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Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

VMWare Server Performance – A Practical Example

 

The following screen dump is from an HP DL380G5 server that runs all the core infrastructure under VMWare Server (the free one) for a friend’s company which I admin sometimes.

It is housed in some co-lo space and runs the average range of Windows servers used by a small but global business, Exchange SQL, Windows 2003 Terminal Services.

As a result of some planned (but not very well communicated!) power maintenance the whole building lost power earlier today, when it was restored I grabbed the following screenshot as the 15 or so Virtual Machines automatically booted.

interesting to note that all the VM’s had been configured to auto-start with the guest OS, meaning there wasn’t any manual intervention required, even though it was a totally dirty shutdown for both the host and guest OS’es (No UPS, as the building and suite is supposed to have redundant power feeds to each rack – in this instance the planned maintenance was on the building wiring so required taking down all power feeds for a 5 yearly inspection..)

There are no startup delay settings  in the free version of VMWare Server so they all start at the same time, interesting to note the following points..

The blue line that makes a rapid drop is the pages/second counter, and the 2nd big drop (green) is the disk queue length. the hilighted (white) line is the overall %CPU time, note the sample frequency was 15 seconds on this perfmon.

image 

After it had settled down, I took the following screenshot, it hardly breaks a sweat during its working day. there are usually 10-15 concurrent users on this system from around the world (access provisioned via an SSL VPN device) and a pretty heavily used Exchange mail system.

image

The box is an HP DL380 G5 with 2 x quad core CPUs (8 cores in total) and 16Gb of RAM, it has 8 x 146Gb 15k HDDs in a single RAID 5 set + hot-spare, it was purchased in early 2007 and cost c.£8,000 (UK Prices)

It runs Windows 2003 Enterprise Edition x64 edition with VMWare Server 1.0.2 (yes, its an old build.. but if it ain’t broke..) and they have purchased multiple w2k3 ent-edition licences to take advantage of the virtualisation use-rights to cover the installed virtual OS’es.

It’s been in-place for a year and hardly ever has to be touched, its rock-solidly available and the company have noticed several marked improvements since they P2V’d their old servers onto this platform, as follows;

  • No hardware failures – moving from lots of low-end servers (Dell) and desktops to a single box (10:1 consolidation)
  • The DL380 has good redundancy built in, but it’s also backed up with a h/w maintenence contract, and they also have a spare cold-standby server to resume service from backups if data is lost.
  • Less noise, the old servers were dotted around their old offices in corners, racks etc – this is the main thing they liked!
  • Simple access anywhere – using a Juniper SA2000 SSL VPN,  its easy to get secure access from anywhere
  • Less reliance on physical offices and cheap DSL-grade data communications, now the servers are hosted on the end of a reliable, data centre class network link with an SLA to back it up. if an individual office looses its ADSL connection, no real issue – people pick up their laptop(s) and work from home/starbucks etc.
  • Good comms are cheaper in data centres than in your branch offices (usually)

Hopefully this goes to show the free version of VMWare’s server products can work almost as well if budget is a big concern, ESX would definitely give some better features and make backup easier, they are considering upgrading and combining with something like Veeam Backup to handle failover/backup.

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4 responses to “VMWare Server Performance – A Practical Example

  1. Shawn April 19, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    This is the kind of setup that Microsoft will likely own with Hyper-V in the near future. Win2008 Core with Hyper-V should provide better performance then VM Server on 2K3 and you should be able to leverage VSS to perform hot backups of the VMs, all for the same amount of money as VM Server on top of 2K3. I prefer Vmware but in that scenario, I would probably go with 2008. This is how MS will probably get their foothold into many companies and as their product matures those shops may just stay with them.

  2. comment April 20, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    VMware Server is completely free so I don’t get what you mean by the same amount of money as VM Server.

  3. Shawn April 21, 2008 at 1:49 am

    You need to buy the underlying Windows license, unless you run Linux. (even then you still need to buy a Windows Enterprise License to run four Windows VMs) So Windows 2008 with bundled Hyper-V is the same cost as Win2003 plus VM Server. And as I understand it, an Enterprise Windows License allows the host Windows license and 4 Windows VMs.

  4. Pingback: Mapping a drive to a VSS Snapshot & General DFS-R woes « Virtualization, Windows, Infrastructure and all that “stuff” in-between

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