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Where might I find resources discussing virtualizing a small MOSS machine? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Currently we have an old server running both Windows Server 2003, 32 bit MOSS SP 2007 Service Pack 1 web front end and applications (the primary application being the MOSS search functionality). The SQL Server 2005 is a separate machine.

    That machine needs to be refreshed, and several people have recommended that we use a physical-to-virtual process and run a virtual machine, perhaps splitting the applications off into a second machine.

    Two things that I would really like to find are:

    1. a document discussing recommendations regarding the specifications that the virtual machines should have. 

    2. any white papers, case studies, etc. regarding best practices for making this type of move.

    Because, right now, I don't know whether there are 32 bit web parts, etc. on the site that would break if I moved them to a 64 bit environment, I was thinking about keeping the web front end a 32 bit machine, but setting up the index crawler machine as a 64 bit machine.  Does that make sense?  With the 32 bit machine being extremely limited regarding the amount of memory available, it seems like it would make sense to take something like the index crawler application onto a machine that can be given more memory.

    I have never configured a SharePoint instance before, but from some articles on msdn that I have read, it seems like that sort of split might work to our benefit.

    I would appreciate pointers, personal insights and experiences, etc.

    Thank you so much.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012 5:16 PM

Answers

  • You have a few questions, so let's address them one at a time.

    1. a document discussing recommendations regarding the specifications that the virtual machines should have. 

    The virtual machine should meet the minimum hardware requirements for a web front end or application server. Given that these requirements are 5 years old (though that page was last updated a year and a half ago), they should be easy to meet. I would suggest sizing it similarly, though perhaps larger if possible, to what you currently have. One of the benefits of virtualization is you can increase the specs rather easily should you need to so you could always increase CPU, disk or RAM later.

    For reference the minimum and recommended hardware specs are:

    Component Minimum Recommended

    Processor

    2.5 GHz

    Dual processors that are each faster than 2.5 GHz

    RAM

    2 GB

    4 GB

    Disk

    NTFS file system–formatted partition with a minimum of 3 GB of free space

    NTFS file system–formatted partition with 3 GB of free space plus adequate free space for your data storage requirements

    Drive

    DVD drive

    DVD drive or the source copied to a local or network-accessible drive

    Display

    1024 × 768

    1024 × 768 or higher resolution monitor

    Network

    • 56 Kbps connection between client computers and server

    • For connections between computers in your server farm, 100 megabits per second (Mbps) connection

    • 56 Kbps or faster connection between client computers and server

    • For connections between computers in your server farm, 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) connection

    2. any white papers, case studies, etc. regarding best practices for making this type of move.

    I'm not aware of any specific whitepapers. It's pretty straight forward in most cases assuming you're virtualizing a single server. Which product are you using?

    Because, right now, I don't know whether there are 32 bit web parts, etc. on the site that would break if I moved them to a 64 bit environment, I was thinking about keeping the web front end a 32 bit machine, but setting up the index crawler machine as a 64 bit machine.  Does that make sense?  With the 32 bit machine being extremely limited regarding the amount of memory available, it seems like it would make sense to take something like the index crawler application onto a machine that can be given more memory.

    You can't have servers in a farm running different architecture (that is one server running 32-bit and another running 64-bit). They must all be one or the other. If your farm is currently 32-bit, you'll need to keep all the servers in the farm 32-bit (including the servers you P2V). If you want to change to 64-bit, you need to create a new farm with new servers running Windows Server (2003 or 2008) x64 and MOSS x64 and migrate your solutions and data (through a restore, database attach, or a third party migration tool).


    Jason Warren
    Infrastructure Specialist
    Habañero Consulting Group
    www.habaneros.com/blog


    Tuesday, May 1, 2012 5:57 PM

All replies

  • You have a few questions, so let's address them one at a time.

    1. a document discussing recommendations regarding the specifications that the virtual machines should have. 

    The virtual machine should meet the minimum hardware requirements for a web front end or application server. Given that these requirements are 5 years old (though that page was last updated a year and a half ago), they should be easy to meet. I would suggest sizing it similarly, though perhaps larger if possible, to what you currently have. One of the benefits of virtualization is you can increase the specs rather easily should you need to so you could always increase CPU, disk or RAM later.

    For reference the minimum and recommended hardware specs are:

    Component Minimum Recommended

    Processor

    2.5 GHz

    Dual processors that are each faster than 2.5 GHz

    RAM

    2 GB

    4 GB

    Disk

    NTFS file system–formatted partition with a minimum of 3 GB of free space

    NTFS file system–formatted partition with 3 GB of free space plus adequate free space for your data storage requirements

    Drive

    DVD drive

    DVD drive or the source copied to a local or network-accessible drive

    Display

    1024 × 768

    1024 × 768 or higher resolution monitor

    Network

    • 56 Kbps connection between client computers and server

    • For connections between computers in your server farm, 100 megabits per second (Mbps) connection

    • 56 Kbps or faster connection between client computers and server

    • For connections between computers in your server farm, 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) connection

    2. any white papers, case studies, etc. regarding best practices for making this type of move.

    I'm not aware of any specific whitepapers. It's pretty straight forward in most cases assuming you're virtualizing a single server. Which product are you using?

