Should you virtualize a single host?

Um…yes?  Kind of an obvious question in the grand scheme…  In fact I’m really surprised it’s not done more often.

In the grand scheme of things.  Why wouldn’t a small business use something that’s FREE and gives them the ability to maximize their (usually minimal) hardware investment?

I have a customer, one of those little “side” gigs we all take on, a friend of a friend said “I have someone who needs a new server.” and it all went from there.

So I sell them an old Dell 2U (PowerEdge 2650) I’ve got floating around, migrate them off their antique HP ML160, their single server provided domain services, file-server.  SQL and a number of other minor services.

Now that it’s time to upgrade.  Should we spend hours and hours installing a new server, migrating files, SQL, changing all of the ODBC connectors on every workstation to point to the new server?

Or P2V the old server to the new server and be done with it.

VMWare offers a lot of options over and above the obvious.  Once the P2V is done, boot, and you’re done.  Then you can build a second domain controller, seperate off some of the minor functions, maybe even seperate off the fileserver and sql servers.

From an admin standpoint, dual network connections, thinly provisioned luns, and most importantly, the ability to power-cycle a server from 2700 miles away without having to wonder if it’s going to come back up, the ability to remotely mount ISO images as CDrom’s for upgrades.

How easy would it be to do remote software upgrades or install a new Windows server if you could insert a CD remotely?

VMWare ESXi is *FREE* people. 🙂

2 comments

    • Han Solo on September 27, 2011 at 10:22 am
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    Well, I am just going to have to point out you can do ALL of that with any HP server that has an ILO card and not have the overhead of VMWare.

    /just saying.

      • Jesse on September 27, 2011 at 11:42 am
        Author
      • Reply

      Not true. one of the primary reasons for virtualizing a single-host in a small business is the ability to segregate off services to multiple fileservers, *AND* the ability to more easily upgrade hardware.

      While ILO does in fact make it easy to do software upgrades, etc. The fact of the matter is that there are a number of applications that either aren’t supported on, or dislike being installed on, an Active Directory domain controller.

      In fact, Exchange is a prime example. When you install exchange directly onto a domain controller CPU utilization and wait times tend to go through the roof.

      Right now I have one server that does AD, SQL2005, File/Print, DNS, etc. Without expanding the hardware I could easily split that out to seperate AD servers, a dedicated SQL server, and a seperate fileserver. Then, as the company grew and needs increased, it’s easy to expand. IE if suddenly SQL is taking up more than 50% of available resources, add a second host and migrate the host over. Granted with the free version this isn’t an online process, but it’s accomplished in very short order, even if the new hardware is dissimilar.

      We’ve all tried to move windows from one host to another only to find out the boot device is no longer supported, plus the fact that from a licensing standpoint you have to re-activate windows everytime the network MAC address changes.

      It took me almost two days to successfully migrate all roles and little “one-off” applications successfully from the old ML160 to the Dell2650. My goal is to never EVER have to go through that again. 🙂

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