Options for Deployment – Server Virtualization

As you heave probably read, virtualization has been a hot topic for a while.  We thought it was worth highlighting a few benefits of this technology, not least because it’s a model often used by Wavelink’s customers to host our own products, such as Avalanche.

First, for the uninitiated, this technology allows you to install an instance of an OS and applications, just as you would on a regular PC.  Through a web portal (typically) you’d define the memory, disk and peripherals (such as the network) for the different operating systems to run inside of.

Through a special viewer, you’re able to install an OS and applications as you would on a regular PC.  You can run multiple instances of an OS on the same physical machine at the same time, and can run different operating systems concurrently.  Now what sets apart virtualization is the manageability.

First, the system is set up for remote management.  In products like VMWare ESX for example, you would never use the console of the host directly.

Secondly, you get the ability to allocate RAM and disk according to your needs.  As long as the host has the space, it can be allocated out to your virtualized servers as your needs change.

Thirdly, there’s reliability.  Since the server is virtual, at the end of the day it’s just a disk image.  This means that once your system is ready and configured, you can take a backup of the image to mitigate the effects of any catastrophic failure.   In many products too, you’re able to take snapshots as well.  These capture both the memory and disk and restore you to an active point when the operating system and applications are actually running.  And of course, this is in addition to any configuration optimizations you might make in your application for redundancy (such as redundant distributed servers in Avalanche for example).

Lastly, there’s flexibility that virtualization introduces with networking.  In essence, run all of the networks you might need into the physical host and then plug them into your virtualized environments using just software.  Point and click to say that my Avalanche eServer gets network connection A and B and my virtual machine running my dServer gets connections B and C.  It’s that easy.

At Wavelink we’ve been using this technology for a long time, but it’s now becoming more relevant because of the move by many companies to what is often termed as “cloud computing”.  Provided it’s done right, the benefits are obvious with less down time and increased flexibility in manageability – which means one thing – it’s quicker and easier to administer.