Poll: Virtual servers: Company vs DIY

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Thin Client and Virtual Machines Thread, DIY vs Company in Technical; Originally Posted by chrisgoodrich We spoke wtih a number of vendors who spec'ed up solutions for us. We went with ...
  1. #16

    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisgoodrich View Post
    We spoke wtih a number of vendors who spec'ed up solutions for us. We went with a Dell solution and instead of getting consultants in to set it up went on a 5 day VMware course, then proceeded to set it all up ourselves.
    Who did you do the VMware course with? Sounds a good solution.

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    The cost of the course was in the solution quote from Dell. However the course was actually done with a company called QA (QA – PRINCE2 training, ITIL training, Microsoft training, technical IT training, Microsoft Office training, management training and more). The cost of the course when we did it nearly 3 years ago was about £5000 for 2 people. To get consultants in will cost around £1000 a day, therefore for the cost of 5 days consultancy you can get 2 people trained up and have the skills in house!!!

    Just make sure you get the training cost factored in to the cost of the whole solution when presenting it to management for approval.

  3. #18

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    Hmm... you can haggle direct with QA. I got three of us on the VMware course for about £3,500... worth bearing that in mind!

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    Registered Interest - My company designs/installs and maintenance virtual infrastructures for customers and they pay my wages!!

    I feel my most successfully virtualisation projects, are when the customer is involved at every stage of the solution. This gives me the ability to transfer information and best practice to the customer.

    • Design
    • Installation
    • Handover
    • Management (backup, upgrades etc...)

    More knowledge the customer has, more they are empowered to utilise the technology within their environment to create solutions. (A brick is just a brick, but together they make a wall)

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    When I worked in a Secondary School we did it all ourselves, from small scale at first when things were still quite new (VMWARE SERVER 2) i think i started out on, and then onto ESXI and then in the end with HyperV but did it all in house and did not have any consultants etc.

    Because of this, and now i tend to be the consultant whom does the work for companies and such education establishments if they are to sub-contract the work and not do it in house as let's face it not everyone is comfortable with doing so and would much prefer to get someone else to do it outside of there department I keep the client in on discussions pretty much every step of the way, and then during the installation and configuration i always get them to get involved and learn something and sometimes i've even let them take control and just talk them through the process whilst i step back and explain how to do it, even though yes they are paying me to do it they like the fact that they can get there own hands in and do it themselves as it not only does what they want but it also teaches them for future developments.

    Not only that if they phone up at least they have an idea of what is going on and makes the discussion less painful, but also they tend to go and have a little look at maybe what could be wrong before picking up the phone. :-)

    James.

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    In my experience it's pretty easy to pick up and in an ideal world it's something I'd want to start using gradually, migrate less critical systems first then others as your confidence grows.

    If that's not possible then as has already been mentioned a temporary consultant might be a good compromise, someone who's got the experience to get going with it straight away but you still feel is part of the team and who hopefully won't mind you peaking over their shoulder from time to time.

    As an aside, we went down the consultant route 18 months ago and for various reasons he's still with us now!

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    The one thing that you will notice is that different companies will push whatever is in their interest to sell you, not what you require. I think this is why few companies will take you down the Hyper-V route, they won't get much out of it other than a possible support contract. Hyper-V licensing for schools is cheap, bordering on free if you can support it yourself as a lot of people are already licensed for it. I've also had conflicting advice regarding Fibre Channel and iSCSI SANs and also hypervisor selection. In fact in a recent phone call I had one reseller tell me that hypervisor X was only suitable for small scale deployments, he had never heard of anyone using it on a large scale, and I should obviously be looking to move to hypervisor Y (which he was more than happy to provide a quote for).

    Anyway we had a system fitted with paid support, and had it degenerate into an unstable mess after an upgrade. Our entire system was vistualised, an update seemed to introduced a problem, there was no rollback option. We hadn't done anything wrong, there was no hardware fault, there was no configuration issue, it just didn't work and the problem couldn't be traced.

    For financial and setup reasons we had moved everything in one go onto this system, in the process going from 6 physical servers to about 14 virtual ones. The critical issue was that we now had nowhere to go, half of our old servers wouldn't run the hypervisor, the ones that did only had about 4GB of RAM but we now needed at least 5 times that for all of the VMs, and our 2TB of data was now consolidated into one VM that wouldn't fit anyway but on a SAN that didn't work properly.

    Regardless of what you do yourself or what you purchase, make sure that you have an exit strategy for your services if you system starts to fail. High availability on one system doesn't count, we had that, it does nothing when the complete system is unreliable. Either get support that has well defined service level agreements for service dropouts and data loss (i.e. they turn up with new equipment if your solution doesn't work), or design a solution that has distributed backups and redundancy that cannot be compromised by complete system instability - resellers are quite happy to provide you with systems that do not achieve this.

  8. #23
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    We did ours with help from 3rd party. I did research what I need, server wise, memory and storage. We need to replace our servers, either do it old fashion way, 1 server 1 os or virtualization. Of course we did second. So we asked for few quotes for equipment licensing and labour. We choose the best option and I think we paid £3,200 for 5 days of engineer work. He did every thing for us from unpacking boxes to setting up all vlans and SAN network. I would love to do it myself, but first I would need at least 3 month to run as test and play with learning on the way - time I did not have and with my normal everyday work I would not be able to give it more than few hours a day. Now after almost a year most of it I think I could setup on my own, but there still few bits where I'm not sure. There is lots of documentation out there and people willing to help.
    But if you need to do it in short time, there is no time to wait on forum for answer or learn from online documentation. I'm very happy with my setup, would never go back, it is easy to manage, give tons of new options etc.
    Option to go on course is brilliant as you keep knowledge and certificate, you can use it in later date. If I could do it at the time I would, but time was an issue, old server were causing problems almost every week, it was just disaster waiting to happen.
    Virtualization is all the way forward and I would recommend it to every school, but how to do it always depend on ones circumstances.

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