All change. Virtualization, here we come!

Followers of the blog will know I dig virtualization. I first ran Oracle in virtualized environments over a decade ago.

In my current company there is a strong virtualization presence in the Windows space. Pretty much all Windows servers, including those running MS SQL Server, are actually VMs running on a VMware farm. The UNIX/Linux side is a little different. Most stuff is still done on physical boxes and what little virtualization is done, uses CentOS and KVM for freebie open source solutions.

There are a lot of architectural changes going on at the moment and I’ve been pushing *very hard* for a switch to the virtual infrastructure (VI) for all our middle tier servers and a few of our databases. It is looking very likely (but not guaranteed) that this will happen.

Q: What is the incentive to switch to a virtualized environment?
A: We have a bad spread of resource utilization at the moment. Some very big boxes doing very little work, but in security zones that are too unsafe to use them for other purposes. Other boxes will soon be maxed out because they have been used to consolidate services. What’s more, some of the servers that are used for consolidation have multiple, conflicting, installations on them which are already starting to cause administration headaches.

Q: How can virtualization help with our resource utilization?
A: Using a 12 core server with 60G of RAM for a little Apache reverse proxy is crazy. For the sake of resilience, we have multiple of these. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine adding those servers to the farm, carving out some little VMs and leaving all the rest of the resources to do cool stuff with. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. :)

Q: How can virtualization products ease our administration headaches?
A: By far the biggest administration headaches we are seeing in the middle tier relate to having multiple installations of products on a single machine. Doing upgrades and trying to remove old software can cause no end of headaches. Some of our old boxes have 30+ installations on them. It does your noggin in when you are trying to find out what is going on. You often spend much more time trying to identify which installation you should be looking at, than actually doing the task you’ve been asked to do. By moving to the VI we can add a greater level of separation between some of these installations, making life much clearer. Our current vision is one installation per VM. To upgrade we set up new VMs, migrate the services on to them and bin the old VMs. Everything remains clean and simple.

Q: What virtualization product should we use?
A: We have a big investment in VMware. There is a dedicated team who manage this infrastructure and know what they are doing. IMHO it is only Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) that prevents other people in the company moving some or all of the Linux stuff on to that infrastructure. Oracle products are only part of the infrastructure, but we understand and accept the Oracle licensing, support and certification implications of this move.

Q: What version of Linux will we be using?
A: Oracle Linux! Yeah baby!

Q: So nothing can go wrong?
A: Don’t be stupid. We are bound to get some pain points, but I think it will be a fantastic move in the right direction.

So now all that remains is to get the final approval and start moving this stuff on to the VI. If this happens I will be ecstatic. If it doesn’t I think my tantrums-per-day ratio will increase, but I’m bottom of the food chain in the company, so I will have to do what I’m told. :) Fingers crossed.

Cheers

Tim…

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