How are organizations using virtualization technology? In an effort to find out, I spoke with Frank Basanta, Technical Director of Systems Solutions, about their use of the technology. Tell me about Systems Solutions Systems Solutions is a system integrator from New York City. They offer solutions based upon both Linux and Windows. They're trying to help their SMB or SME clients make the best use of new technology. They're selling open source to shrink wrapped solutions selected to satisfy their customer's requirements and fit within their budget. What is Systems Solutions doing that requires the use of virtualization technology? Their SMB customers are trying to fully utilize the systems they've purchased. The approach their customers used in the past would be to either upgrade systems that had reached the point of being 40% to 50% utilized or they would purchase a new server for each new application that became required. System Solutions has found that this approach really doesn't make sense today. Their customers want to be able to get more value out of their investment. In their view, replacing a machine too early was not a prudent use of their customers' budget and resources. The customers need enterprise-class solutions and performance but, need to maintain tight control of their IT budgets. What products and approaches were evaluated before one was selected. Systems Solutions evaluated VMware and Xen. Since Xen comes with many Linux distrubtions, customers often lean towards that solution because it doesn't require an additional purchase. What did Systems Solutions select?
Novell's SLES 10.0 and Red Hat's RHEL Advanced Server 5 include Xen. Since the customers Frank was discussing were using SLES 10, the obvious choice was to use the software that is included with operating system. What benefits has the company received? Systems Solutions have been able to get 80% utilization or more using Xen virtual machines. This means that their customers are hitting their hardware budget less often while still getting their work accomplished. Do you have any advice for others facing the same issues? Make sure virtual systems are fully tested before deployment. It is also wise to have replicated severs. This would allow the IT departments to make changes without having to rebuild systems during production times. It also offers a higher level of availability in the case of machine failure.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Frank.