Converting to a virtual environment



  • Porting this thread here

    To summarize the OP @PRPL is still new to his organization, a server failed and now the powers that be want to go virtual.

    The budget provided is $1200 - 1400.

    Obviously the same inclusions apply here as anyone else, no downtime during migration. What kind of work schedule does this business have?

    Without getting into the argument of, budget issues etc what would the community recommend?



  • Let me preface this with, you likely only need a single hypervisor and backup, two servers sounds very much like overkill here.

    Continuing...

    After reading the OP topic a bit more closely I would recommend you upgrade the servers, enable hyperv on the stronger of the two, and P2V the other server, stand it up on a rented server with hyperv or XenServer.

    Once that is done reconfigure the now spare server with the required raid setup and other hardware specs, install it with Xenserver to Bootable usb.(we have a guide around here somewhere).

    During installation os XS you'll skip configuring the storage, do a basic install to USB, and download the HALIZARD script (no san) to each server.

    For it you'll need to have 2 ethernet cables run between the servers (staright-through). This will be the fail over bond.

    You need at least two more nic's per server, one for management port and the other for the VMs.

    Anyways follow the instructions for HALIZARD on each server and go from there.



  • With a budget that tight, I agree, you can't get to a dual server solution. Getting one solid server is really the only option and even that won't be trivial.



  • Free virtualization is definitely a necessity. Virtualization obviously makes perfect sense and is needed. No budget for anything but free tools.



  • A good backup and restore strategy is very important. XenServer has free built in back up options, Hyper-V will do free backups with Unitrends as well.



  • Hello Mangolassi (first post here),

    Yep, so today, based the suggestions received from you guys, I'm going to lay-out the options for the "powers that be" -

    Option 1 = Purchase Windows 2012 server licenses, and run Hyper-V on both servers, with VM replication for redundancy.

    Option 2 = If not Windows 2012, then use a Free community version of a Hypervisor such as Xenserver. I'll make them aware that it's a new platform for me, hence, I'll have to try it on on a test bed first, and then implement it for production (hence the roll-out will take longer), and also that, since it's a free product, support for Xenserver is community-based, and hence any issues might just take a lil longer to resolve ..

    Option 3 = Get a single robust server (either upgrade the existing primary server), along with a support package that offers something like a 4 hour Resolution (replacement)

    I have a feeling they may just go-in for Option 2. We already have 2 servers, and upgrading the hardware on both servers is something that can be done within the given budget.... Let's hope for the best ...

    Thanks Dustin and Scott for your time, and suggestions ... Appreciate it ...

    I'll keep you'll posted...



  • @PRPL Hyper-V is always free. No matter what you are doing with Windows licensing, your choice around hypervisors will not be influenced by that. That choice is always neutral.



  • Hi Scott,

    Quick Question - Can the free version of Hyper-V 2012 do everything, that could be done with Xenserver Community + HALizard (Please Ref. to Dustin's suggestion above and on SW) ?



  • @PRPL said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    Quick Question - Can the free version of Hyper-V 2012

    There are no versions of Hyper-V. There is only one version, and it is free. The idea that there are versions is part of the confusion.



  • @PRPL said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    Quick Question - Can the free version of Hyper-V 2012 do everything, that could be done with Xenserver Community + HALizard (Please Ref. to Dustin's suggestion above and on SW) ?

    Hyper-V does a lot, but not as much as XenServer. XenServer and VMware compete for the most capable hypervisors.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @PRPL said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    Quick Question - Can the free version of Hyper-V 2012 do everything, that could be done with Xenserver Community + HALizard (Please Ref. to Dustin's suggestion above and on SW) ?

    Hyper-V does a lot, but not as much as XenServer. XenServer and VMware compete for the most capable hypervisors.

    Wouldn't say that. Hyper-V even outperforms ESXi (feature-wise) in some ways. About HA, I don't know what HALizard does, but I'm sure Hyper-V can do this. You are allowed to use exactly two roles in the free Microsoft Hyper-V server (a special version of Windows Server that is free to use for these two roles): Hyper-V and Failover-Cluster, with absolutely no restrictions at all at the functional level.

