v integrated services drivers for the virtual NICs, you remove most of the remaining overhead. You'll get near-local performance but the benefits of memory isolation. This REALLY is the way to go. Now while i think the "ideal" solution is three VMs, if i had to chopse a two-VM confog, I'd rather install the database on the SBS server before I installed it in the RDS server. Lesser of two evils.

-Cliff
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by:sglee
ID: 38383077
This is what I have decided to do:
W2012 running Hyper-V
VM#1  SBS 2011 (DC, AD, Exchange, Printers, User Data)
VM#2  W2008 R2 (Terminal Service, Word/Excel, QB Client program)
VM#3  W2008 R2 (QB Database components)  ** I will copy the QB database to SBS2011 daily.

Since I have enough licenses to run three VMs, I rather like to have a separate VM just to run QB database just in case there is an issue that requires a reboot ... I only reboot QB VM, not SBS2011 or TS.

Thanks you for your recommendations and I appreciate it. Let me close this  case and open another one for resource allocations for these Hyper-V setup.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 38383119
Thanks for the update.  .... Thinkpads_User
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