New Server Provisioning Best Practices

Just purchased two new HP DL360 Gen 9 servers. I need to provision these servers as virtual host machines running Windows Server 2012 R2. It has been quite some time since I last had to provision a server and am unaware of what the best practices are these days.

Both server have 256 GB RAM, four 10K 300GB SAS drives.

I'm trying to get the best performance from each of these machines while at the same time getting the most out of the resources. Looking for suggestions/recommendations:
1. What RAID configuration?
2. Should I use all available space in one drive or partition two drives ( C: & D:)
3. What size should the drives be
4. etc.
dowhatyoudo22Asked:
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Reece DoddsCommented:
What are you looking at using for your VM Host?   VMware ESXi or Hyper-V (or others)?

When I recently did two new servers, I chose ESXi (v6.0) and installed the Host OS to an 8GB USB flash drive (I created two for each server - one for the live system, the other taped to the box for use as a redundant Host OS).

I configured my drives in RAID10 with 4 drives each (I have 8 in each server).  I'm only running two VM guests on each ESXi Host.
Once ESXi boots, I use each RAID10 volume exclusively for the guest it will run.   Some people may choose to do this different.  I went this way because of the MSSQL use each of my guests will have.
You may choose, with only 4 drives per host, to run a single RAID10 and use it for all guests each host will run, or you can do two RAID1's (mirror) and allocate for the guests like I did.  Or a number of other configurations.   Whichever way you go, you want data redundancy, so RAID 1, 5, 6 or 10, and I'd highly recommend using flash media for the ESXi Host OS if you choose VMware...  that way it doesn't rely on the HDD configuration to be functional or even present.

RAM is pretty obvious - you allocate as much as you need plus 15% overhead to each guest.  With the amount you have, I'd do 32 or 64GB per guest unless you have reasons for more.

Dynamic CPU allocation unless your applications specifically require a minimum.

Networking:  In my case, I enabled "Pass-Through" in VMware and allocated two Gig-Eth's to each guest to run load-balanced.  I have 5 adapters though, so the 5th adapter is for the VM Host OS management.

There are a number of other configuration aspects that need to be considered, but much of these will be determined by the VM Host OS you go with and your application specific scenarios.
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arnoldCommented:
Seems 2012 suggests hyper-v

Your likely setup will be to use raid10
You pause HP OS install media to boot the server, configure the RAID, partition (presumably you are using uefi)
The  600GB will be partitioned by
You could install it as a core .......
100gb for OS install and applications.

The remaining 500GB .........

What do the four VMS functions/roles are?
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jmcgOwnerCommented:
I also read that as an intention to use hyper-v.

I'll second the recommendation of RAID-10.

I think experts will differ about whether it's better to create a second volume beyond C: -- to logically separate the VHDs for the VM guests, for instance. If you think you can deal with having it all on C:, I think you may see slightly better performance, at least at first. As your disk gets full, you'll only have to worry about one pool of free space, which is a benefit, but the performance benefit will fade away as the average seek length begins to resemble what it would be if you had partitioned the space.

Plan ahead for how you're going to back this up and what you'd have to do if you had to restore the system. If you have a separate backup scheme for the guest VMs, you can exclude their VHDs from the host backup.
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dowhatyoudo22Author Commented:
These two host machines will be used for various reasons. But initially the plan is to build remote desktop clients using Microsoft's Hyper V and RDS services.

I forgot to mention that when fully implemented these two servers will be talking to a backend SAN. The SAN is where the VHDs will be stored. For the most part little to nothing should be stored locally on these two machines. However that never seems to hold true.

I used HP's Intelligent Provisioning tool and selected it recommended configuration. Once it was finished it appears that it left me with a RAID 10, 558 GB c: drive.

If I were to configure these drives as RAID 5 I believe I would get around 900 GB of storage space. I'm wondering if the performance increase of a RAID 10 is worth the approx. 350 GB of storage I will be losing. Especially considering that most of the VMs will be stored on the SAN anyway.
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jmcgOwnerCommented:
The drives on your host are a sunk cost. The space may get used or it may not. Unless the host is doing a lot of its own work, its disk performance is nearly irrelevant for the VM guests if their storage is coming from the SAN.
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andyalderCommented:
Take a couple of the disks out and add them to the SAN if they are supported in it.
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