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Moving to VMware virtualisation

Posted on 2010-09-20
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Last Modified: 2012-05-10
Hello everyone,

I was wondering if anyone could help me on EE to better understand what i would need in order to move to virtual environment using vmware.

The organisation looks like this:
4 sites
250+ users
Windows server 2003
Windows xp environment slowly migrating to windows 7

If you need more details I can provide.

Some stations are old and they are pretty slow compared to the new machines which were introduced not long ago. Would virtualizing desktops increase the speed those amchines operate? Would going virtual increase the speed of DATABASEs?

We also have a program called MERTEX which the whole company uses so the same question again would having virtual environment increase the performance?

Or is vmware more for security and so the downtime is minimized, or can it boost performance of desktop user experiance and organization as a whole. There is information on vmware but its very hard to undertand on which solution would we need in order to go virtual and maybe someone has an idea on costs and licencing?

Which vmware solution would fit the bill?

Thanks in advance... If further information is needed i will provide it.
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Question by:morlauskas
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Expert Comment

by:JJClements
ID: 33715303
Hmm, i think you are missing the point to virtualizing a server environment to be honest. If anything virtualizing an existing environment will add a small overhead to the amount of resources being used across your servers because the virtualization layer requires resources of its own - memory/cpu/disk space.

Reasons for virtualizing include but are not limited to:

Consolidation of multiple servers onto single hardware instances where multiple hardware would normally be required.

Disaster recovery options should you ever have any problems.

Testing can be easier by using snapshots to restore servers to a previous point in time.

The list goes on...

One thing you certainly wont see is an increase in performance. You should have a look at the VMware website for a better indepth view of the technology.

http://www.vmware.com/virtualization/what-is-virtualization.html

Be sure to check the tab 'Why Virutualize'
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by:JJClements
ID: 33715328
One other point I would like to make is that there are millions of over speced servers out there sitting idle. Think of the cost savings of selling off old under used hardware and instead installing a hypervisor (virtualization layer) that could run multiple instances of windows server and/or linux of both 32 and 64 bit architecture on a single server.

Also think about the implications of having multiple copies of each of these virtual servers on a few different host servers so that if one host has a loss of service another will take over causing no downtime to users. For me the benefits far outweigh the cons.
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 100 total points
ID: 33715342
Strictly speaking, going from a physical machine to a virtual machine CANNOT increase performance, assuming you used the same exact hardware. If you significantly upgrade the hardware, then performance COULD be increased, but it also would likely be increased if you kept systems physical.

In general, you want to use a bare metal hypervisor (Type 1) - Either Microsoft ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V (assuming you want to go free).  These hypervisors should provide a significant improvement in performance over their Type 2 counterparts, VMWare Server and Microsoft Virtual Server.

Why go virtual?
*Improved resource utilization
*Lower hardware costs
*Higher Reliability - IF configured appropriately
*Lower Utility costs
*Easier Migration to new systems

The first point, improved resource utilization, refers to the fact that MOST servers, if you review their overall resource utilization, spend the vast majority of the time IDLE, doing nothing.  If your CPU isn't used at 60% or better most of the time, you're wasting the CPU cycles.  And most servers, probably most of yours too, are probably running at an average of 5-10% utilization. So, rather than spend $3000 per server on hardware and buying, for example 6 servers, totaling $18000 or more, you can spend $8000 on a couple of decent servers and (here's where reliability improvements come in) you can (should) cluster the VM hosts so that if one goes down (intentionally, for maintenance or otherwise), you can transfer (often automatically) the VM to the other server which can keep it running with virtually no noticeable down-time to the users.  And while I don't know what you pay for power, in the northeast, it costs about $15-20 per month to keep a system running 24x7, so 2 servers vs. 6 servers cuts utility bills for servers by 67% or so.  Assuming $20/month, that's $80 per month saved, or nearly $1000 per year in electric (and probably more because the air conditioning requirements go down as well).  The actual Virtual Machine Host servers DO require better configurations than most of your other systems would if you didn't virtualize them (mostly in terms of disk space and RAM, CPU as well - but you don't need a chassis or power supplies or other support hardware, so while you're not saving 67% on hardware costs of new servers, you ARE still saving money.

Finally, the migration to a new server is generally quite easy.  Whereas previously, you'd have to reinstall a system and reload software, now you can simple "move" the VM computer to a more powerful system and allocate more RAM and CPU if needed.  Plus you can actually take backups of your servers in their entirety through snapshots, so if a patch crashes, or the upgrade of the Mertex software fails, you can easily restore the previous copy (WARNING: do NOT take snapshots of DCs - back DCs up through the regular process.  Taking snapshots of DCs (including image based backups) can cause corruption of the Active Directory if you ever try to restore them.

If you've never used Virtual Machines, it's best to setup a test network first and experiment before actually moving production systems into the VMs.
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Author Comment

by:morlauskas
ID: 33715713
Ok i think i am starting to get a clearer picture, but what about virtual desktops... Couz we are more keen on putting users on a virtual desktop then anything else. Because i am sure i read on vmware that it can imrpove desktop performance, not sure where but in my head i have that i read it somewhere :)

So in my understanding i would need:

VMware ESX 4.1
VMware connection server (which i cant install for some reason because it is not liking windows server 2003 SP2 - anyone had this)
VMware composer
VMware view agent

I am currently trying to test in a testing environment on a workstation.
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by:
JJClements earned 400 total points
ID: 33716580
Desktop virtualization is slightly different. It will allow you utilise the resources of your servers to run multiple desktops for end users without  having to constantly upgrade your desktop hardware to use the latest and greatest desktop operating systems. It will also allow you to centrally manage these desktops and allow you to easily and quickly deploy new operating systems en masse.

There is a good VMware document here about desktop virtualization:

http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/VMware-View-4-DS-EN.pdf

So, to cut a long story short - as long as your desktop machines can run the VMware View client software a minimal spec machine is required to do so) then the end user can connect to a desktop of any nature that you have running in a virtualized environment on your vSphere server cluster.

A couple of advantages:

very easy to backup and restore the desktops
if you dont have windows folder redirection and/or roaming profiles configured then the user will get their own desktop anytime they log on using the VMware View client regardless.
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Author Comment

by:morlauskas
ID: 33733182
I am just thinking in reallity to run 150 users on vmview, what spec servers would i need, because the desktop machines wont have much influence because everything is goign to be happening on the server.

You guys have helped me alot to understand everything i am just thinking if we have enough hardware in the comms room to run vmview and roll it out to desktops?
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