- by Jon, "GingerBread", Pentecost
In my first blog about virtualizing your small business, I talked about consolidating your physical hardware from a larger number of servers to only a few servers, reducing energy costs to run the smaller number of servers, and easily adding storage space. In this blog about virtualizing your small business, I am going to review some of the other benefits.
The ability to move a virtual server to another host with minimal down-time is another great reason to virtualize. Let’s say you had the scenario of two host servers that both have Hyper-V installed on them and one of the host servers had a VM on it, but that host server needed to have repairs or maintenance completed on it. You can simply shut down the VM, export the configuration of the VM, move the exported configuration file and .vhd files to the other host, import the configuration file with the .vhd files in the correct location, and then startup the VM while the other host server is offline for repairs or maintenance.
Better yet, why not have a failover cluster of the host servers with shared storage? Then you would be able to live migrate the server without even needing to shut down the VM and have any downtime. You can then complete the repairs or maintenance on the one host with no interruption at all of any network services.
You can also setup virtual workstations for applications that always need to be running on a workstation that is logged in as a particular user. Certain applications always need to be run with the workstation logged in, so rather than dedicating a workstation just for that purpose, you can setup a virtual workstation and deploy the physical workstations to actual users. This would reduce the number of physical workstations you need to have running (again, think of the energy costs you can save by less machines running) and would still have the ability to connect to the workstation in the same way you would a workstation in the server room that is only connected to power and a network cord.
Contact us to talk about our Philadelphia Area Information Technology Solutions or our Virtualization Solutions for your small and medium size businesses.
- by Dan "I make 'A Christmas Carol' References Look Easy", Rodden
What is my biggest pet peeve in Information Technology? Hardware dependence. Hardware dependence is an extremely intrusive variable that is really so integral to systems that it makes it difficult to work around it when planning or fixing a network. Hardware dependence is the reason that you still have a Windows NT 4.0 workstation operating the plotter. Hardware dependence is the reason your old fax server hasn’t been decommissioned or the reason why you are still using server that requires a physical piece of equipment be installed to operate your Line of Business application. These restrictions weigh us down like the chains of Jacob Marley, forcing compromises in new business developments and abandonments of updates that will improve efficiency and reduce work.
Well, the future is now, and it is time to bask in the glory of the physically-independent virtual world. With products like Microsoft Hyper-V, not only can you maximize your hardware investments, but you can rest easy knowing that if something happens to that hardware it is easily replaced with completely different hardware and your virtual infrastructure won’t know the difference once it is booted again. This makes the potential for disaster recovery very real, because being that the systems are already virtualized, they are very easily transferrable to a remote location, and the time spent making them bootable in the new environment is severely minimized if not eliminated.
In addition to the disaster recovery potential, virtualizing your infrastructure also affords the benefit of maximizing your resource utilization. When you virtualize your servers, you can get the most out of your hardware by utilizing the necessary hardware resources with technology like dynamic disks and dynamic memory, which provide the virtual machines with more hard drive space, more RAM as needed. This allows you to operate your infrastructure at both the minimum and the recommended requirements, because your servers will be dynamically adjusting their resources as needed, allowing the virtual servers to “trade” resource allocation when demand between them fluctuates.
What are you waiting for? Make everyone’s life easier and get the most out of your investments – start virtualizing.
- by Jon, "Gingerbread", Pentecost
In the past, each server would be on its own box because hardware was cheap and there weren’t too many technologies around that would efficiently run multiple servers on a single system. You were able to have three or four servers, each doing a separate job (one for Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, another for E-mail, and a third for doing utility/maintenance or specialized task like database).
In today’s environment, you could have only two servers that run three virtual systems each that are replicating, as well as a fourth server that you can use for testing up-and-coming technologies without the need of purchasing additional hardware. Let’s explore just one example of how things used to be and how things are today.
Let’s say that you have your typical three servers. There is a problem and the motherboard on your main AD DS server gets fried. Depending on your configuration, there may be minimal issues with users logging in if one of your other servers also has AD running but all of their files are stored on the drives in the main server – big problem. You have to wait until you can get a replacement motherboard and install it as soon as it arrives – a day and a half minimum of downtime.
Now use the same scenario, except that you have two Hyper-V servers and all three of your servers are virtualized, properly replicating between Hyper-V hosts prior to the motherboard failure. Only a few system changes to point to alternate locations (at most, as in a complete replication scenario using DFS and Exchange DAG, there is complete fail-over capabilities) and users are back up in minutes. You can now casually order and install the motherboard in the failed server, as there is little downtime for your users.
Now let’s go over a couple environmental issues (especially with “Going Green” being a big push now). How much power are all three or four of those servers using to be on, let alone the battery backup units to power them and the air conditioning to keep them cool? Using only two servers, not as much power is used to have them running, not as much heat is generated, therefore less air conditioning is needed. Most likely, the servers are older too and are not running as efficiently as a new server would be. Need I go on?
One other great benefit of virtualizing your environment is that if you need to add storage space, it is much easier expanding the size of a .vhd, as opposed to expanding out a RAID configuration. Just add another drive or two to the host and then add that space to the .vhd of the server that is running out.
There are many more benefits that we don’t have time to go into, but if you are thinking of replacing at least one of your servers, maybe now is the time to start thinking of going virtual? Contact us to review our Small Business Solutions for Philadelphia or talk with us about our Philadelphia Area Managed IT Services Programs.
Frankly, keeping up with growth has presented more work than our small team was prepared for — with traffic now climbing more than500M pageviews each month. But we are determined and focused on bringing our infrastructure well ahead of capacity as quickly as possible. We’ve nearly quadrupled our engineering team this month alone, and continue to distribute and enhance our architecture to be more resilient to failures like today’s.
We can’t apologize enough, nor can we thank you enough for putting up with these growing pains. We know how impossibly frustrating it is to see your work offline. But please always know that we truly care about your work as much as you do, and we have an incredibly capable team working incredibly hard to take good care of it.
You could smell the internet tears lasting nearly 24 hours yesterday. If Twitter is what most consider a social forum for posting small 140 character messages of your breakfast, then Tumblr is the forum that lets you write an essay on that breakfast.
Tumblr is an easy to use blogging platform that lets you set-up a website in seconds. You can now write your little heart out about cute adorable kittens, or funny pictures of Kim Jong-il looking at things. Sadly, things came to an abrupt end thanks to an error in Tumblr's cluster of servers. The entire network of blogs were down for 24 hours. Anger and hysteria ensued. Some even wrote open letters.
But, what are we owed from a free service? Anything?
Tumblr is a free blogging service and super simple to use. Do we have a right to get angry if we host a site with them and things are down for an entire day? That could be business lost if your goal is to make monies from your page. On the other end of the spectrum, if you're just posting picture of Kim Jong-il, I'm sure you wouldn't really care that much.
Do hipsters have a right to get upset with Tumblr's lackadaisical communication during the outage, or should they just get along with their lives and possibly shower?
Perhaps Tumblr should have contacted Trigon about the virtualization of their servers. We're able to work with out clients to minimize any downtime, whether it be an off-site disaster recovery center or bringing sandwiches during a server rebuild.