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I'm planning to change one server Microsoft SBS 2003 with SharePoint, Exchange and SQL database into something that will provide me with some redundancy and won't be single point of failure.

I was thinking to buy 2x exactly the same physical servers and put 2 virtualized servers on HyperV or VMWare on each.

Then i would put SharePoint, Exchange and SQL on that 1 physical server (shared onto 2x VM's).

I would like 2nd physical server to be exact duplicate of the first one so that when 1st server goes down (for reboot or hw failure), 2nd takes care of everything so that users don't even see anything changed (in terms all their emails, sharepoint stuff is available).

My questions are:

  1. Will I have to pay for licenses for both servers even thou only one instance of SharePoint, Exchange, SQL will be used at same time?
  2. What are proposed solutions to do that? Any additional hardware I would need, any complicated software configuration to be expected to configure such redundancy so that when one physical server goes down 2nd one is taking care of rest?
  3. What problems should I expect?

This solution is for 60 people. Later on it may or may expand.

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  1. SBS afaik is limited to 75 users, you should start looking at other solutions (std/ent)
  2. MS clustering requires you use enterprise versions of everything and a proper centralised storage (ona that will support scsi reservations)

If you choose to virtualise:
1. You will need only one VM running, if the host fails, the VM will be restarted on the other host, so you can even keep the SBS while it lasts, with all its licensing
2. You will still require central storage (for SQL NFS/iSCSI might not suffice, but a SAS box might work for only two hosts - have a look at Dell MD3000 and the likes)
3. There is no requirement for identical hardware, only that it supports virtualization and has the same CPU flags (can't mix AMD and Intel basically)
4. ESX might prove too expensive for a small business, take a look at other solutions - RHEV (my personal fave), libvirt, proxmox, xenserver etc.
5. If you go for free ESXi, which doesn't support VM migration, you could still restart the VM on the spare host manually. Solutions like RHEV will do that for you of course.

  • That's what i would like to change, SBS to VM's. Do i need the centralised storage? It then becomes a 1 point of failure :/ – MadBoy Apr 9 '10 at 11:38
  • well, the proper storage boxes have redundant RAM, CPUs, controllers, storage access paths and raid controllers of course – dyasny Apr 9 '10 at 12:07
  • Well but iSCSI and NFS won't make it work as fast as it was local which makes it a bit bad for me. Is there no way to do it without external storage? If i would buy enterprise versions of everything as you say will it work the way i want it to ? – MadBoy Apr 9 '10 at 12:09
  • I think buying enterprise everything will be more expensive. But yes, there is an additional way, here's a couple of links: 1. neverfailgroup.com/default/… 2. doubletake.com/english/products/double-take-availability/Pages/… 3. arcserve.com/us/products/product.aspx?id=8282 – dyasny Apr 9 '10 at 12:57
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Can you get some shared storage (NAS , SAN etc)? As you will be using Hyper-V, you can store your VM's on the shared storage and either Live Migrate them to the other server, if the first server is still up, or in the event of it going down, assign the VM's to the other server and launch.

Obviously your shared storage then becomes your single point of failure, so you would want to look at a backup solution for this, but it would mean that you don't have to deal with keeping two separate servers in sync.

  • I probably can get NAS or SAN, but it adds additional costs which is something i don't want. It also makes it a bit slower to use then native server hard drives and also becomes one point of failure which is something i want to get rid of. – MadBoy Apr 9 '10 at 11:50

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