Recommendation for virtualization solution


At a client, I have about 15 "servers" that maintain the usual services: DNS, DHCP, email, web, ERP (that is split on 5 different servers), CRM, etc.

The "servers" are most of them over 5 years-old (some over 10), with 256MB-1GB RAM, so I want to virtualize the services.
As cost is always an issue, I recommended 3 HP DL 320e, with 16GB RAM and 2TB drives. They should have more than enough resources for the current services plus some space to grow.

Now I'm researching software options for the virtualization hosts.

- easy to maintain: some form of web/graphical interface to stop/start/create/migrate virtual machines.
- some form of high availability. Not instant, a 45 minutes downtime is acceptable, as long as human intervention is not required.
- some way to backup the virtual machines without stopping them.
- not Microsoft. The client is a Linux shop and does not trust MS.
- low cost.

So far, I've looked at
- vSphere (for HA), but it is very expensive and made for datacenters
- Hyper-V. No HA and made by MS
- Proxmox. Looks like an UI on top of KVM and fairly popular. They seem to have a HA option (VE Cluster). Anyone has experience with that?

Can I get some opinions/suggestions on what do you think it's an acceptable software solution for this situation?

Thank you.
LVL 35
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantAsked:
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

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:
Memory is often the bottleneck with Hosts, not CPU.

Also as Disk I/O is virtualised, performance will be poor from a single 2TB drive, also where is the resilience, if a single disk should fail, the VMs will all fail.

You may want to look at RAID 10 or RAID 6, and at least 4 disks. (also SAS perform better than SATA, and 10k, 15k perform better than 7.2k).

Do you require VMware vSphere HA ?

You could license VMware vSphere Essentials, 3 x 2 CPU Licenses and VMware vCenter Server license for Approx $600, and then a copy of Veeam Backup and Replication, and this would do your Backup and Replication, Migration, and handle your 45 minute downtime Window.
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:

Thank you for your answer.

Every server has 2 WD SE drives, that I'm planning to mirror. The DL320s only come with 2LFF slots.

Apart from the ERP, the rest of the VM's will be light on disk IO.

Veeam B&R seems to cost 620 euros/CPU socket for the basic edition (without backup testing and restore from the Web UI). Looks like it's made with high density servers in mind.
Determine the Perfect Price for Your IT Services

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden with our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Download your free eBook now!

Dan CraciunIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thank you, lruiz52. I'll read a bit more about Xen Server.

Kind of a weird decision for a commercial product to go open-source. Not enough customers?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Veeam Backup and Replication is the BEST Virtual Backup Software in the World, it does not matter, how small or large you are.

Your disks, will still give poor performance.

Labs which VMware vExperts have to experiment, have more performance, than your suggested design.
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
I don't doubt labs have better equipment.

But the DL 320e's are the best I could do within the budget.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Just be careful with the disk I/O performance, it will be much less, than if the server was directly installed on bare metal.

Are you also going to replace their servers with up to date, Windows Server 2012 R2 ?

Are you going to convert the current physical servers, what are the OS ?

Why do you need three servers ?

Two servers, with adequate CPU and Memory, should suffice ?
Mark DamenERP System ManagerCommented:
Citrix XenServer version that included HA used to be charged for, but Citrix made a decision to give all the features away free.  The thing you have to pay for is support, if you feel that you need it.  There are lots of resources online, I've not needed to pay for support in the 6 years I've been using it.

The only limitation of the free version is needing to install updates and reboot manually, the paid version has a more automated process.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Hyper-V does have HA. We've been building clusters with it since 2008.

One box configured with:
 + (1) E5-2600 series
 + 128GB ECC
 + Hardware RAID with 1GB Non-Volatile Cache
 + (8) 10K SAS Spindles in RAID 6 (that's what we use - RAID 10 is a no go for us as we lost a server last year due to RAID 10)
 + Intel i350T4 Gigabit

Leave the on board Broadcom to management team.
Set up the Intel ports in a team setting if possible for your virtual switch(es).

If you can bump up to 12 to 16 spindles for more throughput (300GB instead of 600GB for example) as IOPS may be important given the number of servers in play.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Microsoft supports several different Linux distros and several include the Integration Tools with the distros.  Further, hyper-V offers replica which would be a good way to provide a level of redundancy with no additional licensing costs though human intervention (or an elaborate script that might be able to test for connectivity and bring the replica online - which could be dangerous).  Otherwise, you would need a cluster or some way of providing redundant services on multiple servers without clustering.
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
>>Why do you need three servers ?
1. Three is the beginning of a cluster. You can't have a cluster with only 2 servers. And once created, you can add servers to a cluster, if needed. Or I think you can...
2. Three DL 320e are less expensive than 2 DL380, same specs

>>Are you also going to replace their servers with up to date, Windows Server 2012 R2 ?
Nope, no Windows Server

>>Are you going to convert the current physical servers, what are the OS ?
Linux. A mix of Debian, Slackware, CentOS with the odd FreeBSD thrown in.
Not going to convert, just take over the services they provide. And use the same distro for all VMs.

>>Hyper-V does have HA
>>Microsoft supports several different Linux distros
I am comfortable with Hyper-V (using it at other clients - not in clusters, though), but this client does not want Microsoft products.
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/StorageCommented:
Realizing there is a hard-stop on Microsoft, but Hyper-V Replica would offer an HA like experience.

With two identical servers one would host the workloads and replicate to the other. If the primary dies, goes offline for whatever reason, the secondary fires up the replica VMs. Depending on sync frequency they can be very close to live.

Replica is built-in to Windows Server so no further costs would be associated with the setup.

You could even go so far as having server #2 in a data centre though there would be the requisite subnet tweaks on the VM's NICs required if they get fired up in a disaster recovery situation.

That opens up Azure Site Recovery services too.
I would go for proxmox.   If you are using openvz, then it is extremely lightweight to run.   Even with KVM in the mix, it should do everything you need.

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
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your input.

I'll test Proxmox for now, considering I'll only have Linux guests.

I'll post additional questions when deploying the solution.
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

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.