Hyper-V hardware recommendations

Megadeth4168Megadeth4168 Member Posts: 2,157
Hi everyone, let me start by saying that my experience with any kind of virtualization is fairly limited so please bare with me.

We are a small office and have recently been given an opportunity to purchase a new server. The only requirement is that this server run SQL workgroup server 2008 with 15 CALs. We were given a budget of $8000 to cover the cost of the Server and the SQL software/licenses.

The SQL will cost just under $2000 which leaves $6000 for the server. My supervisor really wants to start utilizing virtualization to cut down on rack space, power usage and UPS considerations.

We have selected 2 servers, one only hosts a calendar for our fire department, but needs to be managed by them so it should be separate. The other server hosts our printers (maybe 30 printers) our anti virus and small database running on SQL Express. Really, these two servers are currently not very powerful, they are several years old. The calendar is a 2000 workstation and the other server is Server 2000.

Ideally, I will upgrade the 2000 server to at least 2003. I know I can still get downgrade rights and our pricing is about $530.

So, my question is, what is the best hardware configuration to run a Physical OS of Server 2008 with Hyper-V and 2 VMs, one with server 2003 and one with workstation 2000/XP?

The hardware I was looking at is a Dell Poweredge 510 with the eight drive hot swap chasis. 2 quad core Xeons processors, 24 GB RAM.

I think the part I'm not sure about is the Hard Drive configuration for VMs. Should I do a hardware RAID, maybe a raid 1 for the Physical OS and a RAID 5 for the VMs? Should I use software RAID and set up 4 RAID 1 sets, one for the Physical OS, one for each VM and one to host the SQL databases?

I'm open to other ideas as well since I am really new to this type of set up.

Thanks guys!


  • hypnotoadhypnotoad Banned Posts: 915
    If you buy a copy of Server 2008 R2 Enterprise, it will license 4 VMs inside it in addition to the physical box (without any additional purchases). So upgrading to 2008, if feasible on your 2000/2003 machines, might help out on the cost a bit. That doesnt license anything except the OS.

    The 510 is a pretty capable machine. However, your milage may vary depending on the database you want to use on it. I would say mirror the RAID array for the C: drive, then whatever you do after that is up to you -- how much space you need, how much speed, and how much fault tolerance.

    How much IO does this database do? How much space does it take?

    Are you a microsoft partner, by the way?
  • Megadeth4168Megadeth4168 Member Posts: 2,157
    Unfortunately we are not a Microsoft partner.

    To answer some of your other questions:

    The server 2008 enterprise issue may be one of licensing costs. We have the CALs for server 2003 already but we don't have any for server 2008.

    I was originally thinking that by hosting the SQL server on the Physical OS that we would only need the 20 or so CALs for Server 2008 and again for SQL 2008. We could then use the server 2003 CALs for the VM.

    Upon rereading the FAQ on licensing, I'm not sure that's an option now.
    Windows Server 2008 CALs are not required if you are using Windows Server 2008 R2 solely as a virtualization host. The only exception to this is if you are running Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machines, which would require Windows Server 2008 CALs. If you deploy Windows Server 2003 virtual machines onto Windows Server 2008 R2, you do not require Windows Server 2008 CALs for your virtual machine users. (You will still require CALs for your appropriate Windows Server edition, in this case, for Windows Server 2003) This is only true if the Windows Server 2008 R2 in the physical operating system environment is running the Hyper-V server rolel

    Since I would have server 2008 hosting a service (SQL) beside virtualization, I'm not positive that I can save on the CAL costs.

    The Database(s) actually are a suite of financial databases, General Ledger, Water Billing, Tax Billing type of stuff. They are fairly large but currently are running on a Server 2000 machine that has 768MB RAM and a single 2Ghz single core processor, I can't imagine performance could be any worse than that.

    I'm wondering now if ESXi is the way to go.... Since we have the CALs for 2003 already it could reduce costs slightly. Unfortunately, the learning curve for virtualization might be more difficult for me... I'm already going to be trying to learn with Hyper-V but at least it's Microsoft and I'm used to Microsoft.... ESXi is combining 2 unknowns for me.

  • hypnotoadhypnotoad Banned Posts: 915
    Well, ESXi is going to cost pretty heavily for things like vmotion and backup, and then you end up paying MS licensing anyway. VMWare also requires certified hardware to be supported.

    But I'm not sure on that because I'm not a vmware guy. Wish I was though.
  • Megadeth4168Megadeth4168 Member Posts: 2,157
    Well... It's looking like, due to Server 2008 CAL rules, we are now left with two choices.

    Install Server 2003 on the new server as a Physical OS and use VMware Server to host a Server 2003 VM and a Windows XP Pro VM or go with the bare metal solution of ESXi and host 2 Server 2003 VMs and a Windows XP Pro VM.

    I'm still looking at doing RAID as 4 RAID 1 sets each with it's own VM and the last with the SQL databases.

    I know the bare metal solution will be faster and have better resource management but the whole reason I was initially trying to avoid this solution is because of the vendor that this database is for.... Their software doesn't "officially" support virtualization. However, I'm sure it wouldn't be an issue.

    So, being that we already have the server 2003 CALs, that helps a bit. The other issues you are talking about I must admit I'm not too familiar with. The Vmotion for example, I have to assume your talking about for future movement of VMs. We don't currently have any VMS and I will be creating fresh installs of these servers.

    The backup solution, I figured we would be continuing to use our Netvault software for backing up the content within the VMs. Perhaps I'm not thinking about this correctly then.

    The certified hardware I can understand, I would assume that since we are purchasing the Dell server with the option of having ESXi embedded on it that is would be certified. I think I can double check this in the website though.

    Funny, It shouldn't be this hard, but I just don't have much experience with virtualization and obviously I don't want to make the wrong decision on which direction to go. I definitely appreciate the helpful insight so far though!

    I'm still open to suggestions... Right now I'm playing with VMware Server on one of my Server 2003 Boxes and the performance isn't so bad.
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