    You are allowed, for example, to use the "free" Hyper-V server to run as many BSD and Linux-vms as you like. For Windows-VMs, we'll, licensing is exactly the same as in ESXi and Xen: Want to use Windows? Pay for it.

    There are loads of unique features to Hyper-V like Shared Nothing Live Migration or the switch independent NIC teaming for example. Plus, you can use Veeam free for backups. In small environments, the builtin Hyper-V client should do just fine. 5nine Hyper-V manager may be an upgrade when you get more hosts.

    But we're talking about a single host, so HA doesn't matter. Would get a SSD RAID if you don't need much capacity. Add more RAM. CPU is rarely a bottleneck in small environments.

    Next, choose a Hypervisor, would go for Hyper-V or Xen. Choose a backup tool, Veeam free is a decent choice for Hyper-V.



  • Hi thwr,

    Thanks for your response. ... Just to fill you in ...

    We currently have 2 physical servers (The configs are not similar, but can be upgraded to be so) - The Primary server is used as DC/DNS/Fileserver + an MIS Application called Shuttleworth + an accounting software + Taxation software ..

    The second physical server hosts an application called Apogee Prepress...

    Both servers run Windows 2008 R2

    Now, I've been assigned the task to switch to a complete Virtualized server environment, with HA (kind of .. We can tolerate a down-time of up 90mins) ; which would have been pretty straightforward, if it wasn't for the dismal budget of $1200 sanctioned for it .. Hence, I'm forced to look @ free options ...



  • @PRPL said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    Hi thwr,

    Thanks for your response. ... Just to fill you in ...

    We currently have 2 physical servers (The configs are not similar, but can be upgraded to be so) - The Primary server is used as DC/DNS/Fileserver + an MIS Application called Shuttleworth + an accounting software + Taxation software ..

    The second physical server hosts an application called Apogee Prepress...

    Both servers run Windows 2008 R2

    Now, I've been assigned the task to switch to a complete Virtualized server environment, with HA (kind of .. We can tolerate a down-time of up 90mins) ; which would have been pretty straightforward, if it wasn't for the dismal budget of $1200 sanctioned for it .. Hence, I'm forced to look @ free options ...

    That's why I said that Hyper-V is a valid option. I've read your initial posting over at SW and I am aware of the budget. So you want to go HA?

    No matter the hypervisor, you need to add enough RAM to both hosts (typically the same amount) to hold all your VMs on a single host. Now we need to check hypervisors, there are basically three: ESXi free, Xen and Hyper-V. All three are very capable and will do what you need.

    • ESXi (free) by itself can't do VMotion (moving VMs between hosts, you have to remove them on the old and add them to the new one manually). There are scripts available, vladan.fr blogged about this some days ago (saw something on Twitter about a free script). But why stumble with something when you can have that built-in?
    • Xen - Not my domain, only used it once many years ago. Others here can help you with that.
    • Hyper-V - see above

    Next, you need some form of shared storage (or shared-nothing with Hyper-V, but that's a quite new technology), so when one host dies, you can still access the VMs from another host. In the past, NAS was a typical candidate for shared storage. Today, I would use something like StarWind Virtual SAN (free and paid options available). @KOOLER can tell you something about this. There is also excessive information available on their homepage (starwindsoftware.com) and via Google. Basically, you have your data RAID-1'ed over two hosts. Reads will happen local to the host, writes will happen on both.

    Already suggested Veeam free for backup.

    OK, we are still within our budget at this point. Hypervisor, storage and backup handled. Memory upgrade will be a few hundred bucks.

    For licensing, you can reuse your existing licenses. One drawback: You need to license both hosts. Example: When you got 4 Windows VMs total and 2 hosts, you will need 8 licenses. I'm not sure if this still applies today and this is not specific to any hypervisor but to Windows Server licensing. You should check that with a licensing specialist. I never thought about this, because I got datacenter licenses for all my hosts, so basically a flatrate. In the worst case, you will need to spend some money for Windows licenses.



