Server virtualization is the process of running more than one virtual machine on the same server. This consolidation of server hardware reduces hardware, space and maintenance costs. However, a virtualization setup is a huge investment and needs to be assessed thoroughly before migrating. The following considerations must be taken into account before moving to a server virtualization setup.
1. Not all virtual servers are created equal.
Like any other tool in the software market, there are a lot of server virtualization software. Not all of these are suitable to the price or performance range that a particular organization might be looking at. Therefore, it is advisable to conduct thorough research into the comparative benefits of each of the virtualization tools available. If the intended virtualization setup is a small one (3-5 machines) then it is advisable to choose low-cost software like Microsoft’s Virtual PC. On the other hand, if the required server setup is for a large establishment where safety, security and reliability is paramount, then it is recommended to use time-tested solutions like the ESX servers provided by VMware.
2. Software license costs must be taken into account.
The concept of software licensing in server virtualization setups is a bit complicated. Some vendors consider each and every virtual machine that you will be running as a separate system. This means that you will have to purchase licenses for all of the systems. There are yet others which do not allow the use of their software in a virtual computing environment. Make sure you read the software documentation carefully to avoid any legal hassles.
3. Make sure that your software works properly in a virtualization setup.
Since most software is not typically created for use in a virtual computing environment, there may be some performance issues. Some software may refuse to work altogether, while others may work sluggishly or unreliably. Make sure you perform extensive research and testing before purchasing software applications.
4. Windows isn’t the end-all solution.
There are lots of options available in the virtualization market that offer excellent performance. There is no need to limit your options to Windows. Virtuozzo by Parallels Inc. is a great application that offers good performance on both Windows and Linux Platforms. Open VZ is another operating-system level virtualization technology that you might consider. Xen is another powerful hypervisor tool that you can use in your virtualization setup.
5. Invest sufficiently into resources.
There is no point in migrating to a server virtualization setup if you are not able to extract your required level of performance from the system. Since each of your servers is going to be running several virtual machines, you must consider the hardware requirements of each of them. Powerful servers need high RAM, greater disk space and faster CPUs to be able to handle virtual machines effortlessly. Calculate the number of server machines you will need to invest in to properly provide the performance that your setup needs.
6. Do not ignore system security and recovery.
A server virtualization setup inherently increases the security due to its virtual machines. Since each machine runs independent of the other, it is at once easy to administer and difficult to intrude into. A virtualization setup also makes recovery easier since you are working with less hardware. Make sure you invest enough into backup disks and servers to provide complete redundancy for your setup in case of a crash.
7. Hire efficient personnel and train your staff thoroughly.
For people who have never worked on a virtualized setup before, the entire process can seem quite intimidating. When you migrate to a server virtualization setup, conduct intensive training programs for your staff to familiarize them with the system. Hire experts to maintain and administer the servers on a day-to-day basis.
In summation, server virtualization is a process that offers tremendous benefits for organizations that choose to employ it. Keep the aforementioned considerations in mind to ensure that the operation of your setup is as smooth as possible.
About the Guest Poster: This post was written by Roko Nastic of WebmasterFormat, a webmaster info website. He enjoys sharing his knowledge about website promotion, development, blogging, CMSs and best web hosting providers.
Photo by Michael Connors.