Exploring HA options for a small network

Discussion in 'Networking & Security' started by AMD_RULES, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. AMD_RULES

    AMD_RULES 2[H]4U

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    I will possibly be setting up a small network for a family member this summer. Right now I am in the planning stage of determining the best setup for this network. The office is a small dental practice. The network will be done in a two part process. The first part will be implementing the entire network infrastructure and only installing two front desk machines and a doctor's computer in an office. A few months later two or three workstations will be added to the operatories to support chair-side charts, as well as digital x-Rays. My overall goal with this network is to be as simple as possible, yet still perform well and remain stable.

    I am trying to figure out an affordable, yet effective high availability setup for this network. Basically what I am trying to figure out is how I can do some sort of server replication and failover in case of a hardware failure. The server will be running DHCP, DNS, AD, DC, File and Print, and a database for the practice management software. I''m not looking for hardware recommendations, but I do plan to get hardware that is slightly overkill to ensure optimal performance and stability down the road. Despite redundant power supplies and raid arrays, I'm worried about the server bringing the practice to a hault with a hardware or software failure. The reason I am posting this thread is that I am seeking help to determine a simple low-cost fail-over setup. I feel that doing a dual node and SAN setup is overkill, as well as too expensive for this type of network.

    What I am looking for is similar to that of a Raid 1 array between two servers. I believe this would be more like an Active/Passive type fail-over setup. Basically have everything on the first node copied to the second (backup) node. I'm not sure if this is a built-in function within Windows or if it would require some type of software for the replication. One solution I have researched that seems slightly complicated would be to use Hyper-V Replica. I'm not totally sure I understand how it works yet, but I believe that I could essentially do what I have asked for above, but having the practice management database in a VM with a replicated VM on the second node. Then I could have DNS, DHCP, and those other services set up as fail-over between the two nodes. I have not really done much with virtualization, so this may actually be a simple set up, but to me it seems kind of complicated. I am trying to avoid using a SAN at all costs. Remember, keep it simple!

    One last point to make is that I am under the impression that I don't necessarily have to have the same hardware in both servers. I'm definitely going to have a new server ordered for the primary server, but I was thinking of picking up a refurbished server for the second node. A total budget has not be determined at this point, but I would say it's safe to assume that this HA setup needs to remain around or under $4-5,000. I would also like to point out that most of the time, I will be doing support remotely for the network.

    Please let me know what you think would be the ideal way to achieve this high availability setup. Thank you! :D
     
  2. cyr0n_k0r

    cyr0n_k0r [H]ardness Supreme

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    Hyper-V cluster with DAS.
    You can get most of the benefits from shared storage on a DAS unit with Server 2012 or 2012 R2 now, lowering the cost of entry ALOT.
    Depending on how many VM's you want to run get a single copy of Server 2012 standard, or a couple copies of 2012 essentials. Then you wouldn't have to worry about CAL's.
     
  3. Tee

    Tee Limp Gawd

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    Two small nas devices that can hold a VMware image and than rsync the nas devices?

    Cheap server to run the VM.
     
  4. Nate7311

    Nate7311 2[H]4U

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    I would think that the cost of entry into the HA world in terms of software and hardware would be more then the emerging practice would support. Now for a 50 dentist mega-practice, it's a different story. But for 5 people in a startup practice, it smacks of you wanting to play on their dime.
     
  5. UncleDavid218

    UncleDavid218 2[H]4U

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    Agreed. HA is very expensive. You need to identify RPO/RTO and lay out the costs with the dentist. Doing HA in that environment (probably 2 replicated ESXi hosts with local OBR10 most likely) over doubles the cost of the network due to needing another identical host as well as the software licensing to support the replication.

    What may be a better option is buying a stout host and get a 4 hour warranty on it through HP or Dell or whoever you go with. When I looked for our planned server a 4 hour 3 year warranty was only $1,500 on a $15k server. IMO, not bad especially when you figure in the cost for another host.

    I really like the HP ProLiant Gen8 servers. Put a bunch of RAM and HDDs in there, setup OBR10, ESXi 5.5 Essentials, and go to town. Just make sure you have a solid back up plan.

    To put in in perspective, we're a 24 hour a day, $15m a year, 100 person manufacturing company and we still cannot make a good business case for HA.
     
