Managing Virtual Environments: Server Comparison

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8th Feb 2020 Computer Science Reference this

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Table of Contents

Physical Server and Specifications

Vendor Selection

Hypervisor Comparison

VMware 6.5

Hyper-V 2016

VCenter deployment

Physical Server

Virtual Server

VMware VSphere Cluster settings

VSphere DRS Cluster with FT enabled

VSphere HA Cluster

DPM – Distributed Resource Schedule

VM Specifications

Virtual Machine Placement

Storage Requirements

VMFS DATASTORE

ISCSI Storage Protocol

ISCSI Storage design and configuration

Backup Solution

Physical Server and Specifications

I have calculated the Hardware by researching the Average requirements for each server and allowed 20% for growth

Server Type

QTY

CPU

Total CPU

RAM

Total RAM

NIC

Total NIC

Mail Servers

5

2

10

2

10

1

5

Active directory

4

2

8

2

8

1

4

Windows File Server

10

2

20

6

60

1

10

Web Servers

8

2

16

6

48

1

8

Database Servers

4

2

8

4

16

1

4

Linux Servers

6

2

12

2

12

1

6

Total

37

 

74

 

154

37

Growth 20%

18

31

8

Total incl Growth

 

 

92

 

185

45

Server Hardware Vendor Comparison 

For vendor comparison I looked at the top two Server hardware vendors globally  

Dell 

Pros. Dell assembles and tests the hardware before shipping whereas HPE ship in parts and requires assembly and testing onsite which will be an extra workload on the Local team. (Schaller, 2018) 

Dell has Improved Manageability and Serviceability by integrating with industry leading management consoles like VMware and Hyper-V.  With Dell OpenManage Integrations with vCenter you can auto-detect a new server and automate the configuration of the new server and install the Operating system from the vCenter console. Dell offers excellent warranty and support and has many add on packages to support Enterprise business and offers user friendly services for support and hardware and warranty lookup.  Dell ProSupport Plus with SupportAssist technology resolves problems 90% faster than systems covered by standard warranty. (EdisonGroupInc, 2018) 

Dell enterprise support is noted as being one of the best  

Cons. Lead times can be longer for custom built Servers and very minimal flexibility with pricing. (Schaller, 2018) 

HPE 

Pros.  HPE provide predictive alerts for parts that may fail allowing you to replace before impacting on production environments. Ordering of hardware is done through HPE OneView management tools and use plug-ins to integrate with management tools for VMware vCenter and Hyper-V 

Cons. HPE ship hardware in pieces and needs to be put together onsite and tested which takes additional resources for IT teams, also their supply chain for replacement parts is not always reliable and their website can be difficult to navigate for information and support (Schaller, 2018) 

OneView integration with VMware and Hyper-V main activities for configuration and tuning requires the witching between two systems. Firmware updates require additional tools such as HPE System Update Manager (EdisonGroupInc, 2018) 

Comparing Dell and HPE with respect to compatibility and support Dell is the more obvious choice considering that their integration with Hypervisor choice of VMware allows for seamless management compared to HPE. The fact that Dell ships hardware already configured and tested is also a big plus and will reduce the workload of the local IT team. 

Hosts

3 plus 1 for redundancy

Model

Dell PowerEdge

No of CPU

2

Cores Per CPU

8 Cores

Network

2 x 10GE

Memory

2 x 32 DIMM

VMware ESXi

Vmware 6.5 build

 

Hypervisor Comparison

The following is an outline of the significant improvements made in VMware 6.5 and Hyper-V 2016 that make them better applications for enterprise development.

VMware 6.5

Pros. Significant improvements to the VMware 6.5 are as follows. They include The migration tool is built into the VCSA installer, appliance management improvements, VCSA Native high availability, vCenter Native Backup and Restore, performance enhancement of the vSphere Web Client, with inbuilt HTML 5 into the Windows and VCSA versions. Also, enhanced logging, proactive HA for Cisco, Dell, and HP so far, HA orchestrated restart, HA admission control improvements, HA support for vGPU, improvements done to FT, predictive DRS and additional options, Network-Aware DRS, vSphere Integrated Containers, Advanced Format and 512e Disk Support, Automated UNMAP, LUN Scalability, ISCSI Static Routing, and Dedicated Gateways for vmkernel ports. It has a content library, vSphere update manager. An AutoDeploy with GUI, VM encryptions, and SecureBoot options for VMS and ESXi (Shawn, 2017)

Cons. The significant challenges include compatibility issues with other VMware products and some hardware, the Log Insight 4.0 only works for a single host, and the cSphere C# is removed.

