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Virtualization for SBS 2011

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I didn't want to hijack snazy's thread and this case is a little different, as well as hopefully easy enough to answer if anyone knows.

We'd like to set up Small Business Server 2011 with Exchange 2010, but want a second domain controller with AD-DNS (thanks ComGuards) and would like to avoid a second physical computer just for that.

So what I was wondering is if we get a single Server 2008 R2 license that allows one instance of virtualization, could we run the second DC on the host OS and run SBS 2011 in the virtual OS? According to a MS partner (Insight), that's not allowed and the host OS is only good for management of the virtual one, but that seems fishy.
They also suggested that we could instead get the Server 2008 enterprise edition (that allows four instances) with exchange separately, but after adding all the CALs, that's about three times the cost of just the software and about twice the cost of just getting a second machine.

I'm definitely not against using any other form of virtualization if it's cheap(er) and would work well in this situation.

Thanks in advance.
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Tismon7
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post #2 of 6
In the case of a single 2008 R2 license, if you use the same license in the VM, the host box will only be allowed to use the hyper-v role (I think this is what the MS tech was talking about), you would either need a enterprise/datacenter license or buy another std license I believe. But if your using two separate licenses (2008 R2 STD and 2008 SBS) i think you should be able to get away with it. I don't think it would be preferred though.

Technically I suppose you could do it, but it would make more sense to get a better license (2008 r2 datacenter/enterprise) and make both your SBS box and your 2nd DC VMs. Keep in mind I have no idea the difference in cost off the top of my head... MSDN here.

Or you can always just pick up a cheap 1U atom server or something and run it as a 2nd DC w/ just 2008 R2 w/ DNS on it.

I use 2008 R2 Enterprise for my home domain and sorta do the same thing, but in reverse. Both the Host OS and the VM's are part of the same domain and have roles assigned to them, but that was mainly because I wanted the Host OS to have physical access to my raid6 for a fileserver. Most in the field prefer to just use the host OS for only the Hyper-V role and create a virtual DC to start, obviously that doesn't work for you with only a 2008 STD license w/ 1 VM.
Edited by rmp459 - 3/4/11 at 1:43pm
    
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
I think you have it pretty well. We'd be potentially buying two licenses, Server 2008 R2 Standard and SBS 2011 Standard (which includes a version of Server 2008 R2 Standard, but with not Hyper-V). So the single license would be the host and have the VM and DC running, while the SBS license is running within the VM. So, why would that not be preferred I wonder? Would it cause some issues or incompatibilities?

The enterprise edition seems to be way too expensive to justify that route, which is the whole issue.

I was looking at a lower end phenom, but I hadn't thought about an atom-based server. Kind of funny to think about, but definitely a possibility. EDIT: Though not a very likely one. There's not too many available to choose from, and it might be able to handle just the DC, but if we're getting a second system, it'll also be a backup NAS.

Thanks for the info and opinions.
Edited by tismon - 3/4/11 at 2:55pm
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post #4 of 6
Remember also that one of the main reasons you want multiple domain controllers is to prevent a hardware failure from taking your network down. If you run both your DCs on the same hardware then any failure will still take the network offline...
post #5 of 6
If you are going to go this route with SBS 2011 + Server 2008 R2 Standard, you should use a bare-metal hypervisor and virtualize everything. But in doing so, you should, at the very minimum, ensure you have redundancy on all hardware possible - redundant PSUs, and RAID implementation with hot-swap drives.

The suggestion for using an Atom-based system as a secondary DC is not without merits, especially if you remove the mechanical HDD and swap in something like a 32GB or 40GB SSD, or even a 64GB, though you shouldn't use up all that space for a DC role.

To answer your licensing question... if you use Server 2008 Standard on a host, you are licensed only to utilize virtualization roles on the physical server. You cannot promote the physical host to a domain controller, nor would you want to in any case. You also cannot install any of the other server roles on the host OS. In a nutshell, if you buy SBS2011 & Server 2008 (1-license), you ultimately can only have two servers in your domain network - either 2 virtual, or 1 virtual & 1 physical.

You wouldn't want to have a physical host configured as a domain controller anyways. Picture this. You have to (1) install Server 2008 R2 on the physical box, (2) install Hyper-V role, (3) install SBS 2011 in VM & reboot, (4) promote physical box to a domain controller WITH the SBS2011 VM running, (5) shut down the SBS VM, (6) reboot the host (by now a domain controller), (7) wait for the host to start up and then (8) start up the SBS 2011 VM.

The problem is that when you reboot, the first domain controller that is powering up is the physical host, and that physical host is just a secondary DC. It might be a global catalog, but it cannot contact the DC that is holding all the Active Directory FSMO roles - those roles all reside on your 2011 VM. So in a way, it's a catch-22 situation.

If your host is purely a virtualization host, then at least you can power on the SBS2011 VM immediately after rebooting the host, and then powering up the second VM-DC. But if you're going that way, you might as well just use ESXi, which has better resource management than Hyper-V...
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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Wow. Awesome responses guys with some very good points. I suppose for now, we'll just be going with the single server with sbs 2011 and a second as a DC and NAS for backup soon after and just stay away from virtualization for the time being. If it turns out we also need a license server for something, then we'll look into ESXi for on the second comp to keep the main one simpler.

Thanks for all the help and thorough replies.
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Tismon7
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