Category Archives: Virtualization

Virtualization with VMware vSphere (ESXi) Hypervisor

One of our servers, collocated in our office, crashed couple of weeks back. We took this opportunity to virtualize most of the stuff, earlier only some intances were virtualized.

Installing and setting up VMware vSphere Hypervisor is a straight forward process, even the process of creating virtual-machines.

Most of time, I spent was figuring out:

  • Storage devices and configuration
  • How many virtual machines, do we need?
  • Which operating systems, do we need?
  • Network configuration

I am not going to cover details of installation and network configuration. I might write more posts in future to cover specifics. Meanwhile, I would love to answer the comments, if I know or share anything I know.

Anyway, this is what we have now:

  • IBM x3250 M2
    • Intel Xeon (Quadcore) x64
    • 4 GB memory
    • 3TB+ storage connected to LSI RAID and SATA controller
  • Host: VMware vSphere Hypervisor – which runs out of  1.5 TB datastore, directly connected to SATA controller (different from LSI)
  • Guest VMs:
    • OpenVPN Access Server for VPN
    • Ubuntu 10.10 Server as Development sandbox
    • Zentyal(eBox) as Internet Gateway (filtering, IDs, proxy)
    • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server for SVN, Mails, Local Staging WebServer
    • Windows 2008 Server for ActiveDirectory, FileServer, Windows-Specific-Software (access-control-management-gui, etc.)
    • Others: Project Specific VMs

We are very happy with the improved performance and stability, and the way hardware is properly used. Thanks to VM templates, clones and snapshots, we would be able to provision above infrastructure with minimal downtime.

I would soon replace Windows Server with Zentyal (eBox), which I believe, can handle most of things. However, we would need another Windows XP box to run some software (proprietary), which only runs on windows, to manage various other devices (EPBX, Access-Control-System, etc.).

We now have relatively more scalable infrastructure, more virtual machines can be created to take care of email-server, svn-server, etc.

We are yet to invest in a sophisticated storage device such as DAS or NAS or SAN, hence we are relying on some cheap tricks here:

  • 1.5 TB disk as datastore for VMware vSphere, which stores
    • Guest Operating System VMs
    • Guest Operating System VMs Paging files
    • Virtual Disks (non critical data – programs and configs) required by host virtual-machines
  • 1.5 TB disk via Raw Device Mapping (RDM) shared among virtual machines
  • 500 GB disk via Raw Device Mapping (RDM) shared among virtual machines
  • 1.5 TB USB/Firewire – Backup storage
    • Rsync is used to backup critical data and configs from all virtual machines on daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Things I didn’t like:

  • VMware vSphere client requires Microsoft Windows
  • VMware vSphere client doesn’t allow creating RDMs from GUI, one has to use these instructions

Finally, I could execute some of things I planned more than two years back.