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Virtual Servers Essay

Introduction

As the technology timeline continues in full momentum, companies tend to struggle behind, trying to catch up. Where we talk about in this analysis is the topic of making telecommunications more efficient for companies on the server side. A server is dedicated software, programmed to host a specific service to specified clients or users. For example, when you access webpages on the internet, a server is hosting those webpages for you to access and view on your computer.

To run these servers takes much maintenance and energy along with the risks of potential disasters. Before virtualization was implemented, each server ran on their own physical machine. For large hosting companies, they would have what are called “server farms,” which are basically large server rooms where there can be from tens to hundreds of server machines. Not only is this a nightmare for maintenance, but energy consumption would be through the roof. Also, if one of those machines were to fail or give out, the whole server it was running will go down. If it was a major server that other servers were using, those other servers will go down as well. Disaster recovery for such an event is not only costly in time and money, but service inefficiency for the company clients as well.

Using single server machines are basically now a thing of the past when it comes to today’s available technology. Instead of having one machine host only one server, why not have it host more than one? This would not only solve energy cost, but as well as manageability, and decreased space consumption to where your servers are housed. In this analysis of server efficiency, we are going to introduce the benefits and reasons to using virtual servers.

Executive Summary

Virtualization is a quickly growing technology in today’s enterprise. Primary customers of the technology implementation are usually server hosts and datacenters. Reason being is the fact that using virtualization for this field helps save the company on money and from loss of service. The term is “virtual server,” which is a server on a virtual machine as software that runs on virtual server environment software on a physical machine. With this allows for multiple virtual machines to run at the same time all on one physical machine. That being said, you can have many servers running on one machine than doing it the old way of having one server per machine.

With this implementation, virtual servers will save the company on energy, maintenance, and much better disaster recovery options. This can be considered as a “green solution,” so where energy consumption would be much lower compared to the amount of servers that the company desires to run. By having the same amount of virtual servers as to where there were on single server machines, you will be reducing the amount of needed machines to where energy consumption will be much less.

The virtual machines that run the virtual servers are maintained through the virtual machine environment on the physical machine. Basically, the virtual machine hardware and components are all software defined. The only parts that will have to be concerned about is that of the physical machine itself. Still all together, part replacement and management would dramatically reduce.

When it comes to disasters, anything can happen. A disaster recovery plan is a crucial precaution to any company, especially in the IT department. Virtual servers offer a unique capability of virtually transferring from broken down machines to backup machines. To also add that whole virtual servers can be backed up to backup storage repositories in case of any corruption in software, in which they can be restored from.

Overall, virtualization is a technology that will be extremely helpful on not only the budgets, but as well as the company’s survival chance in disasters. The old machines will have to be replaced with stronger machines if they are not able to establish the requirements for this project. Otherwise, all that will be needed is the software environment and the setup for a virtual server system and network for the company.

Virtual Servers
What Are They?

To be able to run more than one server on one machine. The idea seems impossible with older machines, software, and hardware. However, today’s technology allows for such limitless possibilities. With this idea, it will be not only to condense the amount of equipment needed to do the same job, but to also save energy, time, and money. The virtual machine is considered to be the most dazzling comeback in information technology. IBM implemented virtual machine platforms in the late 1960s. However thirty years later, the technology was rediscovered when ways were found to accommodate the x86 processor architectures. Today virtualization allows the capabilities to run most modern operating systems in a virtual machine.

When the virtual machine takes on the role of a server, that is where the term virtual server comes in. Virtual servers can be described as sub-operating systems running in a virtual server hosting environment on a single machine. Basically what this means is that you can have several virtual servers running together on a single machine. Each virtual server is capable of hosting its own services at the same time as the other running virtual servers on the machine. The virtual server hosting machine basically plays a role of multi-tasking to run each installed virtual server. These machines are special in a sense to where they are able to handle the amount of process and load required.

What Do They Replace?

The use of virtual servers would not only replace the hosting machines, but networking equipment, and amount of cabling. Server machines are known to have powerful processors, vast amount of RAM, and plenty of storage space for files. Of course as technology moves up, the power and capabilities of these host machines move up as well. In the point of time we are in with technology, the impossible idea to have one of these machines do the job of many is now indeed possible. Depending on the hosted services, today you can have around a maximum of 64 virtual servers hosted on one machine, stated by Microsoft.

With this enhancement to a so called server farm, expenses, performance, and reliability will have a dramatic, beneficial change for the company. With virtual servers, you can also replace the networking equipment that connect your servers together by running what is called a “software based network” or SBN. An SBN is basically your whole network, virtualized on one or very few servers, depending on your network size and needs. With that, you especially cut down the amount of cables used to connect each machine up to each other. Since all communications will be done through a virtual networked environment, all there would be are just those few servers cabled together.