Hyper-V 2016

Pros. Some of the new additions to the Hyper-V 2016 include compatibility with connected standby, hot resource protection, hot add and remove for network adapters and memory. It updated the Hyper-V management improvements, integrates service delivery into the windows update, and introduced the Linux secure boot. It allocates more memory and processors for generation 2 virtual machines and hosts, allows discrete device assignment, and provides encryption support for the operating system disk in generation 1 virtual machines. Other features include nested virtualization, new networking features (RDMA, VMMQ, QoS), the introduction of production checkpoints, an upgrade on the Rolling Hyper-V cluster, updated shared virtual disks, new virtual machine backup, shielded virtual machine, virtual machine configuration updated introduction of windows containers, and Windows PowerShell Direct (Davies et al., 2016).

Cons. One of the significant downsides of the Hyper-V 2016 is that it does not include guest operating system licenses which can add up if one is looking to host several VMs.

Comparing the VMware and Hyper-V in relation to enterprise deployment, the former is much better regarding implementing complex virtualization features. These features function better with VMware as long as the licenses are paid for and running on supported hardware. While Hyper-V supports more hardware and is less complicated, it requires more steps to configure (Leoni, 2017). Hence, VMware would be much more manageable.

VCenter deployment

VCenter License

6.5

 

Target Server

ESXI 1

VCenter will be hosted on ESXI 1

Deployment Type

Embedded Platform Services controller

  • Connection to VCenter Server and the PSC is not over the network so less prone to outages
  • Less licenses required
  • NO Load balancing to distribute the load across PSC

Setup SSO

Create a new SSO Domain

Set application size

Tiny

Have less than 10 hosts and 100 VMs

Datastore

Datastore 6

120GB

Configure Database

Use an Embedded DB

Customer experience program

Enabled

Provide feedback for improvements

Physical Server

Pros. Would not be impacted in the case of Virtual Infrastructure outages

Cons. A dedicated physical server is required and backup and maintenance would also be necessary. May not be ideal when moving to a virtualised environment to still be using a Physical server for management. Snapshots cannot be used and no load balancing techniques.

Virtual Server

Pros. No additional physical server are required and virtual resources such as RAM and CPU can be increased. Easy to backup and restore and can use Snapshots for testing and upgrade management. Can utilise DRS and HA Cluster for high availability.

Cons. Must have HA enabled otherwise would be issues in the case of outage of Virtual Infrastructure. Must also compete for resources with other VM’s

 

I have chosen to deploy the VServer on a Virtual Machine as recommended by VMware and to take advantage of HA which can protect the Management server from a hardware failure.

I will be taking advantage of VCenter Service Appliance in 6.5 to link vCenter servers together as they will be part of the same SSO Domain. This will allow any changes made on any vServer to be replicated to all VServer’s. The VCSA also has an embedded Database that is sufficient for the deployment of this size.(under 20 hosts  Will required a disk size of Tiny – 120GB of storage on physical Server.

 

VMware VSphere Cluster settings

Name

Cluster_Site_1

Hosts

4

Datastore

Datastore 7

License

VMware 6.5

Lockdown Mode

Strict

Only want users to connect via VCenter Server

VMotion

Enabled

Used for planned outages and maintenance

DRS

Enabled

DRS

Fully Automated

Let DRS take care of managing resources.

Less time consuming for IT Staff

Predictive DRS

Enabled

Take advantage of this new feature in 6.5 which will allow DRS to respond to forecast metrics provided by realise Server

Virtual Machine Automation

Enabled

May need individual VM’s to set their own Automation

Automation Level

3

Leaving level at default setting

VMware DPM

Enabled

Save power when VM’s are idle by moving VM’s to a few hosts and puts hosts in Standby until needed

DPM Threshold

3

Leaving at Default setting, any lower wound not have any real impact and higher would be too aggressive

HA

Enabled

Host monitoring

Enabled

Host Failure Response

Restarts VM’s

Will restart VM’s once failure has occurred

Automation Level

Automated

Will allow hosts with problems or that need maintenance to be placed into quarantine or maintenance mode

