Converting to a virtual environment



  • @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.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @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.

    Pretty much what I've seen as well. Work through a management interface and rarely go down to the CLI.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @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.

    I doubt that that is true. Or at least in such a high level way.

    If you are a 100% command line / PowerShell Windows admin, Hyper-V is just more of the same. It basically makes Hyper-V as easy for Windows Admins and Xen without a GUI is for Linux ones. Which is... very simple.

    If you are a 100% remote GUI Windows Admin, Hyper-V has great remote tools that are just like the ones that you use for Windows that way. So again, very easy.

    But if you are a Windows local GUI admin doing everything right on the server, especially with old versions that don't use the same tools as your Hyper-V would, or you don't have an up to date desktop infrastructure then no, the GUI tools is not just learning new tools but new ways of thinking and approaching administration that can be very confusing and a huge learning curve. It's this mode that nearly all SMB admins that I talk to work in.



  • @coliver said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @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.

    Pretty much what I've seen as well. Work through a management interface and rarely go down to the CLI.

    Yup, there is a reason that we promote it as the easiest to use, easiest to learn, least learning curve hypervisor (except maybe VMware ESXi which forces some things like hardware RAID to make things easier. ESXi is really SO easy.) It installs as an appliance, the only caveat is that you HAVE to know to select "thin provisioning" during the install.

    XenCenter is dead simple to use for a Windows admin and gets you up and running in minutes. It's the simplest Windows app there can be. It's just like VMware's traditional tools. And we have a one line installer for XenOrchestra which makes it super simple to get a free, no-OS license needed VM with huge features right away without needing to know anything special there, either.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @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.

    Yeah, and while I feel that SD is the best option technically, I'm changing my recommendations for most users based on how difficult it has been to get XS to treat the SD card like it should. Hopefully at some point we will be able to produce a super simple guide for that, but for now, we cannot. Partially because I can't get access to even a desktop to work on that stuff physically which is pretty much needed for this kind of testing.



  • @scottalanmiller said

    Yeah, and while I feel that SD is the best option technically, I'm changing my recommendations for most users based on how difficult it has been to get XS to treat the SD card like it should. Hopefully at some point we will be able to produce a super simple guide for that, but for now, we cannot. Partially because I can't get access to even a desktop to work on that stuff physically which is pretty much needed for this kind of testing.

    I'm not sure if you can hear it, but the collection of XS here is quietly booing you.



  • @scottalanmiller said

    Yeah, and while I feel that SD is the best option technically, I'm changing my recommendations for most users based on how difficult it has been to get XS to treat the SD card like it should. Hopefully at some point we will be able to produce a super simple guide for that, but for now, we cannot. Partially because I can't get access to even a desktop to work on that stuff physically which is pretty much needed for this kind of testing.

    As I have been looking into this, and also backups (in the name of recovering a XS host), I"m wondering if installing to a separate drive, and just doing the backups of the host won;'t be the easiest way to recover from a failed XS host.

    Again, that is basically the recommendation of XS, strangely enough from the same paragraph referenced earlier.
    "Citrix recommends that, whenever possible, you leave the installed state of XenServer hosts unaltered. That is,
    do not install any additional packages or start additional services on XenServer hosts, and treat them as if they
    are appliances. The best way to restore, then, is to reinstall XenServer host software from the installation media."



  • @scottalanmiller said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    Hopefully at some point we will be able to produce a super simple guide for that, but for now, we cannot. Partially because I can't get access to even a desktop to work on that stuff physically which is pretty much needed for this kind of testing.

    Considering they are basically saying .... yeah don't touch anything .... maybe it's just not possible.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @scottalanmiller said

    Yeah, and while I feel that SD is the best option technically, I'm changing my recommendations for most users based on how difficult it has been to get XS to treat the SD card like it should. Hopefully at some point we will be able to produce a super simple guide for that, but for now, we cannot. Partially because I can't get access to even a desktop to work on that stuff physically which is pretty much needed for this kind of testing.

    As I have been looking into this, and also backups (in the name of recovering a XS host), I"m wondering if installing to a separate drive, and just doing the backups of the host won;'t be the easiest way to recover from a failed XS host.

    Again, that is basically the recommendation of XS, strangely enough from the same paragraph referenced earlier.
    "Citrix recommends that, whenever possible, you leave the installed state of XenServer hosts unaltered. That is,
    do not install any additional packages or start additional services on XenServer hosts, and treat them as if they
    are appliances. The best way to restore, then, is to reinstall XenServer host software from the installation media."

