VMwareRules
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Contributor

Disadvantages with running VMware Workstation (7) on a Xeon rack server?

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Hello,

On my company we are planning to run VMware Workstation (7) on a Xeon based rack server (the next generation Xeon, i.e. Beckton/Nehalem-EX, with 8 cores, planned to be released in Q1 2010), and then access all these virtual machine guests (Windows based, both of the server and desktop kind/flavor) by separate direct Remote Desktop connections to them.

I have had a very hard time trying to find out if there are any (big or small) disadvantages with this approach?

We don't want to use Vmware Server for this, because its features (e.g. regarding snapshots) are inferior to those of VMware Workstation, and neither do we want to use ESXi, because we still want to run Windows as host OS on the server.

Is VMware Workstation our best choice then, and will there be any noticable disadvantages? I think it feels like there's one product missing in VMware's portfolio, i.e. namely a server product with all the features of VMware Workstation, which still runs on top of another host OS, what am I missing?

Anyway, again, the main question is:

Is this plan of ours stupid, and in that case how should we better solve it? Is there really any advantage using VMware Server instead of VMware Workstation in this situation, and in that case more exactly what?

Any input and/or answers will be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

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continuum
Immortal
Immortal

VMware Workstation on a good Windows installation will suit you fine.

Best if you isolate the MS-host in so far that you do not need any Antivirus or Firewalls.

Then such a setup will do what you expect.

I would not consider VMserver - Workstation outperforms VMserver in my experience




___________________________________

VMX-parameters- VMware-liveCD - VM-Sickbay

Do you need support with a recovery problem ? - send a message via skype "sanbarrow"

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Scissor
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

On my company we are planning to run VMware Workstation (7) on a Xeon based rack server (the next generation Xeon, i.e. Beckton/Nehalem-EX, with 8 cores, planned to be released in Q1 2010), and then access all these virtual machine guests (Windows based, both of the server and desktop kind/flavor) by separate direct Remote Desktop connections to them.

I have had a very hard time trying to find out if there are any (big or small) disadvantages with this approach?

We don't want to use Vmware Server for this, because its features (e.g. regarding snapshots) are inferior to those of VMware Workstation, and neither do we want to use ESXi, because we still want to run Windows as host OS on the server.

Multiple snapshots aren't always a good idea. The more snapshots you have for a particular Guest, the slower its disk access will be. I would assume that is one reason why VMware Server only allows a single snapshot per Guest (which is plenty -- I can't think of the last time I really used more than one snapshot per Guest on my ESX server).

Is VMware Workstation our best choice then, and will there be any noticable disadvantages? I think it feels like there's one product missing in VMware's portfolio, i.e. namely a server product with all the features of VMware Workstation, which still runs on top of another host OS, what am I missing?

Anyway, again, the main question is:

Is this plan of ours stupid, and in that case how should we better solve it? Is there really any advantage using VMware Server instead of VMware Workstation in this situation, and in that case more exactly what?

- VMware Server can start automatically start Guests even if no one is logged in (such as after a system reboot). -- VMware Workstation can not do this.

- VMware Server can be remotely administered -- Workstation requires someone to log into the console.

- VMware Server is free.

- VMware ESXi is free too, by the way Smiley Happy

Any input and/or answers will be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

If it is supported by your hardware, I would really suggest giving ESXi another look. ESXi would be able to make the best use of your hardware. If you really need to run Windows on your Host and VMware Server doesn't fit your needs then I suggest looking at Microsoft's Hyper-V solution.

Let us know if you have any more questions!

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wila
Leadership
Leadership

Hi,

Well Workstation has better 3D features (aero), can support multiple snapshots in the GUI (not that you can access that remotely) and supports VM teaming, has enhanced replay and debugging features. Allows you to do things like access raw disks, linked clones, record videos...

So there are many features that are in Workstation which are not -or only with a work around- in VMware Server.

You are not really telling us what the server is going to be used for, so giving the correct advice is a bit hard.

However I'm not sure I understand your need for windows as the host OS.

The advanced snapshots feature is in ESX (Personally I still favor ESX over ESXi) as is the ability to boot up VM's automatically when you boot the host.

There's good remote management features for ESX like the Virtual Infrastructure Client and the web management interface (not in ESXi)

It also is more robust as VMware Server, allows you to run many more Virtual Machines on top of that host because of not needing a non hypervisor aware OS at the bottom. Has things like Transparent Page Sharing and memory trimming, which are available for Workstation (and Server), but not nearly as effective as on ESX. With that type of hardware I would make sure it is on the Hardware Compatibility list for ESX and run that, not a single doubt in my mind Smiley Wink

VMware Server is a good start too and could be ideal for your needs, with exception of the extra features listed above.



--

Wil

_____________________________________________________

VI-Toolkit & scripts wiki at http://www.vi-toolkit.com

| Author of Vimalin. The virtual machine Backup app for VMware Fusion, VMware Workstation and Player |
| More info at vimalin.com | Twitter @wilva
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continuum
Immortal
Immortal

what is the expected / wanted uptime of this planned system ?

