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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The opinions expressed within are my own and should not be attributed to any other Individual, Company or the one I work for. I just happen to be a classic techie who is passionate about getting things to work as they should do (and are sometimes advertised and marketed as being able to?) and when I can I drop notes here to help others falling in to the same traps that I have fallen in to. If this has helped then please pass it on - if you feel that I have commented in error or disagree then please feel free to discuss with me either publically or privately? Cheers, Dave
Thin Clients, VDI and Linux integration from the front lines.... Raw and sometimes unedited notes based on my experiences with VMware, Thin Clients, Linux etc.

Well from a Thin Client vendors perspective it's the last line that's a killer - "We're now starting to think about virtualising our 82,000 desktops."

Green payoff in server upgrade

TRANSPLANTING 178 administration servers into six robust machines slashed the WA Department of Education's management costs, and it is providing sub-second failovers in case of breakdown.

Glenn Veen

Glenn Veen says the new system is outstanding

Server virtualisation in conjunction with high-speed broadband to 850 sites now allows infrastructure and telecommunications manager Glenn Veen to drop two new servers into production using VMware software every Thursday.

"The virtualisation of the department's administrative systems is an outstanding success for our environment," Veen says, and now he's ready for the big challenge.

"We're talking about an environment with 250,000 students and 21,000 teachers around the clock, every day, Veen says, because the kids do homework late at night, even at 1am in the morning.

"We deliver into the Northern Territory and South Australia, to charter flight territory." Currently, the department runs 800 curriculum servers dispersed across the state.

Veen says the average cost of purchasing each one, which he describes as glorified PCs, was about $4500.

The savings from virtualisation are not to be had in hardware, but cheaper management of a consolidated environment against a growing technology infrastructure.

"With WMware it's a little more, but it's a solid environment," Veen says. "We've improved performance because we've moved from clunky legacy hardware."

Now, he says, the same machines run mostly Windows 2003 servers with a few NT 4.0, and an increasing number of Red Hat Linux servers.

The department is moving that way because its online curriculum system uses Oracle servers, he says.

Regardless of the operating system, the result is more stable because server virtualisation has also allowed storage consolidation into a properly managed storage area network. So now, when a virtual server goes down, it can be be restarted immediately.

If that application was still running on clunky hardware, it could take weeks to detect, diagnose and fix a problem.

"We wanted to consolidate our legacy applications, such as SQL Server," Veen says.

"Instead of buying a server, now we are buying services.

"That means putting our corporate applications into a more structured environment.

"Previously, the department used an assortment of hardware, often leased on a project by project basis."

Thankfully, those days are over. Veen says one application to collect student statistics was used only four times a year.

The applications servers were dormant for the rest of the time.

Now the system is virtualised, servers are only instantiated in software as they are needed. Veen calls this the green effect, since better server usage saves power.

For example, school administration server virtualisation produced a consolidation ratio of 30 servers now running on one new machine.

Results will vary.

The department anticipates curriculum server virtualisation will produce consolidation ratios more like 8:1 because they are constantly in use.

Network switch consolidation is expected to be lower at 4:1.

This is because the old tin-boxes used one connection per machine while the data centre machines run virtual servers, although fewer in number, and use two connections each to double network reliability.

"Now we have fully rigged servers and run Hewlett-Packard's OVO management software," Veen says.

"We had an electrical issue in the building but the service didn't stop running.

"We're now starting to think about virtualising our 82,000 desktops."

Posted on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 5:29 PM VMware and other Virtualization tools | Back to top


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