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Here's what I have in mind, understand I am ignorant:

A core OS running virtual machine software - Linux (which distro?) with VMWare?

A Terminal Services virtual machine for up to 50 thin clients - Win Server 2008 R2. The only reason I'm stuck with Windows for TS is because I can't get most users off of MS Office (Outlook in particular).

An Active Directory virtual machine - should I stick with Win Server 2008 R2, or is there a Linux distro + LDAP combo that is compatible with 2K8R2 Terminal Services?

Store shared files on a NAS, map a drive in each Terminal Services profile.

Sync the LDAP with Google Apps.

I have about a dozen laptop users - how do I handle them regarding AD/LDAP? Roaming profiles? I'd love to force them to boot a tiny linux image and then remote desktop into the Terminal Server... But they are going to FREAK OUT when they can't use their computer in situations where there isn't broadband access. I'm not sure 3G is sufficient enough for a pleasant user experience. The last thing I want is to hear every day how slow their computer is. But on the flip side, the security and management is unparalleled. Am I just thinking too far ahead of the curve?

We have a PBX server - should I virtualize that?

Are Blade servers simply more space efficient, "second generation" rack servers? They're still individual servers, correct? Or do they function like distributing computing? A "beowulf cluster"?

If I can talk them into SSDs, should I choose those over HDDS? I'd get two for RAID1. Remember the data storage will be on the NAS. The SSDs would be for the virtualized servers server. I guess I should opt for SLC vs. MLC? PCI-E or SATA/SAS?

Your insight is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Wow - so many questions, no little clarity.

Here's what I have in mind, understand I am ignorant:

Yes

A core OS running virtual machine software - Linux (which distro?) with VMWare?

VMWare is a company not a product, which of their products are you looking to use? Why wouldn't you consider a bare-metal hypervisor such as ESXi?

A Terminal Services virtual machine for up to 50 thin clients - Win Server 2008 R2. The only reason I'm stuck with Windows for TS is because I can't get most users off of MS Office (Outlook in particular).

An Active Directory virtual machine - should I stick with Win Server 2008 R2, or is there a Linux distro + LDAP combo that is compatible with 2K8R2 Terminal Services?

I'll let someone else answer this one.

Store shared files on a NAS, map a drive in each Terminal Services profile.

Fine

Sync the LDAP with Google Apps.

Why?

I have about a dozen laptop users - how do I handle them regarding AD/LDAP? Roaming profiles?

There are lots of different ways, what areyou trying to achieve?

I'd love to force them to boot a tiny linux image and then remote desktop into the Terminal Server... But they are going to FREAK OUT when they can't use their computer in situations where there isn't broadband access. I'm not sure 3G is sufficient enough for a pleasant user experience. The last thing I want is to hear every day how slow their computer is. But on the flip side, the security and management is unparalleled. Am I just thinking too far ahead of the curve?

That's not how I'd put it, again what are you trying to achieve?

We have a PBX server - should I virtualize that?

Depends what it is

Are Blade servers simply more space efficient, "second generation" rack servers?

More space efficient yes, but they're not really a replacement for rack servers - they're different beasts - usually rack servers have more expansion capability but take up more space/power/cabling etc.

They're still individual servers, correct? Or do they function like distributing computing? A "beowulf cluster"?

Correct, individual servers - they can be used for distribruted computing but so can rack servers.

If I can talk them into SSDs, should I choose those over HDDS? I'd get two for RAID1. Remember the data storage will be on the NAS. The SSDs would be for the virtualized servers server. I guess I should opt for SLC vs. MLC? PCI-E or SATA/SAS?

Why? what are you planning on using them for? just VM boot disks? what are your space requirements, what are your read/write profiles?

Your insight is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Checking out ESXi - probably just what I need. Did not consider it as I did not know "standalone" VM servers existed as such. I thought they had to run on a host OS. –  Earls Nov 24 '10 at 18:04
    
Why not sync with Google Apps? From what I understand I can simply create a new user in Active Directory and the account is pushed to Google Apps. I assume you have to pre-purchase the licenses for the account(s) so they are available. –  Earls Nov 24 '10 at 18:05
    
Laptops, I'm trying to provide access to shared company files and applications. Some employees are random individuals around the country that do not come into the main office save a few times a year. To fix problems or reconfigure their software they have to wait, ship their laptop, or I use remoting software. It would be great if I could administer their desktop locally on the terminal server, and they simply remote into the terminal server. I could install full blown Windows on their laptop, but I'd like to minimize the software configuration as close to a diskless client as possible. –  Earls Nov 24 '10 at 18:10
    
Since I'm shooting for only one or two servers (primary/secondary), I suppose rack servers are the best option. My aim is torun all the virtual servers on one physical server. That's where the SSDs come in. I will have at minimum two virtual servers - Active Directory and Terminal Services with up to 50 concurrent users. We are looking into ERP solutions - that would be a third VM. PBX/Fonality would be a fourth. I'm simply assuming faster is best if I can find a cost appropriate ssd solution - l.o.l. –  Earls Nov 24 '10 at 18:15
    
Understand your first three comments now thanks. Generally the 'break-even' point for moving to blades is 5 (as most rack servers are 2U high and most blade enclosures are 10U high) - if only want two then I'd go with rack servers. I wouldn't go the SSD route just now, you could easily kill them in a year if you don't know your disk profile. Just buy a Dell R310/HP DL380/IBM x3650 M3 and fill it with as many of the largest capacity 10krpm SAS disks you can and run them in a RAID10 configuration - that'll be plenty fast enough, not too expensive and much more resilient than SSDs. –  Chopper3 Nov 24 '10 at 19:31
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