VMware in integration environment

by daniel on January 17, 2009

In an ongoing system improvement effort, I’m trying to evaluate VMware solutions for our production environment. Because the production environment has specific requirements I’m starting in a graduated approach, starting with development environments and moving onwards to testing and deployment. A good candidate for testing several aspects of virtualized environment is an integration environment due to the complex nature of integration work.

What makes integration so special?  There are several reasons:

  • It’s a development environment, where there are:
  • Rapid changes
  • Light workload
  • Different interfaces
  • Changing requirements
  • Different implementation scenarios

After analyzing the goals, a dedicated computer was bought:

Motherboard: Intel S5000VSA

CPU: 2x Intel 5410

Memory: 16 GB FBRAM

Hard Disk: 4 x 1 TB SATA in RAID 1+0

The computer runs Windows Server 2003 R2 64 bit as host operating system and hosts a variety of servers:

  • Windows Server 2003 R2 32 bit with SQL 2008
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 32 bit running .NET applications
  • Windows Server 2003 R2 32 bit running C++ applications
  • CentOS 5.2 64 bit running C++ applications

The virtual computers communicate via TCP/IP using proprietary interfaces.

In general the solution works as expected for creating small virtual machines (VM) that can be used in expendable way. With a few mouse clicks a virtual machine is replaced, so changes and errors can be fixed easily and different combinations can be tried almost carelessly. Having a lot of storage helps keep the history so rolling back is easy and a lot of flexibility is kept by knowing everything can be just thrown away.

Unfortunately, not everything was smooth, and some problems were found. The major problem was stability of the system when running the 64 guest operating system. Digging in VMware forums the explanation found was that the BIOS needed updating due to a bug in the Intel processor. Following a BIOS update the system is very stable like it supposed to be.

The overall experience is positive, and the VMware ecosystem should be tested further to see if it can fit the requirements of testing and production environment.

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