Suggested setup for Server 2012 + Exchange 2013 to replace SBS

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I'm quoting a client for replacing their SBS 2003 platform (which also has a second Server 2003 hosting terminal services).

I'm going to run two virtual servers on two 600Gb RAID 1 arrays (decent RAID card, processors and RAM already catered for). I'm just wanting to check that this is the best use of the arrays, and also that this configuration of software will actually work.

Server 1: Server 2012 DC hosting Active Directory, shared drives/redirected documents, printers
Server 2: Exchange 2013 server Std, Server 2012 terminal server, LOB applications (approx 5 SQL databases). Separate VHD for LOB applications will probably be stored on the first array as that array won't be pushed very much.

This is for 40 users, 15 of which will be terminal services users. Firstly is it OK to run terminal services on an Exchange server? I know that it can't/shouldn't be run on a DC, and Exchange shouldn't be run on a DC (unless in SBS form obviously) so this combination would be new to me.
At most I am hoping Exchange just needs to be placed on a separate array if IO becomes an issue at a later date, but at least stay within the same server OS, rather than having to purchase a second Server 2012 licence.
 
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You could use SBS 2011 instead, it's still available and would keep costs much lower than your proposed plan.

Buy the premium version and you'll get a separate server 2008 license you can use on the second virtual machine for TS.
 
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I'm not sure I'd be happy having RDS on an Exchange Server. I'd try to get another 2012 Std license in the budget - then you'd have 1 + 4 virtualization rights.

Will two RAID1 mirrors have enough IOPS? What about moving to more smaller (450GB) spindles and using RAID10?
 
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SBS 2011 is not available on Open Licensing any more, the only option is OEM until December. I was under the impression that OEM software is a bit of a grey area when using in a VM environment, so I want to stick to Open Licensing. If they want a DR solution at some stage down the line at least I know that could be done with their existing licensing (i.e. being able to run their system off entirely different hardware).
Plus anyway SBS 2011 Premium only comes with 2008 R2 and I'd like to put the client onto the most recent software.

I would have loved to put a SBS solution in as it would just make things so much easier.
 
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I'm not sure I'd be happy having RDS on an Exchange Server. I'd try to get another 2012 Std license in the budget - then you'd have 1 + 4 virtualization rights.

Will two RAID1 mirrors have enough IOPS? What about moving to more smaller (450GB) spindles and using RAID10?

Point noted re. IOPS. I was thinking it would be better to isolate Exchange database activity and general TS usage from LOB SQL database work in case one feature wants to gobble up all the IOPS for itself. But I guess that this would not be giving the maximum performance possible if one aspect was being under-used. Hmmm...

It is annoying that I might potentially need 3 virtual servers to accomplish this, because I could see it being a viable solution for a few potential clients in the future but the licensing would put most people off. Do I need another set of 40 CAL's for the second Server 2012 licence?
 
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Can't say I've looked into it in detail, but Exchange 2013 is meant to improve on 2010 for storage requirements (Tech-Net)

redesigning the internal structures of the Exchange databases and reducing the IOPS requirements of the databases.

AFAIK, the trade-off is 2013 likes RAM more than a fat blokes likes an all you can eat buffet...

Another option would be hosted Exchange - removes one VM and saves on capital licensing costs but obviously you and the customer need to be happy that it sits nicely with them.

If CALs are done per-seat, then no, you don't need another 40 CALs. Actually, can you even choose between per-seat or per-server these days???
 
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It is annoying that I might potentially need 3 virtual servers to accomplish this, because I could see it being a viable solution for a few potential clients in the future but the licensing would put most people off. Do I need another set of 40 CAL's for the second Server 2012 licence?

You can have 10 staff members and 1 server and have 20 servers the number of CALs remains the same.

You just have 2 approaches: per user or per device. If you have "hot desking" (people working in shifts on the same devices, do per device CALs) if you have normal office hours and everyone works at the same time from individual devices, then per user.
 

Xez

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Have you thought about having one Server 2012 as the DC + File + Print server, the terminal server then being virtual. Raid 10 is also a good shout and with the below you won't have Exchange hogging resources.

Go to Exchange online in which you may need another virtual but that's covered under Server 2012 Std for the ADFS setup. But at least you don't have the cost of Exchange licensing and additional backup measures.

Just seen Chris has posted this above!
 
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That's good news re. not needing another set of CAL's for a second Server 2012 licence, so it's 'only' about £700 for another Open licence for it. I would rather not have a third server running though, it seems like overkill for a relatively small setup. Any other opinions on Exchange existing within a TS server?
(In terms of resources, I'm probably going to go with the RAID 10 setup so thanks for that suggestion)

Not sure if they're keen on paying indefinitely for Exchange hosting, their on-site setup has worked very well to date and has given us no issues. They are looking at a solution that will last them a minimum of 5 years, an in-house solution makes better financial sense from that point of view, although the upfront cost is a bit of a hurdle. Another issue is that their broadband is 1.8Mb, 2Mb at most :o It would take ages to transfer their initial database and even internal emails will be a pain for them going forward. The backup software will be another ~£150 for Exchange-level item restore if required, so not a great expense.
 

