Small Businesses Virtualization

Dear Experts

We are a small business consisting of 6 users and running a traditional client server network topology on Windows Server 2008.

We currently have two servers (PDC that also hosts Exchange running Windows Server 2008 & another Server running 2008 that hosts our SQL 2008 and acts as a fileserver)

We are about to move to new offices and I am interested in finding out more about desktop virtualization to host client PC's on a new server.

I have no experience with this technology at all and would be interested to hear any comments/thoughts from you experts as to what needs to be considered before moving to a virtualised desktop environment.

Thanks for any advice.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Look into Microsoft Multipoint. It is the only way I see a microbusiness virtualizing desktops. You will still need to evaluate your LOB apps to see if they support session virtualization.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
VDI or Desktop Virtualisation is excellent method of saving money, and helps with deployments, but 6 users would be a very costly deployment!

see the following links

the first link which requires you to create a login, is an Independent Whitepaper which compares the Current VDI solutions on offer, e.g. VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Quest etc

the second link, is an A-Z of Terminal Services, which is a session based, server based computing, where a user, gets a session on a server, which for 6 users, could be a method, you could use, which has cost savings, but users do not get their own individual virtual machine.

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With only 6 users it seems to be that it will be very hard to justify the cost of deploying a virtual desktop infrastructure.

It would very likely be cheaper and easier to simply have 6 or 7 reasonably powerful desktop PCs. Automate/manage their configuration as much as possible using group policy, and document the procedures for installing your LOB applications. Use remote desktop to access them remotely (e.g. using remote desktop gateway), store your files on the server (using network drives and/or folder redirection), and in general aim to treat your desktop PCs as expendable. Users should be able to sit in-front of and use any desktop in the office at any time, and any individual desktop can go up in smoke at any time without anyone losing anything really important.

I think maybe you could benefit from visualizing your servers, but not your entire desktop infrastructure.
grantballantyneAuthor Commented:
Thanks for replies - it does seem that from the little research I've done so far and your replies that  desktop virtualisation would not be cost effective for only six users.

I note Frosty's comment re benefiting from virtualizing the servers.  As per original question - we have two servers (PDC that also hosts Exchange running Windows Server 2008 & another Server running 2008 that hosts our SQL 2008 and acts as a fileserver).

What exactly is involved with virtualising the servers and what are the benefits?

Is it feasible/recommended to replace to two servers with one new good spec server that deals with everything -ie domain controller, exchange server, SQL server and fileserver?

I am just keen to get some advise tips from the experts as to what setup would be best fit for purpose for us before investing in and new hardware/software.

Thanks again for your replies.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Please clarify - your existing setup - is it running Small Business Server 2008 or 2011?  This can make a big different in advice offered - your description of the environment sounds like you are, but please confirm that is the product you are running.

I would not put all services on one install but keep things as you have them, installation wise.  I WOULD combine them physically into one machine.

Advantages as I see them:
1. Easy to make test networks as you can shut down the systems, export, them and bring them up on different networks to install patches first and make sure they don't cause crashes or if you need to upgrade something in particular and just want to make sure it's safe.
2. Full backups can be as easy as copying the virtual hard drives off (I'd still use regular backup software, but, for example, when you want to upgrade the network, you can EASILY copy the virtual drives and then copy them back if the migration failed for some reason.
3. Using Hyper-V 2012, you can do off-site replication for free (even on-site) as a form of disaster recovery.
4. Reduced hardware costs - when you upgrade the server, you need FAST disk and plenty of RAM.  4-8 cores of CPU should be fine for a small environment such as yours.  So the hardware DOES cost more for one server, but you don't need two servers!  Perhaps the one server costs $5000 instead two servers at $7000 total.
5. Reduced power costs.  In the grand scheme for your business, this isn't much, but it is an advantage.
6. If the server hardware fails it's comparatively easy to get the Virtual hard drive files setup in a "new" or "temporary" server allowing for a faster restoration.

I would strongly suggest you virtualize.  BUT, I would also strongly suggest you spend some time playing with virtualization first to learn it and understand it and ask questions BEFORE implementation.
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