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We are planning to run an Intranet site on Windows Server 2008 Web Edition. The site will also use SQL Server 2008 Express, installed on the same virtual machine. We are using VMWare Server to host the VM. The web server will be running EPiServer CMS, with say 10 concurrent users.

As you may have guessed, the budget is tight and we cannot buy new hardware.

I guess I have 2 concerns:

  1. Is this going to perform poorly, or is it possible that with enough CPU and RAM thrown at it, that this configuration would perform ok?

  2. Are there any hidden Windows or SQL Server licensing gotchas in this configuration?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Despite it's name, VMWare Server isn't a suitable virtualisation platform for a production system (IMO). For this, I recommend you look at a Hypervisor-based solution such as VMWare ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V Server.

Many people base their virtualization performance beliefs on the consomer/developer products that are available. For example many people experience poor performance for VMs running on Microsoft Virtual PC or VMWare Server, and assume the same will be true for other virtualisation platforms (e.g. ESX).

Regarding gotchas: No issues with SQl Express. Beyond that though, SQL per-socket licensing can be tricky if you're virtualising. Essentially, any CPU you could execute on must have a socket license. So if you have a dual socket host machine, but only 1 vCPU assigned to your SQL server, you still need 2 x socket licenses to be compliant. Windows licensing is the same boat, but I don't think you need to worry about per-socket Windows licensing unless you're on datacenter edition. See Jim B's response about web edition restrictions, though.

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I would probably go with Hyper-v if I had performance concerns. If it's an intranet site there are licensing concerns. Web edition is the sole version of windows without CAL requirements. Along with that is the restriction that it cannot be used in an intranet environment. See Licensing Windows Web Server 2008 R2

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Good catch on the licensing "gotcha" – Mark Henderson Oct 5 '10 at 2:48

CPU and Ram are definitely a concern, but what is the datastore?, will SQL be sharing that as well?

Performing "poorly" is relative to what the "expectations" are. Also, why not use ESXi?, it's free and would be a better platform to build from.

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I'm guessing it's because ESXi has a very strict HCL, and would involve virtualising the current OS on the server, which may be difficult/expensive to do if it involves downtime, or if there's no spare hardware available. – Mark Henderson Oct 5 '10 at 2:11

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