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Running Multiple Server VMs On One Mac
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Waragainstsleep
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Feb 15, 2012, 06:32 PM
 
Has anyone else tried this?

I currently have a 2010 Quad Core Mac Pro with 10GB RAM running a Windows Server 2003 VM with Kerio email and a 30-user AD with filesharing and at the same time its now running another Server2003 VM which is basically just a Blackberry Enterprise Server Express.

I have discovered that Time machine and snapshots of the live VMs interrupt access for the network users, but otherwise this machine should be more than adequate for the task.

Both VMs are running in VMWare Fusion on top of 10.6.8. I am thinking of moving the Kerio mail to run nativelt on OS X but I have a feeling this would necessitate a complete rebuild of the BES Server which is an absolute nightmare. There are only 3 or 4 BB users, its the bane of my working life.

Has anyone else attempted anything like this?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 09:01 PM
 
Normally I'd say that running stuff natively on the host OS negates so many of the advantages of running VMs (e.g. snapshots), but OS X is not a very good system for virtualization anyway (host or guest), so I guess anything goes?

If you don't need to virtualize OS X and are open to different ideas, I'd check out KVM and libvirt, it's a pretty sweet combo.
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
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Feb 15, 2012, 09:20 PM
 
I had toyed with the idea of trying to put ESX(i) on the Mac Pro instead of OS X. Any point?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Art Vandelay
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Feb 15, 2012, 09:53 PM
 
Never knew VMware had a hypervisor for Apple hardware. I've got a new project for work now.
Vandelay Industries
     
besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 10:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I had toyed with the idea of trying to put ESX(i) on the Mac Pro instead of OS X. Any point?

For a VM host, sure.

It's a more lightweight OS, a hypervisor that will be no worse than what you are already used to in Fusion performance wise, plus you'd get many server management features that are either missing or inconvenient to get to in Fusion, which is more of a Desktop solution.

The problem with ESXi and the reason why I don't use it is that it requires living in the VMWare world as far as backups, mounting remote volumes, etc. and paying them if you want more features than provided in the basic free version. The other deal breaker for me is that the client for accessing the remote console last I checked only worked in Windows.

I would say that running ESXi makes the most sense if you run very large VM clusters and want to take advantage of all of the cool features available with the additional bits you'd have to purchase. It's been a very long time since I looked at all of this, but off the top of my head I don't see any particular advantage to running ESXi for a small install like you have over KVM/libvirt or oVirt, both backed by Redhat and many other big important players.

KVM/libvirt is sort of seen as the sucessor to Xen, at least in terms of simplicity, and Xen was what was/is used to drive those big VM providers such as Rackspace, Amazon, Linode, and Slicehost (which I believe is now owned by Rackspace). So, with KVM/libvirt you'd have a much higher ceiling and more robust set of features than Fusion.

However, what I like about KVM/libvirt is that it is also really pretty simple to get into, and simple to setup and get going. It ships with Ubuntu, so you can find a lot of info in those areas, but really the command line tools are pretty straight forward, and I've found that the GUI virt-manager (Virtual Machine Manager: Screenshots) really covers anything I'd ever need, I can't remember the last time I dropped into the command line libvirt shell to do stuff.

Accessing your machines is done remotely over VNC and/or SSH X11 forwarding, so you don't need a fancy client like you would in ESXi - you can literally access the console for any of your VMs and have full control over stuff from any machine.

KVM/libvirt installs on top of most Linux distros, so you can use it with Redhat/Fedora, Debian/Ubuntu, whatever... These should run on your Mac Server providing it is x86 based. I could list a bunch of advantages you'll find running this over Fusion, but one big one is VirtIO drivers that allow the networking and disk drivers of your VM guests to access the underlying hardware directly via para-virtualization so that performance is substantially better.

oVirt is the competitor to to ESXi that is a bare metal solution, but I think it, like ESXi, would be overkill for your needs.
( Last edited by besson3c; Feb 15, 2012 at 10:29 PM. )
     
besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 10:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Never knew VMware had a hypervisor for Apple hardware. I've got a new project for work now.
You didn't know that Fusion existed, or that you can install ESXi on Mac hardware?

I'd check to make sure that ESXi does work on Mac hardware, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. Mac Pros and XServes use pretty common hardware, so that's not the problem, but it wasn't until recently (ESXi 4.0+ I believe) where it supported more low end stuff like SATA drives, I believe.

ESXi is really designed for running pretty serious rigs, I'd say it is complete overkill for small little installs. Plus, the Windows client is a complete PITA.
     
besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 10:19 PM
 
Waragainstsleep: is running your VM guests on Amazon/Linode/Rackspace an option for you? It is certainly nice to have somebody else in charge of the hardware end of things, and the prices are generally quite good.
     
