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SQL Server 2008 STD and virtualization

Posted on 2013-10-30
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Last Modified: 2013-11-06
I need to know if there any difference benefit in having an SQL 2008 STD in an HP DL380 G6 (8 cores) or HP DL380 G8 (16 cores) same HDD and memory capacities but installing a virtual machine on the second one to have Reporting services running on it instead of having everything installed on one single server.

I know the second one have more cores therefore more speed... I think... but the STD version is only capable of addressing 64GB RAM so is it worth it to do the change for the money if I have only 50 users for that system?

Thanks
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Question by:hecgomrec
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by:andyalder
ID: 39612842
I don't think you'll notice the difference between the two machines since disk I/O is by far more important than RAM and CPU speed (but not more important than RAM quantity since the more RAM there is the less disk I/O needs to be done).

Installing a second SQL server to just run reporting services (whether physical or virtual) allows you to give the main SQL service more RAM though since reporting service won't be pinching any so I would expect that to speed it up at the cost of a 2nd license.
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by:hecgomrec
ID: 39621522
I don't feel my question is answered.... I'm increasing the points to see if I get more people's attention.

I need to know if someone with experience on SQL will find the cost vs. benefit good.
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by:andyalder
ID: 39621566
You could also use "request attention" link and ask for it to be posted in the SQL topic area.
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Rich Weissler earned 300 total points
ID: 39622669
As with almost everything in the life of a DBA, the answer is: 'it depends'.

Having the reporting server on a separate box (even if virtual) means that the reporting services won't contend with the database engine for resources, especially disk I/O.  However, if there is a lot of data being returned by the queries from the database engine to the reporting server, you could find the network as the bottleneck.  In that case, having the database engine and the reporting server on the same box could speed things up.  

And SQL STD will address all the memory supported by the operating system.  You'll want to look at the memory limits for whichever edition of Windows you are running.

So, unfortunately, the answer is going to be heavily dependent on the characteristics of your workload.  Unfortunately the number of users is not a sufficient metric.  I've seen one user of a GIS database crush a very meaty db server, and I've seen hundreds of users of a ticketing system cause a much smaller server to barely notice the load.
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by:David Todd
ID: 39622687
Hi,

Why go to a virtual machine instead of merely adding the reporting services instance, or with an additional db instance?

Regards
  David
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by:hecgomrec
ID: 39622734
The company selling the ERP system suggested the last machine with 96GB and installing 3 virtual servers on the same box, terminal server, database and reporting services respectively.

I found that configuration odd and expensive for the amount of people and data the system will have.

I was just trying to confirm out in the open my thoughts....  by the way thanks Razmus for the links on the memory limits....

If there is more comments/solutions please drop them in... I will close this question on Wednesday.
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by:David Todd
ID: 39622781
Hi,

My question becomes:
What are the licencing costs of the virtual solution vs the non-virtual solution? If there are minimal advantages to the virtual solution, are you using an edition of windows that allows several virtual instances, or does each instance need to be separately licenced?

Regards
  David
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by:Rich Weissler
ID: 39623018
Interesting.  Just tossing out a couple other thoughts.

32 GB each would allow you to run Windows 2008 or 2008 R2 Standard edition on each of the three boxes.  Virtualizing, you could use either Windows Hyper-V Server or the equivalent VMWare Hypervisor without cost for those components, and only have the cost of the Standard Windows Server licenses.  (Of course, you could also just get Windows Server 2012 DataCenter edition, and run Hyper-V, and you'd have licenses for unlimited windows servers running on the box.  If you also purchased sufficient SQL Server 2012 licenses for all the processor cores on the box, you'd also be able to run any number of SQL servers to the limit of the hardware.)

Of course, if you were to consider Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 instead of 2008... Standard edition supports the same amount of memory as Datacenter.
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by:hecgomrec
ID: 39624103
To David... They suggested Server 2012 STD, plus 3 VMwares: 1 database, 1 reporting and 1Terminal server.

Of course, if I put everything in one server I'm saving 3 server licences cost already ($3,000.00) not including the VM or SQL which is another $2,000.00 but money is not the whole problem here at the end of the day is more about if those $5,000.00 will really give users a better experience as the system performs better... I personally think it won't at the amount of users that will connect to that system (50 to 60 max).

Again the question was will SQL perform better having the database and reporting services each one its own virtual instance instead of 1 for both for 50/60 users?
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by:Rich Weissler
ID: 39624213
Again, the answer depends on the characteristic of the workload, and the number of users of the system is an insufficient measure to make that determination.

The person who would be in the best position to make that determination would be the vendor who, I would hope, knows the characteristics of the workload.  If they suggest separating the database and reporting servers, I would be fairly comfortable suggesting that you would not encounter worse performance having them on separate virtual servers for 50/60 users.

Personally, in the past, I've tended to separate database and reporting servers because I haven't wanted to run a web server on my database server.  At least the newest versions of reporting server don't require IIS... so at least that concern is mitigated somewhat.
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by:andyalder
ID: 39624383
At least network won't be a bottleneck between reporting services and the main SQL database if it's virtualized, speeds in excess of 10Gbps are achievable between VMs on the same box if you have enough receive buffers.

As far as licensing is concerned two Windows 2012 standard licences will cover up to 4 VMs, since a single licence allows for two virtual instances. No need for datacenter per-CPU licensing - that's more useful if you were clustering since you have to license each host for each VM that might run on it.
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by:PadawanDBA
ID: 39624539
Just a couple of other things to consider:

There are two ways that you can present the LUN to the VM.  You can present the LUN as a passthrough disk, which minimizes the overhead associated (you take an average 16% performance hit over local, bare metal storage).  Additionally you can present it as a vhd(x) on a CSV/shared storage, which has a higher associated overhead (around 22-24%) as compared to local, bare metal storage.  This whitepaper is very long, but incredibly useful (a little dated though with SQL Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012...  there were some very good changes made to the hyper-visor and how SQL Server interacts with a virtualized environment): http://download.microsoft.com/download/d/9/4/d948f981-926e-40fa-a026-5bfcf076d9b9/SQL2008inHyperV2008.docx - I understand this is for Hyper-V, but you can anticipate similar results with vmWare (although the case can be made that VMware is a waste of money due to the performance gains from Hyper-V on Server 2012)
If you put anything on a hypervisor, you can expect to take a performance hit.  You are abstracting the hardware from direct access of the OS, so there will be, while increasingly minimal, additional latency in all areas of access to RAM, Disk, CPU, and network.
There is absolute validity to Razmus's comment with his rationale for not wanting a web server on the same server as his db server.  A port needs to be opened and where there's a will there's a way, so I agree with his statement there and encourage you to not overlook the importance of it.
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by:andyalder
ID: 39624952
I would point out that VMware is free for a single server, you don't get all the bells and whistles of course.
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