Showcasing ICT Innovation Virtual Server Technology

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					Showcasing ICT

Virtual Server
This booklet has been made possible by grant funding from
the Office for the Community Sector, Department of
Planning and Community Development.

Thanks to the Showcasing ICT Innovation grant program
and Dr Carla Pascoe.

Written by Rachael Bausor, Sandybeach Centre.

 T   his booklet will provide you with an
 introduction    to   virtualisation   technology,
 and how you might be able to use it in your
 not-for-profit environment.

 It aims to answer the following questions:
        What is a virtual server?
        How much does it cost?
        Why should I use it?
        How do I use it?
        Where do I go next?
What is a
virtual server?

V    irtualisation means running an operating
system (like Microsoft Windows Server 2008) on
virtual hardware. The physical hardware of the
host is shared across the virtual machines
running on that system.
This means one physical set of hardware can
host a number of virtual configurations.

Each virtual server is completely independent –
for example, you can install Microsoft Windows
Server 2003 on one and Linux on another.

       One physical server can host multiple virtual
       servers, and they will appear on the network as
                 separate physical devices.
I   n a traditional environment, you might run a
number of different physical servers for the
different functions within your network.

I   n a virtualised environment, all of these
functions can be hosted as virtual servers on
one physical server.

  What software do I need?

V     irtualisation is part of Microsoft’s technology
roadmap, so it is integrated into the Microsoft Server

Different versions of Virtual Server have been free for
     Virtual Server 2005 was an addition that ran on
      Microsoft Windows Server 2003
     Hyper-V (Microsoft’s virtual server management
      platform) is included in Windows Server 2008,
      and in Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit editions)

Microsoft’s    main       competitor        for     virtualisation
technology is VMware. VMware Server is also free,
but other VMware products are not.

              The Microsoft and VMware products both
               work in the same way, you can try both
               and choose which one is right for you.
 Where do I get the
 software from?

I   f you are an Adult and Community Education (ACE)
provider,   the    ACFE/Microsoft     agreement    includes
Windows Server 2008.

D     onortec offer heavily discounted software to other
not-for-profit organisations.


D     onortec sell other products, like
Microsoft   Exchange      or    Sharepoint
                                              Microsoft limit
                                              the number of
                                              orders you can
Server, to make the most of your
                                              place through
virtual infrastructure.
                                             Donortec, so you
Remember you need to ensure you               need to PLAN.
are fully licensed for any software
you install on virtual servers.
 Why should I use
 virtual servers?

1       Virtualisation reduces our dependence on
       the underlying hardware. For example, if
       server   hardware    needs   to   be    replaced
upgraded, this happens at the host operating system
level and is invisible to the virtual server. Disk

expansion is simple - just allocate more space as
required to virtual hard disks.

2         Virtualisation    adds    flexibility
         infrastructure. You can use one physical
         server hosting a number of virtual machines
to separate out IT functions, for example running
Exchange on a separate server from file and print
                                                  to      our

services. Insulating each server in this way reduces
risk, as a failure in one system will not affect the
others. It is also easier to implement load balancing and
contingency, using server farms or clusters.
3        It is environmentally effective. Using virtual
         servers instead of physical reduces the overall
         processing   load   and   therefore      reduces
carbon footprint. It also allows us to extend the life of

our hardware, and so reduce our waste. Part of our
research into this program included an environmental
analysis which confirmed these assumptions.

         Diaster recovery strategy is more robust.
         If the underlying hardware fails, the virtual
         server image can be restored from backup and
            on   an   alternate    server.   In    a   physical
environment,     disaster    recovery   would     take   much
longer or require mirrored hardware to restore onto.

