Hyper-V Server Build Questions

Discussion in 'Windows Server, Hyper-V Virtualization' started by Shim, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. Shim

    Shim New Member

    Sep 4, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Hi All

    I am in the process of building all new computers and server(s) for my wife's business.

    Up until now, we have been running on SBS2008 on a Core2 Duo E8500 with a whopping 8GB of RAM.

    Don't laugh. It has served us well until now, however, it is time to retire it.

    There is a strong chance that I will be using SBS2011 as I like the idea of an all in one box, but more on that in another thread to be created later.

    The purpose of this thread is that I am now considering building a second server to host some virtual machines and don't know what the hardware requirements would be, so I come here for advice.

    My thinking is that I would like to have a couple of pools of around 4 machines. One for people who work remotely so they RDP into a virtual machine instead of a physical one. These machines would be basic workstations with Office and not much else. The second pool, also around 4 machines, would be for similar uses to the first pool only with the addition of QuickBooks. These may be accessed either locally, or remotely. The thought there is that I have 4 QB licenses and would never need 4 people using it simultaneously, however there are more than 4 who use it.

    Given that I have yet to play with Hyper-V, I have a couple questions.

    1. Is my thinking on uses and pools on the right track?
    2. If it is, what do I need in terms of hardware. What makes a difference in performance for the above scenario? Core count, socket count, RAM, ?

    If I end up with a second server, it will have SSDs at least for the OS and VMs

    We have been given a grant and some of the grant money will be used to pay for this second server. I want to figure out what to get for hardware soon as there is a deadline for claims. I can, and will, set up a test environment to play and learn Hyper-V, but there is no deadline on that. Bit backwards, yes.

    One thing that is absolute is that I will be building the servers, not buying Brand X OEM.

  2. EngChiSTH

    EngChiSTH New Member

    Jun 27, 2018
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    It is hard to give you any advice as you have not posted any budget. You also did not said anything about cost of downtime for that business, potential liability your wife or you are taking on , etc.

    then, any specific requirements driving you to SBS2011? Wasn't this replaced by 'Essentials' line (Windows 2012 Essentials, 2012 R2, then Essentials role within 2016 server) long time ago ?

    start with budget , consider costs of downtime (and liabilities involved) , think of how you will do DR for this, buy as much as your budget would allow.

    personally, I would not use the worlds DYU and business (something that has funding source and is hopefully making money) in the same sentence . Hardware is cheap, software may be expensive (depending on licensing), downtime is expensive..
  3. vl1969

    vl1969 Active Member

    Feb 5, 2014
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    I would say, first of all forget sbs2011.
    It is not supported anymore.
    If you want hyper-v. Winaserver 2012 and up is the only supported OS.
    I would not use anything less than 2016 64bit.
    But your budget may dictate differently.

    2. For any mission critical setup a clustered setup is a must. Especially hyper v. So budget for at least 3 nodes pluss a dedicated nas or san. There is a way to run off node internal storage but it still requires additional software and licenses. Something like StarWind or something.

    Your main costs will be client licencing as you will need a licence for every vm you run. Unless you go with datacenter licence for your cluster nodes.

    3. Forget about DIY. In business world it is the biggest mistake you will ever make. Vendors like hp or dell bring a comprehensive warranty and service to the table that is very difficult to surpass.

    4 do your research on virtualization carefully. Especially licence requirements. Calculate your client licence needs and budget for future expansion.

    Compare and contrast hyper v with VMWare. Cost to value etc...

    Vmware may have better setup options as it has a very good built-in storage sharing I.e. vSan. But licencing cost may be too much for you.
  4. NashBrydges

    NashBrydges Member

    Apr 30, 2015
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    Let me offer a bit of a reality check.

    Does your wife's business require 24/7 uptime? My guess is it does not. In fact, the business could probably stand to suffer at least a few hours of downtime, if not even a couple of days before there was irreversible damage to business operations. This is obviously a guess based on what most small businesses can handle but you haven't provided details about the nature of the business so the final word on how much downtime the business can stand is up to you.

