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Basic Virtualisation setup - thoughts?

Discussion in 'Virtual Computing' started by BrizoH, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. BrizoH

    BrizoH Byte Poster

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    I'm looking at a basic VMWare implementation for my company, I wondered if any of you guys could provide feedback on the proposed solution?

    We're replacing 3 ageing physical boxes - 1 DC/File & Print, 1 Exchange, 1 Terminal Services (all running on Windows 2000 which I can't wait to upgrade...).

    I'd be looking to set up 4 VM's initially (the extra server being a second DC) but more to come in the future

    I've looked at various shared storage solutions but can't really get it down to fit our budget so for now I'm thinking of buying:

    2 x Dell PowerEdge 2970's
    Dual Quad core AMD Opteron 2382 CPU's
    16Gb RAM
    2 x 73Gb HDD's RAID 1 (for ESXi)
    3 x 600Gb 10k SAS RAID5 (for VM's)

    To keep costs down I'm planning on running the free version of ESXi

    I know it's likely I could comfortably run the 4 VM's on one of these boxes but I do want some level of redundancy plus room for expansion as there's a few projects to come (BES, SQL etc)

    My thoughts are that in time we can always bolt on a SAN and upgrade to the full version of VMWare

    Will I be missing out on a lot by not having Virtual Center? (apart from HA/DR features, which I wouldn't have anyway without shared storage)

    Also whilst on the subject, is anyone using Arcserve to backup VMWare servers?

    From what I've read I can install the linux agent on the ESX hosts to back up the vmdk's directly, just wondering if anyone has experience? Also I'm interested to know if I could run Arcserve in a VM or if it's better to have separately

    Any feedback appreciated, cheers
     
    Certifications: CCNA, CCNA Security
    WIP: CCNP
  2. DFV

    DFV Bit Poster

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    Sounds like a good setup. If you have any room in the budget then you could consider adding more memory or least ensure the servers can be upgraded if you need it later. Any ensure there is enough storage in place for what you want to do. A lot of reports I've read recently from companies who have setup virtualisation projects underestimated the amount of storage they would need.

    I've got a similar setup. I have two Dell PowerEdge R805 servers with similar processors to yours, 64GB of RAM and two disks setup as RAID 1 with the hypervisor installed. I'm using Hyper-V not ESXi and my setup is a two node cluster with iSCSI SAN so I can use live migration if needed.

    I have a virtualised SQL Server but its not on the cluster above. The I/O requirements for the databases are very heavy so the SQL Server has its own localised storage. Bear that in mind if you plan to virtualise SQL Server.

    I've used ArcServe with vmware server before albeit running on Windows. You can install an Arcserve agent in a VM as you can in a physical machine and it works fine. Also backing up the VM files were fine as well. Most VMs restored fine and would simply work where they left off when backed up. The only problems I came across were domain controllers and these were a bit hit and miss. So ensure you still do system state backups to be able to restore your DCs.
     
    Certifications: MCSE NT4, ITIL v2
    WIP: CCA
  3. BrizoH

    BrizoH Byte Poster

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    Thanks for the feedback - the RAM can be doubled to 32Gb if need be, local storage of 1.2TB per server is more than enough for the foreseeable future (although long term a SAN is on my wish list if/when the economic climate picks up)

    It turns out you can install Arcserve server in a VM (albeit it's not recommended) - I found this on CA's site if anyone is interested

    Although you can install the BrightStor ARCserve Backup server software onto a VM, attach a tape device physically to the ESX Server, and dedicate the tape device to the BrightStor ARCserve Backup VM, we do not recommend that you use this configuration for several reasons.