  • @thwr

    Yep, I'm looking for a shared-nothing type solution, cause (a) A NAS enclosure + HDD would be out of budget. (b) Even if we bought a NAS and stored all VM+DATA on it, it would still be a SPOF... no use ...

    I did look @ the free Starwind Virtual SAN, but from what I read, I understand that the free version will allow only storage and not compute, on the same host... That's allowed, only in the paid version... ??

    I'm not even looking @ running a HA Cluster with live Migration ... the VM replicated to the secondary host would like dormant on the secondary host... If the primary host fails, we don;t mind a few minutes of downtime, while the replicated VMs on the secondary host are manually powered-up...



  • If you don't truly need high availability you could create two installations of xenserver on the equipment you have, and use Xen Orchestra to perform continuous replication to the second server.



  • @PRPL You will want to use Hyper-V.
    Unless you have the time and skill to screw with things, XenServer is not for you.

    When it comes to hypervisor recommendations, @DustinB3403 is a XenServer fanboy and @scottalanmiller has no grip on reality in the SMB.

    I do not argue with @scottalanmiller that XS is powerful, but all you have to do is browse some of the biggesest threads on XS on this forum to see how unstable it is for people that do not fully know what they are doing



  • @JaredBusch I'll argue with you that I'm a "fanboy". Knowing how to use the tools by reading and learning are not "fanboy" methods.

    A fanboy would go out and buy the latest and greatest (lets use iPhones for the example). Also I'm not running XS7 in anything but my personal lab so drop the attitude.

    As an FYI I even recommended Hyper-V to @PRPL via IM's, the downside with Hyper-V is often the cost of additional software to do what is require. This is a matter of fact, his budget is tiny, he could (and I said this above) enable the hyper-v role on the stronger of the two servers, and then P2V the other server onto this one, boot and go.

    Reconfigure the second server as a Hyper-V host and go from there. I personally would go with XS though, preference because of my comfort level.

    Which with such a tiny budget would make it far more likely to cut corners. And cutting corners is never a good thing, especially with a production system.

    Having to find out down the road that "Oh hey we really need this additional software..." to do X with hyper-v is going to be a sticking point for the powers that be.

    With XS everything is offered as Open Source, so there is no additional financial cost (besides the time and hours to setup said Open Source solutions). Which we have many guides on this site alone to get you started with those tools in a matter of minutes.



  • @JaredBusch said

    I do not argue with @scottalanmiller that XS is powerful, but all you have to do is browse some of the biggesest threads on XS on this forum to see how unstable it is for people that do not fully know what they are doing

    I'm not sure if you are indirectly referencing me, but I will step in and say I am definitely one of those people who do not know what I am doing, and have created some pretty lengthy threads on XS.

    That being said, it's really fit the bill for me, at least in my holding out for 2016 to come out.

    If I knew more about Linux (basically just started learning it as I installed XS) I think it would have been a lot easier. Most of the things I have had issues with are Linux issues, not XS issues, per se.

    But if you are new to it, it will definitely help to have some time to muddle with it.

    But for the most part, it's been rock solid. I set up a temporary XS on a desktop machine and put my live mail server on it, and it ran without a hiccup for 55 days until I moved it to the actual production serer.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    I'm not sure if you are indirectly referencing me, but I will step in and say I am definitely one of those people who do not know what I am doing, and have created some pretty lengthy threads on XS.

    If I was going to call you out I would. I am not one to play nice just because it might make someone feel bad.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @JaredBusch I'll argue with you that I'm a "fanboy". Knowing how to use the tools by reading and learning are not "fanboy" methods.

    A fanboy would go out and buy the latest and greatest (lets use iPhones for the example). Also I'm not running XS7 in anything but my personal lab so drop the attitude.

    As an FYI I even recommended Hyper-V to @PRPL via IM's, the downside with Hyper-V is often the cost of additional software to do what is require. This is a matter of fact, his budget is tiny, he could (and I said this above) enable the hyper-v role on the stronger of the two servers, and then P2V the other server onto this one, boot and go.

    Reconfigure the second server as a Hyper-V host and go from there. I personally would go with XS though, preference because of my comfort level.

