If I have a single physical server that's pretty beefy (8 cores, 32GB ram, 2x1GB nics), will I see any benefits in virtualizing two web servers on it and load balancing them, or would I see close to the same performance with just the single web server, and thus only gain if these are on separate hardware?

If it makes any difference, these are Windows 2012 Servers.

  • 3
    doubt the performance difference would be detectable, but vm's in general do have many benefits not associated with performance. – tony roth Jun 18 '13 at 14:10

There may not be a detectable difference, but one of the best features of having 2 separate servers is setting them up to failover. This way if one of the 2 servers goes down, it simply fails to the other server. I always recommend going virtual, in this day and age there is no reason to use physical servers. You can move the VMS to a new server with the click of a button, add more, delete easily, whats not to like about that?

  • The problem is that this does not work if they are on a physical server. Server goes down, both virtuals are down. I agree otherwise, though - i would keep it virtual just because of ease of maintenance, backup, uptime once I get a second machine. – TomTom Jun 18 '13 at 16:19
  • There's always the possibility that one of the VM's has a problem and goes offline. A bad update, random Windows funkyness, whatever. Even if they share a single point of failure in the hypervisor, at least you have another system you can fail over to. Plus, like you said, you'll have the option to easily expand if you get a second hypervisor. – Jason Taylor Jun 21 '13 at 16:34
  • Exactly, if the hyper-visor goes down, then you are in trouble, but if you have a problem of some sort with one of the VMs, then it is nice to have a failover. Another good feature of Virtual machines is that they have a method of backup that is completely independent of the functioning of the OS of the server. You can take a snapshot or save the vhd of a VM that you cannot even boot without it crashing, and you can do this without disrupting the other VM. Quite beautiful really. – Riley Jun 24 '13 at 20:11

Performance differences between this config and running it natively as one native Web Server will be minimal, running as 2 virtual servers means you can snapshot before an upgrade so you have a way to back out if something goes wrong, and you have the ability to take one offline, into a test virtual network, to test an upgrade while the other continues to serve the data using the known good configuration. Also, visualizing vs native install means that you can much more easily increase hardware resources in the future as your needs grow.

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