View Full Version : Virtual Servers/Virtual Machines
Ok guys, I've been looking to research on this for a while and it keeps getting pushed back on the priority list :/ I saw the other thread on help choosing a good one so instead of hijacking that one thought I'd create my own.
What are the benefits of doing this? What do you use yours for? Any other tips/suggestions?
the benefits are you can use 1 physical computer to run multiple completely separate computers. You can run a VM to test software or test an OS. If you are done with it, you can just delete the VM. You don't have to screw up the host OS.
Why have 5 physical computers with monitors keyboards mouse (or use KVM switch). when you can have 1 physical computer with 1 monitor and 1 keyboard.
The whole thing is, most computers sit idle all the time. why have 5 physical computers sitting idle. When you can have 1 computer doing all the work. You save energy, you save money, you save space. And its pretty cool too. If you have enough hardware to support multiple VM's you can't even tell its a virtual. It is literally just like a physical computer. (for the most part)
If you are going with VM Ware, and this is for a home use. Purchase the VM Ware Workstation. It cost money where as the VM Ware Server version is free. Workstation is a not choppy like server is.
2) Ease of provisioning
3) Ease of standardization
4) Reduction in cooling/power needs
Most of those only apply to the corporate realm but security and efficiency should really top the list. Segregation of VMs is quite easy to accomplish. Many people use a VM to surf the internet so as to keep from malware infections on their host computer.
Efficiency gets into one piece of hardware hosting multiple servers. Some of our VMware ESX/ESXi physical servers are hosting 10 or more virtual machines and aren't even breaking a sweat.
Also, hotswapability. If I need to do an upgrade to the hardware or server software, I can move the running VM(s) to another piece of hardware, WITH NO SERVICE INTERUPTION, shut down the old hardware, upgrade it then move the still running VM(s) back. The clients of the VM were completely unaffected. Also, if one piece of hardware fails, the others will "divy up" the VMs running on the failed hardware (all servers in a cluster maintain constant contact for this purpose), and restart them (5 minutes or so tops, move happens almost instantly, but you know how long it takes to boot the VM's OS). Once the hardware is repaired, you can redistribute the VM(s) back to reduce the load. Midnight hardware failure no longer requires a bleary eyed tech to come in at all hours, the hardware can be fixed at leisure. Just always make sure that your VMs can all operate on one less piece of hardware then you have in the cluster.
I use M$ Virtual PC all the time, I using one right now because itís probably the safest way to access the Internet, once Iím finished I simply shut it down without saving any changes Ö that way I get a clean system every restart.
The most significant issue with virtual machines is the hardware requirements; you want to make your experience not feel like youíre in a virtual environment. If your PC is at least a 2.2Ghz with 2GB RAM then your configuration is good enough to make your VPC experience as close to a real PC experience (i.e.: working directly on your host OS). To get best performance VPCís disk images should be stored on a separate drive from your host operating system. Depending on what software you install on a virtual machine it can be be 3 GB in size. As for RAM the more you have the better, Iíve run a VPC on as little as 768 MB but if your host PC has 4 GB you can allocate half to the VPC.
If you have enough hard disk space and RAM a virtual machine is the way to go. Virtual PC is available free from M$ and itís easy to setup. Once you have a VPC setup and configured the way you want it, copy it to another folder and keep it as the original. Using the original as a template you can create as many VPCís as needed, one for web browsing, one to test your software or for training computers (itís faster the disc imaging software). I have every M$ OS's going back to Win95 (believe it or not I still see it occasionally) for troubleshooting client problems.
It should be noted that legally you are required to have a software license for each guest (virtual) operating systems.
It can also be useful for legacy applications. At work, we had a regular Ubuntu server running 8.04 which has MySql5 on it. We had some legacy apps that would only work with Mysql4 (without a ton of work), so we just installed a copy of VMWare Server, installed Ubuntu 6.06 on that, and it looks exactly like it was another server on the network.
I plan on using mine to surf the web from one console, and play games on the other, while experimenting with Windows 7 on yet another.
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