mta2008
Contributor
Contributor

VC server installing on VM: how to install and share ESX licensing

Hi,

We are SMB company, about to implementing vmware VI3 with VCenter 2.5, having get a quote with 2x Dell PowerEdge 2900 series servers for ESX server, 1 X Dell PowerEdge 1900 series for VC management server, 1 x Dell PowerEdge server 2900 series for another branch office, together with a SAN Dell|EMC AX4-5i and 3 x network switch. We are going to obtain 3 vmware ESX Enterprise licenses. I need help here:

  • I would like to have VC managment server on virtual machine, but does this cost another ESX Enterprise license?

  • SAN can be iSCSI and FC, which one is better in term of transfer file speed and initial layout setup?

Thanks

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10 Replies
madda
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

You can have the VC as a virtual machine. The license for ESX is for the physical machine, you can have as many VMs on that machine as you want. Although something to note is that if the VC is a VM then if that VM goes offline, then HA will still work as the VC is just used to configure it, however VMotion won't work

FC can be faster as it now goes upto 8GB, iSCSI speed depends on your network layout and the usual network transfer limits apply to that

----- Mark Atherton
Nick_F
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

VC on a VM is fine (that's what we do), it doesn't require another ESX licence.

I would however look deeper into running VC across a WAN (which you might be intending to do as you mention a branch ESX server), my understanding is it doesn't work reliably (unless you have fat links). We have a VC VM per site where I work.

As for FC vs iSCSI - it's an on-going debate, there's no right answer it mostly comes down to personal opinion/experience + relative costs. My own experience is I prefer FC, to me it's simpler to set up and fault-find on however we're also in the process of deploying an ESX/iSCSI solution for a client and the iSCSI part went remarkably smoothly. We've yet to do fail-over testing though which is where iSCSI really fell down in our physical server deployments. It's quite hard to justify the additional cost of FC though so if budget is fairly limited I'd go down the iSCSI route.

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madda
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

VC should work fine across a WAN (and does at our sites), you may just have to tweak the timeout value if the WAN connections are a bit slow

Timeouts can be set by going to:

Administration -> VirtualCenter Management Server Configuration... -> Timeout Settings

----- Mark Atherton
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MrBaba
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I you can totally implant you're VC as a VM just set VC server as a windows service in you're machine and there's no problem (i've both VC in hard and VC in a VM the two works fine)

When you install VC just select localhost when it ask you for the licence server. (i think it's the default) so there's no problem att all

For iSCSI and FiberChannel, I've always install in iSCSI and in our society whe have iSCSI and whe haven't any problem, whe are very happy of this solution. it's easy to implement easy to manage

!!!! (I can't tell you if it's better or worst thanFC but i's great)

good luck, bye !!

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mta2008
Contributor
Contributor

Hi Madda + Nick,

Thank you both of you for your prompt response.

The quotation included three ESX licences for the three physical Dell servers (PowerEdge 2900 series) but no ESX license for the VCenter management server with a license for the VCenter 2.5 licence. That seems to be fine but this implies Dell is recommending us for a physical server for the VCenter, with this server manages connection to the SAN Dell|EMC AX4-5i (recommending iSCSI over FC)

Therefore my query now is:

  • Should we be better with VCenter on VM on installing on one of the EXS servers, to me this is a good way to be able to clone the VCenter for furture maintenance or upgrade, plus we don't need to pay for a designated server for VCenter. But this would impact on the SAN design, what do you think about this? (we will consider buying allocated VCenter server if we have to)

  • WAN managed of the other ESX server is a requirement here, we have a VPN network - SHDSL 1M- 1M connection, do you think this is sufficient for VCenter management?

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Nick_F
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Personally I think it makes sense to run VC in a VM, you reduce your physical server estate and you get a lot of the other benefits of virtualisation (snapshots, DR enhancements etc.). Some people aren't comfortable though with the idea of running the VM management server within a VM and prefer it to run on a physical box. Not sure what Dell's official position on it is (if they even have one), I think at one time our account technical specialist recommended going down the physical route but most of his background was on older version of ESX so I think it was more sticking with the traditional approach he knew rather than any specific reasons.

On the WAN management side I read a few different sources that indicated you'd need decent (10Mb) and preferably dedicated WAN links to use VC reliably across a WAN, given in my company we only have non-dedicated 2Mb links I didn't even bother to 'try it and see' as I couldn't afford the time trying to figure out if any VC issues were WAN or config related. If you can afford to run a lot of tests then you may as well try it I guess jsut have a not in your project costs you may need an additional VC licence if it proves unreliable.

One other thing - how are you backing up your virtual infrastructure? For each site we also specify a physical VCB proxy server (we use NetBackup so they're also media servers) in order to do the backups (we use PowerEdge 1950's) so you might need something similar in your costs.

MrBaba
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

For me too, i think it's a great solution to put VCe ter in a VM because like U said, it's possible to clone,template or snapshot the vm and if there's any problem with the original VM you can quickly deploy you're virtual center in state to work.

In the backup way we just backup the VM as files. we don't backup the esx it's quick to install and if we have Backup of VM it's ok

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mta2008
Contributor
Contributor

Hi Nick,

Not sure about a physical VCB server, may use the PowerEdge 1900 series for this then. We have an existing TL device, Quantum SuperLoader, we have been considered to re-use this device, with current tapes media + Verita 9.0 (will be good to have purchasing the latest Backup Exec 11d/12d).

Thank you for reminding about backup solution hint.

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mta2008
Contributor
Contributor

Hi MrBaba,

You can't not backup a esx server because it is vmfs partition, is this right?

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mta2008
Contributor
Contributor

Much appreciated all people providing answering my queries.

I was able to find out VCenter management better + SAN FC/iSCSI consideration

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