July 15th, 2008 By: mark
VMWare releasing a free version of their server virtualization product opened up some possibilities for us. Moki Systems had multiple servers performing a variety of tasks but there were things we didn’t have. We didn’t have a split between production and development servers and we didn’t have good utilization. Low CPU and memory utilization offers a comfort level but it adds costs, especially when you need more servers that cost money, use electricity, and generate heat.
Free VMWare server limits running virtual servers to 4. Our solution was to purchase new servers equipped with 1 SATA disk for the OS and 4 SCSI disks, 1 for each virtual machine (VM). While VMWare offers an option to write to the disk directly I opted not to do that because the virtual disk files VMWare uses make your VM’s highly portable and easy to duplicate. Disaster recovery practice becomes far easier when you can easily make a duplicate of your production server.
This architecture’s utility was brought to light when one of your servers died. We were able to pull the disks containing our production servers, copy the VM’s to another server, then get those servers running again quickly. There was no need for OS reinstall or recovery from backup and because of this portability downtime was minimized.
I have VMWare server installed on my Windows workstation with a Centos 5 VM running in the background. I use it for some MySQL and PHP stuff so it isn’t used a whole lot but I hardly know it’s there. The beauty of this that the Windows guys can have a Linux VM and the Linux guys can have a Windows VM. That can help quite a bit when testing browser compatibility on a website or getting access to a tool not available for your OS of choice.
VMWare server has helped us utilize our server resources better at a very minimal cost. Running 4 servers for the price of one saves us time and money. What else could you ask for?