I'm trying to determine the best route for a server upgrade for the company I work for. We're growing and I'd like to get something that can grow with us. I have a flexible budget.

We currently run two servers, a Dell PE 2600 (7 yrs old, no warranty, Xeon 2400 2.5GB RAM) with Win2k3 that hosts AD/DNS/DHCP/Print Sharing, our BackupExec install, and Exchange 2k3. Total space used is about 50GB, including 26GB used by Exchange.

A second server, an HP ML350 (2 years old, still in warranty, Xeon E5430 4GB RAM) hosts an ERP app, another accounting app, file sharing for everyone (we don't use folder redirection or roaming profiles -- just straight shared drives), and our Trend Micro AV install. Total space used is about 100GB.

We have 17 users in the office and 5 sales reps which access their email via OWA. Backups are done nightly to an HP Ultrium LTO3 tape drive, and to a QNAP NAS with 2x1.5GB RAID1 arrays.

My plan is to upgrade to a single Dell R710 (Intel X5675, 24GB RAM, PERC H700 RAID with 2x1TB SAS Near Line drives RAID1 for File sharing, and 4x300GB 15K SAS drives RAID10 for VMs) and virtualize our existing two servers with ESXi. I would run 4 Win2k8 R2 VMs, one for AD/DNS/DHCP/etc, one for our ERP/accounting app, one for Exchange 2k10, and one for SQL server.

The old Dell would be decommissioned and the HP would be upgraded to Win2k8 R2 to act as a secondary DC and run various other software that we currently don't have the hardware for.

Arguably, I'm putting our entire IT infrastructure on one server and if it goes down, all of our VMs go down, but I don't have quite the budget to get a proper HA setup. I'm a fan of "put all your eggs in one basket and watch that basket", so I planned on getting 3yr Dell ProSupport with 4HR same day service. This would be an acceptable level of downtime to us.

Is my plan solid? Am I overlooking a critical area? I'm fairly knowledgable, but this is my first time configuring a setup at this level, so I'd like to get it right. I'll be working with a consultant to help with the AD/Exchange migration, so we covered in that respect. Thanks in advance for your feedback.


I think what you're doing is just fine actually, although I might be tempted to put ESXi on the ML350 too, it can take dual CPUs and up to 32GB of memory, you may as well split your VMs.

I might also be tempted to double the memory in the R710 as it's quite cheap and will help a lot.

Then you have two hosts - ok one's much faster than the other - but in time if you have the budget you could buy proper licences, vCenter and some shared storage and take full advantage of the full vSphere features like vMotion/Storage-vMotion, HA, DRS etc.

But yeah, you're on the right track.

  • Thanks for your feedback Chopper. I thought about upping the RAM in the R710, but figured we could always drop in a second CPU + 24gb RAM in the future if needed. It seems like it would be more difficult to upgrade our storage, so I allocated more $ to larger 15k SAS drives. I like the idea of putting ESXi on the ML350 -- If I understand vmware's licensing correctly, the vSphere essentials kit allows you to manage 3 hosts, but doesn't include some of the HA/DRS features. If we did upgrade that, is moving critical VMs between the two systems relatively simple? – John Galt Feb 18 '11 at 17:06
  • Ah! missed the bit about a single CPU, yes with you now, you don't want to overload the single server now as putting 48GB in today would mean you'd have to match it when you put in the second CPU (I'm sure you knew that). I had to look at Essentials as it's not my area, I'd assumed you'd be using the free version to be honest. Having looked it's the Essentials Plus you want as it has vMotion in that pack but not in Essentials - it's that you want, but it does rely on shared storage sorry. That said there are cheapo iSCSI boxes you could use as temporary storage to help? – Chopper3 Feb 18 '11 at 17:12
  • I thought about using a cheap iSCSI box (we use a QNAP to do backups over iSCSI and it works pretty well), but given the I/O demands of our ERP/accounting app and Exchange, I didn't think it would perform well vs. faster internal drives. I didn't think it would matter in our small setup, but does ESXi matter over Hyper-V? The R710 has a nice setup with ESXi where you can install it on an included 1GB SD card, instead of muddying up your new RAID array, so that's why I went with ESXi. – John Galt Feb 18 '11 at 17:35
  • I like running ESXi off SD too, guess I meant if you needed to shutdown the main host you could 'storage vMotion' the important VMs off the local fast disks to an iSCSI box, run them on the ML for a short while then move them back, yes performance would be poor for the host outage but the service would be up, you'd then put it back on the local disk when the R710 was back up. – Chopper3 Feb 18 '11 at 18:38
  • Ah, I understand what you mean. Thanks for the info. – John Galt Feb 18 '11 at 19:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.