    • Additional load is placed on the ESX Server system.
    • In the event of a catastrophic failure on the ESX Server, you will need to reinstall the ESX Server and the VMware host. You must then restore the BrightStor ARCserve Backup server before you can attempt to restore data

    I'll see how performance goes - if need be I'll reuse an old box to run Arcserve on
     
    Certifications: CCNA, CCNA Security
    WIP: CCNP
  4. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    Are you planning to run 32 or 64 bit operating systems on that thing? 16gigs of ram may be enough in the current iteration if you're not going 64... but 32gigs of ram will give you a fair amount of breathing room when you expand (which I hope you will once the economy picks up as you so rightly say). An exchange 2007 installation will be extremely happy if you give it lots and lots of ram (and knocks down disk IO's considerably). I would setup a 5th VM and move the File/Print server role to it since in my personal opinion, a DC is a DC and it shouldn't be mixed with anything else.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, MCDST, MOS, CIW, Comptia
    WIP: Win7/Lync2010/MCM
  5. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    Disregard this, replied in error
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  6. BrizoH

    BrizoH Byte Poster

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    Only the Exchange server is 64 bit - we have a fairly small user base (approx 60 mailboxes), I'm thinking 8Gb should be enough RAM initially for Exchange although if need be I can up that to around 12-14Gb as only one more VM will share this box (the second DC)
     
    Certifications: CCNA, CCNA Security
    WIP: CCNP
  7. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    8gigs is more than plenty for 80 users... that could service a thousand users if need be.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, MCDST, MOS, CIW, Comptia
    WIP: Win7/Lync2010/MCM
  8. OnFire

    OnFire Nibble Poster

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    Sounds good although can you not use a software based iSCSI solution for shared storage? Say for example Windows Storage Server 2008 or normal Server 2008 with a free add on like iSCSI cake.

    At least you can then have some form of manual failover with ESXi or just go with Hyper V for now and when your ready to purchase vcenter just import the VHD files into VMDK files with VMware converter and add them to your VMware infrastructure.

    As for the back up, I would not attach a tape drive to the ESX host directly, rather use a physical machine for the back ups. Many reasons for this:

    1) if the tape drive has a problem and you need to reboot the server, you have to reboot all the VM's with it
    2) ESXi does not have the Linux based service console to install the Linux agent
    3) Depending on the type of Tape drive (FC, SCSI, SAS) it will more than likely not work when pointing the VM to the device. I beleive there has never been any offical support for this from VMware although it used to work with VI3. The furthest it will get is actually putting the data to the tape but none of the back up software's termination commands will be recognised and the back up will fail at the end of the back up.
     
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  9. Denver Maxwell

    Denver Maxwell Nibble Poster

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    Dare i say Hyper-V... or Citrix XenServer? (seriously have you played with either?)

    Id have to recommend getting a box and having a good play first!
    I run XenServer V5 in a production environment (IBM HS21XM Blades and FC Storage) and its pretty awesome does everything ill ever need... (well within reason) and have a Hyper-V box (Dell Poweredge T410, Quad-2ghz, 16gb 4TB.. overkill) for doing my MCSE and MCITP EA on and id have to say its not to shabby, its a small learning curve compared to XenServer and id guess VMware.

    Id recommend 16gb+ ram per Quad Core CPU and depending on your workloads id not necessarily recommend Dual Quads, you can always upgrade later. Id have to say that memory is a far bigger hog than CPU when things are up and running (far less for win 2003 than 2008 ), most of my Citrix XenServer boxes run 6 or more VMs with a couple of terminal servers on each. im still only running about 10-15% CPU but using up most of the ram, which I can upgrade when needed... Ive got 16gb machines with dual quads.

    If i were looking for a setup of less than a dozen VM's id probably go for Hyper-V to be honest. Id get two identical boxes with additional storage instead of using shared storage (unless you have serious $$ local storage is probably going to be quite a bit faster). Id set up half the VMs on either machine and back them up to that extra storage on the other machine. (1 Acronis licence per 4 VM’s).. ( Remember the offsite backups!!!!!! )

    Two PowerEdge T710's would give you massive expansion options, and when you rack mount them and show them off to the boss they wont look so tiny :).
     
