Friday, October 29, 2010

10 Reasons to Virtualize Your Infrastructure

Data CentersThere are many reasons out there why virtualization is big right now. Virtualization can save you money, lower the number of physical servers you need, and it is environmentally friendly. However, there are a lot of other reasons you may want to virtualize your infrastructure, especially if you work with virtual machines.

1. Common Management Interface
While it is very awesome and useful to have all of your servers available in a single application, it is even better to have the ability to control those servers from that single interface. Virtualization offers access to virtual machine hardware, consoles and storage, and your entire network of systems is at your disposal.

2. ILO Not Required
If your technicians don't set up your Integrated Lights Out (ILO) interfaces, then virtualization removes that burden for the better. With virtualization you can boot VM from a powered-off state without any need for physical access to the system.

3. Easy Hardware Changes
Most companies dread upgrading their systems and changing their hardware. Getting into all the nooks and crannies of your infrastructure is no picnic. And if your hardware doesn't work, then you have to repeat the process all over again. No thanks. With virtualization you can upgrade memory, increase the number of CPUs or even add new hard disks to a VM with some simple mouse clicks.

4. Snapshots
VMs have the incredible feature of having a snapshot capability built-in. A snapshot is an exact copy of your working VM prior to doing something to it that has the potential to make it not work. However, with snapshot you can revert to the snapshot and remove the faulty VM.

5. Prototyping
Using a standard VM, you have the ability to prototype an application, database or operating system enhancement without spending hours trying to rebuild the physical system in your head before the unsuccessful attempt.

6. Fast System Communication
Host-to-guest as well as guest-to-guest communications occur without any standard physical hardware restrictions. Private VLANs create a system-to-system communication that is secure as well as fast. By using a private VLAN for a group of VMs you can create a multi-tier application with limited outside network exposure and without a lengthy set of allow and deny network rules.

7. Easy Decommissioning
There is a lot that goes into decommissioning a physical system. You have to turn off network ports, wipe the disks, unplug the system, remove the system from the rack and then dispose of the system. A VM's decommissioning process does basically the same thing only you do not have to be at the actual data center. There are also no systems to remove or return. Removing your VM from inventory will take you a mere couple of seconds.

8. Templating
It takes one gold disk for every new type of hardware that you incorporate in your network to support a data center. With VM it takes one Windows Server 2008 R2 VM for everything. You only need one template that contains everything needed for deployment.

9. Fast Deployment
VMs do not require shipping, do not require installation, do not require power hookups, do not require network drops and do not require SAN cabling. By using templates or staged ISO images, a VM's deployment can take only minutes or at most a few hours.

10. Dynamic Capacity
With a traditional system you will have to plan far in advance to scale-up for a major marketing campaign that requires new physical computing capacity. However, virtualization allows you to rapidly respond to changing business conditions. You can scale-up whenever you need the extra capacity and even scale back whenever you don't.

It seems that virtualization can do a lot for your company's infrastructure by making things a whole heck of a lot easier. If it is within your company to do so, maybe virtualization is the perfect next step for you. Just make sure you do all your research first.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

4 Data Center Migration Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Data Center MigrationNo matter what part of business you are in, there are going to be some mistakes that you can potentially make along the way. Some of these will sneak up on you and are completely unavoidable. However, there are also some pretty big mistakes that CAN be avoided and need to be if you want things running smoothly.

In the world of Data Center migration, there are four big mistakes that you can make that are fairly common and potentially career damaging. Thankfully though, these mistakes, if caught soon enough, can be avoided. If you can identify these mistakes and avoid them before they happen, then your data center migration will go a lot smoother and so will your job.

For most companies moving a data center is a huge ordeal. In addition to that, a successful move can also act as a nice resume booster for any IT professional. A move that goes according to plan can showcase an IT professional's skills in large-scale project planning, project management, technology integration and even interpersonal communications. Migrating a data center provides a chance for exposure across the entire company considering nearly every department is touched by the IT organization, as well as affected by a data center move in some way or another.

The only problem is that a data center move can be littered with problems. Not just problems but potentially career-ending failures. There isn't an IT professional out there that wants to be on the receiving end of memos and discussions describing lost orders, missed deadlines or customer dissatisfaction that occurred because of something that got disrupted by a data center move that didn't go as planned.