    Assuming the business can handle SOME downtime, you do NOT need to go down the road of a multi node setup. You can avoid those costs and added complexity by instead of building some whitebox server, stick to a major brand supplier and make sure you have next business day warranty support. Oh and if someone suggests you need a SAN, run like the wind! There is no way a business with a few PCs and one or two servers needs a SAN. Choose local storage instead and you'll have a much better performing setup. With this, you can instead make sure you have rock-solid reliable and tested backups that you know you can recover to in the event of a disaster. I can't emphasize the need for testing your backups enough. I've picked up a number of clients because their previous ITSP told them their backups were secure but never truly made sure they could be used for recovery (ie: disaster recovery testing was never implemented).

    If you want to stick with Hyper-V hypervisor, you do not need to purchase Windows Server license. Windows Hyper-V Server is completely free to use. I'm not talking about Windows Server 2016 with Hyper-V role, I'm talking about the hypervisor alone. The naming convention is sometimes confusing but Windows Hyper-V Server is free to use. That will setup your hypervisor and you can figure out what OS you need for your virtual machines to run regardless of the hypervisor.

    If you properly size your server, you can run a very efficient and secure Hyper-V server as a single server, with solid tested backups, good next day or next business day warranty.

    Btw, I agree that SBS2011 shouldn't be on your list. File servers can easily be setup using Linux (free licensing), and if you're only running a few computers, you don't even need a domain controller.
    BoredSysadmin likes this.
  5. Shim

    Shim New Member

    Sep 4, 2018
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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    The business is a product based business. We make a laundry detergent. We do all the design, marketing, etc. It is made by a third party, and we warehouse it. We also own the business, so liability is not a concern. Only caveat to that is I share a bed with the person at the top of the food chain!

    There is going to be around 15 workstations, plus the possibility of the VMs mentioned in my original thread. Most of the workstations are basic workstations with the Office suite. A few of them will also run the Adobe Creative Suite.

    Another thing I did not mention originally is that if my pool thinking is correct, there would probably only be 4 VMs running at any given time, maybe 6.

    Here is a reply I gave to someone in another forum where I posted the exact same question:

    I spoke to a couple people, one a supplier, the other a college and got a couple opinions. One figured that I don't need a high core/CPU count and could get away with 32G of RAM. The other said that if all the workstations at the office are a minimum of i5s and a minimum of 16GB of RAM, all on at least 860 EVO SSDs, you want the remote user VM experience to be at that same level. I would have to agree with the second and that is how my thinking is going so far.

    My original plan was to use SBS2011 on a new server using a Xeon E5-1620v4 (4 core, 3.5GHz) a SuperMicro X10SRH-CLN4 (both of which I have at the moment) and hosting the QuickBooks file on it.

    Now that I am thinking about a second server, my thought is to use the same board, but use a E5-1650v4 (6 core, 3.6 GHz) and build two machines. One running SBS with 32GB of RAM, the other the VMs with 64-128GB of RAM.

    With two servers, I can take down the second server every now and then and test bare metal backups as the machine running the VMs will not be mission critical. This is one of many advantages of having two similar machines.

    As far as QuickBooks, we are using 2017. I currently have the file hosted on my SBS2008 machine. If I go down the two server road, I will put it wherever it makes sense to from a storage performance and ease of backup perspective. I know that they claim SBS2011 is not supported, however I seem to remember there being workarounds out there to make it work.

    I also don't think I am going to do W10, I probably will stick to W7 as so far I hate everything about W10. I say this having played with it for less than an hour total so far.

    I probably will play with it one way or another before rolling out our new systems and give it a fighting chance.

    I am an Action Pack subscriber so I have licenses for all this stuff to play with.

    It will be nice rolling out an entirely new IT infrastructure to our staff. Right from the keyboards all the way to the server. I even got us a Cisco 350X switch with 4 10G ports on it. Two workstations will have 10G to the servers!

    We can deal with downtime, and have actually when someone in our origination recently got us a ransomware virus. That took a week to get back up and running, and over a year to finally get it all cleaned up. I found out the hard way then that my most recent usable backup was 3 months old.