    Which with such a tiny budget would make it far more likely to cut corners. And cutting corners is never a good thing, especially with a production system.

    Having to find out down the road that "Oh hey we really need this additional software..." to do X with hyper-v is going to be a sticking point for the powers that be.

    With XS everything is offered as Open Source, so there is no additional financial cost (besides the time and hours to setup said Open Source solutions). Which we have many guides on this site alone to get you started with those tools in a matter of minutes.

    As normal, you are not factoring employee cost in as a real cost. You talk about it like it is free.

    The cost in time to implement XS/XO for people that have no idea what they are doing will be much much higher than simply installing Hyper-V (or even VMWare).

    You were touting setting up HA with XS. Why? There is no point. If there is no budget, then the business certainly does not need HA. If the business needed HA, then they would be able to afford to actually implement a workable HA solution. Said solution could be paid or FOSS, but there is still a cost to implement and it is no where close to zero.

    Everything he needs to do can simply be done for free with Hyper-V server and Veeam free as well as with XS. But the Hyper-V route will have a much smaller learning curve not to mention more peer (he is SMB) support.

    If he has time and money to kill to learn a completely new system, then sure, XS is certainly a very good solution.



  • @JaredBusch your argument here is that Hyper-V is easier to learn than XenServer, but you then reference ESXi as even being easier.

    Both ESXi and XenServer have an almost identical interface, so which is it?

    I have never asked the OP not get support to implement or maintain the system. My comment regarding setting up a HA pool is because that is what his employer wishes (also please RWTFIS). Since you like to skip to the reply section of each post obviously.

    XenServer is just as easy as ESXi if not easier to learn. If you have a fault with it it's because you're a stubborn ass who refuses to learn the platform.

    Don't interject your issues with something because you are unable/refuse to learn it.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    Don't interject your issues with something because you are unable/refuse to learn it.

    I read what you wrote. I know exactly what I said. You have obvious anger issues with me and always have. Have fun with that.



  • I don't have an anger issue with you at all, I do have an issue with your "you're an idiot" mentality of everyone else. drop the piss-poor attitude and type without the rage and have an adult conversation.

    It's that simple.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    XenServer is just as easy as ESXi if not easier to learn. If you have a fault with it it's because you're a stubborn ass who refuses to learn the platform.

    I have installed XS. It worked fine. I had no problems with it in fact other than the annoyance of not having a local spot for all my ISO files. I have not gotten around to doing anything with XS 7 yet.

    In complete context, I said VMWare only because it has legacy "the best" status in the SMB and you know it. But I still only referenced it in an aside.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    I have never asked the OP not get support to implement or maintain the system. My comment regarding setting up a HA pool is because that is what his employer wishes (also please RWTFIS). Since you like to skip to the reply section of each post obviously.

    No budget means no HA. Ever. It does not matter what his boss wants. It is a fact.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    XenServer is just as easy as ESXi if not easier to learn. If you have a fault with it it's because you're a stubborn ass who refuses to learn the platform.

    How many times does ESXi leave many orphaned "base-copy" vdi's that you have to remove via UUID in the cli? XenServer has basically no P2V tools except for third party utilities. Even KVM has a native P2V tool.



  • @stacksofplates Xenserver has XenConvert.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @stacksofplates Xenserver has XenConvert.

    Ya that hasn't worked since 6.0



  • @JaredBusch said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    I have never asked the OP not get support to implement or maintain the system. My comment regarding setting up a HA pool is because that is what his employer wishes (also please RWTFIS). Since you like to skip to the reply section of each post obviously.

    No budget means no HA. Ever. It does not matter what his boss wants. It is a fact.

    I agree mostly, but it doesn't mean that there are zero options for fail-over capabilities, even if it's a separate standing server that has a "1-minute old" copy of the VM's ready to boot.



  • @stacksofplates said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @stacksofplates Xenserver has XenConvert.

    Ya that hasn't worked since 6.0

    You asked what tools XenServer has, that is the tool, the reasons why it was dropped (more or less) is because everyone else and their cousin has a P2V tool that works well enough to the open format.

    Why put effort into something when there are already other tools that work perfectly well?


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