Converting to a virtual environment



  • @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?



  • @DustinB3403 said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @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?

    That's like asking how to do something on Windows and telling them they need the utility from Windows ME...that's not the utility, because it doesn't work with the system.

    Because Clonezilla, DD, and others are a ridiculous way to P2V something. Especially when the P2V tools will import to a thin provisioned disk in real time.



  • @stacksofplates This is completely outside of the conversation at hand. There are tools which work to P2V a system, what does it matter if it's not from XenServer?

    I'm really just trying to follow the logic here. But if you don't have a recommendation for the OP, why divert the topic?



  • @PRPL said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    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've never heard of that limitation. that would be a new and surprising one. I'm quite confident that you can put your storage on your compute nodes.

    Checking with @KOOLER @StarWind_Software



  • @PRPL said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    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...

    That's great that you recognize that that works. Both Hyper-V and XenServer do this for free. So you have choices.

    Although you can do the full failover for free, too, today. So while it is great that you know that you should not be spending extra money on that feature, don't think that you necessarily need to avoid it either. It is only on VMware that that feature is not free and included. So as long as you are looking at Hyper-V, XenServer or even KVM, you can get that for free if it makes sense for you.



  • @thwr said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    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.

    Hyper-V doesn't have all of the features of XenServer and VMware ESXi (all three have different features, which makes it a little hard to compare, though.) Xen has benefits like inclusive network RAID (unique to it), and enterprise RAID (Hyper-V has RAID, but no one should call it ready for use), PV (unique to it), etc. VMware has some memory dedupe stuff that is totally unique and amazing, as well as full shared memory between nodes for true errorless failover that is pretty amazing, but costly.



  • @thwr said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    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.

    How are those unique? XenServer has those, too. One of those, Xen had before Hyper-V even existed. Those are great things in Hyper-V, but unique they are not. KVM has at least some of those, too.



  • @PRPL said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    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 ...

    At 90 minutes, a good backup system can almost always restore your VMs in that window. It require the backup system to be able to push a restore that quickly AND your servers to be able to ingest a restore that quickly. So a lot of ifs, but it can be done and might be the cheapest path to your goal. You still use virtualization to make the "magic" happen on this, but using the storage of the two nodes to handle this is only one option, using the backup system to get rapid backups and rapid restores is a very viable approach when you don't need to recover "in seconds."



  • @JaredBusch said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    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

    Same can be said of Hyper-V, though. All of the people having issues with XenServer are trying to push it in unique ways that would break Hyper-V similarly if they tried to do that there as well. Apples to apples, I haven't seen people doing anything that shows XenServer as being less stable and people who have run both have said to me that they find XenServer easier to learn.

    The idea that all SMBs have massive Windows skills (remember the OP doesn't even have the latest Windows server licensing and very few machines), already has knowledge of their current remote management tools and such is more of a disconnect with the SMB than you think I have. Some SMBs have these things, but very few. SMBs tend to not know the tools that you feel are standard, your Windows skill level has mislead you to what "normal" is for SMB Windows Admins. Most never see those tools and Hyper-V becomes rather a dramatic learning curve because of that.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @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.

    And I think an important lesson for newbies is... while running from SD is great and a best practice for experts, if you are not an expert on XS, just install to the local the disks. Keep the deployment simple.



  • @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.

    This can't be overstated. HA costs money, a lot of it. Always. And no business that needs HA will ever have a problem getting the money to do it, it's just the nature of HA needs. Obvious exceptions like life support systems that are a life need, not a business one, are clearly not included in this statement. HA is something that you do, not something that you buy. The first step to HA is getting a high quality environment, like nice racks, big UPS, good redundant generators, really excellent airflow testing, consistent temperature to the rack face, power conditioning, environmental monitoring...

    Then comes the high quality servers (HPE, Dell, Cisco, Oracle, etc.) with good builds and careful design. Then the other stuff. And humans around the clock.

    And HA would include training too, lots of it.

    Real HA is a huge proposition, not just from getting HA tools, but doing "HA Processes."



  • @JaredBusch said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    But the Hyper-V route will have a much smaller learning curve not to mention more peer (he is SMB) support.

    This is where I don't agree. More people running it is not the same as peer support. Look both here and SW, for example, more people running Hyper-V, but lots more confusion, misinformation, mistakes and much less support. Ask a question on either and you get a lot of responses, but I feel that the support that people get on XS, even if the peer pool is smaller, is superior.



  • @scottalanmiller said

    And I think an important lesson for newbies is... while running from SD is great and a best practice for experts, if you are not an expert on XS, just install to the local the disks. Keep the deployment simple.

    Well, in my defense, it was stated pretty repeatedly that NOT installing XS to SD/USB was something a newbie would do, not the other way around.

    XS themselves basically say treat it as an appliance. Install it and don't mess with it.



  • @scottalanmiller said

    This is where I don't agree. More people running it is not the same as peer support. Look both here and SW, for example, more people running Hyper-V, but lots more confusion, misinformation, mistakes and much less support. Ask a question on either and you get a lot of responses, but I feel that the support that people get on XS, even if the peer pool is smaller, is superior.

    Also depends if your Windows knowledge is mainly GUI-based.


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