Michael-Comtec
Contributor
Contributor

Is Infrastructure 3 right for me?

Hi

I'm new to Infrastructure 3 and from what I have been reading it will do what I want, however I thought I would ask the people that use it and know it.

I want to know if it will do the following for me

I will have physical Server A and physical Server B.

Server A will run a Virtual Win 2K3 server, all the files and configuration information for this Virtual server will be stored on the local HD of Server A.

Now, should something happen to Server A then I want Server B to take over the running of the Virtual Server.

There is no direct connection between Server A and Server B and they don't share any storage.

So is this possible?

Thanks

Michael

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9 Replies
Draconis
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Not automatically. If you were to have a backend that both can share, then the High Availability (HA) feature of ESX can handle it for you. If you are willing to live with a manual way, then you can just keep really good backups, restore from backups or even keep them replicating. Manual approach will have data loss depending on your environment. This might not be an option for Database servers since you will probably have significant losses. If you are just gonna restore from backups then you can just restore it on the other ESX server and then add to inventory.

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Draconis
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

What is this server actually going to be virtualizing? What are the roles for that virtualized server? Is it only one server that will be virtualized? Regarding the restore, that might actually be very time consuming depending on how much data you need restored. If they were just file servers I would just use Distributed File System in R2 of Windows Server 2003.

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Michael-Comtec
Contributor
Contributor

Hi

Thanks for that

That is short of what we are doing now, could I not use VM Storage Vmotion to, with dedicated link between Server A and Server B to continually copy the virtual server files accross?

But thinking about this I don't think that would work either, again down to databases.

We would be running/are running MS SQL and MS Exchange on the Virt Server so I'm not sure how they would handle it.

Thanks

Michael

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Draconis
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I am unfamiliar with the caveats of Storage VMotion so I cant suggest it as a solution for you. I know that a regular VMotion still requires shared storage so that the VirtualCenter, when it looses the heartbeat from you ESX server will provide another ESX server with ownership if DRS and HA are configured that is. Someone else will have to comment on Storage VMotion. Just thinking about local storage, it might actually hurt in the long run if you were to experience a hardware failure especially for databases like an Exchange Server and a Database server. I would recommend 3rd-party backup software for these guys ... something like Symantec which has specific agents for these types of databases. I believe you can quiesce a VM that has those types of databases in it before using VCB for the backup. That would probably be the best solution for the quickest restoration but still, i dont know if it will be 100% after you restore it. 3rd party software can actually do all the quiescing for you. For example, Symantec Backup Exec 12D backups up our Exchange 2007 Server and slows it down enough to be able to see the changes to perform incremental backups. Full backups are at full speed since it backs up everything. SQL I believe has a freeze and thaw commands that will help you. Not sure about that one since people are still trying that guy out. What you can do is for now do some testing and see if you dont experience data loss with SQL. See if you can copy the sql db files off. Mount it in a test VM as close to what your end environment result will be, back it up using freeze and thaw, and see if it likes it. You must put a load on it while doing this so that you can approximate how it will react and see if data loss occurs. Maybe you can have a standby server in case exchange, sql, or both experiences an issue on Server B when you have your answers and you release to production.

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Erik_Zandboer
Expert
Expert

Hi,

Don't go for storage vmotion. it MOVES virtual machines, but does not duplicate them. No way of properly scheduling is another problem.

I see three options:

1) Go for shared storage. Put the VM on shared storage, and let VMware HA reboot your VM on the other side if the primary fails;

2) Go for a product like lefthand. You can install this appliance on both nodes, and share their local storage (and make it redundant at the same time).

3) Run your VMs on a single ESX host (local storage), and use a product like esXpress to replicate the VMs live to another standalone ESX host where you run a VM which acts as FTP server. Next use esXpress on that ESX server to mass-restore the backups to its local VMFS, and have the replicated machine standby there in case of a failure on the primary ESX node.

Ow yeah, option 2 you could try to use the free XVS (Xtravirt Virtual SAN) from www.xtravirt.com. It is like lefthand, but can only mirror two ESX nodes, and is... free! Bascially you could test away with two ESX servers in 60-day eval mode, and put XVS on top...

Visit my blog at http://www.vmdamentals.com
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Michael-Comtec
Contributor
Contributor

Hi, Thanks

I think that option 2 is going to be the best for us. I take it that I would still need VM HA to keep everything up and running should we have a failure?

I just need to have it clear in my head before I go and explain how it will all work to the powers that be.

Michael

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Erik_Zandboer
Expert
Expert

Hi,

Yes you still need HA in this setup (and with that also Virtualcenter). Be careful; you are now spending a lot of money on an so to speak "half done ESX platform". Why not consider spending some more money, do it properly and start using ESX not as a failover box but as a virtual infrastructure which has added value in having failover capabilities? You could add more machines to your VM arsenal, saving money, saving downtime, saving headaches etc etc. ?

I'm just trying to say: Make sure you get from your investment what it is worth, dont't try and save a penny while losing half of the potential of the solution!

Visit my blog at http://www.vmdamentals.com
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Michael-Comtec
Contributor
Contributor

Hi

This is great.

So I'm going to recomend that to get what we want working we need the following

Infrastructure 3 Standard

VirtualCentrer Server

Lefthand VSA for VMWare - Or simalar

Thanks for all your help

Michael

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Draconis
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Make sure you read Table 3-1 for licensing information.

You dont want to get hit with licensing issues when starting out. HA will only make sure you dont go down, backups will make sure you have an undo button. You should invest in a good 3rd party backup solution. Although backing up the actual VM files will be the fastest way to get back on track when you need to restore.

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