Server Virtualization and Private Clouds
Two successive IT technology revolutions have changed the face of computing: virtualization and cloud computing. Virtualization makes it possible to harness the explosive growth of servers, and cloud computing makes it safe and inexpensive to outsource network infrastructure and server management. Progent offers advanced expertise providing virtualization solutions based on Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere and NSX, and Citrix platforms, and Progent also offers Private Cloud Hosting services designed to allow small and midsize organizations to take advantage of cloud computing while retaining more control over their environment than is possible with public clouds.
The Server Population Explosion
Increased server count is a reality for organizations of all sizes and the trend is accelerating. The proliferation of servers is driven by a number of factors, including:
Problems with Supporting Multiple Physical Servers
- Mission-critical IT applications: As more IT applications become mission critical to a business, more servers are needed for redundancy and for test-bed and pilot systems used to ensure that upgrades can be safely and seamlessly put into production. Organizations that demand 100% uptime for vital applications have no realistic alternative but to utilize fault-tolerant solutions that require multiple servers and utilize server clustering and server load balancing.
- More applications, more servers: Companies are seeing quick return on investment from leveraging existing IT network infrastructure by deploying new classes of server applications that increase collaboration, information sharing, and productivity through automated work flow. Strategic applications such as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, and Microsoft Dynamics GP Business Accounting, should be run on dedicated servers.
- Segmentation and isolation of applications: Many organizations, including relatively small businesses, have learned through experience that hosting multiple applications on a single server is prone to problems, including reduced application stability, unforeseen software incompatibilities, and security patches or bug fixes for one application adversely affecting other applications. IT administration and management is made more difficult when normal maintenance functions on one application canít be performed during regular business hours because of the potential impact on other applications running on the same server.
- Mixed platform environments: More organizations are embracing a mixed platform strategy with open source applications that often run only under Linux, and thus canít be hosted on existing Windows server infrastructure.
The proliferation of servers has driven the widespread adoption of virtual machines (VMs), servers that are logically isolated from other servers but that share hardware resources with other virtual servers. Although some performance-critical applications may call for their own dedicated physical resources, the vast majority of applications are well suited to be hosted on VMs. Attempting to deal with server proliferation simply by adding dedicated physical machines presents a slew of significant problems affecting IT budgets, network administration and support, system availability, and management distraction. Problems associated with multiple servers include:
Server Management Technology and Solutions
- Capital costs for more physical servers: There are significant capital costs for acquiring new servers, along with the building out of the physical infrastructure to house, power, and cool extra equipment. The addition of a single server can trigger the need for a major upgrade to a data center or computer room to accommodate increased capacity. This can cost thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars.
- Setup costs for servers: Costs for installing and provisioning each server must be factored in on top of the capital outlay for equipment.
- Linear increase in IT management costs: Unless innovative approaches are utilized in setting up and managing more servers, each new server comes with significant ongoing IT management overhead leading to a linear increase in monthly IT support costs. Even mundane IT tasks such as installing updates and patches can become a major problem if the work canít be accomplished during available maintenance windows.
- Inability to standardize server platforms: The rapid evolution of server hardware makes it practically impossible to standardize on any particular brand and model of server platform. Equipment may be bought over a 2-3 year timeframe, but individual models quickly become obsolete and unavailable for purchase. The usual result is a hodgepodge of equipment that precludes the use of any efficient server replication techniques such as template operating system installations. Consequently, most servers end up being configured from scratch using time-consuming manual methods. Many facets of IT management also become more complex when working with advanced configurations such as clustering or redundant servers when servers tied to specific applications are not interchangeable components.
- Server upgrades become daunting: As existing server hardware reaches its end of useful life, the task of upgrading servers becomes a labor-intensive and technically risky endeavor. In most cases the existing operating system configurations canít be moved directly to new hardware, and the environments must be re-created from scratch. Long forgotten configuration details can easily be lost over time, creating instability and user problems for systems that were once stable. The threat of such problems often prompt organizations simply to put off timely upgrades until systems reach a crisis.
- Asset management headaches: IT asset management becomes more time consuming for tasks such as documenting and maintaining service agreements in environments where servers are deployed at different times with different contract expiration dates.
The only practical way currently available to help manage the growth of servers is virtual server technology, which allows multiple virtual servers to run on a single physical server. For all intents and purposes, virtual servers are functionally identical to having separate dedicated physical servers. Virtualization has the obvious advantage of saving hardware costs, since a single physical machine can take the place of multiple systems without the costs associated with purchasing and provisioning additional server equipment. But hardware consolidation is only one of the benefits of deploying virtual servers. Using virtual server technology, businesses can easily achieve server segmentation and isolation, and can enhance the manageability, fault-tolerance, and recoverability of line-of-business servers.
Microsoft's premiere platform for managing virtualized datacenters and private clouds is System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). SCVMM provides unified management of virtual machine (VM) hosts, network fabric, and virtualized storage for private clouds. SCVMM lets you create, deploy and manage VMs and services across a mix of Windows Server Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, and Citrix XenServer hosts. SCVMM also works in conjunction with System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to track the health and performance of VMs and VM hosts and to generate comprehensive reports. To find out about Progent's consulting and troubleshooting services for SCVMM, see System Center Virtual Machine Manager consulting.
Progent can provide the services of a VMware VCDX-certified expert to help you deploy, manage and troubleshoot any product in VMware's extensive portfolio of virtualization technologies including vSphere for cloud computing virtualization, ESXi for server virtualization, NSX for network virtualization, vSAN for software defined storage, vRealize Suite for managing hybrid clouds, Site Recovery Manager for automated disaster recovery, and VMware Workstation for desktop virtualization.
Other important server management technologies for which Progent can provide consulting expertise include network monitoring software, and Windows Server Update Services.
Virtualization technology can also be utilized for centralizing the delivery of Windows desktops and applications to local, remote, and mobile clients. This can significantly cut management costs for common time-consuming tasks such as desktop deployment, provisioning, and updating. Virtualized desktops and applications can also improve productivity by avoiding application and operating system conflicts and by allowing fast recovery or replacement of damaged or lost client hardware. Security is also improved with desktop virtualization because policies are easier to enforce and sensitive data can be confined to the data center. Progent can provide cost-effective online access to certified desktop virtualization experts to help you select, install, and maintain desktop virtualization technologies from Microsoft and Citrix.
Follow these links to find out more about virtual server and server management technology and products, the advantages virtual servers can bring to your business, and how Progent's consultants can help you create solutions for all aspects of server management and desktop virtualization.
Progent's Private Cloud Hosting Services
Cloud computing allows an organization to utilize IT infrastructure including CPU, disk storage that reside on remote data centers accessible via the Internet, or cloud. This alternative to building and maintaining on-premises infrastructure can save substantial capital equipment costs and management expense. Public clouds like Microsoft Azure allow many organizations to share resources in a secure multi-tenant environment, but require a high level of standardization and offer relatively little control over server configuration and security strategies. Private clouds are restricted to a one organization and allow full control over system configuration, resource allocation and security systems. Progent's Private Cloud Hosting service combines a world-class data center with the expertise of Progent's Microsoft Gold Certified consultants to offer small and midsize organizations a full-featured IT outsourcing solution that delivers high availability, security and compliance, fast performance, and streamlined management, all at an affordable and predictable price.
Contact Progent for Virtualization Expertise and Private Cloud Solutions
To get expert help with virtualization, server management, of private cloud solutions, call Progent at 800-993-9400 or visit Contact Progent.