Systems Engineering and RDBMS

  • Click Here for Decipher's Homepage

  • Categories

  • Questions?

    Please send your wish list of things that you would like us to write about or if you have suggestions to help improve this blog site. You can send all questions/suggestions to: Blog Support
  • Archives

  • Blog Stats


Archive for the ‘Hyper-V’ Category

VMC to Hyper-V Import tool

Posted by decipherinfosys on July 10, 2009

Recently, a customer had asked whether we can assist them in moving to a Hyper-V solution from Virtual Server.  There is a VMC to Hyper-V Import tool that you can use in order to achieve this.  You can read more on it at this technet post:

Posted in Hyper-V, VMWare | Leave a Comment »

Cloud Computing- The future of computing? – Part I

Posted by decipherinfosys on July 10, 2009

Cloud Computing – A buzz word that is frequently murmured everywhere by the IT folks or even by the non-IT people recently. This post describes what it really means to the beginners those who are interested or looking into cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a computing model where the infrastructure and the application (even the platform) is offered as a service over the Internet. The infrastructure cloud could include servers and storage and the application cloud includes various applications.  This is a major shift in the industry in the way that software and services are going to be delivered in the future.  At the center of cloud computing is the virtualization technology which we have talked about a lot in the past.  Virtualization technology through resource pooling provides the engine that drives much of the cloud.  Companies such as Google, Amazon have already started using their server farms and offering services and Microsoft is not far behind with their Azure service.

Even though cloud computing can be classified into many different types, the major ones are Public clouds, Private clouds, Hybrid clouds and Community Clouds.

Public clouds – As the name suggests, it is usually offered by a company who has invested a lot building their datacenter and offering a part of its infrastructure and platform for a monthly fee. Amazon, Terremark, RackSpace and Google are great examples of public clouds. And Microsoft is joining the game as well with their Azure services platform.

Private clouds – This is something that enterprises build by themselves to be utilized across their organization. This allows them to consolidate their servers (and storage) as a single entity that can be offered to their different business units as needed. There is an interesting article from Network World can be found here.

Hybrid clouds – This is an emerging area of cloud computing where the private and public clouds can be integrated. There are many factors such as security and application compatibility needs to be considered in this model.

Community clouds – These are clouds that are shared by organizations having common interests.  This is similar to the IT-SSO post that we had done a couple of days ago.

Driving factors for moving towards cloud omputing:

The recent developments in the virtualization technology gave a big boost to cloud computing. There are many reasons that drive the cloud computing. Some of them are:

•    Rapid deployment of servers and applications
•    Easier scalability
•    Allowing IT to run as a cost center by running multiple datacenters as single entity which can be shared and charged back based on usage
•    Cost efficient “pay as you go/use” pricing model
•    Greener initiative due to less power consumption since the shared capacity of a virtualized cloud data center reduces the power consumption for everyone.

Apart from its benefits, there are still few concerns about the security, compliance, performance and the application compatibility with cloud computing. However, they are being addressed by the cloud vendors.

We will look into some of the cloud services in-depth in Part II

Posted in Cloud Computing, Hyper-V, Technology, VMWare, Windows | 5 Comments »

Hyper-V – An Introduction

Posted by decipherinfosys on June 14, 2009 had an excellent article on Hyper-V.  A very good explanation of the architecture and the basics – you can read more over here.

Posted in Hyper-V | Leave a Comment »

SQL Server and Virtualization

Posted by decipherinfosys on April 24, 2009

SQL Magazine had an excellent article by Jeff James on virtualization in the SQL Server world…also read the Myths and mis-conceptions article from the same author. Here are the links:

Virtualizing SQL Server – here.

Virtualization Myths and Mis-conceptions – here.

Posted in Hyper-V, SQL Server, VMWare | Leave a Comment »

Virtualization World friendships

Posted by decipherinfosys on February 27, 2009

Microsoft seems to be teaming up with Red Hat as well as Citrix.  And VMWare seems to be teaming up with Intel.

Posted in Hyper-V, VMWare | Leave a Comment »

Virtualization Basics and the different types of Virtualization

Posted by decipherinfosys on February 12, 2009

A lot has been said and written about virtualization and a lot of companies are finding benefits adopting it in their IT infrastructure or the data centers that they might be hosting their applications with.  At Decipher, we have been supporting our clients with their virtualization needs specifically with the VMWare and Hyper-V solutions and have also blogged about it before.  Recently, while making a presentation to a potential client, one of the questions that was asked by the Operations Manager was to give a brief overview of virtualization and the different types of virtualization.  We are sharing that with our readers as well here.