    Their recommendations are telling you NOT to backup the host. Why jump to backing up the host? We don't backup any hypervisor (VMware ESXi, Hyper-V, KVM, etc.) It's just not practical. It's essentially stateless. What state it keeps is generally minor and handled some other way (doesn't XO or XC recreate most of that automatically?) I feel like this is a similar thought process to imaging the desktops for recovery that you used to want to do... sounds good at a high level but in practice, isn't practical. Just reinstall XS and be on your way.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @scottalanmiller said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    Hopefully at some point we will be able to produce a super simple guide for that, but for now, we cannot. Partially because I can't get access to even a desktop to work on that stuff physically which is pretty much needed for this kind of testing.

    Considering they are basically saying .... yeah don't touch anything .... maybe it's just not useful.

    FTFY



  • @scottalanmiller said

    Their recommendations are telling you NOT to backup the host. Why jump to backing up the host? We don't backup any hypervisor (VMware ESXi, Hyper-V, KVM, etc.) It's just not practical. It's essentially stateless. What state it keeps is generally minor and handled some other way (doesn't XO or XC recreate most of that automatically?) I feel like this is a similar thought process to imaging the desktops for recovery that you used to want to do... sounds good at a high level but in practice, isn't practical. Just reinstall XS and be on your way.

    No, they recommend backing up the host.

    Basically, if you backup the host, and also backup the VM metadata, it's supposedly pretty easy to restore.
    The host through XC and the metadata through xsconsole. (The metadata can be scheduled, even.)
    (AND AND it writes to the place where the logs kept screwing up the XS. But it writes it as a VHD, of course.)
    SO they you reinstall XS, restore it from backup, introduce the SR, and restore the metadata.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @scottalanmiller said

    Yeah, and while I feel that SD is the best option technically, I'm changing my recommendations for most users based on how difficult it has been to get XS to treat the SD card like it should. Hopefully at some point we will be able to produce a super simple guide for that, but for now, we cannot. Partially because I can't get access to even a desktop to work on that stuff physically which is pretty much needed for this kind of testing.

    As I have been looking into this, and also backups (in the name of recovering a XS host), I"m wondering if installing to a separate drive, and just doing the backups of the host won;'t be the easiest way to recover from a failed XS host.

    Again, that is basically the recommendation of XS, strangely enough from the same paragraph referenced earlier.
    "Citrix recommends that, whenever possible, you leave the installed state of XenServer hosts unaltered. That is,
    do not install any additional packages or start additional services on XenServer hosts, and treat them as if they
    are appliances. The best way to restore, then, is to reinstall XenServer host software from the installation media."

    You said right here, this may be a different topic all together. That they recommend that you restore the host by installing it from the media. That would imply that you don't backup the host itself at all.



  • @coliver said

    You said right here, this may be a different topic all together. That they recommend that you restore the host by installing it from the media. That would imply that you don't backup the host itself at all.

    Then the next page they say
    "Citrix recommends that you frequently perform as many of the following backup procedures as possible to
    recover from possible server and/or software failure."

    And go into the backups I mention.

    This only works for the original machine, though. But I imagine that you could replicate this on a new XS (by attaching the SR and restore metadata) pretty "easily".



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @scottalanmiller said

    Their recommendations are telling you NOT to backup the host. Why jump to backing up the host? We don't backup any hypervisor (VMware ESXi, Hyper-V, KVM, etc.) It's just not practical. It's essentially stateless. What state it keeps is generally minor and handled some other way (doesn't XO or XC recreate most of that automatically?) I feel like this is a similar thought process to imaging the desktops for recovery that you used to want to do... sounds good at a high level but in practice, isn't practical. Just reinstall XS and be on your way.

    No, they recommend backing up the host.

    Basically, if you backup the host, and also backup the VM metadata, it's supposedly pretty easy to restore.
    The host through XC and the metadata through xsconsole. (The metadata can be scheduled, even.)
    (AND AND it writes to the place where the logs kept screwing up the XS. But it writes it as a VHD, of course.)
    SO they you reinstall XS, restore it from backup, introduce the SR, and restore the metadata.

    Is the metadata on the SR?



  • @scottalanmiller said

    Is the metadata on the SR?

    Yes.

    It makes a .VHD file when you do the backup.



  • @BRRABill said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    @scottalanmiller said

    Is the metadata on the SR?

    Yes.

    It makes a .VHD file when you do the backup.

    That's what I thought. So if the metadata is being backed up with the VMs in place, what would you be restoring for the host?



  • This is one area where I feel that XO is missing an option to backup the host / metadata to a separate location. If you need to rebuild the XO host (on SD) without restoring all the VMs (local storage), how does one accomplish this if you haven't backed up the above info?



  • @Danp said in Converting to a virtual environment:

    This is one area where I feel that XO is missing an option to backup the host / metadata to a separate location. If you need to rebuild the XO host (on SD) without restoring all the VMs (local storage), how does one accomplish this if you haven't backed up the above info?

    But if the metadata isn't on the host, and XS says that you should not back that up, why would you want XO to have an option for that? Just rebuild from the installer (think of this as being pre-backed up) and the metadata is already available.


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