You have a new project – to update a couple of outdated Servers. These servers are running Windows Server 2003 and they have database server role configured on each one and the company budget is very limited. Why not consider Virtualization for your new project? Compressing the most value and reducing the costs of software, hardware and applications is a great idea.
What is Virtualization? Virtualization is a matter of consolidating workloads on one physical server. You can safely run several Operating Systems (Servers and Clients) and applications at the same time in a single computer with each having access to the resources when needed. Start eliminating old servers and run multiple virtual machines on each physical machine. The main purpose of virtualization is to provide solution to organizations to improve the server utilization and reduce costs by using one computer.
Two of the most popular virtualization technologies in the market are VMware and Hyper-V, they are both Hypervisor based virtualization that allows and is capable of running multiple Operating Systems which are also known as guests, and they run synchronously in a host computer. Hyper-V is one of the Server Roles of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012, whereas VMware can be installed in a bare metal hardware as long as it meets all hardware specifications. With the release of Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 which is a bare metal or dedicated stand-alone Hyper-V only version, is a cost effective virtualization solution and has improved scalability and performance.
What is Hypervisor? A Hypervisor is commonly installed on a server hardware, with the functionality of running guest operating system. There are 2 types of Hypervisors, Type 1 and Type2. Type 1 Hypervisor is considered a bare-metal hypervisor and runs directly on top of hardware. Type 2 Hypervisor operates as an application on top of an existing operating system. VMware vSphere or ESXi and Citrix XenServer are Type 1 Hypervisors. VirtualBox, VMware Workstation and Microsoft Virtual PC are all Type 2 hypervisors. As for Hyper-V, it is unclear where it is suited.
A question that you may ask – What if you are an administrator in a small business or medium size Local Area Network (LAN)? Hyper-V is in-built and part of Server Roles of Windows 2008 and Windows 2012 Server, a simple configuration is all it takes, whereas VMware is not free and the licensing is pricey. If the IT budget is not an issue in your company you may choose and implement VMware. Do some research and evaluation on what type of Applications and Databases will you be running in your VMWare prior to implementation. Professional knowledge on setting up VMware is also needed, therefore proper training is necessary, but it can be costly.
So, which is the right Virtualization solution for you – VMware or Hyper-V?
Here’s my suggestion and might be feasible for your project:
Buy two or three low end hardware servers with identical technical specifications and install Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise (to run multiple Operating Systems simultaneously) and configure them with Hyper-V or consider Hyper-V Server 2012. It is best to have at least RAID 5 configured for a database server role; even a good computer or self-built might work for a company with a low IT budget. In case one of the virtual machines fails, utilize the other server by moving the Virtual Hard Disc (VHD) this process will only takes a few minutes with a minimal down time. There’s no need for you to invest on expensive backup software. Also, get at least two or more Terabytes NAS’es or USB external hard drives to backup the VHDs. Well…that’s a heck of a lot of savings, don’t you think?
Note: Before implementing virtualization in your network it is always a good practice to experiment and setup a lab. I have experimented Hyper-V Role from Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and Windows 2012 Server prior to implementation a couple of times and it works great for me. You will need to be aware of potential benefits and drawbacks of whether Hyper-V or VMware is suited in your project. There might be possible performance overhead, and management burdens for configuring and maintaining the host Operating System.
Helpful Virtualization resources: