Migrating SBS server to 2012 Essentials but very confused

I have a small network setup that I am responsible for at work.  I basically have less than 10 computers all using Win 7 and about 12 total users (never concurrent).  I currently am using SBS 2008 but want to upgrade the server software to Server 2012 Essentials and a second server running 2012 standard running exchange.  I am somewhat torn between ESXi and Hyper-v.  Especially with ESXi's licensing costs increasing.  My other confusion is with the release of the R2 variants and their licensing issues..

My initial thought is to use Server 2012 (not R2) to set up the Hyper-V and then run Essentials 2012 R2 virtualized as the DC and another instance running Server 2012 (not R2) and install Exchange 2013 on it.  I feel that R2 would be the better choice for the DC because of the updates over the original essentials and making management somewhat simpler.  What I'm not sure of is on the virtualization part.  

Should I just install Essentials R2 on the physical server and just virtualize the 2012 standard with Exchange?  This route kinda does away with the benefits of virtualization though (at least for the DC anyway).

So basically what do you think is the best configuration for 1 box with 2 Virtual servers??  Also what opinions on ESXi or Hyper-V???

Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Cliff GaliherCommented:
You'll find diehard fans in each camp of ESXi and Hyper-V. Might as well ask what antivirus is best...

But I can offer a bit of advice if you choose the hyper-v route.

1) Never collocate hyper-v and other roles. So running two VMs is better than loading "stuff" on your physical OS and just 1 VM.

2) Don't run newer guests on older hosts. So don't run 2012 as the hyper-v host and 2012 R2 as the guest. Always run the host AT 'EAST as high a version as the highest guest. Since there is a free version of hyper-v server, there is never a reason to do otherwise.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
wrfdchiefAuthor Commented:
I agree with your comments......but............  

1)I have a license and CALs for 2012 standard but NOT Standard R2
2) I was under the impression that there was an issue running Exchange 2013 on Standard 2012 R2.

Olaf De CeusterCommented:
HyperV and Essentials work very nicely together.
With the essentials install you can even choose a HyperV or physical install and it will configure the system for you.
As far as licensing is concerned: You are allowed a physical + a VM with same license and 25 licenses included.
However if you only have 10 users consider still running SBS 2011 and migrate to save a few $.
Hope that helps.
Announcing the Winners!

The results are in for the 15th Annual Expert Awards! Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who participated in the nominations. We are so grateful for the valuable contributions experts make on a daily basis. Click to read more about this year’s recipients!

Cliff GaliherCommented:
For your two issues:

1) use the free hyper-v server then. You won't have the CAL issues and you can still meet the advice I gave.

2) never said otherwise. I didn't say the guest had to be the same version as the host, just that the not should always be the same version as the highest guest. So if one VM is essentials 2012 R2 and another is 2012 standard, you want the host to be based on 2012 R2 because of that first VM.
wrfdchiefAuthor Commented:
you want the host to be based on 2012 R2 because of that first VM.

Therein lies my quandary.  I have the 2012 Standard license.  (I also have essentials standard too) but was going to buy essentials R2 because I thought it offered enough improvements to make it worthwhile.  I cant swing buying standard R2 also.  Do they have a free hypervisor based on R2????
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Yes there is a free version of hyper-v based on R2. So use that, buy your essentials R2, and use your standard license for a second VM.
wrfdchiefAuthor Commented:
Yeah...I guess that's best.  Why do they have the Hyper-V on Essentials R2 and tout it as a feature when you really shouldn't use it that way??
wrfdchiefAuthor Commented:
Hold on.  Is it true that to use the remote management tools for Hyper-V you have to have Win 8??
Cliff GaliherCommented:
RSAT tools have always been version specific. To properly manage hyper-v 2008, you needed a vista (or higher) machine with RSAT. XP wouldn't do. 2008 R2 needed a win7 machine. vista RSAT didn't support the new features. 2012 needs win8, and 2012 R2 needs 8.1.

That is JUST for the RSAT GUI tools. You can always execute PowerShell commands, either locally or remotely, and 2012 R2 has a pretty full features set of PowerShell cmdlets.
I was at an M$ hosted seminar and one of the lecturers did a comparison between Vmware and M$ Hyper and it all comes down to simplicity.

You pay for Vmware and it's simplicity of install and management.
M$ is free with the server product,but not quite as robust or straight forward in terms of management.

As for Vmware and it's free product,it's only gotcha is that unless it's licensed,you can't use the backup API.

You can use the built in backups of Server 2012 or a 3rd party that uses an agent.
The API makes things a whole lot easier to back up,but is not a show stopper.
wrfdchiefAuthor Commented:
Is the backups the only functionality you lose when your 60 days is over??
Yes and no.but unless you have a backup product that makes use of the API,it really won't matter.

You also lose Vmotion after the 60 days.

But with that being said,the API does some nice things ,it's agentless (doesn't need to be installed in the guest OS)and it does block level (delta change)backups .
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Windows Server 2012

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.