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VMWare
Jul 29

If you haven’t explored server virtualization, there is no better time! VMWare has announced that ESXi is now free! (CHEAP!)

Q. ESXi only supports a single VM, what is the advantage of this?

A. Portability & Flexibility. Since the VM isn’t tied to the hardware, it is ultimately transportable. Have a test server and production server? You can copy the REAL production VM to the test server. If you’re developing, you can copy the VM, archive it for Configuration Management purposes and promote the test environment to production with little risk for surprises due to differences in configuration!

You can get more out of less hardware. For development, your test hardware can be an Oracle 11g database server running RHEL on Monday, a JBoss App Server on SUSE on Tuesday, and an Oracle RAC instance on Oracle Enterprise Linux for emergency scalability on Wednesday, and an impromptu Backup Domain Controller on Windows Server 2008 on Thursday. The same server is the hardware you need when you need it!

Best of all, the VMs you create on ESXi are completely compatible with any of the VM Servers VMWare offers – Port it right into a ESX Server BladeServer or the like, when you are ready.

Q. What about Oracle Licensing on VMs?

A. Oracle does not officially support their products on any VM Server except Oracle VM – Their licensed version of Xen. However, I’ve been running Oracle on ESX on a wide variety of hardware implementations and have yet to experience one problem. Licensing a Virtualized Oracle Server can be expensive on a consolidated VM Server, as you must pay for every socket, whether you are using it for the Oracle Server VM or not – But on an ESXi hypervisor, with single VM setup, the cost is the same as if you put it on the physical server!

Q. What about Microsoft’s Hyper-V – That is free too!

A. Microsoft’s Hyper-V isn’t as ‘free’ or ‘Hyper’ as they would like you to believe. ESXi is free – It sits on the Hardware, requiring no foundational OS. MS Hyper-V requires you to purchase and install Server 2008 to run Hyper-V ($1000-$6000 depending on the flavor). Plus, you get all the overhead of having Microsoft Server 2008 as disk Sspace, memory, and processor overhead!

Then there is the matter of Hyper-V’s supported OS list It supports Windows, Windows, Windows, and SUSE.

Hyper-V space requirement: 10Gb MINIMUM. ESXi: 32Mb

Hyper-V max processors per host: 4. ESXi Max processors per host: 8

Etc…

In short, If you haven’t tried virtualizing your servers, now is a great time (It is always a great time to save your client/company/self equipment funds!). Now, you have nothing to lose!

Brian Fedorko

Jul 24

Big Blue

IBM announced that their System X and BladeCenter offerings are now “integrated with VMWare ESXi 3.5”. “Wow!”, you may say to yourself “IBM must be considering a close partnership with VMWare to design the ESXi Hypervisor right into their server’s chipset.” And you would be partially right, VMWare and IBM are happily partnering, as virtualization is becoming a huge selling point for BladeServers. But how IBM implemented a chipset integration is a lesson in out-of-the box thinking that is valuable to everyone.

The answer is “USB Flash Memory Stick Drive

The miniscule ESXi (32Mb!!!) fits nicely on a Flash drive too small to even sell today. Stick this on the motherboard’s internal USB drive and congratulations, you now have integrated virtualization right into your Server’s chipset. The simplicity of execution is simply brilliant – And IBM’s customers will invariably benefit from the flexibility virtualization offers with no increase in price due to R&D/redesign/retooling/etc.

Brian Fedorko

Jun 06

So you had a bad day...I’ve always advised my clients: If you choose to outsource your Disaster Recovery (DR), or any other integral, data-drenched portion of your IT domain, you should deposit all the savings directly into a high yield fund. This will be crucial when you have to deal with the litigation, remediation, and PR nightmare that accompanies the customer’s lost and compromised personal data.

Some 3rd party DR providers and Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors tout big savings…

But do you know who is working for them?
What audit records are kept about your data?
Who really has access to them?
Who are they accredited to?
How often is the site security reviewed?
How quickly can they detect an intrusion?
Can they detect data theft by an insider?

The list goes on. All of these WILL effect the total cost of utilizing this type of solution.