There a four key mistakes that can occur in a data center migration that could spell doom for your job: Ignoring the Data, Combining the Move with Other Projects, Failing to Plan Appropriately and Not Creating an Inventory of Equipment, Applications and Processes.

Taking the time to address these issues one by one up front will significantly improve your chances of successfully migrating any company's data center. By having success, the personal recognition that is sure to come afterward is one of the best payments you could receive, aside from your actual paycheck.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yahoo Computing Coop

Recently in Lockport, New York something strange was built. Reminiscent of barnyards, the newest building by Yahoo is not really for chickens but in fact is a data center. Yahoo plans to change the game when it comes to designs of data centers with their new coop design that is very environmentally friendly while at the same time saving themselves some big bucks.

Huge and metallic, the data center looms over the fields in Lockport, but for once the presence of a huge data center doesn't mean a drain on power or tons of money spent to keep it running. The Yahoo Computing Coop is built similarly to a chicken coop, hence its name, with slatted walls that take advantage of the year-round cool weather in Lockport. The cool air flows through the open-air data center and cools the servers without the presence of a chiller for cold water cooling. This design eliminates one of the most costly and energy-intensive factors of a data center.

To power the center the Yahoo Computing Coop doesn't rely on the usual method of coal-burning electricity but instead relies on the local hydroelectric power of Niagara Falls. While it costs a bit more for Yahoo initially, using hydroelectric power is an environmentally friendly concept that should pay off in the long run. Yahoo isn't doing it all for the environment, however. By using only 10 percent of its power for cooling Yahoo can expect to cut its electricity bills dramatically.

The Yahoo Computing coop consists of three data center halls connected to a central operations center with two more halls being built. When the two additional halls are finished, the center will have 36,000 square feet of space, enough to house 50,000 servers. Yahoo hopes to eventually house up to 100,000 servers at its Coop with the addition of more halls.

It seems like no wrong can be done with this data center. It is green, efficient, cost effective, and is also opening up close to 125 jobs for the area. While Yahoo scrambles to patent its design, similar centers are being built by Hewlett Packard and Google. The Yahoo Computing Coop will run applications like Yahoo Mail and Flickr and will hopefully start a new trend in green server housing.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Server OS Landscapes Going with the Flow

Server Room CageThe world of UNIX and Linux server operating systems right now is anything but boring. However, that may not be the best thing, especially for enterprises that want a background of stability and certainty when they choose a server OS to power their business.

If you use Sun UNIX, then you know all about this. The OpenSolaris project just recently disintegrated into nothing after a long run of uncertainty and was replaced by something probably based on the Illumos project like the OpenIndiana spork. Users of Solaris weren't greeted with such a rude awakening though. Their enterprise OS hasn't actually gone away. They have, however, come to terms with the fact that UNIX is now a product of Oracle which means it is being developed along a very, very different style then it was under Sun.

The Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) is under Novell and is also one of the two leading open source server distributions. The server itself runs just fine but, being owned by Novell, which is known for being a little chaotic, has cast a shadow over the product.

On a lighter side, if you are a Red Hat shop, you can rest assured that you are running the number one open source server OS from a dependable and stable company. In fact, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is respected so highly that Oracle uses it as a basis for its own Linux offering.

But how long will this last? Oracle has decided to drop Red Hat compatibility in its Oracle Linux Product after announcing the Oracle Unbreakable Kernel for Oracle Linux at Oracle OpenWorld last week. According to Oracle, it is a "fast, modern, reliable kernel that is optimized for Oracle software and hardware." Oracle also promises that the new kernel will offer a 75% performance gain demonstrated in OLTP performance tests over a Red Hat compatible kernel, a 200% speedup of Infiniband messaging and 137% faster solid state disk access.

It is rumored that VMware may buy Novell's Linux business, and if that does happen, then Red Hat is going to be a minnow among sharks in the server OS market going forward. To put it into perspective, Solaris is a part of a $140 billion Oracle Corporation while SLES would be a part of a $36 billion VMware. As for Windows, AIX and HP-UX, they are each owned by corporations worth some $220 billion (Microsoft), $166 billion (IBM) and $90 billion (HP) respectively. Red Hat is definitely the odd one out with only $7 billion.

That leaves IBM, HP and Microsoft. All these companies are fairly predictable and boring, but they are also huge. However, with all that is going on in the enterprise operating systems market at the moment, big, boring and predictable may be the perfect thing for many potential customers.
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