  6. TeeJayHoward

    TeeJayHoward Limpness Supreme

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    A note to those recommending ESXi solutions - The licensing costs for the version of vCenter Server with HA is significantly higher than the standard ESXi Essentials license. It's $560 for Essentials, vs. $5440 for Essentials with HA (Essentials Plus). You've just blown the whole budget on software, with nothing left over for hardware or maintenance. It's not often that I'll recommend Hyper-V over VMWare, but this is one of those cases where it's worth looking into. Setting up a Hyper-V environment could be significantly cheaper for this practice, and for the simple needs laid out, there's really no reason NOT to.
     
  7. UncleDavid218

    UncleDavid218 2[H]4U

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    IF he was to do replication, doing it with Veeam would be the way to go from a cost standpoint IMO. But I don't really like Hyper-V much, so I'm biased. :D
     
  8. Nate7311

    Nate7311 2[H]4U

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    For SMB business, I've done a fair amount of Hyper-V and if the OP absolutely has to have some sort of HA, the best solution might be a form scheduled replication, and there are a variety of programs out there that can do that, either on-site to a different box or off-site via WAN even reasonably. I have a few clients that spin off changes to their Hyper-V VMs to a backup server @ noon/midnight every day to give as fast of an RTO as possible w/o performance hit and/or an unreasonable pricetag. But in the end, unless it's expressly required by the one writing the checks, true HA is overkill.
     
  9. marley1

    marley1 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Listen to Nate.

    For small business you aren't doing HA. For a 3 operatory dental office not worth it.

    Do Hyper-V with Server 2012. DC, DNS, File, and your Dental LOB (Patterson or Dentrix I hope). Do good backups to external drives you take home on some routine. Then do some online backup on the host for the "o-shit" policy.

    If doing Patterson you may want to have a hyper-v instance for the kiosk mode.

    If you need any help let me know, I deal with both of them every day it seems.

    If you can afford two hosts you can look at http://www.starwindsoftware.com/
     
  10. AMD_RULES

    AMD_RULES 2[H]4U

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    I'm going to look into getting a single server to run a few VMs, as well as 4 hour on-site warranty. Thanks guys!

    Will be using Patterson Eaglesoft. Should I use sata or sas for this small of an office? Regardless, it will be a Raid 10 OBR. Should I do a VM just for DNS, DHCP, DC, AD, and File & Print and a second VM for the practice management software database?
     
  11. marley1

    marley1 [H]ardness Supreme

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    4-Hour isn't necessary. Well in my opinion. Most offices can still survive if they were down for a day. I wouldn't spend the extra funds.

    SAS is always standard for me. 4 300GB SAS in Raid 10 is plenty data for an office.

    Single VM is fine. The roles take up nothing.

    Look at Backup Assist or Altaro.
    Use Crashplan in the VM for a cheap offsite approach. Just schedule a task to stop the Eaglesoft DB at say 2am, backup, then start it up again at 7am.
     
  12. AMD_RULES

    AMD_RULES 2[H]4U

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    Okay cool. I will probably be sending you a PM about all of this soon, since you deal with this kind of installation often.

    Thanks for the info! :cool:
     
  13. AMD_RULES

    AMD_RULES 2[H]4U

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    marley1 - the Patterson requirement PDF says eaglesoft isn't supported in virtual machines...?
     
  14. Nate7311

    Nate7311 2[H]4U

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    Who says they have to know? :)
     
  15. cyr0n_k0r

    cyr0n_k0r [H]ardness Supreme

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    not being "supported" and not working are 2 totally different things.
    A company that doesn't support something running in a virtual machine because they are too lazy to certify it and test it in the lab should be avoided.
    VM's have been mainstream for years now.
     
  16. AMD_RULES

    AMD_RULES 2[H]4U

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  17. Nate7311

    Nate7311 2[H]4U

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    A few lines down in the "Additional Items" table on the 4th page, specifies against anything running in VM. I'd agree with cyr0n_k0r, that requirement is purely so their support department doesn't have to worry about troubleshooting around a Hyper-visor issue. i.e. Laziness.

    Before you take this to heart, make sure you contact the salesweasel and/or local support guy and verify if that's set in stone or just a CYA line added to the specs.
     
  18. AMD_RULES

    AMD_RULES 2[H]4U

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    Well if it's not a hyper-v issue, I don't see why they wouldnt be able to offer support. I plan on talking with a tech rep at some point.