If you need uptimes in the range of weeks or months - use ESX or ESXi






___________________________________

VMX-parameters- VMware-liveCD - VM-Sickbay

Do you need support with a recovery problem ? - send a message via skype "sanbarrow"
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stevematrix
Contributor
Contributor

Just a little note here, I run VMWare server on a 8x dual core system and i am only able to allocate 2 CPU's to each VM.

Also, whats the reason for hosting on a Windows machine? ESX :smileyinfo: is a great platform with no extra rubbish to clug up and make the host OS buggy and slower.

Just my tuppence worth.

Steve

VMwareRules
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for your answers everyone!

Here are some replies to your questions:

Q: How are we planning to use the server/VMware?

A: We are a smaller company, so we plan to use this server as our "central IT infrastructure", hosting both internal server and client/workstation virtual machines, some of them used for lab/test/development, and some used for internal server chores. That is, a mix, which is also why we want it to be as flexible aspossible when it comes o features! We also don't plan to use it for critical servers with criticak/extreme uptimes.

Q: Why do we want to use VMware workstation instead of VMware Server or ESXi?

A1) Because Workstation has many unique and useful features, like e.g. the auto snapshot feature in Workstation 7 (very useful!), the Windows 7 Aero support, the debugging/recording/replay features, the multiple snapshots, the linked clones, and more.

A2) We can still start virtual machines and perform other operations automatically, with e.g. VIX scripting, right? And we don't even have any big use for this in our plans, since a reboot of the host will always be managed manually, so no problem that the host needs to be logged in first.

Q) Why do we want Windows as the host OS?

A1) We want to keep full support/warranty from Dell on the server, i.e. keep the original operating system.

A2) We want to be able to "be in control", i.e. be able to backup VMware machines, search for errors etc, even if the VMware product would start to malfunction, e.g. as a consequence of a failed update etc. I.e. it doesn't feel safe to risk having the server and all its virtual machines "nuked"/unavailable if just VMware malfunctions.

A3) It feels to us like the host will require more "professional administration" if it runs ESXi as a host rather than Windows, especially since we are very Windows focused in the company.

A4) We want to have the option to sometimes tap into the full power of the server for certain applications, i.e. sometimes run these on all 8 cores of the server, with all 16 GB of memory available, and without any slowdown due to virtualization or virtual disks inbetween.

I hope this answers all your questions, and that you will be able to share even more of your educated insight regarding this question now!

For example, so far I have not seen mentioned any explicit disadvantage/showstopper with using VMware Workstation in this situation, only several (much appreciated, don't get me wrong) opinions about why ESXi might be preferred in some situations. According to my arguments and descriptions of the situation above though, there seems to be some advantages with using VMware Workstation in this situation too, which then will have to be weighed against the stated advantages with e.g. ESXi.

So again, may we for any reason run into any trouble using Workstation in our described situation, or is the only argument against it that ESXi may be a little faster because of skipping the underlying Windows host operating system (because that we can live with if we get all the advantages stated by me above).

Thanks a lot, looking forward to your wise input!

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Student_Driver
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Scaling. Workstation, to my knowledge, won't do the RAM consolidation and over-commitment that ESXi can do. Workstation can page portions of RAM to the harddrive, but ESXi will actually consolidate pages of RAM that are share amongst the VMs. So, if you're running 8 or 10 instances of Windows Server 2008, you will see quite a savings in RAM usage.

If you don't want to use it, that's fine, but at least use Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V. I like that product too, and you will have Windows on the host as you desired.

Dell SXPS 1340, P9600, 8GB RAM

MCSE/MCSA 2003, MCTS, RHCT

Dell SXPS 1340, P9600, 8GB RAM MCSE/MCSA 2003, MCTS, RHCT
meistermn
Expert
Expert

I´t is very easy. MS OS are applications. Not an OS any more. The hypervisor has owned the role of the os.

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continuum
Immortal
Immortal

VMware Workstation on a good Windows installation will suit you fine.

Best if you isolate the MS-host in so far that you do not need any Antivirus or Firewalls.

Then such a setup will do what you expect.

I would not consider VMserver - Workstation outperforms VMserver in my experience




___________________________________

VMX-parameters- VMware-liveCD - VM-Sickbay

Do you need support with a recovery problem ? - send a message via skype "sanbarrow"

View solution in original post

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VMwareRules
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for all your answers!

As far as can be concluded so far, the only advantage of running ESXi would be the memory consolidation thing, which might become an issue if we run a larger number of virtual machines on the server. There doesn't seem to be any advantage whatsoever with running "VMware Server".

So, until the number of virtual machines on our server become high enough to create a problem with the memory, VMware Workstation seems to be the clearly best choice for us, with all its better features, including better control from an OS "outside" the hypervisor (which will also let us tap into the full power of the host hardware whenever we need to), and this very much outweighs the negligible speed hit resulting from running another OS under the hypervisor.

And yes, we will isolate the host and not run any antvirus, firewall etc on it.

If anyone has anything to add to this, you are very welcome to do so though!

Thanks again!

PS.

It seems I can only give out a limited number of "helpful answer" markers in this thread, then the buttons disappeared, so sorry to the people who did not get one, I still think you input was helpeful and much appreciated!

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