The following is an email I had sent to a local technology coordinators listserv after someone asked about the free VMware Server. I’m sure I will go into more detail about our recent virtualization project on this blog in the future. Also, I have submitted for a session at the eTech Ohio Conference to discuss virtualization, how we’re using it, and what we learned from our project. I also plan to put together a desktop deployment session, since it seems to be a hot topic in other school districts.
We just migrated from VMware Server to VMware Infrastructure (VMware ESX Enterprise and VirtualCenter). We’re running 2 HP DL380s + 12GB RAM each, connected to 1TB of SAN storage. We currently have only 4 virtual servers running on the cluster. 3 virtual servers were physical to virtual conversions (1 SQL, 1 HP NAS File Server, 1 Domain Controller + Print Server), and the last is a fresh new file server created inside the VMware environment from scratch. We just got it installed last week, so there is much more to implement and migrate before it’s where we would like it to be. I could probably migrate our 8 DL360 servers into the cluster and still have plenty of resources (CPU, RAM, Disk) to go around.
You get so many features when you make the jump to VMware Infrastructure, such as being able to move the physical server your [file server, print server, SQL server, etc] is running on without a minute of downtime. It can also load balance the virtual servers between your physical servers automatically, if some virtual server requires more resources for a particular period of time. If one of your physical servers dies due to hardware problems, VMware Infrastructure will automatically restart all the virtual servers that were running on it onto other working servers, automatically.
I’m very excited about all the possibilities of services we will be able to offer now that we wouldn’t have been able to do previously. If we can dream it, we can make it happen.
If anyone has questions about it, I’m eager to share our experience with the list. I welcome anyone to see our setup in person (Cincinnati) to get some ideas.
Note: If you EVER plan to migrate to VMware Infrastructure from VMware Server, PLEASE create your virtual machines with SCSI disks! VMware Infrastructure will import virtual machines with SCSI disks without any problem (just copy the files!) but IDE disk systems are near impossible and will not run without a lot of work.
I started using VMWare Workstation more than a year ago to create software (MSI) packages for workstation deployment. The snapshot ability in Workstation was the mainstay of my software repackaging. It grew to small linux network services (like syslog or network discovery) that would have never received their own dedicated server.
Once VMware Server went was released as beta a few months ago, I moved the ’server’ virtual machines I had been running on my workstation onto a underutilized Windows server. It gave them a bit more stability than my workstation could provide. Then, I… ran out of memory on that server. Even with small appliances OSs, they eat up a bit of memory at 256/512mb each.
After much discussion (initially looking at Windows clustering) and convincing, we ended up with the server upgrade project we just finished.
Notes: We now have about 10 VMs on our DL380s. We’re using about 50-70% of the RAM of both servers, and about 10-30% of the CPUs.