Looking for server recommendations

Tom S
Tom S used Ask the Experts™
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Currently have a workgroup environment that with a server running Multipoint 2011, primarily for RemoteApp access for QuickBooks.  Company has grown since it was installed about 5 years ago. Now about 12 users in the main office with 4-5 accessing QuickBooks at any one time.  There are also about 10 laptop/tablet users in the field using MS Office Apps primarily.  They connect with cellular hotspots, so connections are variable.  Expect to add a few more in the near future. Approx 30 devices total, because some users have desktops and Surface Pro tablets.

Have NAS for storage currently, primarily for local backups.  Office and email is through Office 365.

We are needing to add more storage to centralize access, and update the server(s) for QuickBooks and adding a DC. Am considering on-premise vs cloud server options and wondering if it would be better to stay on-prem for the best performance.   Any recommendations would be helpful.
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Given the company's size and use case I would recommend sizing out a Microsoft Azure environment for your needs.
Lionel MMSmall Business IT Consultant
Commented:
if performance is the metric you wish to use then on-premise will give you the best performance but only if the devices are directly connected to the local network. however it seems that you have a situation where devices will not always be connected directly to the local network so at that point performance becomes a question of what broadband services are available to you. additionally you need to consider the additional cost of maintaining physical hardware versus that of paying an ongoing monthly fee. I deal primarily with clients with 50 of fewer users and 1 to 3 servers and I have them all on physical on-premise solutions but as time goes by I am moving more and more services to cloud solutions when it makes sense financially. there are many other factors to consider but these are some I would suggest you think about.
Technical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage
Commented:
A small 1U E3-1230v6 series with 64GB ECC and a hardware driven 8x 900GB 10K SAS RAID 6 array (increase drive size as needed) would host the following:
 + DC VM
 + File & Print VM
 + RD Broker/Gateway/Web
 + RD Session Host

Keep the DC small and the file and print VM a bit bigger. Put more resources into the RD setup.

Make sure the upload speed of the WAN is at least 5Mbps or more.

I have two very thorough EE articles on all things Hyper-V:

Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices
Practical Hyper-V Performance Expectations

Note that one needs to compare the costs of the on-premises solution versus building in Azure or any other IaaS (Infrastructure as a Solution).

There are a lot of options even highly available ones depending on the direction the client wants to go.
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Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the input.  The offsite users rarely have a need to get to the server on-site.  They are not accessing QuickBooks.  They are using Office365 / Project for Productivity Apps and email.  However, that could change, although their usage would be limited to file services.  

The onsite users are accessing QuickBooks, via the Multipoint Server and RemoteApps.  They occasionally need to remote-in to QuickBooks -again through RDP.  

With regard to the server, I am assuming the RD Services reside on the host machine with 2 VMs - 1 for DC and the other for F & P, correct? I assume QuickBooks would reside with RD Service?  

Thanks
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
The QuickBooks app would be set up on the RD Session Host where users desktop and RemoteApp sessions are hosted.

We typically put the QB Db setup on the same server as file and print. The RD Broker/Gateway/Web VM only needs 2 vCPUs and 3GB to 4GB of vRAM at most. The Session Host would be the beefiest VM at 3 vCPUs (assuming a four physical core CPU) and 16GB vRAM.

Author

Commented:
Philip -

I'm confused about the VM allocation.  Looking at your initial post, the E3-1230v6 is a 4 Core processor and it appears you are calling for 4 VMs.  In your last post,  there is an allocation of 5 vCPUs. I don't understand how you are intending the allocation to be.

Would this work?:

VM0: 2v CPUs, 4GB RAM - ADDS / RDCB / RDL / F&P / QB DB
VM1: 2v CPUs ,12GB RAM- RDSH / RDGW / RDWeb

Thanks for clarifying.
Tom
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
Tom,

Please read the following:

Some Hyper-V Hardware and Software Best Practices
Practical Hyper-V Performance Expectations

The way things work from bits to bytes along with vCPUs, Cores, and Threads are explained quite thoroughly.

Author

Commented:
Thank-you Philip.

Regarding your information on where QuickBooks resides.. I understand the part about putting the QB on RDSH VM, but then you say that you typically put the QB DB on the same server as File & Print. I assume QB DB and Company File mean the same thing?
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
Correct. There's a MySQL daemon that runs where the company file is so I assumed both to be included.

Author

Commented:
So, if I understand correctly, then the following configuration may work for the environment (8 QB users plus 3 other users in at home office location  / 10 remote users on sketchy hotspots who only really need O365)

VM0: [ 2 vCPUs,  4 GB RAM]              ADDS, DNS, F&P (QB Company File)
VM1: [3-4 vCPUs, 16 GB RAM]           RDSH, QB  
VM2: [ 2vCPUs, 4 GB RAM]                 RD Broker/GW/Web          
                   
Since I'm over the allotted 2 VMs anyway for Server Standard, I need to purchase a 2nd license, so I could add a separate VM for F & P, correct?  Alternatively, in order to keep it to 2 VMs, would the following be advisable for this environment?

VM0: 3-4 vCPUs, 8 GB RAM   ADDS, DNS, F&P , RD Broker/GW/Web
VM1: 4 vCPUs, 24 GB RAM    RDSH QB

If I put in a pair of RAID 1 SSDs for QB and ran the balance with SAS 10K RAID 10, would that provide a decent level of performance.  Or is a homogenous array of RAID 6  (RAID 10) preferable?


Thank-you

Tom
Philip ElderTechnical Architect - HA/Compute/Storage

Commented:
In a new server we'd set up eight by 10K 2.5" SAS drives in RAID 6. A typical storage stack format would yield about 800MB/Second and ~350 IOPS per disk which is more than enough for this particular need.

Our setup would be:
 + VM0: DC: ADDS, DNS, DHCP - 2 vCPUS, 4GB vRAM
 + VM1: File & Print + QB - 2 vCPUS, 8GB vRAM
 + VM2: RD Broker/Gateway/Web - 2 vCPUS, 4GB vRAM
 + VM3: RD Session Host - 2 vCPUS, 16GB vRAM

That should leave enough physical memory open to allow for the tweaking of the Session Host VM setup. Start with 2 vCPUs and add one later if there is a need. I suggest not setting 4 vCPUs as that's the number of physical cores on the CPU itself (we use N-1 Cores for VM vCPU max).

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