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Server Virtualization - Today's Hot Technology

Friday, November 28, 2008 in Technical Articles (Views: 4456)
I've seen the next big thing so many times in 21 years that it makes me laugh looking back. There was Stacker/DoubleSpace, QEMM, OS/2, BBS (including the GUI BBS known as RIPTerm), Compuserve, Netware, even games like Scorched Earth, Doom, and Wolfenstein. How about Windows 3.0? Some people have no clue maybe what most, or any of these things were.

One of the fastest growing technologies today is virtualization. There is a good reason for this - it saves money on hardware, consolidates servers, and is very simple to back up and restore.

Virtulizaton works great for these environments:

1. Test Labs

2. Server consolidations (where you have a single purpose server dedicated to a single piece of hardware).

3. Legacy server retirements

4. A small environment, like, where you really don't have the budget for new hardware at home to run everything you want to test. :)

I do really like Hyper-V, which comes with Windows Server 2008. As a matter of fact, does run almost completely virtualized now. Once I move the web server to Sharepoint, we will have converted 100% to virtual machines.

Here's one example of how virtualization made things more efficient on our network:

The biggest thing to consider when running Exchange is taking advantage of virtualization, when you can. In a small environment, this should be easy to do. I set up a 1GB VM with Hyper-V, and the server runs great on it. I have all but the client role installed. Previously, I was running on a 4GB hardware box, and even with tweaks in place, was running at about 96% memory. Moving the mailbox and transport roles to a VM saved me greatly. I am now down to about 40% utilization, being I also run SQL Server and System Center Configuration Manager on the same system. Gotta love the small budget. :)

Also, this allows me to run things like SCCM and Forefront in seperate environments as well, not praying that one hotfix won't break the other system, since they aren't really tested or supported together. It also gives me the opportunity to put things in more of a "real world" scenario, where I don't have to worry about the Exchange/SQL/Web/Config Manager server running on a Domain Controller. :)

Another great use of Virtualization was last year at work, when we had several Windows NT 4.0 domain controllers which were about to be retired, but the hardware failed. Instead of creating new BDC's and trying to fix the old hardware, I put Virtual Server to work, recreated the PDC and 2 BDC's, and the network never knew the difference. I was asked, however, how the DC's were running while they were powered off. :)

In all, Virtualization is something that is very hot in the technology market, and for a good reason. It saves money on hardware, power consumption, and server room space. It also leverages software to assume a greater role, and empowers its users to set up powerful environment, yes, even clustered ones, right on a desktop if need be.

This is a blog about Virtualization - not which product I think is best, although for my environment, free or included is very attractive. Hyper-V, Virtual Server, and Virtual PC for me really do the job I need it to do.

Also as a side note, if you purchase Windows Server 2008, you automatically do become licensed to run Virtual Machines through Hyper-V. I believe Enterprise gives you the base OS and 3 additional VM's, for example. These VM's can also be spread across multiple installations.


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