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Mailbag: Why Virtualize

After a Forrester study revealed that virtualization is popping up all over the place (as Jordan says, "duh"), a couple of readers shared how they're contributing to its spread:

I have decided that I need to work for Forrester or Gartner. I've never seen another industry that brings in billions in revenue to state the obvious six months to a year after everbody else already knew it. Of course, people are using virtualization. Of course, it's widespread. Of course, it saves lots of money. Duh?

On a serious note, we are about to utilize a Hyper-V failover cluster to run several of our core services such as DHCP, some DCs and DNS servers, WINS and WSUS. With the way that Datacenter 2008 offers unlimited virtualiztion licensing for the OS, it is a no-brainer. Especially with tight budgets.

-Jordan

We have zero interest in the energy aspect of virtualization. We are, however, going to embrace the new virtualization models to help minimize downtime in case we have failure of our various server computers. We are very attracted to the resilience these new virtual environments can offer.

We recently purchased two low-end Dell PowerEdge T300 servers to retire some eight-year-old servers. Once we are done with the upgrade, we will have four main servers online, each running some version of Windows Server. On our two new servers, we are going to run the free VMware ESXi hypervisor. Initially, each machine will have just one live virtual machine, an instance of Windows Server 2008 Enterprise. We plan to create additional virtual machines for each of our four main servers and keep shutdown available -- that way, if any of our servers physically fail, we can fairly quickly roll over to a cold VMware image, do a quick restore of the most recent backup data for that server, and we are good to go. We don't require 100 percent uptime, but we are interested in minimizing the downtime in the case of a major server failure.

With the current economy, these two servers will likely have to last me quite awhile. I like the versatility a virtual environment gives me to be able to create a new server if I really need to, or even just take a snapshot to test a routine software upgrade. As I get more comfortable with the performance of scaling up the number of virtual machines running on a single box, we may consolidate our servers some, but for now that is not the goal. I would imagine that many folks are in the same boat as myself -- using these new virtual environments to reduce downtime and just enhance our options in a small IT environment.
-Dennis

What do you think? Share your thoughts below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on March 18, 2009 at 11:53 AM