Michael Archick, Fandotech's Director of Virtual Infrastructure,?discusses the benefits of virtualization from the data center to the desktop. Topics include the differences between traditional vs. virtual infrastructure, cost savings benefits, server consolidation solutions, and time management improvement strategies.
On May 14th we held our first seminar on virtualization and how it can be implemented as a vehicle for savings. This event was well attended, and for those that did make it out, let me first say Thank You! For those of you who did not get the opportunity to attend let me give you a brief recap of the event.The Scouting Report; Virtualization Stats and Overview:
Frank Gesino, our VP of Professional Services, led off the event with an introduction to server virtualization. This discussion outlined what server virtualization is and how it is delivered to a client. Frank outlined designing a virtual environment and showed the scale of server consolidation a company can benefit from (often a 10:1 ratio) in this architecture.
Frank also highlighted that savings come, not only in the reduction of servers needed to support your company, but also through increased productivity and reduced downtime achieved by utilizing high availability capabilities found in properly configured virtual environments.Spring Training; Real-time Virtualization Demo:
Joe Bucceri, our CTO, and Mike Conigliaro, our Virtualization Specialist, gave a live demo of virtualization in action. This was the highlight of the event as the duo demonstrated how a virtual Windows server can be built for use on your network in less than 20 minutes!
They also showed the power of the higher availability that can be achieved in this architecture. Mike was working with standard applications on a Citrix server that was part of the VM environment. At the same time, Joe moved his Citrix server from one physical box to another, without any interruption to Mikes user session.Regular Season; Integrating Servers and Storage:
Bryan Canfield, a Systems Engineer for NetApp, our primary storage partner, presented on the relationship between storage and virtualization. Bryan went over how server virtualization only provides you one component of the high availability architecture and how virtualization of the data store completes the solution. He explained that the image of the virtual server is stored on the server and available for any server in the pool to run, thus allowing that image to be moved in the event of a hardware failure.
Leveraging de-duplication strategies to reduce the overall cost of storage was another highlighted benefit. NetApps storage servers have the ability to read data at the block level, and if the server sees that multiple copies of the same file are being stored, it retains only a single copy of that file and makes it available for all necessary services or users. Think of that PowerPoint document that has been emailed to 5-10 employees at 10 MB a person, which is now saved as a single document that can be accessed by all those users; saving the storage for use by other users. This allows data to grow at a more manageable pace, reducing both support and hardware costs.
For those that attended, you will also remember that NetApp can support all virtualization (Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware, and Citrix Xenserver) platforms.MVP Performance Review; Saving with Virtualization:
John Boyd, President of Fandotech, closed out the event, demonstrating how virtualization can save companies cash. In his presentation, John was able to demonstrate that a company with 6 servers today and 50% growth expectancy over the next 36 months would save in excess of $12,000 in power and cooling costs alone and $28,000 in server avoidance costs (cost of hardware, installation, and support).
These numbers illustrate that virtualization is not just for the big companies with hundreds of servers, but that all companies with multiple servers could reduce costs with this technology.
Virtualization can also be a component of a companys green strategy. By moving to a virtualized environment the sample company illustrated above can annually provide CO2 emissions savings equal to three autos, two homes, or the preservation of forty trees.Contact an Account Manager today for an assessment of how virtualization can help your organization!Brian Doyle
In my last article, I talked about automated v.s. manual P2V
, and why manual P2V may be worth the extra effort in some situations. But when you have a lot of machines to virtualize, automated p2V is probably your only option. In this article, I'm going to talk a little about some of the automated P2V tools that we've been using here at Fandotech.Citrix XenConvert
Having been a Citrix partner for years, Citrix XenServer
was our logical first step into the world of server virtualization. XenConvert is Citrix's free tool for converting from either a physical machine, or from another type of virtual machine, to a XenServer virtual machine. The software itself is pretty straightforward. To convert a Windows machine, you simply install the software on the source machine, run the XenConvert wizard, and follow the prompts. This can be done while the source machine is running, so you don't necessarily have to reboot. Conversion of a Linux machine is slightly different (and technically, not even handled by XenConvert). Instead of installing a program on the source machine, you need to boot the source machine from the XenServer installation CD. You will then be presented with an option to do the conversion (assuming your distribution is supported).