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Some thoughts:

Buying Enterprise might be worth it over Standard in the long run, especially if you have host hardware issues and want to run VMs on the other host and so on. Check on pricing to see what the break even point is - I've not been dealing with MS pricing outside of an EA for a very long time now.

Secondly, run the DC on the DC and try and avoid running anything else on there. Then you get two benefits, first off is that you can do things with the VM that you might not wish to do otherwise, second is that nobody has any reason to log into, and thus mess with, the DC. Run the DC as Core too, no reason to have a GUI on a domain controller and it will save on resources.

Thirdly - disks are "cheap" vs time troubleshooting performance issues. RAID10 the 4 600GB SAS disks or use 6 450GB disks or 8 300GB disks and so on. Google wmarow's RAID calculator and look at the maths, should be obvious where the best cost/performance tradeoff is.

Don't run RDS and Exchange on the same server. Period. Give Exchange as much RAM as you can and you will serve more and more of the mail from RAM, smoothing out peaky IO. I've no idea how your Exchange is laid out at the moment but I would be very tempted to take advantage of the Enterprise Windows licences and run two VMs with a DAG. 40 users isn't a lot but its enough that you'll experience pain if the Exchange server goes away... Depending on databases you could split the load across the two servers if you needed to. Two NLB'd CAS servers wouldn't hurt either.

RDS is a pain in the jenk, especially when its usually wishy-washy performance complaints. Far easier to troubleshoot (and rectify) when its on its own. Additionally it demands a different patching regimen to Exchange, you're putting a lot of risk onto something you don't want to risk and a whole other list of reasons why you just don't want to mix the two.

SQL just needs spindles, comes back to the array statement above really, get as many spindles as makes sense. Unless the LOB app gets hammered then I can't see 8 300GB SAS spindles struggling, all things being equal.
 
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Quick reply - I'm looking at Server 2012 Std vs DC pricing (there is no Enterprise anymore) for another project. The break even point for DC is 7 to 8 VMs on a single (dual CPU) host.
 
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May as well dig up this thread as start a new one, as the advice has been useful so far and relevant for another couple of queries I have.
I've implemented 3 setups as per the above suggestions since discussing everything those few months ago. Rough spec of 2x 300Gb 10k SAS in RAID 1 for host OS, 4x 600Gb 10k SAS in RAID 10 for 3x guest OS (DC, Exchange, RDS for approx 15-20 users) and everything flies along. 48 or 64Gb RAM and 1x 6 core or 2x 6 core CPU depending on the requirements.

I am fine-tuning another spec for approx 50 users. At least 40 of these will be RDS users - MS Office, couple of LOB SQL applications. I've no hard and fast answers to the below so would welcome your input.
1. How important is it to have the host OS on separate disks? Is it for continuity purposes in some way, or for paging? I would have thought that once the host OS has booted and loaded into RAM (and given enough free RAM), it doesn't need the hard disk that much?
2. How well does Server 2012 R2 handle page file usage? Is it worth me specifying say one 40Gb fixed VHD per guest on the host OS disk and telling each guest VM to use that location for its page file, thereby keeping the main RAID 10 array to do its thing? Or should I just leave this alone.
3. The customer wants a pile of drives in the server just because 600Gb SAS have come down in price and they want to futureproof the system to incorporate document scanning. Again with 3 guest VM's, but a higher number of RDS users, what arrangement would you suggest for the disks? One huge 8x600Gb RAID 10 array for all 3 like #Chri5# suggested in an earlier post, or portion off the RDS somehow?

They're not coming from an existing TS environment and hope to install a new LOB application to tie in with this system, so it's rather difficult to gauge the resource needs in this case.
 
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Hmm if it were me I'd probably go one big R10 array, if you portion the disks off, you could wind up with under utilised LUNs and others that need more burst IOPS that you would get with a bigger Raid Group.

Exchange is really not very disk intensive, you can run databases from single SATA disks in JBOD configuration so it's happy with the 55-65 IOPS you get from SATA/SAS disks. For 40 users as well I'd imagine that the IOPS consumption from Exchange is minimal as most of it runs from RAM.

Don't forget for Exchange 2013 to format the allocated DB/Log disks as 64k Unit Allocation Size, and I would also full format instead of thin provisioning in case you are using VMWare.

Having O/S Disk on it's own Raid Group is a good idea as you will keep the underlying operating systems running smoothly in case of heavy disk activity. Worthwhile in my opinion. Losing one of the Raid Groups would also be less impacting to services as well.
 
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