Art Vandelay
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Feb 15, 2012, 10:29 PM
 
I knew of Fusion but not of their bare metal support for Xserve. I'll take a look at KVM/libvirt too.
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besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 10:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
I knew of Fusion but not of their bare metal support for Xserve. I'll take a look at KVM/libvirt too.

ESXi should run on just about any x86 box providing the NIC(s) and possibly video card isn't too funky. The XServe probably uses the Intel ethernet NICs or something, so it should be fine, but you could probably run it on your Macbook Air too

Even if your video card isn't supported it will probably successfully dumb things down to work with some sort of generic X11 video driver to get you 800 x 600 or whatever on the host (which is all you need).
     
Art Vandelay
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Feb 15, 2012, 10:39 PM
 
Officially, ESXi only supports the Xserve 3,1. That's what I have so no worries there. I'll be virtualizing OS X Server, does KVM/libvirt support OS X VMs?
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besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 10:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
Officially, ESXi only supports the Xserve 3,1. That's what I have so no worries there. I'll be virtualizing OS X Server, does KVM/libvirt support OS X VMs?

I would be surprised if ESXi supported running OS X Server as a guest worth a damn, if at all.

I'm not sure whether KVM/libvirt supports OS X VMs, but its sticking point is probably the same thing as it is in Virtualbox and anything else: its drivers being supported by OS X for running video at full resolution, power management, multiple CPUs, audio, etc. Plus, once it has been installed performance will not be terribly great anyway due to lacking drivers, OS X being resource intensive, the guest lacking GPU acceleration, etc.
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
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Feb 15, 2012, 11:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Waragainstsleep: is running your VM guests on Amazon/Linode/Rackspace an option for you? It is certainly nice to have somebody else in charge of the hardware end of things, and the prices are generally quite good.
Running anything from the cloud is not an option at the moment. Firstly the Mac Pro only went in a few months ago and the client will expect years of use out of it, the server I migrated was pretty ancient (the 6 bay RAID in the front totalled 120GB!).
Also their internet connection is nowhere near good enough, I doubt good enough is even available but they certainly wouldn't pay for it if it was. I have another customer who just put a 40Mb each way line in (its guaranteed over 30Mb each way 24/7/365 4 hour response etc) and it costs them a reasonable annual wage. This lot will never stump up for that, even if it were an option.

Of the ~30 clients I think only ~6 are running Vista or 7. Everything else is XP.

I hadn't got much further than pondering ESXi. I looked into it a few years ago but at the time my intended hardware was not up to spec, I just assumed a current Mac Pro would be adequate enough.

How would you backup a live VM? Suspend it, then backup and start it again? It seems to take a massive performance hit if it takes a snapshot or runs a TM backup while its running.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Art Vandelay
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Feb 15, 2012, 11:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
I would be surprised if ESXi supported running OS X Server as a guest worth a damn, if at all.
It officially supports OS X versions that allow virtualization in their EULAs.
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besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 11:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
It officially supports OS X versions that allow virtualization in their EULAs.
Supports sometimes just means that it will run, but not necessarily well.
     
besson3c
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Feb 15, 2012, 11:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
How would you backup a live VM? Suspend it, then backup and start it again? It seems to take a massive performance hit if it takes a snapshot or runs a TM backup while its running.

You can:

- backup the data from within the guest, pushing it out wherever
- pause + snapshot + unpause
- put only the essential easily recoverable OS info on a disk you present to the VM, data that doesn't change very frequently, and all user data on another disk and backup this user data via rsync, put it on a NAS/ZFS box and backup this data separately, LVM snapshots, Amazon S3 backups, whatever. You can do this on host or guest side

There are a variety of techniques, actually...
     
Waragainstsleep  (op)
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Feb 16, 2012, 05:41 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Supports sometimes just means that it will run, but not necessarily well.
This also implies that at least some Apple hardware must be supported too, no?
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
besson3c
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Feb 16, 2012, 05:47 AM
 
Yes, but that's not a big surprise. It will run in a number of VM hosts, it's just a question of how well. Try it, but don't count on wart free virtualization.
     
mduell
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Feb 16, 2012, 02:47 PM
 
Outsource the BES to one of the many hosted BES companies? $10/user/mo is tough to beat when you have 3-4 users.

Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
How would you backup a live VM? Suspend it, then backup and start it again? It seems to take a massive performance hit if it takes a snapshot or runs a TM backup while its running.
Do it on the SAN.
     
   
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