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Virtualizing Windows Server Essentials


Sep 26, 2019
I work at a small company as an Electrical Engineer and have taken on the additional duty of IT. For the past 5 years we have been running Windows Server Essentials 2016(started with 2012) with a fair bit of success, I love the VPN experience, computer backups, integration with O-365 and Exchange and really want to keep that moving forward but one thing I have not done is virtualize the install making hardware migration a pain. There are also additional services running on the server I would like to virtualize. The other problem I am running into is that some of my users are building rather large and complex Solidworks assemblies (multiple gigs) and 1 gig network is simply not working for them.

So I was hoping I could use you guys as a sounding board for my proposed solution.

My idea was to run freeNas to essentially control the drives and to run as a VM manager.
Running windows server essentials 2016 inside a VM (would this still receive the ram cache benefits from ZFS?) Assigning it 2 10 gig nics
Running several other VMs (freePBX, Solidworks License manager, etc)
Using freeNas to backup everything off site.

I would like to keep the shares managed by the Windows Server as my users love the use of the essentials plugin and anywhere access.
I guess my main concerns are, will I be shooting myself in the foot by running the shares off the windows server inside of the VM? Does freeNas offsite backup include the VMs?

Thanks for your time,