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FM Server on VM


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Good evening all,

We are currently running FMS15 within a VM on Server 2012 R2 with no issues.

At the moment all our databases and documents/etc are stored within the same VM and not on separate drives (meaning that at the moment our VM file is around 650GB).

I was thinking about worst case scenario that we have to restore the server after an attack but if that happened - at the moment we'd have to roll back to the previous nights backup (potentially losing 8 hrs x 8 peoples work). If the DB's were on a separate drive/storage/etc we wouldn't necessarily lose the DB data, just the server, (which could then be copied back very quickly from a previous backup).

What is the general consensus for storing the DB's on another device (NAS/drive/physical disc) when operating in a VM environment and how would performance be affected? I would have thought that putting the DB's on a NAS drive would be too slow and SAN's are too expensive for us (we only have 8 local users).

The performance is great at the moment as the VM is on an SSD drive and I don't really want to lose speed as a result of moving it away remotely.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated - we can't be the only ones with this scenario!



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NAS is a definite no-no.  The network i/o is multitudes slower and more fragile than disk i/o.

Most VM deployments have SANs, can you expand a bit more on your infrastructure and the reason to use a VM in this particular scenario?

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Hi guys thank you for the replies...

The infrastructure is basically a Dell Power Edge T110 Server (few years old now). Originally we were running normal hard drives in RAID1 configuration. The whole setup was very, very slow and when one of the hard drives failed I took the opportunity to upgrade to server grade SSD's and re-install the O/S on to a VM (incase anything went wrong with the server O/S - attack/virus/crash/etc it would be easy to restore it very quickly).

We have 8 users in the office, gigabit networking and at the moment the FMS and data are all stored within the VM.

Downsides to this, as I can tell, are that the VM contains everything to do with FMS including DB's/containers/etc. My thoughts were it would be better to just have a small VM file containing the O/S and services like FMS/Sage/etc and have the 'storage (with db's/documents/etc) stored elsewhere.

It is absolutely possible for an attack to disrupt the shared drives/etc but it's, rightly or wrongly, another step down the line for someone else to attack.

I just can't imagine server admins having VM's around the size that we now have that's all!

Maybe a used SAN setup is the way forward?


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Your choice to use virtualization is not typical.  I would venture to say that using the normal Windows volume snapshotting features you can just as easily restore a full machine or a drive without having to go to virtualization.

The decision to virtualize is typically taken to save cost in infrastructure and maintenance.  To buy 2 really beefy machines and a SAN instead of 10 smaller machines.  The SAN is very much part of that configuration at that point.

In your case you have to spend extra to get SAN functionality, but you only have one machine so you are making your deployment more expensive, not less so.

To me it feels like over-complicating the deployment, for just one machine.


2 minutes ago, Steven H. Blackwell said:

Use of RAID 1 did not help your configuration's performance. if you want to sue RAID, use RAID 10 instead.


What Steven said.

And remember that using RAID is a decision to get more redundancy, not to get more speed.  Very often you sacrifice some speed in trade-off with the redundancy.

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As Wim indicated, it's an expensive convoluted setup for just 8 people.

I have a single FM 15 server (Win2k8R2), currently running on it's own hardware (also had it on a ESXi server for a while). We've generally got anywhere between 8-14 people logged on to it. I make nightly (local) backups of the DB, and use 15 minute progressive backups to cover all likely scenario's. Easy to setup and maintain. I copy every nightly backup DB to my NAS where it's stored for a week. I maintain a weekly backup for 4 weeks on the server too. Backups stored on the NAS get backed up to AWS S3 as well. Everyhting is automated so all I do is weekly checks to ensure everything worked as intended. And every now and then I do some restore tests.

If the hardware dies, I use either a Win2k8R2 install disk or restore a standard image of a preinstalled Win2k8R2 OS using Clonezilla. Installing FMS is quick and easy and I keep a record and backup of all settings.

To mitigate any attacks or malware, I use a strong password and no user ever logs on to the server. Passwords are stored in an encrypted DB (not FM). I have a good firewall with IPS that will keep the casual attacker at bay. I use Observable Networks to keep an eye on what happens on the network. I use Comodo AV on my servers with whitelisting enabled so only known good apps can run. My servers are locked in a server room. I get alerts when things happen that deviate from the baseline. I get regular reports from various systems.

It's a boring live and nothing much happens here. :-D But it's not expensive, suits the business and performs well.

As for NAS's vs SAN's, that line is blurring every day. The Synology NAS's we have can do iSCSI just the same as old style SAN's (though I don't use it). They're way cheaper though. And there are plenty other NAS's that can do the same. There's even NAS's now that allow you to run VM's in it (not Synology's unfortunately).

Our NAS's (we have 3) are used for file storage, that means all images, documents/pdfs and what not are stored on a fileshare, not in the DB. We have some 300,000 customers, so storing relevant documentation in the DB would grow it beyond a manageable size (imho).

Edited by OlgerDiekstra
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On July 8, 2016 at 2:59 PM, Wim Decorte said:

NAS is a definite no-no.  The network i/o is multitudes slower and more fragile than disk i/o.

I can personally vouch for this.  The only way you can get an acceptable IO rate for database use is by using a fiber-backed SAN which is properly configured.  This kind of stuff is normally only found in enterprise class systems because you have to really justify the cost of it. Gigabit speed network is just not going to work in a satisfactory way.

However, NAS makes for a great backup repository.  Both for copies of the FMS generated and VM ones.  Speed isn't that much of a consideration there.  I'm using Synology for both work and home use - great items at a great price.

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