Requirements

To run virtual servers, all you need are the load capable machines and the virtual server environment software. Along with that, maintenance and virtual hardware setup would be done all through the virtual server environment software. If a certain server requires a certain amount of RAM for service hosting, all you would need to do is change a number in the virtual server environment. Since the servers are managed over software, automation through scripts and applications also play a big role. That being said, maintenance requirements are much lower. The machines are recommended to require multiple processors to be able to balance the load of the running virtual servers.

RAM can vary, depending on the amount of servers you chose to run on the machine. Each server ran on the machine, usually will require 512MB to 1 GB. For example, if you were to put five servers on the machine, you would need 5GB for the servers, plus a reasonable amount for the server hosting environment to use. The virtual server environment software is server software that hosts the sub-servers on it, known as the virtual servers. It is basically the idea of a server within a server situation. There are many brands of environment software to choose from, each with their own features and capabilities. A popular default environment to use is Microsoft’s Virtual Server 2005. If Microsoft’s is not a desired choice, Citrix and even Linux offer their own environments for virtual server hosting. The only differences between them all would be licensing and available features.

Advantages
Maintenance

With virtual servers, maintenance needs are much lower than that of single server hosting machines. Of course all servers these days are now maintained through automation and scripts with only people to administer them. However with the virtual servers, the universe of software managed servers can be taken further. The virtual servers can be managed through the virtual server environment software by included features and applications, along with scripts.

The basic managing operations first consist of starting up, rebooting, and/or shutting down the servers. To also add, you can have scripts or applications backup the server itself with all of its files and information to a backup storage machine or repository. This reduces the amount of need from employees to manage and maintain the servers. All you will need them to do is to administer and make sure the servers do what they are supposed to do.

Using the virtual server technology will lower the amount of equipment needed. Each server will basically be using virtual equipment on the server environment software, so replacements will not be necessary unless it’s for the machine itself. If something were to happen to a machine to where it needed maintenance, then the servers that would usually run on it would be moved to a temporary backup machine.

Green Solution

Energy consumption, today, is one of the many top concerns among most companies. As world resources grow scarce, the public, government, and companies strive to find a “green” solution for their business needs. Doing so not only helps the world with excessive resource use, but it brings in a lower energy bill. In a company budget, energy bills are one of the many main concerns in an IT environment.

Energy consumption of server farms significantly contributes to their operational cost. A server farm or server cluster is a collection of computer servers usually maintained by an enterprise. With using virtual servers, you can keep the same amount of servers while reducing the amount of machines needed. This basically means the fewer machines running, the less energy you will be using.

Disaster Recovery

A known murphy’s law, “whatever can happen, will happen.” When it comes to computer equipment, this is more than true. Disasters happen on occasions to where there can be service loss or even data loss. Server host machines can break down like everything else to where whatever was hosted on it, is no longer at service to its clients. When these machines break down, the issue could be temporary, or the whole system was lost including the data on it.

With virtual servers, disaster recovery can be, by far, more effective. Of course machines are still susceptible to break down at some point in worst case scenarios. However, with virtual servers, preventative measure can be taken without almost any loss. A popular option of a today’s server hosts are using main repository storage systems for the virtual servers, and then having the hosting machines pull that server off the storage device to host them. This allows the capability of where if one of the hosting machines were to go down, the server hosted can simply move to a different machine or a temporary backup machine. This way the services hosted would still be running without any noticeable errors.

Conclusion

We have covered all the primary points concerning the implementation of virtual servers and have concluded that this will be highly beneficial towards company budgets and monetary needs. The disaster recovery methods that virtualizing has available are highly efficient, reliable, and safe. The process and procedures to switching over to this technology may be slightly larger, however in the long run; virtualizing the servers will be economically beneficial towards the company.

References
Do, T. (2011). Comparison of Allocation Schemes for Virutual Machines in Energy-Aware Server Farms. Computer Journal, 54(11), 1790-1797

Mearian, L. (2012). Flash Storage Can Help Some IT Operations. Computerworld,46(14), 8.

Scheier, R. L. (2012). Disaster Recovery On Double Duty. (Cover story). Computerworld, 46(6), 20-26.

Spinellis, D. (2012). Virtualize Me. IEEE Software, 29(5), 91-93. doi: 10.1109/MS.2012. 125

Sturdevant, C. (2011). Physical Servers Brace For Virtual Load. Eweek, 28(15), 14-16.


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