But why try to minimize the drain on funds a DR site represents when you can move it in-house and turn it into a revenue generator? I came across this story which details a savvy company that did just that and stands to save $750,000 PER YEAR.

Here are some ideas to turn your liability into a ROI generator:

  • DR Sites do not have to be across the country! 100-150 miles will put you on a different local power grid, and save your company thousands in travel and per diem alone.
  • You can utilize your in-house personnel and corporate knowledge to make informed decisions on maintenance!
  • You can use resources made obsolete during capital replacement, slashing stand-up costs
    By virtualizing, you can host many Virtual Machines with less hardware.
  • The brightest CIOs will utilize their disaster recovery site for: real-time replication of data AND applications, testing and development, and production load balancing.

All this, and your company retains sole strategic contol over the operation, run by employess who have a stake in your success. And that is priceless.

More to come…

Brian Fedorko

Jun 05

He just makes it look easy5 years ago, if you asked the CIO of any Fortune 500 company what they were doing to reduce their carbon footprint, or make their data centers more ‘green‘ or eco-friendly, the answers you recieve may range from strange looks, to a ‘of course we care about things and stuff‘-styled answer. But today, I challenge anyone to ask the same question to the same people and find one CIO who isn’t developing or executing a plan to make their IT more green.

So what happened? Was it a highly-contagious attack of conscience? A wide swing to the left in corporate culture?

Perhaps they may be contributing factors, but large companies are embracing green as the new way to do business because green is the color of money. And embracing eco-friendly practices translates directly into cost savings (which translates directly into profit!). Not only that but, it also impacts scalability, growth potential, and disaster recovery! Many companies with a large IT footprint are seeing savings on the level of 6-7 digits per year!

So how do we get greener? By using what we have more efficiently.

One of the biggest keys is virtualization. If we have a system that leverages software pieces running on SUSE Linux, MSWindows, and RedHat, we would have to have 3 different sets of hardware in the server room. To make it more efficient, we’d have to rewrite these pieces to reside on the same box (costly, sometimes impossible when using COTS), or use an emulator (SLOW).

With virtualization software, such as the popular & powerful VMWare ESX Server, we can Virtualize all of those servers and put them on the same piece of hardware! If those applications are not very resource intensive, we can leverage that underutilized overhead and virtualize several other servers, and utilize that very same hardware!

By embracing this process, we will save the cost of:

  • additional hardware
  • additional power to supply that hardware
  • cabling to the hardware
  • network infrastructure
  • additional cooling
  • additional DR support equipment
  • additional expansion area
  • maintenance contracts

Being able to reduce your hardware footprint by 25%-80% has an incredible impact on overall savings. It also doesn’t take into consideration the savings garnered by using the VMs to clone production Virtual Machines for development, testing, benchmarking, and debugging. Or the ease of maintenence provided by hot-swappable blade servers. Or the ease of test promotion via cloning of Virtual Machines. Or… Well, you get the idea.

It Isn’t Easy Being Green, but the payoff is worth it.

More to come…

Brian Fedorko

May 28

VMWare FusionDear Parallels,

I’ll always cherish the time we spent together. You saved me from the social stigma of needing a rack of boxen against the wall so I could test drive Red Hat, Ubuntu, and SUSE all within 10 minutes on a MacBook. You allowed me to use Microsoft Windows in the same manner that I use Kleenex™ - Once it was filled with Mal-Ware, I could simply throw the mess away, and a new clean one would be ready for use. You helped me explore why ‘upgrade’ is the wrong verb to use when describing the migration from XP to Vista.

I’ll remember our halcyon days of yester-year with misty water-colored memories. But since I have met VMWare Fusion, I can not be parted from it. Not only does it seamlessly share appliances with ALL VMWare products (Including ESX Server - More to come on this essential technology), but it is much faster (Note to CNET: Is there a sane rationale for virtualizing Windows on a Mac to run Adobe Photoshop?). And then there are the free promises of FusionV2

DirectX support. Multi-Screen Support. A free upgrade & a $30 rebate, and I could have been knocked over by a feather.

Thank you for the fond memories, Parallels. Perhaps we will meet again in the future.

Brian Fedorko