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WebCentral, others go virtual

Australian Web hosting company WebCentral will move to a completely virtualised environment using software from VMWare to run up to 70 virtual servers across two physical machines.The Attorney-General's department, international law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques and CrimTrac, which gives police ready access to information needed to solve crimes, were other users named but details were scant.
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Written by Patrick Gray on

Australian Web hosting company WebCentral will move to a completely virtualised environment using software from VMWare to run up to 70 virtual servers across two physical machines.

The Attorney-General's department, international law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques and CrimTrac, which gives police ready access to information needed to solve crimes, were other users named but details were scant.

The customer announcements were made at VMWorld -- VMWare's annual user conference -- in Los Angeles this week.

According to the EMC subsidiary, WebCentral struggled to find enough space, power and cooling to accommodate its ever-increasing server count. The hosting company will use the virtualisation software to consolidate the physical hardware and will run up to 8,000 virtual machines squeezed into one server rack.

The new virtualised environment will enable WebCentral to guarantee 99.9 percent availability, compared with 99.5 percent for customers opting to host on a physical machine, said Paul Harapin, VMWare Australia and New Zealand managing director.

WebCentral hopes to virtualise all customer machines with prices pegged to consolidation ratios -- one virtualised server on one physical frame (1:1) being top tier, with 20:1 and 50:1 ratios on shared machines available at a discount.

However, Harapin said server consolidation was no longer the sole business driver behind VMWare's virtualisation technology.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' use of VMWare to provision extra resources during the recent census exercise was an example of a deeper use of the technology's features, he added.

"They've been ... running it on DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler)," Harapin told ZDNet Australia. "It's really gone beyond server consolidation."

The ABS dynamically assigned resources where they were needed -- a useful capability for an organisation that requires massive boosts in IT resources periodically. Other applications for virtualisation's resource scheduling capabilities include beefing up online services during high-profile marketing campaigns, he added.

Meanwhile, VMWare's play for the desktop with its Virtual Desktop Infrastructure technology featured strongly at its user conference.

NEC used the event to launch new thin client terminals designed to work with VMWare's virtual desktop products. The virtual desktop is similar to other thin client solutions like Citrix Presentation Server or Microsoft's Terminal Services, but users don't share an operating system -- each accesses a virtualised OS running on a server.

Patrick Gray travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of VMWare.

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