Multi-Site | Recommendation Needed for Upgrades and Migrating to Hybrid IaaS

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  • jhillman

    Background Information

    I was contacted by one of our local clients here in SoCal to assist in resolving some issues the company was having when connected to their HQ up in the Bay Area. About a year ago, the President invested around $35K to resolve some of these issues, however, he is still having the same difficulty he was having previously. They currently have an individual handling all their IT infrastructure and purchases, however, he does not do IT for a living and it is apparent by the configuration of the existing equipment. Additionally, this same individual is seeking a $50K+ budget to resolve some existing issues.

    SoCal Location (Verizon via XO Communications)

    10 Workstations
    10 VoIP Phones
    Server: No Server
    Bandwidth: 50M/50M
    Cisco 2951


    Sites are connected via XO’s MPLS service. This site has a 50M/50M connection. In order to run their LoB software, they connect to a Terminal Server located in NorCal and run it. The major compliant I am receiving from the users, ironically, is not that the Terminal Services session is slow. Instead, their major difficulty is getting their file shares to stay operating properly throughout the day. Occasionally the file shares become inaccessible. I’ve contacted their service provider (XO) to make sure the issue is not the connection between the sites.

    NorCal Location (AT&T via XO Communications)

    16 Workstations
    16 VoIP Phones
    Cisco 2951
    Sonicwall TZ-210
    Bandwidth: 20M/20M


    Sun Fire X4170

    • VMware VM 1 – Small Business Server 2008 (Exchange Server, SQL Server, File Server, AD, DNS, DHCP)
      • Exchange 2007 for Company Email (Note: Leveraging Public Folders Heavily)
      • SQL 2008 Standard for DBs for LoB Application (Note: SQL Should not be installed on top of SBS)
      • File Server – 600GB in Fileshares (Note: All workstations in SoCal and NorCal accessing this server for fileshares)

    Sun Server X4-2L

    • VMware VM 2 – Windows Server 2008 R2 (Terminal Server, Application Server)
      • Users connect to this Terminal Server to run their LoB Application
    • VMware VM3 – Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard
      • ​Storagecraft ShadowProtect installed on this server to handle backups.


    Access to the fileshares on the server here from SoCal work only intermittently (major problem). There is no DFS or BranchCache setup. Please note that when connecting to the Terminal Server from SoCal there doesn’t seem to be much latency, however, the fileshares continue to be an issue. If the issue/cause were bandwidth I’d expect the Terminal Server to be sluggish. It is not. As a result I have a strong feeling that the issue stems from the old Small Business Server. Tested the link between sites which appears to be solid. Contacted XO support to ensure the link between sites is good. They don’t appear to be the problem.

    Information Request

    So I was posting to see if my colleagues here might be able to provide me some ideas in tackling this particular problem. Please note that we have a budget of around $50K. The solution proposed by the existing IT servicer involves purchasing yet another server, using VMware vSphere, increasing the bandwidth in NorCal and deploying a new SQL Server, new Exchange Server on this new hardware.

    The owner of the company is a great guy who is wondering why he keeps spending tens of thousands of dollars on equipment when it doesn’t solve the problem. Honestly, he probably has enough hardware up there already to handle most of his load. He is also open to the cloud and if it makes sense would be willing to move to a hybrid setup and start offloading his onsite equipment. He plans on opening a few satellite offices in other surrounding states as well.

    I want to propose a solution that prepares him for the future (he is growing) and that does not require constant repairs. If it involves Azure and Office 365 great. If it involves third party services, that’ll be great as well. I have a couple of ideas, but I was hoping to get some input from all of you to see what you are doing in the field for this type of scenario and to get ideas I might miss on my own.

    ​Thank you for your time and ideas and I look forward to hearing from you!

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