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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, So what are you using virtualisation for? in Technical; So what are you guys using virtualisation for at your schools. How has it helped provide better IT for the ...
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    So what are you using virtualisation for?

    So what are you guys using virtualisation for at your schools. How has it helped provide better IT for the school?

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    Id say it gives better value for money as we have a couple of vmware servers, so it means we have maybe 11 servers running on 7 boxes, so we have not had to pay for 11 servers, only the 7
    The Vmware servers are also a lot easier to move across as you can just get the vmware file for whatever software it is, then put it in another vmware install.
    We use it for some apps storage, ghosting and i can't remember what else

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    speckytecky (22nd July 2009)

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    Duke's Avatar
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    I'm not yet but I plan to be next year. The main reason for me is to remove our dependence on single pieces of hardware, thus enabling improved failover, greatly improved disaster recovery, lower maintenance and warranty costs, and simpler hardware upgrades and better scalability.

    At present I have about 20 servers, mainly a rack of modern Dells (1yr-3yrs old, all fairly high spec) but also some older file servers and HP's/IBM's. Everything gets backed up to disk and tape, but if I have a critical server failure then it's still going to take a while to get things working again. I'd need to get the server replaced under warranty, and it probably wouldn't be an identical model so I couldn't do a full bare-metal restore, then I'd need to get the data on to it, get it reconfigured, etc. It's basically going to be quite a bit of downtime.

    With virtualisation I could have VMware with Fault Tolerance, and a physical server could die and I'd have zero downtime. To me, that's enterprise-level performance and a lot of peace of mind. My backups and restores become easier, hardware maintenance involves no downtime due to live migration, I need less physical servers, and if anything performance is likely to improve.

    We're an ICT specialist school and over the last few years ICT use has just grown and grown. The dependence on it now is that if the mail server goes down, I can expect a phone call within 45 seconds. With the level of uptime and expansion that our users want, I need a system that will survive hardware failures with no major downtime and allow me to easily and quickly improve my hardware (be it CPU speed or storage space). Virtualisation doesn't solve every problem, but it looks like the right solution here.

    Cheers,
    Chris

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    speckytecky (22nd July 2009)

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    Great_Scott's Avatar
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    Using VMware/NEC/Sonicwall solution to provide terminal services for the curriculum network.
    Both staff and pupils can log in remotely via a web page and have full desktop functionality with access to all apps and services they would normally have in school.

    Just got to keep reminding them to log off instead of just closing the browser window as it leaves their session open.

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    @Potato peeler: Forgive the naivety of my questions but how does that work? Why do you need 11 servers if the power of 7 boxes is enough? Is it just that a box say 2x as powerful is cheaper than 2 boxs of 1/2 the power?

    @Duke - so that replies on very good fault tolerance on the VM server? If that goes down then you lose more?

    @great_Scott - why does doing that via virtualisation work better than a standard terminal services setup?

    Thanks guys

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    ZeroHour's Avatar
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    We have a 2008 based failover cluster running DC's,print services,smtp and few other things. We have the infrastructure now and are moving boxes over to it.
    The nice thing about 2008 is you dont have to pay for expensive vmware licenses to do live migration etc and have high avalibilty.

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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    I have my Sophos, Windows Update Servers, Net Support DNA and KS3 Testing server (just retired) virtualised.
    Very handy for switching between servers if you are retiring one as you just copy them over and it saves a lot of time and effort when you set up a new server that you don't have to reinstall vital tasks all over again.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    At the moment, I have our website, intranet site, terminal services licensing server, radius server, helpdesk server and our door-control server virtualised. These simply because they all happily sit on a single box ticking away.

    I intend to go down the full virtualisation and SAN route when our next batch of servers come up for renewal. Then we should get our current crop of 9 servers down to 4 physical boxes.

