Believe it or Not, a Single Physical Server is Enough

By Tom McDonald | Oct 15, 2014 10:49:00 AM

The days of needing multiple physical servers that fulfill different functions are slowly dwindling—for the better.

Virtualization has completely changed what a single physical server can accomplish. A single server can be used to run multiple virtual servers to cut down excessive energy expenditures, management complexity, and CapEX and OpEX overhead.

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VMware - End of Availability

By Tom McDonald | Apr 18, 2013 12:02:00 PM

VMware End of Availability

Managing software licenses and product support for your IT solutions is no fun.  There are so many things to keep track of, and it is a tedious administrative burden that must be managed in order for your business to maintain a healthy flow of information.  Additionally, this administrative task will be wrestled to the ground by a network administrator or IT support staff member, and is probably the last thing they want to deal with, and for good reasons.

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Discover the value: VMware Health Check from a VCP

By Tom McDonald | Apr 29, 2011 11:14:00 AM

With a VMware vSphere Health Check, one of our VMware Certified Professional consultants (VCPs) will work with your IT team and assist them with configuration and management of VMware vSphere by providing knowledge and guidance on best practices. If you're running the latest in VMware software, it is important that you are getting the most out of your environment. By working closely with your IT department our VCP will be able to provide concrete recommendations that will optimize your virtual IT infrastructure.

WHY THIS MATTERS:  Over time, adding new VM's and changes/upgrades to your virtual environment alters the efficiency. Having a VMware Health Check ensures you’re not over/under utilizing resources and your environment is staying within VMware’s best practices guidelines. Its a good idea to have a VCP check your environment every 6 to 12 months or a couple months after any major upgrade or change to the infrastructure. This ensures your infrastructure is well maintained and that any problems are realized before they require a major overhaul.

 

Benefits

• Optimize VMware vSphere performance
• Maximize resources through efficiencies and roadmap for future improvements
• Mitigate risk by leveraging experienced consultants and proven best practices

Deliverables 

• Collect data and conduct assessment of VMware vSphere (up to four ESX™ hosts)
• Identify potential opportunities to optimize configuration and improve performance
• Hold an interactive workshop to facilitate knowledge transfer on VMware vSphere best practice

Scope

• Up to two (2) days on-site, and one (1) day off-site to create assessment report
• Health Check includes up to four (4) ESX hosts
• Maximum of five (5) participants for interactive workshop
• Contact your local VMware representative for pricing information
• VMware vSphere Health Check will be delivered by a VMware Certified Professional (VCP) consultant 

Requirements

• Existing VMware vSphere including VMware ESX
• Administrator (root) access to VMware installations
• Conference room with projector and networked desktops/laptops running MS Windows® 2000 or higher

You've made an investment in your virtual infrastructure, so ensuring that you are getting the most out of this investment is key. By having a VCP consultant optimize your environment you not only ensure that vSphere is running to the best of its abilities, but also gives your IT the knowledge and training to maintain the virtual infrastructure.

Go Here to get the WhitePaper Outlining the Health Check processs and VMware best practices that are reviewed

IT Guide for Small Business Owners

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Not big enough to Virtualize but still need a solid Disaster Recovery Plan, maybe its time for a ZoomBox

By Tom McDonald | Apr 27, 2011 11:15:00 AM

Are your backups taking too long? How often do you test them, and are you sure they would restore properly when you need them? The problem with most disaster recovery solutions is there is no middle ground for SMB’s (Small Medium Businesses). Large corporations can invest in complex virtualization strategies using technology from VMware, this is a great option, but companies with limited IT support or who don’t have the funds to invest in virtualizing their servers are stuck with strategies that don’t give them the support they need. Many are forced to continue using Tape as a backup solution, which has a notorious reputation of not being able to restore. Others rely on having a RAID array, giving them the benefit of allowing a hard drive to crash without losing data, which does give them some security, but only in that one respect. If the server were to die the data would be fine but wouldn’t be assessable until the server was back up and running. This leaves SMB’s with old outdated and extremely limited Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans that don’t even come close to the benefits that virtualization gives the larger corporations.

NSI’s main target audience has always SMB’s and having seen the gap in technology brought its technicians together to create the ZoomBox. The ZoomBox is an NSI ran and owned product that gives SMB’s the virtualization protection that their business needs without having to change their entire network. What happens is NSI installs a client on any Windows machine that the customer wants to ensure up time and data protection. The ZoomBox then creates virtual images of each server/desktop 1-3 times a day, this image is then backed up to the cloud for extra protection, ensuring that all your data is perfectly safe regardless of what might happen to your business environment.