Basically, virtualization is dis-associating the tight bond between software and hardware.  In a traditional world, one would use one server for their Oracle instance, one for a Microsoft instance, yet another one to host their Exchange Server and so on for the other applications that they have to support.  At times, you would be able to consolidate them assuming that the OS, providers and the different vendor requirements are common.  What this ends up doing is give you a tons of servers to manage, which consume more power, waste the resources on these boxes because some of these servers would be under-utilized (CPU, Memory wise).  Not only that, if you need to add more capacity you would either try to scale up (more memory or additional processors if possible) or scale out (more servers).  By being able to dis-associate the bond between the software and the hardware one can then use the same hardware to serve up the needs of the different software servers.  So, you could be running Oracle, MS SQL Server, Exchange, Great Plans, Dynamics CRM, etc. all on the same hardware.  By doing this, it is also possible to run different operating systems so I could run MS SQL Server 2008 on Windows 2008 Server and at the same time run, Oracle on Linux all running on the same hardware.  By doing this, the resources will be better utilized and also allow us to easy add another VM on the same hardware assuming that we have the capacity.  There are additional benefits as well like making use of the vmotion capabilities of VMWare etc..

So, that was a 50,000 ft. overview of virtualization.  So, how does it really work?  What breaks the bond between the software and the hardware?  We are going to talk only about VMWare’s ESX Server 3.5 and MSFT’s Hyper-V since the older offerings from both these vendors had a different architecture.  Both of these are based off hypervisor based architecture.   A hypervisor which is also sometimes called a VMM (Virtual Machine Monitor) is essentially a hardware platform virtualization software using which one can run different OS on the same hardware at the same time.  Hypervisor has access to the physical host hardware.  Even though both Microsoft’s solution as well as the VMWare solution are based on the same hypervisor based technology, there are differences in how the implementation is done.  We won’t cover all those differences here but will provide some links

Now, what are the different types of virtualization available and what are the dominant players in the market that provide a solution for it.  There are essentially three different types:

1) Hardware Virtualization:

This is the most common and is used in IT departments in a company as well as in the data centers.  The server’s hardware is virtualized thus allowing us to be able to run different OS and different applications simultaneously on the same hardware.  This allows us to do server consolidation.  And the benefits are obvious (only listing the critical ones here…and less cost is a major advantage across all of these):

a) Less number of servers required for the same number of applications.
b) Less power consumption.
c) Less maintenance overhead for the IT staff.
d) More resource utilization.
e) Easier (and faster) to add more capacity.
f)  Patch management and upgrades become easier.
g) DRP (Disaster Recovery Planning) becomes easier.  Without any interruption to the service, one can backup and even migrate entire virtual environments.

2) Desktop Virtualization:

We have gotten into the habit of calling this VDI since that is the term that VMWare uses for desktop virtualization.  VDI stands for virtual desktop infrastructure.  But this is not limited to just VMWare.  Citrix systems has a similar offering called the XenDesktop.  What this means is that your end user’s computer’s data – their OS, their applications, their downloads, their preferences etc. are all stored in a VM in a hosted environment which could be hosted either by the company’s IT in-house or hosted in a data center.  Som the VMs are then managed in one single place for all the users in a department/company and the computing environment is delivered remotely to the end users.  The one reason why the adoption has been a bit slow on this front is because unlike server consolidation (hardware virtualization), desktop virtualization requires working across a lot of different organizations within the company and it impacts the end users a lot more during the stages of putting the plan in place and executing it.  Benefits are obvious:

1) Easier upgrades and patch management.
2) IT Desktop support process becomes much more easier.
3) You can easily add more users as your organization grows and provisioning of new applications and VMs takes minutes and not days/weeks.
4) Better resource utilization and less power consumption.
5) Easier recovery management.

3) Storage Virtualization:

So, consolidating servers as well as the desktops is all great but what happens to the storage requirements then?  Won’t the storage requirements also grow by leaps and bounds?  This is the next question that you are going to get from your clients – internal or external.   This also means that since everything is in one place, one also needs to have a proper plan for disaster recovery and business continuity.   So what does storage virtualization mean then?  It means we would then need to make multiple storage devices appear as a common shared media.  A proper back-up and restore strategy needs to be formed as well then and a proper DRP needs to be done – both local and site failures need to be accounted for.  We will present a more detailed DRP analysis in one of our whitepapers that we are working on.

Major Players:

So, who are the major players in this market?  If you have been following the virtualization world, you already know that VMWare, Citrix and Microsoft are the three leading players in this market right now.  There are other players as well who have entered the market – Red Hat, HP, IBM, Oracle and Virtual Iron Software are some of the other names.  For end consumers like us, the more the competition in the virtualization industry, the more affordable it is going to be for us.  Microsoft’s solution (Hyper-V) is free but that solution is not as robust as the VMWare offering.  A lot has been already said about comparing the two.  Here are some resources to help you with that comparison:

a) VMWare’s Presentation: Here.
b) WindowsIT Pro comparison (this requires a subscription to read the article): Here.
c) Good Discussion @ Here.
d)’s Analysis: Here.
e) Michael Otey’s article: Here.

