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In our small office we are currently running a standalone tower server with WS 2008 R2, SQL Express and IIS. This server is going to be decommissioned and scrapped as its old and very noisy.

We are going to purchase a new server with WS 2012 Standard and a heap of ram. It will still be a standalone server so it will be a domain controller, have SQL Express and IIS installed. We intend to install the hyper-v role and host a second virtual server to distribute the load.

We are a small company and have only 15 staff members so its not a huge load on the server.

Can a single server handle this type of installation, we don't want to purchase two servers. If so how should it be configured with regard to which software packages should be virtualized(if any). Redundancy is not a huge issue for us.

This question relates to software not hardware.

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closed as too broad by MDMarra, Falcon Momot, Ward, mdpc, EEAA Jul 2 '13 at 12:49

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

"We intend to host a second virtual server on it running Exchange Server 2013." - Does that mean that the DC, SQL and IIS server(s) will be virtualized? Do you intend to install the Hyper-V role on the physical server and virtualize the workloads you've mentioned? – joeqwerty Jun 26 '13 at 1:44
@joe, yes we intend to install the hyper-v role. I am asking for help with regard to which software package is virtualized and the best configuration. Question has been edited. – Reafidy Jun 26 '13 at 1:49
possible duplicate of Can you help me with my capacity planning? – Falcon Momot Jul 1 '13 at 4:59
@Falcon, no its not a duplicate. This question was not about capacity hardware planning nor about hardware requirements. It was purely software related. I was asking if the various software packages and roles can be run on a single server with regard to each other. ie can Exchange and SQL run on the same server or do they conflict, how can I virtualize each of the roles etc, etc. Are there any traps? etc. I only provided hardware specs because someone asked for them below. – Reafidy Jul 3 '13 at 2:19
up vote 2 down vote accepted

All of the roles/services you mentioned can be easily virtualized and are fully supported by Microsoft as virtualized workloads. My suggestion would be to install the OS and the Hyper-V role on the physical server and virtualize your DC, SQL, IIS and Exchange servers. Read the following to understand Windows Server 2012 licensing for virtualized workloads:

As far as the hardware is concerned you'll need to give us some specific specs, but almost any server class hardware will support virtualized workloads. The number of virtualized workloads is dependent upon the number and type of processors and the amount of RAM installed.


To clarify the terms used when talking about virtualization:

Hypervisor: This is the component/software that you install that allows you to create virtualized workloads (virtual machines). There are basically two types of hypervisors; Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 hypervisors install on bare metal (installed directly on the physical server). Examples of Type 1 hypervisors are VMware vSphere, Windows Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer. Type 2 hypervisors install within the operating system running on a physical host. Examples of Type 2 hypervisors are VMware Player and VirtualBox.

Host: This is the physical machine that hosts the hypervisor component, whether Type 1 or Type 2.

Guest: This is the virtualized workload/virtual machine that is running within the hypervisor.

What I'm suggesting is that you install Windows Server 2012 w/ the Hyper-V role on a single physical server and then create virtual machines within Hyper-V for the workloads you've described. The workloads are the virtual machines that will be running AD DS, SQL, IIS and Exchange.

You're going to need more than 8GB of RAM but you should check the system requirements for the host OS and for each workload before purchasing the server and RAM to make sure both will support the amount of RAM you're going to need.

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thanks for your helpful comment, so I understand this is not an unrealistic expectation. Are you suggesting more than one virtualised server? If so how should the software be distributed on each? Hardware is HP ML310e E3-1220v2 X3.1 4-core; 8GB (2x 4GB); 2x 500GB HP 6G SATA HDD; 4x HP Drive Bays (2x avail); B120i SATA RAID Cntlr. With upgraded RAM to as much as required. – Reafidy Jun 26 '13 at 2:09
@Reafidy For Hyper-V installations the rule of thumb is that you take 50% of installed RAM as allocated RAM for your VMs. So, only 4GB is allocated for your VMs - your host system may require memory to perform other functions like Windows Update, etc. IMHO, 4GB is not enough for the roles you mentioned. – Brennan Neoh Jun 26 '13 at 2:22
@Brennan, sorry you missed the end of the post, the server comes with 8gb but will be upgraded to as much RAM as required. I suspect atleast 16gb. – Reafidy Jun 26 '13 at 2:24
@Reafidy Noted. But best to plan hardware ahead to minimize server downtime. I'm especially concerned about Exchange being on the same server as email is critical for company-wide communications. – Brennan Neoh Jun 26 '13 at 2:31
@Brennan, sorry I meant the RAM will be upgraded to what is required when we purchase the server. Not further down the track. Thanks for your help. – Reafidy Jun 26 '13 at 2:50

You may configure Hyper-V on Windows Server 2012 to virtualize your DC, SQL, IIS and Exchange servers. I highly recommend that you enable dynamic memory when you're creating your VM and that your startup memory is at least 1024MB. Based on experience, the wizard will tend to set your startup memory to half of the memory you set on the memory screen when you check Use Dynamic Memory.

Once you start running your VMs do adjust the memory weight and buffer under the VM settings as needed to ensure RAM is allocated to the VM that needs it most. More importantly, watch your server with Resource Monitor to make better decisions on how to allocate resources to your VMs.

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thanks for your help. Which configuration would you use. For example, DC and IIS on Vitrual Server #1 and then Exchange and SQL on Virtual Server #2? Or something else? – Reafidy Jun 26 '13 at 2:20
Put the DC and Exchange on separate virtual machines. You may be able to combine SQL and IIS on one virtual machine, dependent on their use and requirements. If SQL is needed in the service of IIS (as a web site backend) then put them on the same virtual machine. If they're use isn't related then keep them separate. – joeqwerty Jun 26 '13 at 2:30
@Reafidy I would highly recommend joeqwerty's setup as Exchange is critical. You won't want your line of communication to go down with the entire server, would you? The best setup would be to have a VM for each server role, like: VM #1 - DC, VM #2 - Exchange (if you insist on installing it on the same server), VM #3 - SQL, VM #4 - IIS – Brennan Neoh Jun 26 '13 at 2:34
Thanks @Joe, our IIS website uses SQL. So perhaps DC, IIS and SQL on one VM and Exchange on the other VM? – Reafidy Jun 26 '13 at 2:34
Close. Best practice dictates that the DC is installed on its own. Best not to combine it with anythine else (other than DNS and sometimes DHCP) unless absolutely neccessary. Also, best practice dictates that Exchange is installed on its own. So, separate DC, separate Exchange, combined IIS/SQL. – joeqwerty Jun 26 '13 at 2:36

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