Thursday, December 10, 2009

Expanding the Virtual

At the end of 2008, we virtualized our core infrastructure and upgraded from Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 to Essential Business Server (EBS) 2008.  We virtualized this platform on two “big” servers and have a great experience so far operating our business in this way.  However, as many businesses grow, we found ourselves a little short on space to continue testing and integrating new Microsoft products. 

To overcome this, we purchased additional RAM and a Storage Area Network (SAN).  In this post, I plan to cover the conceptual idea we have for “expanding the virtual” as expanding something that’s virtual sounds like it should be pretty straight forward.

The idea in expanding this environment goes like this. 

  • Upgrade the RAM in the main virtual host servers
  • Configure the SAN to house the data for the virtual servers
  • Move the virtual hard drive files from the host servers to the SAN
  • Reconnect the virtual machines with their data through the host servers

So far, we’ve installed the RAM in the host servers and are adding the SAN to our network and configuring it.  More details to come as progress through this project.

From a business perspective, this expansion has some important implications on how we operate.  We will be able to test new products and upgrades by creating a mirror image of our production environment, installing the new software, and test.  If we need to add a dedicated server for some purpose, we’ll be able to add it as needed in the virtual environment without having to purchase new server hardware.  We will extend our use of Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager to virtualize the remaining physical servers in our production environment, to monitor the virtual environment for issues, and to create a true test platform – all without additional hardware or software.

The SAN and the additional RAM moves the virtual “ceiling” for scalability much higher and gives us some room to breath.

More to come on this topic as we continue to have more clients introduce virtual technologies in their environments and as we expand our infrastructure.

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