back to article Where is server virtualisation taking us?

No, no, not the v word...! There are few topics that have garnered as much interest recently as virtualisation. And that’s not just coming from us – the level of feedback we get on this is head and shoulders above many other areas. But let’s be realistic. As the Reg Tech Panel has informed us, the majority of workloads that …


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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, right...

Anybody that have worked for one day with virtualized systems know that of the following:

* More straightforward management of available physical capacity

* Better control over the (virtual) machines themselves

* Simpler operational management of the virtual server pool

* Reduced risk due to more flexible approaches to business continuity

* Ability to dynamically scale resources to meet fluctuating demand

The first 3 are simply bullshit, the fourth has no meaning and the last one is double bullshit. Claiming that "more standardised applications and packages can be run on a smaller, easier to manage footprint" is also bullshit, since applications are getting bigger and fatter 'cause developers can afford top-of-the-line machines to do the devolpment on and then they expect the same performances from the production environment. Put that on a virtualized machine that runs with a virtual processor that is a fraction of a real processor and your performance are in the gutter.

Virtualization is nice for testing, since allow you to create a "machine" out of thin air, drop your code on it, see if it crashes, work the bugs out and eventually test it on a real iron, for production is kind-of-ok, if you have very powerfull server, but for the rest is just crap.


Thin Client Terminal Servers

In this area, virtualization has been paying off handsomly for most workloads, point, click and gawk. I can reduce service calls on hundreds of PCs while concentrating on a few servers. The servers can be fire-breathing dragons with all the modern resources users want while I do not have to run all over the building, finding keys, fitting into schedules and such. For most loads, the load on the server can be large but still responsive and the end-user gets better performance than they could on the usual thick client with slow discs and per-user malware fighting.

The folks who want to cling to XP longer are going to love virtualization. They can protect the virtual machines using state of the art stuff and use XP indefinitely. The folks who migrate to GNU/Linux are going to be in for a treat. You can run many more users on a GNU/Linux terminal server than with that other OS.

Gold badge

@Anonymous Coward 11:33

Wow, you either are a or work with some really crap developers. We do rendering in virtual environments. We take a system and run every single core right to the wall. We've got somewhere between 60 and 75 people company wide, and about 25 Virtual Servers running almost 100 VMs. About half of those VMs spend their time doing some really heavy lifting jobs.

A typical workload looks something like this:

Sample VM 1:

- Poll a folder on the FTP server to see if there are any new files

- Decrypt multi-gigabyte zip file

- Unzip the zip file and pop the various bits on a file server

- Generate and print giant HTML production sheet

Sample VM 2:

- Read instructions from Database for a given job

- Render various image transforms on every image

- Move images to giant Buick-sized printer

We have VMs executing variations on this theme all over the place. If we had to use physical boxen to do these tasks it would be unmanageable. The crappy developers that write our software require the we use a different system for every giant printer we print to, as well as a different system for each type of job we accept. We don't have the physical space to house that many units.

Virtualisation has been an absolute lifesaver for us. Our CTO is dead-set against virtualisation...absolutely hates it with a passion. Because of this we had to throw dozens of different types of tests at the virtual environments to prove they were as good as having real physical boxes do the same job. Shockingly enough, running ESXi, these systems are within about 2% of native metal for the same job. (And I can drive utilisation of the physical server way higher, thus saving muchos big time budget wise.)

Now we have VDI environments for everyone instead of running things on people's local desktops, and other than file servers every single server environment we run has been virtualised.

You want a complaint about virtualisation, then complain about the obscene fees charged for anything but the hobo-class management tools. As a company, we’re way too small to licence the VMWare stack for our servers that actually allows us to do COOL things. By our calculations it would cost us in the neighbourhood of $100,000. I just re-did my entire server fleet (including UPSes and refurbishing older servers into workstation-class desktops) for about that amount. There is absolutely no way in hell we could ever sell $100,000 in management tools to the brass. So instead, we are left dragging VMs around using the crappy (and capped at 20Mbit because VMWare are [censored] [censored] [censored]) VI client for everything. If there is a complaint to be made against virtualisation it is not in capability, but in the costs of the tools required to really make it shine.

That said, I’ve had my fill of metal systems. I did that for long enough to never want to do it again. Run an OS whose configuration is important and I want to keep on a metal system? Never. Data goes on a RAIDed storage server with proper backups, and applications with valuable configurations go into a VM. Recovery from failure is just too important to leave to the astonishingly abysmal quality of modern hardware.

Speaking of which, I have to go RMA 3 disks, a motherboard and a half-dozen sticks of RAM. [Censored] [Censored] [Censored] [Censored] [Censored] <-- carrier lost -->


A reason NOT to virtualise...

I really can't think of a reason why anyone would not virtualise their systems... Virtualisation is not even expensive... VMWare is expensive! Anyone can download any free hypervisor and get the same (if not better) performance than ESX/vSphere along with many of the enterprise-ready features like live-motion, centralised resource pool management, snapshots, template provisioning and virtual hard disk backup / porting to DR sites. Add those with saving on electricity bills, warranty costs and saving the planet... I feel that virtualisation should be first on everyone's list this christmas - and law!

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