5         It is more cost-effective. Hardware cost is
         the main component of our infrastructure cost.
         Virtualisation lets us run ―three for the price of
one‖. Other costs are also lower, including: licencing,
power consumption and general server room space

F     rom the Microsoft Implementation and Design
guide, here are four scenarios where you might use
 1.    Server      Consolidation:          combining     multiple
       physical servers onto one physical box.
 2.    Application Migration: some applications might
       only     run     on     older       operating    systems,
       virtualisation lets you host a virtual legacy
       operating system.
 3.    Increased IT Agility: for example, to increase
       your capacity for load balancing or disaster
       recovery. Also        making support simpler for
       maintenance and upgrade of hardware.
 4.    Software Development and Training: To allow
       you    to      run    full   test     and   development
       environments,         without       the   need   for   new
How do I implement Hyper-V?

1    You   need   Windows    Server   2008   or
     Windows Server 2008 R2 (64-bit editions).

2    Using Server Manager, just add the Hyper-
     V role to the server.

3    Hyper-V manager will be displayed in
     Server Manager.
How do I create a
Virtual Server?
    n Windows Server 2008,
      Hyper-V       Manager   to
create a new virtual server.

You may choose to create a
Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) first.
This will be like a blank disk
until you install the operating
system – just like a new
physical server. Then you
need to select a few simple
settings like RAM, disk size,
and so on.

O     nce you’ve created the
machine it will appear on the
network      like   any   other
physical device.
  Server Migration

I    n theory, there are tools you can use for
Physical to Virtual (P2V) migration.

In      practice,            I
recommend           treating
the new virtual server
like   a   new     physical
server, and migrating
manually.       This     also
gives        you         the
opportunity         to     do
some spring cleaning!

              Clean installation rather than migration also
           simplifies splitting up server functions, and as you
               move to a virtual environment your server
               architecture will probably change anyway.

T     here are many things to consider when you are
planning your implementation:

   Load balancing - think about the physical disks
    underlying your virtual disks. For example, you may
    put Exchange mailboxes on a different physical disk
    to your files, so they don’t compete for disk access.
   Backup strategy - what will you back up: server
    level or just the VHD? Will you store backups
    offsite? How much history will you keep?
   Restore strategy - how will you restore? Will you
    enable granular restores?
   Disaster recovery - what is your plan?
   Volume shadow copy (VSS) - will you use VSS
    as part of your backup strategy? On which folders?
    Where will you put the images? How often will you
    take snapshots?
   Disk space monitoring - how will you know when
    you’re running out of space?
   Splitting functions - what runs on each server?
   Redundancy - what if you lose one server? Can
    you switch over to another? Will you use a farm?
 Planning Tools

T   here     are      many       planning        tools
particularly from Microsoft. For example, the Solution

Accelerator helps you plan your requirements.

    The Windows Server virtualization infrastructure decision flow

         Remember—PLAN            PLAN PLAN!

S    tart with the Microsoft resources:
Then you should set up a test box and see how
everything works. If you only have Windows Server
2003, you can install Virtual Server 2005 – it’s free and
the concepts are the same as Hyper-V.

    Other Links
    Try the Dell Outlet for discounted preconfigured
    Microsoft Infrastructure Planning and Design (IPD)
     guides,    for      virtualisation    and    others: and search for ―IPD‖
    Hyper-V (Server 2008) Getting Started Guide: -us/library/
    Technet   article    providing   a   good   overview:
Sandybeach Centre - our story

W      e   had   one   very   old   workhorse
running Windows Server 2003 on 1GB RAM. We

replaced it with a new physical server, running 3
virtual servers: File server, AD/Domain Controller/
Print server and Exchange 2010.
We upgraded our backup strategy using Backup
Exec (bought through Donortec), backing up to
portable hard drives and keeping one offsite. Backup
Exec is fully ―virtual-aware‖, so we now have the
ability to perform granular restores or a full server
restore. Our disaster recovery planning is now much
more robust – in a disaster, we would just need to
rebuild a bare-bones host to mount the VHD images
and we would be up and running again.
If maintenance is required, it’s only on one server at
a time, so disruption to users is minimised. Reboots
are much faster now too. We plan to rebuild our old
server and use it as another host, for redundancy
and load balancing.
Prepared by Rachael Bausor
    Sandybeach Centre

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