Last year we ran a little series called Ask the Experts where you all wrote in your virtualization related questions and we got them answered by experts at Intel, VMWare as well as our own head of IT/Datacenter - Johan de Gelas.

Given the growing importance of IT/Datacenter technology we wanted to run another round, this time handled exclusively by Johan. The topics are a little broader this time. If you have any virtualization or cloud computing related questions that you'd like to see Johan answer directly just leave them in a comment here. We'll be picking a couple and will answer them next week in a follow up post.

So have at it! Make the questions good - Johan is always up for a challenge :)

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  • Guspaz - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    That doesn't really have anything to do with virtualization, though. And the answer is, no, not for a large amount of bandwidth. VPNs require encryption, and the Atom is not ideally suited to encrypting large amounts of data.

    Besides, it's probably cheaper just to get a Linode; it'll cost less than a dedicated Atom would.
    Reply
  • Kissaki - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    What I see a lot is virtualization on blade chassis, the problem is that I'm not convinced this is the best way to go. more servers would mean more idle time in the end and more management.

    I would like to know what hardware would be best to virtualize on. and then not what is better per server but what is better per X amount of money you spend over the 2/3 years you use the hardware. And better would probably mean something like faster / more reliable / power useage

    After that is answered it would be great to have the same kind of insight into the storage part of virtualization.
    Reply
  • meorah - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    there is no "best to virtualize on" until you get into specifics. For example, if you need to virtualize 100 servers, you already have a FC SAN, and you only have 10U of space for your CPU and memory in your data center, you'd better believe that a blade chassis will be the correct starting point.

    On the other hand, if you just want to test/dev things on a new infrastructure and aren't sure how many servers you will need yet, any old poweredge 2800 with enough drives will do the trick just fine.

    "what is better per X amount of money you spend over the 2/3 years you use the hardware"

    If you're only going to use it for 2-3 years, don't buy it. It's probably cheaper if you rent it from a cloud or virtual hosting provider.

    "And better would probably mean something like faster / more reliable / power useage"

    Larger companies pay ridiculous sums of money to have people do this type of TCO calculation for them.

    Most of the reliability is built into the software if you're virtualizing, so you actually try to get systems with less hardware redundancy... for example, you may choose a server with only one power supply instead of redundant power supplies if your design includes the ability for all the virtual machines on that physical host to transfer to other hosts in the event of a host failure.

    The choice of faster vs power efficient depends on the applications you are delivering. If the apps are business critical, you choose fast. If the apps are just nice to haves but not critical to the business' success, you choose power efficient. The Xeon L series is the processor equivalent of "slower but more power efficient". Low voltage memory saves about 10% of power consumption over regular server memory.

    If the project is large enough, you can spend extra on the performance virtualization farm for business critical apps and save more on the efficient virtualization farm for everything else.

    As for shared storage, it's exactly the same. Different vendors with different products all aimed at different scenarios. Tiered storage, thin provisioning, high utilization, how many controllers per enclosure, how many LUNs per enclosure, DAS vs SAN vs NAS, FC vs iSCSI, FCoE vs 10GBE, SAS vs SATA vs SSD vs NLSAS... You just pick the ones you want based on how much budget you have versus how much performance they want. You explain the positives of some systems that are too expensive and the negatives of some systems that are under-budget and let the guys with the money choose their poison of preference.
    Reply
  • bmullan - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    You mentioned a lot of good points.
    Others to consider regarding costs of buy vs rent from a Cloud provider:

    Insurance costs for facilities, equipment, liability (in case of loss)

    HVAC - its not just the power for the servers but the AC and more importantly the backup systems.

    Staff and Staff expertise - can you hire and retain expert staff. What does that cost?

    If you own - you pay for server maintenance agreements with the vendors
    If you use the cloud - its built into the hourly costs

    h/w renewal costs - if you own then you pay to upgrade h/w
    If you use the cloud - it is their job and they get larger discounts and thus costs/rates because of Scale than you probably can get.

    Utility company's typically give large discounts to big users of power. Microsoft or Amazon will get a huge discount from the rates a small company would pay for electricity.

    Also, something often overlooked it the Cloud SP's can locate their Data Centers (DC's) almost anywhere that they can find the best deals for the power the DC would consume... which passes on those savings to the users of that DC/cloud SP.

    As you stated many people realize this is a complicated question that has different answers depending on the company/situation involved.
    Reply
  • lunan - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Some virtualization company offer free virtualization such as VirtualBox and others like VMWare offer hefty pricing for Enterprise customer.
    I am planning to start a small business in IT, and im wondering what benefits virtualization will bring to the organization, especially with small starting capital, i won't be able to afford hefty license (i mean i wont be using Corporate software such as SQL Server or Oracle but fall back into MYSQL or any other database). I also concerned because some of the license are GNU (which means any of the developed software must be GNU too --.--!)
    With clients only numbered in tens (10-30), would it be better to buy high end server (Xeon comes to mind), then virtualize the heck of it, or separate small server (multiple Phenom II X6) designed to balance the load? or if the number client increased to 100+?

    Database also comes to mind, i presume you have to put either router or switch to the database server connecting with the virtual server then?

