Will Virtualization solve my problem?

Posted on 2016-08-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-08-03
Hi Guys,
I have a client that asked me to look at their server problems. Currently they have an
HPE ProLiant ML150 Generation9 (Gen9) with E5-2609v3 1.9GHz 6 Core with 24GB RAM.
The server has 3 main functions. Provide Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard environment for 15 Thin-client workstations. Backup all data and run Sage Pastel evolution accounting software. The accounting package requires: Dualcore 3 GHz i7, 16GB RAM. The company runs no other intense programs i.e. no design work. They use office 365.
They have several problems at the moment: users sessions being dropped, trouble logging in, slow workstations, (PDF's are particularly slow), backups are not done automatically (something in Windows server throws the accounting software backups out). Now the general consensus is that a second server should solve the problem but I see this as a pretty powerful machine already. Not the best but for general office work in a 20 user company it should be fine. The current IT contractors have quoted on another tower server that will cost about $5000.
My Question
Would it be possible to run VMware on the current server and splitting it into 2 and dedicating the one to the Accounting Software and the other to Windows Server running Office 365.(Reason being that there are 5 users using the financial software and problems peak when they are on)  Would this not release some of the pressure? Or am I missing the point of virtualization in servers completely? Its fairly new to me.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
Question by:Géran Raath
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LVL 29

Assisted Solution

by:Michael Pfister
Michael Pfister earned 500 total points
ID: 41739024
Virtualizing the systems on this machine could make things worse. I'd rather gather some perfomance statistics (RAM, CPU, disk, disk queue length) with perfmon over one day to check if there are bottlenecks and check/fix the different problems one after the other.
Dropping user sessions are not normal, there could be connectivity issues in the network (bad cable, bad switch port, bad thin client, etc).
The Acrobat Reader problem  could be caused by this: https://helpx.adobe.com//acrobat/kb/slow-display-performance-terminal-server.html

I don't understand the part regarding the backup...
LVL 28

Assisted Solution

jhyiesla earned 500 total points
ID: 41739025
I'm not sure that virtualization in itself will solve the issue. Bandwidth is usually shared as are the memory and CPU resources. Even if you dedicate some of these resources to the financial people, the physical box only has what it has.  Virtualization can make more efficient use of resources, but it can't increase what's there.

Without knowing everything that's going on, I'd probably invest in the second server and then use both of them in a Virtual cluster, like with ESXi from VMware, and spread the pain out between the two hosts. Worse case scenario is that if one host fails you can vMotion to the other - assuming you have shared storage, which would be an additional expense. If you don't have the budget for shared storage, probably getting the second server and splitting out the finance software on one of them would be the next best option.
LVL 29

Expert Comment

by:Michael Pfister
ID: 41739043
Note: the Adobe article refers to Reader 9.0, you need to change the registry path matching your version
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LVL 122
ID: 41739048
No going to solve your problem, at best it will get worse!

Virtualisation = Server Consolidation = Compromise on Performance of Servers on a single server!
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Mr Tortur
ID: 41739060
Would this not release some of the pressure?
No, because you will share the physical ressources between VMs.

And if budget is an issue there is no reason to speak of VMware vSphere.
Some main points on vSphere for you :
- really powerfull and reliable
- give flexibility if you have the fine licenses
- could give you lot of redundancy, most of all with shared storage
- but licensing is really expensive
- and shared storage is another important cost, as told by another expert
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Mr Tortur
ID: 41739084
Another comment :
but I see this as a pretty powerful machine already
well, your cpu is neither old nor new, from 2014 is laready 2 years... So old in IT ;-)
Also I don't if ou have one or two cpu on your actual server.
And ML150 is an entry level server in HP proliant.
LVL 96

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 1000 total points
ID: 41739286

I disagree with much of what was said but I think the best comment was the first

You've got issues.  You know the symptoms... but you don't know their causes.  You need to figure that out.  At a minimum, determine if it's a PERFORMANCE issue or not.  If it is, then virtualization WILL NOT help.  If it's NOT a performance issue then there's potential software and configuration conflicts, Virtualization could very well help.

You didn't mention the disk subsystem... that will be a major performance issue if its too slow.  If you have a RAID 10 (or could set one up), then it'd likely be fine.  If the server has SSDs or multiple RAID volumes, it'll likely be fine.  If they're a 2 disk RAID 1 with 7.2K RPM disks you could have serious issues...

The idea of clustering is really expensive... nice if you've got the budget, but most small business don't... so I wouldn't recommend it beyond a casual mention that it would be an option if you have a budget.

No mention of Hyper-V?  It's FREE, very comparable to VMWare especially in small environments, and offers great DR features through replica.

I'd suggest reading over my article on Virtualization:
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Bryant Schaper
ID: 41739422
I am in the boat of other issues as well, i suspect that you need to fine tune the RDS to start, it can be very resource intensive, but you need some performance stats.  My initial, without some perfomance data suggests that 24GB memory and single processor could be bottlenecks, but we are not even talking about the storage system, you could be bottlenecking at the disks too.
LVL 56

Expert Comment

ID: 41739564
You could always try putting more RAM into it, you can go up to 256GB RAM with 1 CPU, 512GB with two.

Author Closing Comment

by:Géran Raath
ID: 41740218
Thanks Everyone. It was great getting some different perspectives. I did not concentrate on storage but will definitely look at it now. It might contribute to the problem. Will update again.

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