    Certifications: VMware VCP v5, GVF Level 3a, ITIL V3, Windows 2008 something or other...
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  10. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    Not a bad idea, but if he's really going to go for two identical host machines, running Hyper-V or VMWare ESX, then he's already got quite a good scenario for high availability in place.

    The shared storage could result in a single point of failure, whilst running something like Exchange 2007 CCR would result in a much simpler solution for just 80 users.

    But "licensing" is always the biggest catch at the end of the day... If he got two Windows 2008 EE licenses, he could install Hyper-V on both servers and immediately benefit from 8 guest licenses! A compelling enough reason for some ;) Then he can get down and dirty with high availability (for example, DFS spread over two file servers, each running on their own host, using local storage as long as this storage is large and fast enough).
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, MCDST, MOS, CIW, Comptia
    WIP: Win7/Lync2010/MCM
  11. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    Like he said, this would be an attractive option for me too.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, MCDST, MOS, CIW, Comptia
    WIP: Win7/Lync2010/MCM
  12. Denver Maxwell

    Denver Maxwell Nibble Poster

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    Smart Beans

    If you can get the Enterprise licence then its about the price of 3 standard 2008 licences for effectively 4, there are some other bonuses as well but $$ makes most sense.
     
    Certifications: VMware VCP v5, GVF Level 3a, ITIL V3, Windows 2008 something or other...
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  13. Gerbil

    Gerbil Bit Poster

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    I don't have much experience of virtualization in a production environment but won't the write performance of the 3x600GB disks in a RAID-5 config be a concern? Considering that you're losing 600GB to parity data anyway could you stretch to 4x600GB disks and go for a RAID-10 setup?

    I'm sure someone can provide some real world data on the relative performance of RAID-5 vs RAID-10
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
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  14. Denver Maxwell

    Denver Maxwell Nibble Poster

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    Your quite right, with that.

    R5 or R10 well R10 if you can pay for it, no question

    You would be better going for more lower capacity disks ie. (they are a lot cheeper anyway!)
    6*300gb in R10 would give twice the performance and iops of 3x600gb. R10 gives better write performance.
    6*300gb in R5 would also be better than 3x600gb in R5 and give more storage and better performance but not as much performance as R10 would.

    I wouldn’t be to afraid to use large enterprise SATA for backups.
     
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  15. Shinigami

    Shinigami Megabyte Poster

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    I agree with Denver. Disk prices thankfully have gone down drastically, even for SAS disks. If one can budget for 2 decent servers to virtualize an environment into an HA model, then an extra disk here or there should be peanuts :)
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCITP, MCDST, MOS, CIW, Comptia
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  16. BrizoH

    BrizoH Byte Poster

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    Lots of interesting comments, thanks everyone for the feedback.

    I looked at Datacore SANMelody as a software based shared storage solution, but like Shinigami said this is still a single point of failure - I'd really need to have went for two SANMelody boxes which pushed it out of my budget.

    4 x 600Gb RAID10 is something I'll look into - I was trying to get the maximum storage for my budget whilst leaving expansion options but I don't have any practical experience of IO performance in this kind of setup.

    Hyper V and Citrix - Honestly I don't know anyone who uses Citrix and have no experience of it myself so it's probably not an option I'd go for. I have more experience with VMWare and the maturity of it versus Hyper V is a selling point - I really see this as the first stage of what will hopefully be a full blown Virtual Center/SAN deployment

    Re the connecting the tape drive to ESX - valid concerns, I'm actually considering switching from Arcserve to Backup Exec as the cost for new BE licenses are the same as upgrading Arcserve (plus the VMWare agent covers unlimited VM's per ESX host). I have read of someone using the same autoloader with ESX/Backup Exec - if performance is poor then I will reuse an old server

    In the meantime guys I'm off on holiday, all thoughts of virtualisation, storage and backups are going to be replaced by sun and cocktails - I'll let you know how things go with the deployment when I get back, cheers :D
     
    Certifications: CCNA, CCNA Security
    WIP: CCNP

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