Remediation

Mixed mode

Want to balance the performance and availability – want to leave HA be used to make such decisions

Admission control

Default settings

Leaving as default and can be changed later if need more control over failover capacity

Heartbeat Datastore

Automatically select Datastores accessible from the host

VSphere DRS Cluster with FT enabled

VSphere HA Cluster

DPM – Distributed Resource Schedule

VM Specifications

Name

Mail Server

AD Server

File Server

Cluster

Cluster 1

Cluster 1

Cluster 1

CPU

2

2

2

RAM

2

2

6

Datastore

Datastore 2

Datastore 2

Datastore 1

OS

WS 2016

WS 2016

WS 2016

VNIC

1

1

1

VDisk Size

32GB

32GB

32GB

VDisk

Thin Provisioning

Thin Provisioning

Thin Provisioning

VDisk Option

Store with VM

Store with VM

Store with VM

 

Name

Database

Web Servers

Linux Servers

Cluster

Cluster

Cluster 1

Cluster 1

CPU

2

2

2

RAM

4

6

4

Datastore

Datastore 4

Datastore 5

Datastore 3

OS

WS 2016

WS 2016

Linux

VNIC

1

1

1

VDisk Size

32GB

32GB

32GB

VDisk

Thin Provisioning

Thin Provisioning

Thin Provisioning

VDisk Option

Store with VM

Store with VM

Store with VM

 

Virtual Machine Placement

To ensure that Mail Servers, AD Servers and File servers are spread across all hosts in the cluster to avoid downtime DRS Groups are created and associated with Affinity rules. The rules specify that a VM’ in the group will be spread across each host in the Cluster. The rule specifies that the VM’s should run on the host in the group meaning that if the cluster fails then VMotion will move the VM’s to another host. This will ensure the availability of business critical services. 

Rule 1 Mail Server

Group Type

DRS Groups VM

Group Name

MS_Group_DRS_VM

Group Members

5 Mail Server VM’s

Rule Name

MS_Affinity_Rule

Enable rule

Enabled

Type

Virtual Machine to Host

VM Group

MS_Group_DRS_VM + MS_Group_Host

Rule

Should run on host in Group

Host Group

Host_Group_1(ESXI 1, ESXI 2, ESXI 3, ESXI 4)

Rule 2 Active Directory rule

Group Type

DRS Groups VM

Group Name

AD_Group_DRS_VM

Group Members

4 Active Directory VM’s

Rule Name

AD_Affinity_Rule

Enable rule

Enabled

Type

Virtual Machine to Host

VM Group

AD_Group_DRS_VM + AD_Group_Host

Rule

Should run on host in Group

Host Group

Host_Group_1(ESXI 1, ESXI 2, ESXI 3, ESXI 4)

Rule 3 File Server rule

Group Type

DRS Groups VM

Group Name

FS_Group_DRS_VM

Group Members

10 File Servers VM’s

Rule Name

FS_Affinity_Rule

Enable rule

Enabled

Type

Virtual Machine to Host

VM Group

FS_Group_DRS_VM + FS_Group_Host

Rule

Should run on host in Group

Host Group

Host_Group_1(ESXI 1, ESXI 2, ESXI 3, ESXI 4)

 

Network

 

 

 

 


Storage Requirements

Server Type

Total Disk Space GB

Local Disk Space

Calculation and assumptions

Mail Servers 

400

160

I based my calculation on each user having

8GB of storage each

Active directory 

128 

Here I made an assumption of requirements

Windows File Server 

250 

320 

I based my calculation on each user having

5GB of storage required

Web Servers 

256 

Here I made an assumption of requirements

Database Servers 

128 

Here I made an assumption of requirements

Linux Servers 

192 

Here I made an assumption of requirements

Total 

650

1184

Capacity growth 20% 

130 

236 

Total Storage requirements  

780 

1420 

Total Storage required  

2200 GB 

Bottom of Form

 VMFS DATASTORE

The VMFS DATASTORE’s will be created for each of the below VM groups to allow to manage the storage for each Server type as a whole