    I am not dead set on SBS2011, however I still like the idea of Exchange, SharePoint, etc all in one box. Plus, it is easy as hell to manage. Essentials did replace it, however it does not include things like Exchange. It seems the newer the server OS' etc, the harder the push is to move things to cloud based. Don't think I want to go there.

    I will be using a DC so I can control things via GP, like we do now, plus all the other advantages of having a domain.

    I will not be doing any cluster or SAN. To me, it makes a lot more sense to do as Nash said and have good backups, done often, and proven viable. I spoke to this in my reply (above) to someone on another forum. If I do the VM thing, that machine will not be mission critical. If it is offline, remote workers can remote into physical workstation, and if I do QuickBooks on VMs, as long as my QB file is intact and backed up, I can install QB on another machine and be up and running within the hour.

    As far as budget is concerned, I am not starting with a budget. I am trying to figure out if my thinking is on the right path with the remote workers and possibly QuickBooks, and then build a machine to do it. I don't think I need a multi socket platform with 28 cores per socket. Even if that were in a budget, I am not going to put in a machine with 2 processors at over $10k each for a couple remote workers.

    I am not going to buy brand name. We have been running since day one on hardware I have built. Our current SBS2008 server has been running 24-7 since Aug 2010 and has not given me too many headaches. I am also a freelance broadcast engineer (designing and building radio stations), and any time something in the broadcast chain is mission critical (needs to be on the air 25 hours a day / 366 days a year) we stay away from brand name. Had more trouble with them than they were worth. Not to mention, if it is not brand name, I can go to local computer store and get parts to fix vs propitiatory stuff.

    Even if I were going to do brand name, my original questions are still the same. Is my pooled VM thinking on the right track, and what would the spec for a server to run them be.

    I will be setting up a test environment to start playing with this whole scenario. I can't seem to get any straight answers as to if my pool thinking is on the right track, and hardware requirements if it is. I have had answers from a 4 core Xeon 1620 with 32GB will be tons, to someone saying a 6 core Xeon 1650 will only run 1-2 VMs, to the cluster idea above. Really, a cluster for a couple remote workers? I did find a blog put out by Cisco that would suggest that with a mainstream Xeon (around $1000 processor) that core count and speed don't make too much difference until you start getting over 40 VMs. I am talking about under 10! It did suggest that core count makes more difference than speed once you hit the limitation.

    Thanks again for the replies so far.
  6. DavidRa

    DavidRa Infrastructure Architect

    Aug 3, 2015
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    Honestly dude if you're trying to do the right thing for the business you need to set your personal feelings aside on some of what you've said.

    SBS is dead. I know a dead OS when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now. That OS is definitely deceased. The only reason it's still upright is that it's nailed to its perch. Windows 7 is out of support Jan 14 next year. It's dead, over, gone. Seriously, let it go.