    Because, right now, I don't know whether there are 32 bit web parts, etc. on the site that would break if I moved them to a 64 bit environment, I was thinking about keeping the web front end a 32 bit machine, but setting up the index crawler machine as a 64 bit machine.  Does that make sense?  With the 32 bit machine being extremely limited regarding the amount of memory available, it seems like it would make sense to take something like the index crawler application onto a machine that can be given more memory.

    You can't have servers in a farm running different architecture (that is one server running 32-bit and another running 64-bit). They must all be one or the other. If your farm is currently 32-bit, you'll need to keep all the servers in the farm 32-bit (including the servers you P2V). If you want to change to 64-bit, you need to create a new farm with new servers running Windows Server (2003 or 2008) x64 and MOSS x64 and migrate your solutions and data (through a restore, database attach, or a third party migration tool).


    Jason Warren
    Infrastructure Specialist
    Habañero Consulting Group
    www.habaneros.com/blog


    Tuesday, May 1, 2012 5:57 PM
  • I believe the team  uses vmware. They have virtualized physical servers before - I just have never been involved with that effort, nor of setting up a sharepoint server before, so I am nervous about the whole then. Then when the managers come back and tell me they want to know the architecture we are using, then I scramble to get information.

    Thank you for the info about not being able to mix 32 and 64 bit architecture. I thought that in one of the msdn articles I had read that as long as it was different tiers that it could be done.

    Right now, we have 2 machines in the "farm" - a sql server (that is shared with other apps) and a sharepoint machine, which does the iis, web front end, indexing, excel, etc.  It is a 32 bit machine. I was hoping to put the index crawling, etc. onto a 64 bit machine to reduce the load. We have been advised to expect a 10% performance hit when we go virtual. I thought moving at least the indexing application to a second machine would help compensate for that.

    I feel like I am in the swamp with alligators all around, snapping at me ...

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012 11:47 AM
  • If I remember correctly, the mixing between tiers is allowed between SharePoint servers and database servers. That is you can have 32-bit SharePoint and 64-bit SQL or vice versa, but you can't have 32-bit SharePoint with 64-bit SharePoint.

    SharePoint's presentation and application tiers aren't true tiers in the computer science sense of the word. With SharePoint, an "application server" is just a server that doesn't serve http/https requests from users (thoough it could be configured to do so). It can be dedicated to a very specific role (such as indexing) or can hold all the roles in the farm (typical of a single-server instance). As SharePoint is felxible with repurposing a server, for example adding the web front end role to an application server at a later time, you can't mix the architectures because at some point one of the servers may need to change roles.

    P2V conversion should be pretty straight forward. Just make sure SharePoint isn't being used by anyone (so definitely do this during a maintenance window). Stopping all the Windows SharePoint Services and Office SharePoint Server services in the Services snapin (services.msc) will prevent access and stop the server from hitting your SQL Server as well. In theory the conversion should not affect the physical machine so if something goes wrong you have this as a backup. Oh right, don't forget to make a backup before you begin!


    Jason Warren
    Infrastructure Specialist
    Habañero Consulting Group
    www.habaneros.com/blog

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012 2:59 PM
  • Well, that's too bad, but I understand what you are saying. Thank you.

    Another question for you.

    As I said, I have 1 physical SharePoint server doing web front end and indexing and 1 physical server doing SQL Server.

    Before I turn things loose on the users, I would really like to stand up the p-to-v of my production server, point it to a copy of the production SQL Server tables, and see how things look.

    I don't want to use the _real_ SQL Server tables, because I want to also use this to test out our upgrade to SharePoint 2007 SP1 to SP3, without changing production data until we have had time to test things out and make certain things are okay.

    What I have not been able to find are tutorials, white papers, tips on how to accomplish creating a "clone" of the production SQL Server tables and then pointing the p-to-v at the cloned tables.

    Is this impossible to do?  I have read warnings about copies of configuration tables, possible problems with GUIDs in copied SharePoint tables, etc.

    Thank you for your help!

    Friday, May 4, 2012 5:44 PM
  • What I have not been able to find are tutorials, white papers, tips on how to accomplish creating a "clone" of the production SQL Server tables and then pointing the p-to-v at the cloned tables.


    You haven't found any resources about this because this type of method for farm duplication is not supported.

    What you can do instead is spin up a new SQL Server and MOSS server (SP1), add any solutions you're using, and do a farm backup from your production system and restore it into this new environment. The new farm will closely match what you have in production and allow you to test out deploying SP3.


    Jason Warren
    Infrastructure Specialist

    Friday, May 4, 2012 6:02 PM
  • Are there techniques we can use to discover the solutions being used on this farm? We were not here during most of the life of the machine, so we don't know whether anything extra is installed on the machine.
    Tuesday, May 8, 2012 12:06 PM
  • From "Central Admin" you can go to "Operations" > "Solution Management" to see if there are any solutions and the status of deployments.

    Paul Turner http://redmanta.co.uk/blog Twitter: @RedMantaUK MCTS:WSS,MOSS,2010 MCITP:2010.
    Please remember to click "Propose As Answer" if a post solves your problem or "Vote As Helpful" if it was useful.

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012 12:10 PM
  • Thank you. Unfortunately, when I go to the SP 2007 Service Pack 1 Central Admin, I do not see a Solution Management link on the Operations page. I even checked the Application Management and Shared Serviced Administration and didn't find it there as well. I wonder if this is something that becomes available in a later update from Microsoft.
    Tuesday, May 8, 2012 4:56 PM