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We're looking for your advice on how you would accomplish an online presence, DNS management, and running a number of websites given limited servers and options. Please see below if you may be able to offer advice - Thanks!

We are trying to setup a dedicated server and some virtual servers to handle the following:

Production:

- Mail - SmarterMail server
- Websites hosted on IIS
- Websites / SSL hosted on IIS
- SQL Server Web for Database on IIS

Development: - same as above, plus: - Subversion

To accomplish the above we have the following servers to work with: (a) a dedicate server with Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V role enabled (b) 3 available licenses of Windows Web Server 2008 to run inside the Hyper-V machines (Web Server 08 only has IIS role - can't be a DNS) (c) a hosted VPS with Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition

Current thinking is that a Virtual Server under Hyper-V will run the SSL e-commerce sites to keep security totally separated from other applications. Also, a second Hyper V server would run the SQL Server only. But, we need to handle email, DNS management, as well as some non-secured websites and a development server. We're concerned whether having email on even a Hyper-V on the same dedicated box as these critical websites is a major risk or not. However, the budget is set with these options and we need to move forward.

The basic options we see for DNS are either on the dedicated Hyper V host, on the hosted VPS, or an online service. As for email, we are thinking that it could be hosted inside a Hyper V server on the main dedicated or alternatively on the hosted VPS.

Questions:

  1. What would you do about setting up and managing DNS? Should it be on the dedicated server or perhaps the hosted VPS? Or, do you recommend just use an online service (openDns, ...)?
  2. Are we concentrating too much functionality onto a single server? How would you see the VPS with a different host fitting into the picture?
  3. If running with this basic configuration should we try and basically have the dedicated host OS have nothing other than DNS and Hyper V roles?
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1 Answer 1

up vote 0 down vote accepted

1) Where-ever practical, don't host your own DNS. It's just too much risk, and too many eggs in the one basket. We use http://www.dnsmadeeasy.com/. I manage three accounts with them and about 30 domains. They've been perfect. 100% uptime, and respond to high priority service tickets in under 5 minutes. For $60/year, save yourself the hassle and headache and have the peice of mind of a 100% SLA.

2) Too much on the one server? That depends, there's no server specs listed that I can see. Again, it's comes down to putting all your eggs in the one basket. If you're OK with that and feel you have adequate disaster recovery, then go for it. We run about 20 VM's on the one Big Iron server, along side a blade centre doing a bunch of other stuff, and it's been fine, because we know (and have tested) our recovery operation and can be back online after 30 minutes.

3) This is just personal, but I'm a fan of having just a hypervisor and running everything inside virtual machines. VMWare ESXi is great for this, and I see no reason why HyperV should be any different. Running everythin in a VM gives you the ability to migrate the services to another physical host if required, whereas if they're on the underlying OS then they're stuck there.

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Thanks for the response. After doing more research I think you're right on the DNS - just use an online service of some sort - will also be part of our failover/DR plan to allow for moving to another server in the event of a major issue. The server is a 4GB QuadCore and looks like we'll run 3 VM's on it - 1 Web server, 1 Sql server, and 1 mail server. We'll see how this performs in production but with test use it runs very well. –  asinc Dec 22 '09 at 0:11
    
I disagree with the first advice ("don't host your own DNS"). A correct answer to the question "Should I host my own DNS?" depends on many things we do not know (such as your level of expertise). –  bortzmeyer Dec 23 '09 at 8:33
    
It also depends on whether or not you have multiple physical locations to put your DNS in, and if those multiple locations are multi-homed. You never want to have a single point of failure for your DNS, and setting up multi-location, multi-homed DNS servers are usually out of most companies and sysadmins comfort zone, especially when for $60/year you can get a 100% SLA and 6 distributed nameservers from a commercial host –  Mark Henderson Dec 23 '09 at 20:56

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