Brian Fields, Channel Manager of Stratus Technologies, provided an informative and well-paced presentation on server virtualization at the September Philadelphia Section meeting. Fields notes that server virtualization is being done in both the enterprise and in manufacturing — process and discrete. The benefits of server consolidation and virtualization are being achieved in both environments.
About 25 attended the meeting, which was held at Rumsey Electric in Conchohocken.
Instead of, say, having six servers doing six different functions, you can consolidate the six into one piece of hardware, says Fields. This can happen even if the six are running different operating systems or versions. Free software makes this possible.
Hypervisor software from leading companies such as VMware (vSphere / ESXi) and Microsoft (Hyper-V) manages the server hardware. Virtual machines running operating systems and applications run independently on top of the hypervisor.
Of course the single hardware server has to have sufficient cores and memory to run the virtual servers without degradation of performance.
Fields says that the concept applies to workstations as well. By downloading Microsoft Hyper-V to your PC, you can run Windows XP and Windows 10 on the same machine. Fields says that he does just that on his own computer.
“This allows me to operate my old scanner, which has drivers only for XP,” he says.
While consolidating six virtual servers into one saves money and maintenance, it has risks. Companies must take steps to ensure availability. Otherwise they would lose multiple applications if the single hardware server crashes for some reason. The severity of the loss would depend on the applications underway.
One answer to this risk involves two identical servers that both contain the virtual servers. The two monitor each other for faults. If a fault materializes in the operational one, it initiates a switching mechanism that moves to restart functions on the redundant server. Some data would be lost.
A second possibility has the two identical servers mirror each other. When one fails, the other continues on seamlessly.
Fields says the Stratus Technologies has a variation of this latter approach. Stratus servers have two halves operating in mirror fashion. He continued with a description of the Stratus ftServers that provide three levels of performance and a very high degree of availability.
Fields presided over a lively question and answer session that followed the presentation.
The speaker’s Powerpoint presentation will be available shortly.