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3 Ways to go Green with IT

By Tom McDonald | Apr 22, 2011 2:29:00 PM

Upgrading your computer

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Comparison between traditional IT BC plan and an VMware implementation

By Tom McDonald | Apr 15, 2011 12:17:00 PM

Many business’s IT infrastructures are based around this set up, with the operating system bound to a specific set of hardware and a specific Application bound to that OS. From there the server runs at about 5-10% of its capacity for most of the day with it peaking only during heavy usage. The data has to be backed up to a local SAN for recovery purposes, generally needing special software to be employed to ensure its being backed up fully and efficiently.

If this is a vital server and has a disaster recovery and business continuity plan implemented with it to ensure that downtime is kept as low as possible, then it will have an identical server installed for failover. This server is only used if the original server fails, but is still uses power and space. Not only that, but this server has to be the same identical model, containing the same hardware configuration, firmware, and local storage to ensure immediate complete compatibility with the original server. This adds cost as you need to have a second set of the hardware and it has to be that same model, limiting upgrade paths for the business.

This set up generally falls into the “Boot and Pray” model of disaster recovery, as the complexity of the set up causes the admin to hope that it works rather than being able to guarantee a smooth transition from server. This has to be done with every vital server that needs to have a redundant back up and each one has its own unique set up, creating a large amount of complexity that is involved with managing all these different machines. This complexity increases the company’s RTO and RPO and makes recovering a much larger ordeal.

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5 ways a VDI, Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure, can improve IT for both users and admins

By Tom McDonald | Mar 28, 2011 3:14:00 PM

The benefits of virtualizing your desktop environment are numerous, in today’s world business’s IT departments are growing by leaps and bounds and the work needed to add, integrate, and maintain can push IT resources to the limits. Virtualization was traditionally used to help reduce the number of servers needed to run the IT, but as the software became more advanced, the usefulness of having a Virtualized Desktop infrastructure (VDI) has become more apparent.

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Downtime not an option? Learn the basics of VMware's Fault Tolerance and what you will need to get up and running

By Tom McDonald | Mar 25, 2011 11:32:00 AM

Is a server crash not an option for your company? Is having your server up and running the life and soul of your business? Then you may want to consider VMware’s Fault Tolerance (FT) feature. VMware Fault Tolerance is a step up from VMware High Availability (HA), with High Availability being VMware’s backup for a VM crash, if a server running a VM happens to go down then the host reboots on a different host. This allows for only a minute or two of downtime as the Virtual Machine starts up on a new server and the primary host that has crashed is restarted, if possible. This is extremely useful and can keep a business functioning with only a moment of downtime. What Fault Tolerance does is eliminate that couple minutes of downtime so that even if a server crashes, nothing is felt by the user. This feature gives companies that can’t stop functioning, even for a minute, the security they need to run their businesses.

How does FT work? Well with HA there is a primary server who runs the VM and a dedicated secondary host that is there in case of failure, if/when that failure occurs the secondary host is started and the VM is restarted on the new host. The failure is detected by using VMware’s heartbeat function that pings the server every second to ensure it is still active on the network, if the host stops responding it is considered to have failed and the VMs are moved to a new machine.  FT continues this trend, but instead of waiting for a host to fail and then restart it uses vLockstep to keep both hosts in sync that way if one was to fail than the other would continue running without having the user notice the server failure. By sharing a virtualized storage, all the files are accessible to both hosts and the primary host updates the secondary host constantly in order to keep both hosts RAM in sync. FT has a few rules to ensure it works properly:

  • Hosts must be in an HA cluster
  • Primary and secondary VMs must run on different hosts
  • Anti- affinity must be enabled (A configuration that ensures that the VM cannot be started on the same host)
  • The VMs must be stored on a shared storage
  • Minimum of 2 Gbps Nics, this is to allow vMotion and FT logging
  • Additional NICs for VM and management network traffic
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Human Aspect of Disaster Recovery Part 2

By Tom McDonald | Mar 16, 2011 2:00:00 PM

If you missed it, Check out Part 1 on setting up your DR Plan

Setting up your team

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Prevent IT Disasters. How VMware High Availability protects your data center

By Tom McDonald | Mar 9, 2011 10:46:00 AM

VMware HA (High Availability) is a major step in setting up a disaster recovery objective. With HA enabled, each ESXi host checks in on the other hosts and looks for a failure, if a failure should occur the VMs on the failed host are restarted on another server. To enable HA on your network a few prerequisites are required; All VMs and their configuration files must reside on a shared storage, this is required so that all the hosts have access to the VM if the host running it should fail; Each host in a VMware HA cluster must have a host name and a static IP, this will guarantee that each host can monitor each other without having false positives on failure if a host changes IP address; Hosts must be configured to have access to the VM network; Finally VMware recommends a redundant network connection, if a network card should fail this would allow communication to the host it is associated with, without this redundancy the host would seen as failing.

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