Server Virtualisation

I need some advice regarding implementing a virtualised server into our domain.

We are in the manufacturing business

I don't have any practical experience with server virtualisation.We don't have any virtual servers currently.
We are a small to almost medium sized business with 75 users and about 55 client devices.
Two servers:
   DC: SBS 2011 with Exchange 2010 and third party apps.
   DB srv: SQL Server 2008.

My options for next upgrade:
1)  New 2012 Server that can handle up 250 users that will become the new DC.
     DB srv: Stays db server
     OLD SBS: File and app server

2) Virtualisation

As much as i want to go the virtual route, will it benefit us with the current number of servers we have?And also we are on a tight budget where virtualisation hardware and software would probably cost me a fortune?
Any recommendations?
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.

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
As much as i want to go the virtual route, will it benefit us with the current number of servers we have?And also we are on a tight budget where virtualisation hardware and software would probably cost me a fortune?

Yes, you will start to see the benefits of starting small, Backup and Disaster Recovery will be easier if your are virtualised.

There are free versions of Hyper-V  and VMware vSphere that you can start out with, and a fully licensed VMware vSphere Essentials is only approx $600, for 3 x 2 CPU Host Servers, and 1 License for a Management Server - this is not a fortune?

Now is the time to do it, with your next server purchase!
Sajid Shaik MSr. System AdminCommented:
first of all what is the need of virtual server in your environment... ? if i am not mistake your SBS is already full 75 users and u want to make for future ready... that's right...

in this case: first thing is the Hardware are you going to add new hardware server in to your network ?
or you want to use existing hardware .. if you want to use existing hardware first check hardware requirements for Virtualisation ... it should support 64 bit and virtualisation technology.

if you are adding new server in to your environment: then makes .. use the old sbs server hardware install the windows 2012R2  std and make it as Domain ... because application servers and applications need more processing and memory... not like domain ...

and new server you can install windows 2012 R2   and over on it you can install Hyper-V and install two Virtual (guest machines) ... can install ...

Note: check about the license for guest o/s vm installation with your vendor...  because its now processor based licensing when it comes to virtualisation.

you can check more detail about the lic:

all the best

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
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
To address your points directly:
1: Composed of two parts:
 1A: 2U dual E5-2620v3 or thereabouts with 128GB ECC, RAID controller with 1GB Flash/Non-Volatile Cache, 8x 600GB or 900GB 10K SAS in RAID 6, and a pair of Intel i350T4 Server NICs
 1B: Server 2012 R2 as Hyper-V host (allows for 2 VMs - DC and Exchange)
Note that licensing for SBS states 75 user limit max, plus it must hold all the FSMO Roles, and be at the root of the domain. Your migration would eliminate that license from the picture.

2: A good 2U dual CPU server as spec'd above would cost small to medium used car territory. For an organization that plans to grow from 75 to 250 this would not be a huge expenditure. If cash flow is king then lease or finance.

One would require at least 1 Windows Server Standard license, User & Device CALs, an Exchange Standard license, and the Exchange User/Device CALs.

Please see my EE article: Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices for more direction.

EDIT: A Windows Server Standard license would be required for the old SBS box if it was to be kept in production.
Big Business Goals? Which KPIs Will Help You

The most successful MSPs rely on metrics – known as key performance indicators (KPIs) – for making informed decisions that help their businesses thrive, rather than just survive. This eBook provides an overview of the most important KPIs used by top MSPs.

Greg HejlPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Take a look at the Dell VRTX series for your environment:

one box can house 2-4 compute blades and 24 disks.

Size the compute blades with enough RAM for 16GB per VM

Size your disk space for RAID 10 with 60GB per OS and Data VHD's per your requirements.

For the virtual platform and licensing - one Server 2012 license can run the 2012R2 Hyper V platform (which the Azure cloud runs on) and gives you two instances of Server 2012R2 VM's. so 4 licenses will give you 8 VM's.  MS Documentation as well as Dell Documentation will give you a complete roadmap for a system build.

For your SBS, I would take a serious look at Office365 for business to replace these services.  It replaces everything SBS does and allows your users to run Office2013 on five different devices of their choice - iPads, iPhones, Android, Windows phone, all tablets, and any windows device.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
@Greg Dell VRTX - if you want the biggest doorstop available!

Massive problems with these, at present with the "shared storage" controller! big performance issues, and failures, resulting in lots of downtime!

We would not recommend, after the issues we've seen with them first hand.

and Dell have even re-retracted the statement of "Datacenter in a box!"
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Yeah, it's funny that LSI has had their Synchro product (HA DAS in a Box) working with shared cache so no parity performance hits whereas Dell cannot get their SPERC to do the same in the VRTX.

It's a shame because we were looking to VRTX for a number of clients.

We went HA via Asymmetric cluster with a pair of 2U dual SAS HBA R series and an MD1220 JBOD. It's a great starting point with Storage Spaces providing the disk arbitration.
Greg HejlPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Thanks for the insight Andrew.

I think they hit the right concept for SMB's, Dell is pretty good about fixing issues in next versions....will prly be similar to the PE19xx and 29xx version upgrades to III.
Greg HejlPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
I found this thread on the VRTX:

looks like Dell has got Active/Passive failover for the Perc8 cards.  they are working on Active/Active.  maybe they can get their Equalogic folks to implement that solution.

The folks using RAID10 are getting the best performance.  I'm really surprised builders would still be using Parity RAID in a virtual environment...that's just asking for trouble.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:

In standalone we use RAID 6 exclusively.

We had a RAID 10 setup where a disk failed. After a hot swap about three minutes later it's pair failed. We lost the host. RAID 6 we would still have the host. RAID 10 is still in effect a single disk loss for resilience.
Greg HejlPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
My experience with parity raid is reduced performance during rebuilds ( large sizes = days of rebuild).  During the rebuild time is when other disks have failed due to the intensive rewrite of all the data across the array.

My experience with RAID10 has been nothing but positive.  were you using 7.2k consumer drives?
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:

15K SAS in the setup that failed. In the end, RAID 10 is an odds game as we painfully discovered. It's a game we won't play again either. We don't deploy servers with SATA anything with the exception of cluster host RAID 1 Intel SSDs.

We've done extensive testing. RAID 6 across eight 10K 2.5" SAS drives gives us around 800MB/Second sustained write speeds with around 250 to 400 IOPS per disk depending on format structure and data types. When we get into 16 or more spindles parity writes is a moot point.
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
Server Hardware

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.