Use VM to reduce proposed footprint

Posted on 2014-01-23
Last Modified: 2014-05-01
Hi All,

I have a design question I'm hoping you can help with:

Current Production Documentation Server Setup:

1x Primary Server 2008 box running AD, IIS, SQL and DFSR
     - OS is on C with fast disk (150GB total), and document data is on the D with slow disk (400GB used of 1.5TB)
1x Backup Server 2008 box running AD, IIS, SQL and DFSR
     - OS is on C with fast disk (150GB total), and documents are on the D with slow disk (400GB used of 1.5TB)

The purpose of the backup server is in case the primary goes down, I'll be able to get the document server operations up and running again.  I'd have to restore the sql DB being backed up from Primary to backup via DFSR.  DFSR is currently replicating documents from Primary to backup and IIS is ready to go as the documentation application just needs to be turned on, pointed to the sql database and we should be good to go.

I inherited this mess so it is not the way I would have designed it.

Proposed solution:

1x VM host box with fast disk C: for the VM's and slow disk D; for the data.  The fast disk would house a VM DC and a VM document server with IIS, SQL and DFSR

1x VM host backup box with fast disk C: for the VM's and slow disk D: for the data.  The house disk would house a VM backup DC and a VM backup document server with IIS, SQL and DFSR

If I do this, is there a way I could make the VM for the document server see the D: slow disk for the data?  I would of course be using Hardware Raid with an array for the C and another array for the D slow disk.  I've read if I take the array offline on the VM host, the guest should see it, but am not sure since I've never done this type of setup before.

The alternative is to buy 4 new servers (2x DC's and 2 File servers for the documents, IIS, SQL and DFSR)

I would be using Hype-v for the VM's.

Please let me know if I'm on the right track or way out in left field.

Question by:soadmin
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LVL 42

Expert Comment

ID: 39808186
You can virtualize, but I am not sure what your goal is as you would end up with 6 operating systems to manage instead of the current 2, and you would have the same amount of redundancy. Do you plan on upgrading to a later version of Windows at the same time?

Yes, you can directly attach a drive to a VM.

If you want to go to Hyper-V 2012 or 2012 R2, you have the option of doing Hyper-V Replication, which replicates an entire VM, and is an alternative to DFS-R. It is probably easier to bring up a VM replica than to switch over database servers and document servers. Note that a replica is not a substitute for backups, and you can have something blow up in one VM that gets replicated to the other host, so you still need backups. Hyper-V replication really only protects you against hardware failure. Software/configuration failure is more common.

Author Comment

ID: 39812621

Thank you for the post.  My goal is to separate the DC's from the files servers as right now they are all on the same box.  

When you say attach a drive to VM, do you mean I'll be able to attach a local system raid array to the VM as long as it is offline in the guest OS?
LVL 42

Accepted Solution

kevinhsieh earned 500 total points
ID: 39813923
Personally, I see that you have everything replicated between two independent servers. You can't ask for much more than that. You have two domain controllers, so separating them from the file servers isn't of much benefit as I see it, unless you you are constantly having problems with your DC functionality and that impacts your file which case you should figure out why you are rebooting so much. Now if you are hoping to move SQL and IIS off, that makes more sense.

Your licensing costs will go up, unless you have Windows 2012/R2 licenses. Each Windows 2008 license is good for running one physical or virtual environment. If your physical environment is only running Hyper-V and related services, it doesn't count towards the 1 environment, but you can't run other things like file, print, AD, DNS, DHCP, etc. Windows 2012 increases the virtualization rights that you can run two virtual instances, or a physical instance with additional roles and 1 virtual instance. A physical instance running only Hyper-V doesn't count towards the limit.

As for connecting a disk directly to a VM, here are instructions for doing this. I wouldn't do it, though. Better to take one of your servers, Rebuild it with Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 or whatever version of Windows Server you want, and then use DFS-R in your VM to replicate the files.

FYI, I wouldn't want to use Hyper-V under Windows 2008. The 2008 R2 version is much better, and the 2012 and 2012 R2 versions are really fantastic.

Author Comment

ID: 39818791

If I do use a VM replicate my data with dfsr, my vm would be almost a 1TB large as it would include the data, IIS and sql database.  Is that feasible?  Just I'm just making sure I understand what you mean.


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