    Also how do you use virtualization properly anyway? with central server, it is quite easy to manage things there, just run some server software and you are done, with virtualization, how do you divide things? (i am really clueless...)

    thanks for the answers everyone
    Reply
  • bothari - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    In your case i would suggest getting 2 or 3 smaller servers and a storage (maybe something like this http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/prolian... because virtualization is meaningless witzhout shared storage. On servers you can then install hypervisor of your choice (all vendors have free editions), and start creating VMs. If you plan to use as much as opensource as possible I would recommend using ESXi (free VMWare hypervisor) because of it's wide range od OS support.

    Don't know what your budget is but you could also consider licensing to get some features which will make you work and sleep easier - at VMware that would be "Essentials Plus Licence" (http://www.vmware.com/products/vsphere/buy/small_b... while Microsoft offers System Center Essentials (http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/en/us/essent...

    Hope this helps

    GL in business waters
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    I think you clearly need to investigate some time into the IT area before you should start anything.

    You are mixing OS hosted virtualization with bare metal virtualization,
    Consumer based systems with Servers.
    New on he networking topology, not even mentioning the storage part.

    lots of work to do.

    So to start with, any virtualization vendor these days has free virtualization platforms to offer most on each part. (OS hosted or bare metal)
    OS hosted virtualization is kids playground, you run dev/test on it if you want but production is out of the question (before the comments on this, definition of production off course...)

    you need to know what storage sizing and features you need for your type of business, same for networking and what application communication you will have.

    there are many tools to manage virtualization platforms, some are free some not, is really depending on the platform you intent to take.
    Reply
  • lunan - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    That's the thing,i know all about the hardware part, even storage service using NAS or Active Directory (depends on the system, on the last system i use Novell for some outsource job company that needed it). Network topology dont matter, but if you use a virtualized server (say 1 server with 10 LAN slot - PCIE), do you need to connect the main server LAN or every single LAN need to be connected to a switch or router to be able to function?
    I have tried VMWare on home and apparently i can use my single LAN shared with the windows and virtual linux. Question is can i do this or should i install that?
    I just dont see the benefit of virtualization....probably if you are webhosting, that would be great for every user can have their own Dedicated Virtual Hosting, but for normal companies...i still have no ideas.

    using virtualization for testing is great, for development, i'll die before i do it. My partner already complain about the slowness of his workstation with intel quad core (core2), giving him virtualization just wont do it.

    so to clarify my question, what do i benefit from virtualization? (cloud when mature i can see the point, but virtualization for organization i still in the dark)

    PS:sorry for the lack of information on the above post, shoulda clarified im not exactly newbie, more or less, but only newb on virtualization...
    Reply
  • meorah - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    "I am planning to start a small business in IT, and im wondering what benefits virtualization will bring to the organization, especially with small starting capital"

    You will have very few benefits up front, but if you expect to need 15+ servers in the first 3 years it can be a wise choice to start virtual so you can expand virtually.

    The first benefit that small businesses realize with server virtualization is hardware consolidation. You can probably run 15 light use servers on a single C1100 for about $10k. Without virtualization, you'd be trying to find the cheapest servers possible and host each OSE on its own server. At about $1k per server, you'd be spending $15k to run the same number of servers and wasting lots of energy keeping them powered and cooled.

    Later advantages are that you can leverage shared storage to thin provision your drive space so you don't have to take your servers off-line in the future to add storage. Another shared storage benefit is cheap cluster failover for your virtual compute systems. As the business grows, there are many other advantages you can use from ease of management to I/O shaping or I/O QoS.

    "would it be better to buy high end server (Xeon comes to mind), then virtualize the heck of it, or separate small server (multiple Phenom II X6) designed to balance the load?"

    Depends on the goal. If your goal is server consolidation, get the Xeon because you will be able to consolidate more systems per physical host. If your goal is business continuity through whatever method (clustering, load balancing, backup restores) then get the Phenoms.

    "or if the number client increased to 100+?"

    Number of clients is not a good way to measure your business' virtualization needs. You need to determine whether you would even need one extra server in your journey from 10 clients to 100 clients. If you decide that you won't need any extra systems, then the requirements are the same for both scenarios. Some companies will want to add extra capacity for various reasons. Other companies will try to slide by for as long as they can with what they have.

    "Database also comes to mind, i presume you have to put either router or switch to the database server connecting with the virtual server then?"

    Unless your virtualize the DB server, yes you will need a switch to connect them. If you do virtualize the DB server, the hypervisor's virtual switch will connect to the other virtual machines (and any physical machines).

    "Also how do you use virtualization properly anyway? with central server, it is quite easy to manage things there, just run some server software and you are done, with virtualization, how do you divide things?"

    you manage virtual servers with the management tools from the vendor you use. The system center stuff (SCCM, SCOM, VMM) for hyper-V, the xencenter stuff for xenserver, and the vcenter stuff for vmware.

    I don't know what you mean by divide things, but I'm guessing you mean dividing computing resources. Each vendor has its own way of doing it, but dividing resources is the whole point. Also, any management software that you use to manage individual physical servers can still be used to manage virtual servers so no big difference from that perspective.
    Reply
  • lunan - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    this answer my question at the very least :D
    so in effect, i could deploy Web Server, Novell Server, Repositories and Testing, even a File Server in a single server, divided by virtualization right? instead of dividing the server physically, i just consolidate the service, but install them in different VM.

    got it, question half answered. :D
    now i had replied with more detailed question though...so it's only half answered. but thanks man for enlighting me
    Reply

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