Unfortunately, we've found that although it works well enough (when it works), there are quite a few caveats to using this software, including, but not limited to the following:
VMware vCenter ConvertervCenter Converter
- XenConvert will only convert your system partition (i.e. the c: drive). If you have additional partitions, you'll need to copy them over through other means (e.g. robocopy).
- Conversion of Windows dynamic disks is not yet supported.
- Before running XenConvert, several manual steps are required, including enabling automount and stopping anti-virus services. Manual steps are really annoying when you want to convert several machines.
- If you have a static IP address asigned to a NIC on your physical machine, the NIC will be hidden in the virtual machine, but it will keep all of its settings. This means you may not be able to assign the same IP address on a NIC in your virtual machine (without jumping through a few hoops first).
- Windows conversions cannot be done through an RDP session. Unless you have VNC installed, you need to be on the physical console.
- XenConvert will not copy files that are in use. This problem is especially apparent when trying to convert an Active Directory Domain Controller. Since it's hard to know exactly which files will be locked by running services, your best bet is to run the conversion while the machine is in safe mode.
- Since the Linux conversion utility requires you to boot off a cd, physical access to the machine is required, as well as an outage window to do the conversion.
is VMWare's free P2V tool, and it basically does everything XenConvert does and more. You can download a standalone version that can be installed and run directly on the source machine (like XenConvert), but it also comes integrated with ESX server. The nice thing about the integrated version is that you can access it from the "consolidation" tab within the VMWare Infrastructure Client. This allows you to run a scan of your network and do a conversion of many Windows machines at once, without having to log in to any of them (Linux conversions require the standalone version). There's also an "analysis" function that will track the average load on your source machines and figure out how to distribute their loads evenly among your physical ESX servers.
I admit that I have a lot more experience with XenServer and XenConvert at the moment, so I can't really go into a lot of details, but my initial impression of vCenter Converter is that it's exactly what automated P2V should be -- truly automated!Conclusion
It's no surprise that vCenter Converter is a more mature and streamlined product. This makes complete sense for a tool that's been around a lot
But to Citrix's credit, it's no small feat how far they've taken XenServer in just a couple of short years. At the rate they're going, I have no doubt that it wont be long until their P2V tools are at par with VMWare's offerings. But until then, those of us who work in XenServer shops may have to admit that we're just a tiny bit jealous. =)Mike Conigliaro
Virtualization; it seems that I can't get through a day without talking about it.?It's definitely the wave of the future, when someone discusses cutting cost, or ease of administration or planning for the future of their network, invariably we'll bring up virtualization...unless they do first.?It appeals to network administrators because administering a couple server platforms is easier than 10 servers.?It appeals to management because it's "green," yeah, I said you can't get through a day without hearing about that either these days...thanks Al!?The appeal is obvious; ease of administration, lessening your power consumption, cooling requirements, doing more with less, and we have yet to touch on the DR capabilities of virtual solutions.
This is a good chance to discuss the benefits that I've seen from down here in the trenches.?The number one benefit that network administrators will appreciate, and that I've already benefited from comes to light best for remotely managed clients with a virtual environment.?It becomes much easier to worry about network connectivity for a couple servers and the SAN, versus the dozen physical servers that we came from.?Without getting especially product-centric I will mention that my experiences to date have been with Citrix's virtualization product, XenServer.?The underlying technology does not differ all that much from platform to platform.?I'm sure there are some out there that will disagree strongly with that point, but we'll save that for another post.?The management piece for Xen works well, can be loaded on any network node and allows for management of all your servers in one location.?This is powerful.?The other benefits that I mentioned earlier are the obvious ones that salesmen love to sell and?management loves to hear: power, cooling, DR, etc.
DR definitely warrants a mention.?Virtualization with shared storage, where your key servers become truly portable.?The capability is inherent to allow live synchronization between shared storage from your live site to your DR site, and in the event of a disaster to simply spin up your virtual servers and continue.?Very smooth, very powerful!
P2V... Pretty sure there's been reams written on this topic already, with reams to come.?I've had good success with Citrix's XenConvert 1.0, and can't wait to see their next version.
In my opinion I only see more powerful, complete solutions offered by more software companies on the virtual horizon.Daniel Kaupp