Small network to Enterprise design

Posted on 2014-01-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Greetings Experts,
I need advice on some design concerns moving forward.  I'll try to lay out what I am working with and where I think we need to be.

~300 Users

~10 to be retired servers
4 VM servers at almost full capacity (12 VMs)
SQL VM with local databases/data warehouse (VM)
Single Exchange 2010 (VM)
1 Bare metal (to be retired PDC) and 2 VM DC's
Single barely breathing file server (critical functionality)
4TB NetGear NAS near capacity (being used as user docs and file server)
ArcServe Backup r16.5 to Dell TL2000 tape drives (only backup solution)

I am wondering what a solid direction would be to add some failover, better file serving, cloud backup, etc.

I have needed to reset this NAS drive due to all the heavy use it gets and issues with permissions.  This is frequent enough that the decision makers are willing to spend some money to make some changes.  

Bear in mind we are very Dell heavy and I don't expect that to change. My boss has me looking at PowerVault storage now but I am unsure as to the best practice/direction to take given the current topology.

I have been thinking another Exchange server (cloud maybe?) Another SQL server as load balance or backup (cloud also?), Powervault for shared storage and VM/database use?

Thanks everyone  I value your input and experience.
Question by:farrnate
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LVL 39

Expert Comment

by:Aaron Tomosky
ID: 39779704
Where is the storage for your vms now? Shared or local to the host?
How do you do vm backups, shared storage backups, workstation backups?
How much storage are you currently using for live and backups of those things?

Lastly, I always keep a dc on bare metal somewhere. Usually an old desktop or even laptop on a big ups. If power goes out and your shared storage or host machines go out, they come up much cleaner if you have a dc still alive. Also if you use internal DNS that all stops working if you have a vm issue.

Author Comment

ID: 39779815
Where is the storage for your vms now? The host.  C: for host os, D: for VMs.  I have four Hyper-v hosts, 1 is 2008 Hyper-v server, 3 are Server 2012 Standard.  Again all VM storage is on local to the host on a seperate partition.

How do you do vm backups? Backups are all done to tape.  Specifically to two Dell TL2000 (2x tape drive, LTO4 x 24 tapes) Recovery would be 100% restore from tape.  Backups of servers generally finish quick with manageable sizes.  With the exception of a bare metal file server that is on its last legs.  (backing up 136GB at 117Meg/min) I am backing up ~1.4TB from the NAS drive.  Currently the NAS is where user files/workstation files are parked.  NAS also is doing some heavy file serving which is not great.

The current PDC is the old Exchange 2003 which I just barely uninstalled and am cleaning up.  It is still the PDC though I plan on rebuilding it with Server 2008 R2 and get it back in service as PDC.  Its an older server but I have Dell service on it still so it should be fine in that capacity.  My plan with the two VM DCs I would promote one to PDC for the interim.  The VM DCs are on seperate hosts.  Not great but hopefully it will get me by for a day or two untill the old one is rebuilt.

Question: I have been thinking that another production server Host with lots of cores, ram and storage would be better for the ~18K cost instead of large PowerVault type storage.  Part of my desire is to figure out how to set up some redundancy for the SQL production servers and possibly Exchange?  I have concerns that if I drop a host I am stuck with the only option of restoring critical VMs to a new host from tape and downtime of ???  I'm really open to suggestions here..
LVL 39

Accepted Solution

Aaron Tomosky earned 2000 total points
ID: 39784061
A bunch of random thoughts on all your questions:

personally I like a little SAN because you can get two and replicate them. That pulls all your storage off the vm hosts so you don't care if one dies. You don't have to mirror the os disk or anything.If you don't mind a little learning curve you can use a supermicro chassis and zfsguru (or nexenta for $ or free for small pools). I have two of these setup with a 1hour replication. So nothing is on my hosts, everything is on pool1 and pool2 is a versioned backup that I can set to the pool1 ip if pool1 dies. This is really a bigger discussion though because now you are pulling over the network and have a much higher iops load with multiple hosts.

If you move exchange to the cloud you will seriously reduce the load on your infrastructure. I don't see much reason for a smb to host their own email. The rule is if it's not part of your core competency as a company, don't do it.

IMO tapes are for storing snapshots in time offsite somewhere. Disk 2 Disk is by far the way to go. Then you can back THAT up to tape and take it offsite incase the building burns down. You can put together a little raid5 backup target nas pretty inexpensively.

If you get rid of exchange, you probably dont need a new server. However if you do, I just put together a supermicro with 2x 6core xeons, 96gb of ram, with dual onboard 10g-BaseT nics for $3500. Not to shabby for a vm host

If you don't mind getting your hands dirty and lack of big company warranty, I could probably scope your entire infrastructure of hardware for less than the $18k you are thinking about spending ;)

Author Comment

ID: 39797512
Sorry for the delay in response.

I used to build Supermicro servers all the time and find them to be reliable and decent price.  This place is very Dell heavy and shuns the whitebox possibilities.  

Right now they seem to want a large capacity file server because a SAN for the size of our data would be costly.

you've given me some great food for thought.  I appreciate the advice!

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