Build new physical DC with 2012 or virtualize???

A new client purchased a dell server to replace his old 2003 Domain controller.  Here are the specs:

Dell R730
4 1TB Sata6 Drives
Dual Xeon E5260 V3 2.4Ghz Processors

After looking at his current setup he has about 5 servers (file, print, antivirus & imaging, sql, domain controller).  Nothing is virtual in this environment.  I was wondering if it would be cost effective to keep him as is and waste this beautiful server on a DC or should I start building a virtual environment from this server.  I'm only familiar with VMware at the moment so if you could provide me with ways to set this up without costing the client a lot of extra money, that would be great.

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Now would be a good time, to start him on the virtual route.

However, a server with 16GB RAM, is going to be your bottle neck very shortly.

IF you leave 2-4GB for the ESXi OS, that is only going to give you 3 servers at 4GB each.

Do a quick sum of the memory in the current physical servers, and that will give you an idea, of memory you require.

also 4 x 1TB SATA drives are not going to give you extreme performance!

The Dell R730 is on the Hardware Compatibility List for ESXi.

see my EE Articles

HOW TO: Install and Configure VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.0 (ESXi 6.0)

HOW TO: Connect to the VMware vSphere Hypervisor 6.0 (ESXi 6.0) using the vSphere Client (C# client)

HOW TO: Deploy and Install the VMWARE vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 (VCSA 6.0)

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Will SzymkowskiSenior Solution ArchitectCommented:
I would also agree that you do not have enough RAM in this server to support all of the minimal requirements for your operating systems. If there is budget for more RAM then you should be fine.

Also how many processors/cores does this server have?

Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
agree with the above
if you were to get it up to 32gb (or ideally 64gb) then you would be in better shape to virtualize the environment
as is, take SQL out and you are a bit tight for memory
not sure how big your sql server is but could add more than 64gb if it is heavily used
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MyhrcgAuthor Commented:
More RAM is definitely in the budget.  This will be my first time setting up a server with DDR4 so I'm interested to see how the performance will be.  His current servers total about 64GB RAM and about 3.5 TB in drives.

Thanks for the articles Andrew!  I'm only familiar with version 5.1 and somewhat 5.5 so I'm not sure if I'm confident enough to go the 6.0 route yet.  I do know that the free version of 5.1 only supports 32GB so I may have start with 5.5.

Will, it has two Xeon E5 2600 v3 processors.

Virtualizing his entire environment is the ultimate goal, but the primary objective is to replace the domain controller first.  I kinda want to set up his ESXi and one VM for the DC at the moment until he can provide the funding for the additional memory and disk space.

Speaking of disk space, I have never done this with SATA6 drives before.  Are there any limitations/differences?
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
If the total physical servers, total 64GB, then you are going to need at least a minimum of 64GB in this ESXi server to virtualise all these servers, if they are required.

So you will need at least VMware VMFS datastores of 3.5TB.

If you are starting out I would recommend, you jump to 6.0, now that the first update is out. (very little difference, between 5.5 and 6.0 under the covers, just newer features and support for newer OS).

Okay, if you are just virtualising a DC, with ESXi, then the performance is adequate.

Single vCPU and 4GB RAM minimum for Windows Server 2012 R2.
Bryant SchaperCommented:
Can I ask a stupid question?

What is the driver to go virtual?  I am a huge fan, but with only five physical servers, will there be a change in demand in the foreseeable future?
MyhrcgAuthor Commented:
Thanks Andrew!  Now since I only have 4 drives at the moment, what RAID configuration should I use?  I do plan on adding more drives since that is in my client's budget as well.

Not stupid to me Bryant...that was basically my question.  The old domain controller is out of warranty and so is their file server.  I understand the lower hardware cost over time, consolidation, etc., but I'm wondering if virtualization is even needed in this type of environment.
Bryant SchaperCommented:
Fair enough, my opinion is no, you will introduce some additional complexity, that I would not want to have a customer uncomfortable with.  You could have unforeseen performance issues, and what would your dr model be?  With only one server running esx, what happens when it goes down?

Not saying you shouldn't, but I would look at the full HA/DR plan as well.  Your client may want to way some costs as well, even memory and hard drives can add up.  

As for RAID, I would say 6.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
RAID 10 for performance, or RAID 6 if you need storage.
MyhrcgAuthor Commented:
I will be managing the client's systems so the additional complexity would be on my part.  The client has a BDC that is a VM hosted at another site.  Since I am only virtualizing the PDC at the moment, if the PDC and/or host goes down, everything should fall back to the BDC.  I was more so leaning towards the RAID 10 since the rebuild speed and overall performance is a lot better if I'm not mistaken.  I just wanted to know thoughts from people who have more experience in that area.
MyhrcgAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the great answer!  Very informative and helped to point me in the right direction.
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