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Consolidate servers to Virtual Box


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#1 zingo156

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 08:25 AM

Hey all,

 

I guess at this point I am interested to hear your opinions on what you think the best/easiest to manage redundant backups servers are. I recently had a cpu failure and spent about an hour starting new services on another server to manage until I can replace the cpu.

 

I currently manage 5 servers that are starting to age. I plan on replacing all of them with 2 new servers. I would like to start using virtual box or similar vbox software for everything if possible. I would like to make the 2 new servers redundant copies of eachother. This way if 1 goes down, the other can take over.

 

Currently the servers are running a few different things, server 1 is the DHCP and Active Directory server, server 2 is building security, server 3 runs a proprietary pay roll and accounting software, server 4 runs a shore tel phone system, and server 5 is running some random things such as a print to email smtp relay. It seems overkill and there is more heat and power consumption than needed.

 

Anyway my goal is to consolidate all servers to 1 new server preferably in virtual box or similar, and then clone the vbox to the other new server frequently (once a night running a script) as a backup/redundant system.

 

Any thoughts on this? Is Virtual Box something I should be looking into for simplicity in backups? If I buy 2 new servers that are identical I could also simply clone one to the other as a backup. At this point I am not certain if shore tel will work on a vbox or the other software. I haven't used virtual box outside of testing software/virus related things.

 

All thoughts are welcome. If you manage a server room, what have you found to be the best method for redundancy and easy failover options?


Edited by zingo156, 29 September 2014 - 08:28 AM.

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#2 x64

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 02:06 PM

You may want to consider Hyper-V server 2012 R2 as the host OS - it is free (but be prepared for CLI shock!!! - it has no GUI- use remote server administration tools "RSAT" from a Windows 8 w/s to do most of its management. )

 

I'd recommend proper backup tools to backup the live host and restore to the reserve host. If not you could script shutdowns and copy the VHDX's across (uggghhhh! did I really just suggest that :wacko: ).

 

Sysinternals Disk2VHD can do the initial P2V of your servers, but be aware of licensing gotchas (shouldn't P2V OEM licenced OSs, other licences you can probably switch hardware only once every 90 days. So if you did fail over you'd have to wait 90 days before failing back. Check the EULAs and MS licensing FAQs) You will also need to reactivate guest OSs after P2Ving the servers and probably after they fail over or back.

 

Windows 2012 can do much more (real online spare servers replicated in real time, or instant, seemless fail over to the other host) but without shared storage and/or spending lots of money, it is difficult to do a lot better. If you are interested in doing things (the official and proper) way then spend some time in the Microsoft Virtual academy seeing what 2012/1012R2 can do. Personally, I'd only do things this way.

 

x64



#3 zingo156

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 02:28 PM

Thanks for the info, I will look into Hyper-V server 2012 R2. I am not the only one that manages these servers. I will have to speak with the other I.T. members about their ability to use OS's without a GUI. I can manage with a keyboard only in Linux just fine and windows I can manage. I am also quite familiar with RSAT from windows 7 pro.

 

I do actually have a shared NAS drive. All of the backups are currently done to this box which syncs with Egnyte Cloud. I will definitely need to do more research about the licensing when it comes to virutal servers.

 

 

 

I'd recommend proper backup tools to backup the live host and restore to the reserve host. If not you could script shutdowns and copy the VHDX's across (uggghhhh! did I really just suggest that :wacko: ).

 

 

Ironically this is exactly what I had planned on doing. Running a script to shut down the vbox, clone it, copy it to the shared drive and then restart the vbox. At any time I could copy the backup vbox clone to the failover server if needed. I could get by doing a backup just on the weekends (nothing too important I would lose in 1 week), with the exception of backing up 2 databases daily (I already back them up to the local nas which syncs to egnyte).

 

So much to think about... There is no real time frame for implementing a new server. I am just planning ahead and want to make it as easy as possible.


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#4 Ugur891

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 03:05 PM

We have Windows Servers at work running VMware Workstation as an alternative to Hyper-V. I guess depends on what guest OS you're dealing with. I think VMware is better with Linux-based operating systems and on top of Windows most people know how to use it. VirtualBox isn't bad either but I haven't seen it in a production environment yet.

Would be interested to hear how well it performs under production load!



#5 JohnnyJammer

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 05:41 PM

If it where me, i would get VMWare ESXi get a SAN, along with HA incase one server fails it automatically swaps over to the next VM host server. The users dont een know its happened.

Also i would recommend getting a 3rd server in another location or even off site and use VMWare free edition on that and then use Veeam to replicate all virtual machines, for my 12 servers it takes half an hour to replicate as it utilises CBT so only the clusters that have been change are replicated.

 

Restoration of both hosts go down is you can run (With limit ram and cpu) from the 3rd VMWare server.

You would probably be looking at around 10>15 grand for everythign but its well worth it.



#6 TsVk!

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Posted 06 October 2014 - 06:33 PM

If it where me, i would get VMWare ESXi get a SAN, along with HA incase one server fails it automatically swaps over to the next VM host server. The users dont een know its happened.

Also i would recommend getting a 3rd server in another location or even off site and use VMWare free edition on that and then use Veeam to replicate all virtual machines, for my 12 servers it takes half an hour to replicate as it utilises CBT so only the clusters that have been change are replicated.

 

Restoration of both hosts go down is you can run (With limit ram and cpu) from the 3rd VMWare server.

You would probably be looking at around 10>15 grand for everythign but its well worth it.

This is very similar to the solution that I use. We use two hardware servers per cluster that are both capable of carrying the load alone and have an identical mirrored rack in a second location onsite, just in case one building burns, or something equally as nasty. (also really handy when upgrading). We've had 30 mins downtime in the last 5 years.



#7 JohnnyJammer

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 01:07 AM

Depending on how long you replicate between servers, this is also a good way to get past Cryto locker as well.

i currently hold a weeks worth of  replications, so entails having the original vmdk and then the chain after than for 7 days.

then just consilidate the servers to original location by either seeding or full speed replication with veeam and then the final disk is written and hey presto its all done (No need for shared storage for vmware to see).

 

Just note there could be a 3 second pause while the servers are switched, its a way cheaper option than paying for the vmwware licensing to do a similar thing.

 

I think vmware have released documentaion so it should be possible to write your own application using their API (Bit above my level of programming)


Edited by JohnnyJammer, 07 October 2014 - 01:08 AM.


#8 zingo156

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 07:08 AM

If it where me, i would get VMWare ESXi get a SAN, along with HA incase one server fails it automatically swaps over to the next VM host server. The users dont een know its happened.

Also i would recommend getting a 3rd server in another location or even off site and use VMWare free edition on that and then use Veeam to replicate all virtual machines, for my 12 servers it takes half an hour to replicate as it utilises CBT so only the clusters that have been change are replicated.

 

Restoration of both hosts go down is you can run (With limit ram and cpu) from the 3rd VMWare server.

You would probably be looking at around 10>15 grand for everythign but its well worth it.

This does seem like a good solution.


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