Posts Tagged ‘data centre virtualisation’

Proper Planning of Virtual Servers (Part 1)

computer-servers-business-solutionsOne of the more common areas of confusion with Virtual Servers is how to deploy them properly, to ensure good performance and reliability. Some people are scared of Virtual Server technology and refuse to believe it can ever perform well enough to justify the investment. Others see Virtualisation as the magic bullet and end up throwing lots of money at technology they don’t really understand, with disappointing results.

While the Microsoft Virtual Server product is quite new, Virtualisation is a mature technology in general, with Virtual PC being a long established product and VMWare having a large range of virtualisation products to fit most needs and budgets.

When deciding whether or not to use virtualisation in a data centre, you should first of all formulate a list of aims you expect your virtualisation project to achieve. This should be painfully obvious but I’ve seen lots of IT projects implemented because “it looked cool” and these are usually characterised as the ones that end badly and cost way over their original budget.

Speaking of migration of old legacy servers onto new hardware, this frequently reflects old “line of business” apps running on NT4 or old versions of Linux that cannot easily be upgraded to more modern OSes and where maintenance on the current hardware platform has become an issue, according to website.

These deployments are usually pretty painless because the Virtualisation process is simply providing a compatibility layer to allow an old OS to run on new hardware for which it would not normally have drivers.

These old server applications typically will not stretch the abilities of modern hardware, so you can probably get away with sticking two or three applications of this kind together on one system without too much thought and get away with it. The use of the word “probably” is important here. Test, don’t assume!

Where users want to upgrade a server in place, but feel a clean install of components is either “required” or at least preferred, then virtualisation can make sense to reduce the hardware requirements for the temporary server used to hold the data while the “proper” hardware is being upgraded.

This hasn’t really come into play a lot so far, but right now we’re seeing people buy “64 bit ready” hardware and running 32 bit versions of operating systems and applications on it while they wait for 64 bit versions of those apps to appear and grow in maturity. This is a common scenario for people who are using SQL Server or Exchange Server on Windows at the moment… 64 bit versions of Exchange are still in beta at the time of writing, and 64 bit versions of SQL Server 2005 are available but very new, and all good DB admins are cautious about doing too many new things at once to data they actually care about.

Before I forget, I came across some other server based solutions for business when I read some fax reviews on ringcentral. It really was very pertinent info that I just had to share as I know that virtualisation entails a lot of planning. Businesses that use virtual fax and other business communication solution should definitely look into their server infrastructure to make sure that all upgrades and processes go smoothly. Just thought that it might also worth sharing this referral code for ringcentral fax in the event that this is something that your business might be interested in.

Anyway, once the tipping point arrives for these systems, it will not be possible to upgrade in place and setting up a temporary system on a virtual server to move the “live” install onto while the proper host system is being rebuilt makes a lot of sense.

In a way, I see the performance issues for this situation being quite similar to the issues you would encounter with moving a legacy system. You need to do some planning of course but you probably can just get away with “throwing” the system onto your virtual server host any way you can, because with luck it won’t be there for very long. You can also limit the amount of systems to be virtualised at any one time to whatever capacity your virtual host can cope with.