Need to eek out just a little more time out of an old server? Don’t have the time or resources to reconfigure the rest of your server roles?
At ITP we use a neat trick. Vmware Converter. What is Vmware Converter? (http://www.vmware.com/products/converter/)It is a free technology which captures a physical server and backs it up to a couple of files which can be moved to any server or computer and with the use of a free or inexpensive “player” you can get that old server configuration running on reliable hardware. This is a great way to get a few more months out of hardware it is also an excellent disaster recovery option for small to large enterprises. Even if you have never used virtualization this tool can be a great introduction to the technology and a real business saving tool in the case of hardware on the edge.
You may have heard or read the hype over the last 10 years about the “cloud” and “virtualization” to consolidate your network hardware. It all sounds “neat” and a little confusing but how does it really help? Let me share a real story of a time when virtualization has made a difference in our business. (Note names have been changed but the facts in this case are real)
I had been working hard getting a 2 NFR licsenses from Lexis Nexis Time Matters enterprise working on 2 servers, one in our main office in Milwaukee and one in our Madison office. The purpose was to demonstrate the use of SQL replication technology. That is SQL’s ability to keep to SQL databases perfectly in sync. This mixed with Time Matters 9.0 Enterprise can create 2 or more databases all over the U.S. which stay in sync in real time but individuals can still connect locally not using VPN, Terminal Server or Citirix. Neat stuff and very useful for some of our mid to large clients.
I digress. I was using a vmware virtual machine of Server 2003 to demonstrate mostly because I could work on it on my mac in vmware fusion when I had time and then could ultimately transfer it to a more powerful machine in the Madison office whenever I needed it. Using a virtual machine or a “VM” allowed me to configure the server and have all those settings maintained no matter which machine I hit “play” on. Really it can be that simple. Vmware stores the entire OS, settings, files in a matter of a couple files which can be transfered and with vmware player (free, http://www.vmware.com/download/player/) you push a green play button and your in action.
True story, the morning of the demo for the client the hard drive on the machine I was going to demo it on failed. I did not panic I did not even call our main office. Instead I drove to our datacenter with the vm on a usb hard drive. Plugged it into one of our existing servers and hit “play”. The demo was never reschedule on our client and I think our sales team at ITP may have even been a little impressed.
Vmware, Hyper-V or Xen – virtualization is coming to the SMB market and to the home user. I answer virtualization questions daily from friends, family and colleagues. I called a maintence guy in Florida to ask about the internet setup for one of our traveling clients and he said “Hey, you got a minute for a question about vmware fusion…?”
I will work up a post on virtualiztion basics so that we can demystify virtualiztion. It is not marketing this technology makes business sense.