Do note that we do not recommend using virtualization for your database servers IF you have a highly transactional system or a datawarehousing/data mining system that requires heavy IO activity.  Read more over here.  If you have applications which do not tax the database that much and the IO is relatively less, virtualization works perfectly fine.  This is based on our research as well as limited tests that we have done in our lab & client sites.

Posted in Hyper-V, Technology, Virtual Server, VMWare | 11 Comments »

More on SQL Server and Virtualization

Posted by decipherinfosys on November 17, 2008

We have covered virtualization quite a bit in our blog posts before. Saw this blog post at MSDN regarding the support for SQL Server in a virtual environment which is something that you should be familiar with if you are (or are planning to) running your SQL Server environments in a virtual environment. In addition, as we are playing with Hyper-V nowadays and were researching our choices for SQL Server 2008, here are two sites that you might want to bookmark for your reading purposes:

1) The SQL Server 2008 virtualization section – this has a lot of very good links and resources.

2) Whitepaper by the SQLCAT team – running SQL Server 2008 in a Hyper-V environment.

Posted in Hyper-V, SQL Server, VMWare | Leave a Comment »

SQL Server and Virtualization

Posted by decipherinfosys on October 8, 2008

We have been writing about virtualization quite a bit. Most of our clients have migrated their web and application tiers to vmware/Hyper-V (or are contemplating to) because of the benefits that it offers but as far as the database tier is concerned in a production environment, there hasn’t been a mass adoption of it because of a couple of reasons – for the databases, IO is very important. If you have not done proper planning of building up a good IO path from your VM to your SAN device and if you are using vmotion, you can start seeing issues. vmotion is a very good technology and works great for print servers, file servers etc. but not for the databases. Our clients have been using it mostly in the development or test (QA) environments and for demo environments and only now have we started seeing some of them planning a move to the production environment as well. Before you do that though, you need to be aware of the best practices and performance implications of running SQL Server in a virtual environment.

While researching this topic more for our client, we saw this excellent whitepaper from the SQLCAT (Customer Advisory Team) which goes into the details of running SQL Server 2008 in a Hyper-V environment.  We are in the process of setting it up and will be doing more tests on it and will post results on our blog.

Posted in Hyper-V, SQL Server, VMWare | 1 Comment »

Virtualization Wars

Posted by decipherinfosys on July 11, 2008

We have covered virtualization before at our blog but mostly VMWare and a couple of posts on Virtual Server as well. With Windows Server 2008’s Hyper-V, it looks like it will challenge the market even more for ESX Server 3.5. With hardware changes coming in way faster than the software changes, the servers age out faster due to hardware issues rather than the OS. With virtualization, a physical server can easily be migrated into a virtual environment with the same applications and then moved on to a new physical hardware. We have clients who are using virtualization now even in their production environments let alone the development and QA environments.

If you are not already using virtualization in your environments, now would be the time to start getting serious about it. With Hyper-V, the technology moves the virtualization layer directly against the hardware. Hyper-V allows virtualization of both 32 bit as well as 64 bit architectures. MSFT has extended their virtualization platform offering by providing Microsoft App. virtualization (this was known as SoftGrid before) and desktop virtualization. not only that, one can use the System Center Virtual Machine Manager to do centralized management of a virtual set up.

Not only are these choices cost effective by providing us with consolidation and DR/HA (Disaster Recovery and High Availability) choices, it also eases up maintenance work for System Engineers as well as DBAs. An added benefit of consolidation is reduced electricity costs 🙂

Both ESX Server 3.5 and Hyper-V are based on hypervisor based architectures which are better than the previous hosted virtualization technologies. In the case of the hosted virtualization products, one had to run the virtualization software on top of the OS of the machine and that adds a lot of overhead and not only that, it has a longer code execution path for the VMs. Hypervisor based architectures run the hypervisor directly on the hardware which means that there is no OS between the hypervisor and the system hardware. Even though both ESX Server 3.5 and Hyper-V as both based on hypervisor base architectures, there are a good bit of differences between them. We are currently doing some benchmarks with ESX Server 3.5 as well as Hyper-V and will post the results of the tests at our blog as and when they become available and we consolidate them. Till then, you can read more on these over here:

ESX Server 3.5

Hyper-V and the FAQs

Posted in Hyper-V, Virtual Server, VMWare, Windows | 1 Comment »