VMWare Fault Tolerance and many LINUX servers

Posted on 2009-05-16
Last Modified: 2013-11-11
I have a client that will have the need for about 20 LINUX Machines performing several functions.  Some database driven servers, some servers will be pushing/pulling data from business partners.

Typically they have had a server for each function running on PC's.  They have nothing in place for backup processes.

What I would like to do is get an environment together so that they could run VM's on a couple of different servers.  If that one server would go down, they would have a way to get the VM's from the failed server on-line ASAP.

I am little new to VM, but understand the concept.  We have a couple of VM's running LINUX servers for them now.  We are running RHEL VM sessions of a WINDOWS server.

I would also like to be able migrate those VM's into a more enterprising solution.

Money is an object but my client seems to have an endless supply of it so would like to put something very robust together for them

Something that might be able to span data-centers!

Question by:yostnet
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 24406195
As per my understanding, I would recommend that you go for VMware ESX 3.5 Enterprise Edition.

Buy 2 identical Servers with 2 Quad Core processors, 32 GB RAM each and an iSCSI SAN Box since you have mentioned fault tolerance as one of your objectives.

Update the thread if you need more information.
LVL 42

Expert Comment

ID: 24406525
The new version of VMWARE vSpehre 4.0 will have Fault Tolerance (FT) as an option built into the hypervisor. Should be out pretty soon.

Author Comment

ID: 24407028
How will VSphere work?
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LVL 21

Accepted Solution

za_mkh earned 167 total points
ID: 24407367
vSphere will work in pretty much the same way as the ESX 3.5 but with more enhancements and features.
For what you want, like ArunRaju says, you need a couple of ESX host servers beefy enough to run the VM's you want + you need a common storage platform (SAN, NAS, etc) and you need Virtual Center to control all these things so that if one host server fails, etc vCenter can migrate and/or start up the VM on the other box. Plus of course don't forget you need to be able to back all this stuff up ... so add that to your todo list. Don't forget to also ensure your ESX hosts have resilient network uplinks to the your switching infrastructure i.e. follow VMWare best practices.
All these things are not to be taken lightly. Setting up this type of environment requires some considered thought, because when it comes to virtualization, you sort of do put all your eggs in one basket and if one thing fails or goes wrong ... you can lose your entire infrastructure. This is the other side of the virtualization. I say this, because sometimes people get so carried away with the power and ease of virtualization, they forget about the very bad aspects to it (that is if you don't take steps to prevent / anticipate it). There are hundreds of questions on this board where people have deleted a VMFS volume containing all their VM's with no backups. I would shudder to think of my job prospects at my present employer if that had to happen to me at work. This is not me being negative on virtualization ... just being realistic that sometimes things go wrong.
Othewise, Virtualization is fun ... can't wait to moving all our stuff to ESX. (We have dual redundant everything, including SAN!) :-)

Author Comment

ID: 24407453

is there a recommended approach for VM backups?

also, if I get 2 servers for ESX hosts, what is best practice in which to manage it?  I was thinking that there would be a 3rd server/workstation to manage it?  Or are there other ways to manage it?

I also see that ESXi is available for free.  Is there any reason to not use it?
LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:vmwarun - Arun
ID: 24407897
ESXi is free, but you would be required to purchase the VMware ESX Enterprise Edition license for HA, vMotion and other distributed Services

This URL should give you an idea -

If you want to have options like Template Creation for deployment of VMs and cloning options, then you would be needing either VMware vCenter Foundation (only a max of 3 ESX hosts could be managed) or vCenter Standard License (a max of 200 ESX Hosts could be managed)
LVL 19

Assisted Solution

by:vmwarun - Arun
vmwarun - Arun earned 166 total points
ID: 24407909
If you would be using SAN for storing your VMs, you can use VCB in SAN Mode in line with third party backup options like IBM Tivoli, Symantec Backup Exec,etc

For detailed explanation about VMware Backup check this guide -

Expert Comment

ID: 24414323
There are a great number of hardware and therefore software configurations you could use.
I will make a suggestions of how I'd likely deal with an environment like you have mentioned.
2-3 ESX Host servers running ESX enterprise edition.
Another physical server for VC (virtual Centre), VCB (VMWares Backup), Physical Tape Drive also connected to this server.
SAN you'll need one. Something like the Smaller NetApp, or maybe an EMC Clarion CX320 with a mix of SAS and SATA disks (in separate trays, don't mix disk types on the same chanel)

All servers should be of a good standard, eg. by HP DL385g2 if moneys tight or go the DL385g5 and if you brimming with cash maybe the DL380g6 (just not sure about those new Intel CPU's)
As has been mentioned, Virtualisation does put all your eggs in one basket, be sure you buy hardware with at least redundant disks, power, fans. You'll need 4 or nore NIC ports
2x Network switches, eg. HP Procurve 2800 series. You'll need to be able to VLAN and ideally perform simple routing if you have multiple VLANS to address. If not 2x Procurve 1800-g would do the trick.
Again ensure everything is redundant, server hardware, switches, network paths, storage paths.

Use VCB for backup, the new version in ESX4 will offer file level restores which actually work.VCB backs up the entire running server, so you can be sure you can restore it.
Hope this helps

Author Comment

ID: 24467113
MarkZZ -

Would you happen to have a part # for the NEtapp device you are referring to?  

Everything will be on the same VLAN, your purpose for 2 switches is failover?  
How is the Clarion/Netapp connected, ethernet-iscsi?
Why four NICS?



Assisted Solution

markzz earned 167 total points
ID: 24487586
Off hand I don't have part numbers but could suggest you look at something like the FAS2000 range.
I believe these are around the 3k mark but expect this doesn't include any disk.

I would strongly suggest you separate your IP traffic into vlans.
By vlaning your will not only benifit from the additional management abilities but your will be able to ensure peak performance of the rather performance limited IP Storage network.
Don't expect to achieve 1Gb through put on a 1Gb NIC. with all the overheads and resends you likely get 60-80% of that 1Gb max.
But the point is that once you get over about 50% utilisation your latency will increase significantly, at this point can you bin a cascading downward spiral. As latancy increases you NIC's wait, therefore your CPU's queue, therefore your memory utilisation increases with creates additional swapping, which creates IO which increases your NIC utiliisation, which creates queueing, Of course I could continue but I'm sure your get the point.
By architecting your environment rather than plonking it in the rack your giving yourself the best chance to shine in the bosses eyes.
For example
If you underspec something and the boss gives you a 40k budget to only see a solution which can't cut it your not going to get a Christmas bonus. Where as if your spend 45K so you can implement and aarchitected solution you'll look fine.
It's better to cry once..

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31582270
thanks for all of the assistance.

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