  • DATASTORE 1 – File Servers 690GB Total Storage plus 20% for growth
  • DATASTORE 2 – Mail Servers – 680GB Total storage plus 20% for growth
  • DATASTORE 3 – Linux – 250GB – Total Storage plus 20% for growth
  • DATASTORE 4 – DB Servers – 160GB – Total Storage plus 20% for growth
  • DATASTORE 5 – Web Servers – 310GB – Total storage plus 20% for growth
  • DATASTORE 6 – Active Directory – 154GB – Total storage plus 20% for growth
  • DATASTORE 7 – Management

ISCSI Storage Protocol

ISCSI storage protocol is the choice for storage protocol

  • leverages the existing network and does not require additional Network design and equipment
  • Cost is lower  
  • Does not require additional training for IT Staff unlike FC deployments which can be difficult to deploy
  • Supports VMFS, DRS and VMotion
  • Supports booting from SAN

ISCSI Storage design and configuration


Backup Solution

Veeam is chosen as the backup solution. Veeam was named as Gartner Peer Insights Customer’s choice for Data Center Backup and Recovery Software in 2018. VMware and Veeam have a very strong technical alliance. (Veeam, Veeam Hyper-Availability for VMware, 2018)

Veeam solutions guarantees business continuity, minimizes risk and fast-tracks innovation. Veeam Backup & Replication™ fully supports VMware VSphere 6.5 and offers an easy-to-use, reliable and agnostic solution for virtual, physical and cloud-based workloads which enable faster back-ups through smart logic that reduces network traffic and enables backup and restore according to your storage policy (Veeam, Veeam Hyper-Availability for VMware, 2018)

Veeam operates at the virtualization layer and uses an image based approach for VM back-up and no agent is required to be installed on the Guest OS.

High speed recovery with the ability to restore VM’s within minutes and recover individual files easily. Recover AD objects, Containers and OUs and user accounts and Restore to a point in time for Oracle and SQL DB’s

Ability to create backups from any storage with storage snapshots. 2 in 1 backup and replication allows you to maintain image based replicate onsite for HA or off site for disaster recovery and simplify failover and failback with minimum disruption to business with inbuilt WAN acceleration.

Veeam gives you the ability to work in a production like environment by allowing you to use Backups and replicas to test any new deployment prior to go live. (Veeam, Veeam, 2018)

Veeam Backup & Recovery Architecture

In order to provide an adequate backup strategy to restore operations in the event of any problem the 3-2-1 rule will be enforced.

  • 3 – This will ensure that there are at least 3 copies of all the VMware environment and DATA. This will ensure that if one of the backup fails for any reason that there will be another backup recovery will still be possible 
  • 2 – Keep backup’s in different locations. One backup will be held onsite on local storage and second will be held offsite in a different media.
  • 1 – Keep one backup in a different location. One backup will be onsite and the second will be held offsite. For offsite Veeam Cloud Connect will be utilized to get backups off site (Veeam, 2014)

(Veeam, 2014)

References (What’s new in Hyper-V on Windows Server 2016, 2017)

  • EdisonGroupInc. (2018). Retrieved from www.TheEdison.com: www.TheEdison.com
  • Fenech, J. (2016). vCenter Server for Windows and vCSA compared. Retrieved from https://www.altaro.com/vmware/vcenter-server-windows-vcsa-compared/
  • Schaller, J. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.exittechnologies.com/blog/data-center/hpe-vs-dell-servers/
  • Shawn. (2017). VMware vSphere 6.5 – Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Retrieved from https://virtuallyinclined.com/2017/01/22/vmware-vsphere-6-5-cracked/
  • Veeam. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.veeam.com/blog/how-to-follow-the-3-2-1-backup-rule-with-veeam-backup-replication.html
  • Veeam. (2018). Retrieved from Veeam: https://www.veeam.com/vmware-software-defined-data-center-solution-brief_wp.pdf
  • Veeam. (2018). Veeam Hyper-Availability for VMware. Retrieved from https://www.veeam.com/vmware-vsphere-solutions.html
  • VMware. (2017). Performance Best Practices for. Retrieved from https://www.vmware.com/content/dam/digitalmarketing/vmware/en/pdf/techpaper/performance/Perf_Best_Practices_vSphere65.pdf
  • VMware. (2017). vSphere Networking. Retrieved from vmware.com: https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/vsphere-esxi-vcenter-server-65-networking-guide.pdf
  • VMware. (2018). Veeam Backup & Replication. Retrieved from https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/52533

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