Terminal Servers in clustered environment - physical or virtual?

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What are the pro's and cons of having physical Terminal Servers in a clustered environment versus having them virtualized?  This question is restricted to MS Windows clustering and Terminal Services and HyperV   - 2008/2012.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
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Commented:
You will be able to have more concurrent users per physical server, and hence less servers required in your cluster, compared to a virtual cluster.

In a virtual cluster (because of the Hypervisor), you will require more virtual servers for the same load, if you have no issues with licensing, resources, then this is not an issue.

other than that the same virtual versus physical arguments apply, reduced support costs, reduced electricity, air con, reduced networking etc
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Commented:
hanccocka:
Thanks for the analysis in terms of hardware infrastructure.

What about in terms of deployment/piloting/failover options?   Scenarios such as:

host computer dies/have to replace it - replacing a physical TS versus a virtualized TS

want to add more resources - deployment of new 'physical' systems vs deployment of 'virtualized' systems

pilot system/upgrades - you want to modify the existing Terminal Server configuration but don't want to roll it out to all the TS's at once in case there's a bug that only shows up after 'production' testing that never showed up in 'test' testing

rollback in the above scenario and in the scenario where somehow all the TS's were updated based on a 'successful' pilot but then it turned out that a problem shows up later and all the TS's have to be reverted

VM failover  -


Also in 2012 is there not an option in a cluster where hardware failure on a host that is running various VM's for the VM's to live migrate upon hardware failure?
VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017
Commented:
that depends what sort of infrastrucutre you have in place, we've been rolling out physical and virtual TS and Citrix Servers for many years now.

Virtual Server deployment can be quicker, which is always a given versus a physical server, lead times on average to purchase a new physical server can be 12 weeks in some organisations, virtual server is instant! (almost).

BUT, to ensure you have the correct physical or virtual server deployed in a farm with the same applications, takes a little bit more work.

We use Altiris Deployment to Deploy new Terminal Servers, Physical and Virtual take the same time to deploy, based on having the hardware available.

As for applications and bug fixes we use the same technology to roll out fixes and new applications to the farm, and we are talking server farms in excess of 50 - 250 servers.

It does not matter if they are virtual or physical, you still need some technology to to this, with large numbers of servers, as they must be indentical, otherwise users will experience issues.

When you have virtual hosts, all your eggs are in one basket, so if you lose a host, you will also lose many VMs!

If you have hardware failure, VMs will go down and off! They will be restarted, but nothing as yet can predict a hardware failure and Live Migrate VMs!

So if you had 20 Terminal Servers running on a host, the host fails, that's a big hit to the user community.

Physical TS Server Farm, a host fails, less user affected.

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Commented:
Thanks for the insights.

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