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    In response to nozza
    buying one server with power enough to do the job of 3 servers, e.g. our apps, nas and ghost was a lot cheaper then doing it separately. Especially when you realise a lot of the time, those apps and ghost servers wont need to be running all the time, because ghosting may be once a week fi that to be honest.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potato-Peeler View Post
    In response to nozza
    buying one server with power enough to do the job of 3 servers, e.g. our apps, nas and ghost was a lot cheaper then doing it separately. Especially when you realise a lot of the time, those apps and ghost servers wont need to be running all the time, because ghosting may be once a week fi that to be honest.
    Yep, when you look at the hardware costs, license costs (especially if you're running Windows Server Enterprise with its nice new VM license bit), warranty costs, power costs and aircon costs (plus UPS costs, as more servers = larger UPS's), virtualisation can save bucket loads.

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    Duke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nozza View Post
    @Duke - so that replies on very good fault tolerance on the VM server? If that goes down then you lose more?
    FT under VMware keeps two concurrent images of the VM running in lockstep on two separate physical hosts. It's a fairly new technology and it currently has some limitations (only supports single-vCPU VMs at the moment which rules out Exchange server) but it's pretty cool to play with. If the physical host the 'live' VM is running on dies then VMware instantly (give or take one ping) switches over to the 'secondary' VM on the other host and all your data stays up, no reboot required. VMware will then start up another 'secondary' VM on another host to protect the new 'live' VM if configured to do so and you have enough hosts available.

    This is a technology we probably wouldn't use that much, just because it's kind of overkill and uses up resources. What I really want is the automated failover, so I can have a physical host that's running a couple of web servers, a print server, and a secondary domain controller or whatever else, and if that host dies then VMware will detect it and automatically re-start the VMs on another physical host. Instant solution to a hardware failure taking down the network for a long time, now it'll only be down for a couple of minutes.

    As others have said, consolidation is also a major benefit. My 22 servers can go down to about 4 servers and 2 SANs.

    Cheers,
    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke View Post
    What I really want is the automated failover, so I can have a physical host that's running a couple of web servers, a print server, and a secondary domain controller or whatever else, and if that host dies then VMware will detect it and automatically re-start the VMs on another physical host. Instant solution to a hardware failure taking down the network for a long time, now it'll only be down for a couple of minutes.
    Duke,

    we've talked about FT before.... but I found a script the other day that automates FT... turn it on during the day, turn it off at night for backups....i'll see if i can find it.

    Automated failover as you describe is VMware HA.



    @Nozza: For the same cost as a CC4 downgrade (from CC3) we put in 4 VM servers in a c7000 with all the VMware advanced licences and server 2008 datacenter licences. Bargain.
    Last edited by Theblacksheep; 22nd July 2009 at 03:31 PM.

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    @Nozza: For the same cost as a CC4 downgrade (from CC3) we put in 4 VM servers in a c7000 with all the VMware advanced licences and server 2008 datacenter licences. Bargain.
    Yeh but you would have been a lot cheaper just buying the windows lic's and using hyper-v, it has better performance is a fair few scenarios and that before the awesome R2 features come out.

    only supports single-vCPU VMs at the moment which rules out Exchange server
    Wow thats a pretty big limitation, did not realise that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Theblacksheep View Post
    we've talked about FT before.... but I found a script the other day that automates FT... turn it on during the day, turn it off at night for backups....i'll see if i can find it.
    Yeah, I remember you pointing out that FT would be a lot better if you could schedule it just to run during school hours, I like the sound of that script!

    As far as failover/HA goes, for me it's one of the real killer features of virtualisation. People who are looking at getting a couple of virtual machine hosts and are planning to use local storage are missing out on the main advantages of virtualising. There's plenty of cheap ways of doing centralised storage (be it a hardware Sun SAN or a home-built openfiler box) and that way you get the failover and the uptime.

    ZeroHour - Someone pointed it out to me on here, bit of a killer huh? Exchange is the main thing I'd want 100% uptime on so it's a bit annoying!

    Chris

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