    If you're going to build a new environment, and with what you've mentioned:
    • You don't want consumer SSDs for servers. S2D is out because that's cluster-only. Datacenter SSDs only. Do not question this.
    • 16 cores will be your licensing requirement anyway, so you're not going to make great savings going to a single E3 or E5 cheapie
    • Your workstations will need to be 2-4 vCores and 6-8GB would be fine if just Office - so let's say 32 vCores and 64GB for those alone, you can oversubscribe the CPU at maybe 4:1 but not the RAM. Unless you use the embedded VDI stuff in Hyper-V, you're going to be leaving them all on (or giving non-tech people a way to log in as admins and start them, and I just wouldn't do that)
    • Put mail in Office 365, not local Exchange. You don't have the resiliency, redundancy or skills here. Feel free to do AD Connect and SSO but realise that also means ADFS, WAP and other moving parts
    • 2x DC - 2 cores and 4GB each, 100GB storage (~80 used)
    • ADFS - 2 cores and 4GB, 100GB storage (~40 used)
    • WAP - 2 cores and 4GB, 100GB storage (~40 used)
    • FS - 2 cores and 4GB, 100GB+ storage (~40+ used)
    • ADC - 2 cores and 4GB, 100GB storage (~40 used)
    • EX - if you're that set on it, 8 cores and 128GB, dedicated SSDs etc. I reckon 24GB will do it reasonably, but the MS spec is 128GB of RAM on Server 2019 only, and you won't have migration capability from SBS anyway.
    • ??? - anti-spam, anti-malware etc
    • ??? - VPN (unless you're planning RDPGW, in which case that's another WAP-like VM)
    • If you're doing 2 servers anyway, you could do HA with shared SAS storage (not really recommended, but it is possible) or iSCSI; your licensing will be higher. Otherwise a failure of either server causes outages (either you lose the fileserver or you lose the workstations accessing it).
    Rough spec for a single server environment for this for me:
    • 1 x Xeon Silver 4114 or thereabouts - 10-12 cores, you'd be at 5:1 oversubscribed which should be acceptable and you could add the second 4114 to get to ~2.5:1 if core contention was a problem (seems unlikely)
    • 128GB without Exchange, 256GB with Exchange (4GB host + sum of VM RAM)
    • 2 x 240GB boot SSD (pref. HW RAID 1)
    • 2 x 800GB mix-workload cache SSD (aim for 10% of total space if you're using Storage Spaces tiering/caching here, since you have absolutely no IO numbers to use as data)
    • 8 x 2TB in RAID 10 for data (i.e all your VM disks, hibernation files, snapshots etc - we have NO idea what your data size is, so ... pick a number/size)
    • RAID controller needs to support proper passthrough for the cache and data disks but worst case you can built a completely unsupported solution on RAID sets with PowerShell
    • Windows Server Standard x 48 cores
    • VDI licensing for Win10
    • Veeam for backup to whatever you plan to use
    You need to think about your bus factor. Right now your bus factor is below 1 - you don't even have 1 person who totally knows the environment and what's there (and going to be there). The business needs it to be 2. You pointed out that you're involved because it's family - but I can assure you if something goes wrong, and you can't fix it, you will be under fire. Also - what happens when you take a holiday? Get sick?

    You definitely aren't allowed to use Action Pack licensing for this, unless your detergent company is also the MS partner org, which would be ... unlikely. Regardless, do you meet the requirements for Silver/Gold? If not, you won't have the CALs anyway.

    You will need Server Standard with ~48 cores or Datacenter with 16 cores because Hyper-V server does not provide any licensing for any application functionality (e.g. DC, FS, etc), and you'll need the specific virtualisation licenses for the desktops. You'll get server 2019 now, use it. Don't get 2019 and install 2012 because you know it - you're not doing the right thing for the business.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
    Callan05 likes this.
  7. Shim

    Shim New Member

    Sep 4, 2018
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    Thanks David, awesome reply.

    I have not laid out what I am doing for storage quite yet, other than the fact that any drives will be at a minimum SAS, most likely on a MegaRAID 9361 type card. Any RAID that I do will be HW, not SW that is for sure. My existing server used WD RE3 drives on an Areca RAID card. I would say that given they have been going 24-7 for almost a decade is a testament to using only enterprise drives on HW RAID and I totally agree with you on that one.

    I am not dead set on the idea of SBS2011 or Windows 7. I had, as mentioned originally, intended to start a discussion later on that. My idea for this thread was purely to discuss hardware needs for a second machine to run VMs for remote workers and possibly QuickBooks users. You outlined some good info in your response which seems to line up with what I am learning via research I am doing in the meantime.

    Since we are on the topic, I will be considering all things such as Office 365, Windows 10, and more recent Server OS'. Being involved in the broadcast industry, there are things, granted I have zero personal experience with them, that I don't like about Windows 10. It's necessity to force updates whenever it feels like it is one example, however I don't know if that is an issue if they are on a domain and using WSUS. As I mentioned in another post, I will spend some time with it and give it a fair shot. I will also have some of our staff give input as they are going to be the ones using it all day.

    I know I can't use the Action Pack licensing for the business, but I can use them to set up a test environment.
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