Archive for December, 2010

10 Reasons to Virtualize Your Infrastructure

There are many reasons out there why virtualization is big right now. Virtualization can save you money, lower the number of physical servers you need, and it is environmentally friendly. However, there are a lot of other reasons you may want to virtualize your infrastructure, especially if you work with virtual machines.

1. Common Management Interface
While it is very awesome and useful to have all of your servers available in a single application, it is even better to have the ability to control those servers from that single interface. Virtualization offers access to virtual machine hardware, consoles and storage, and your entire network of systems is at your disposal.

2. ILO Not Required
If your technicians don’t set up your Integrated Lights Out (ILO) interfaces, then virtualization removes that burden for the better. With virtualization you can boot VM from a powered-off state without any need for physical access to the system.

3. Easy Hardware Changes
Most companies dread upgrading their systems and changing their hardware. Getting into all the nooks and crannies of your infrastructure is no picnic. And if your hardware doesn’t work, then you have to repeat the process all over again. No thanks. With virtualization you can upgrade memory, increase the number of CPUs or even add new hard disks to a VM with some simple mouse clicks.

4. Snapshots
VMs have the incredible feature of having a snapshot capability built-in. A snapshot is an exact copy of your working VM prior to doing something to it that has the potential to make it not work. However, with snapshot you can revert to the snapshot and remove the faulty VM.

5. Prototyping
Using a standard VM, you have the ability to prototype an application, database or operating system enhancement without spending hours trying to rebuild the physical system in your head before the unsuccessful attempt.

6. Fast System Communication
Host-to-guest as well as guest-to-guest communications occur without any standard physical hardware restrictions. Private VLANs create a system-to-system communication that is secure as well as fast. By using a private VLAN for a group of VMs you can create a multi-tier application with limited outside network exposure and without a lengthy set of allow and deny network rules.

7. Easy Decommissioning
There is a lot that goes into decommissioning a physical system. You have to turn off network ports, wipe the disks, unplug the system, remove the system from the rack and then dispose of the system. A VM’s decommissioning process does basically the same thing only you do not have to be at the actual data center. There are also no systems to remove or return. Removing your VM from inventory will take you a mere couple of seconds.

8. Templating
It takes one gold disk for every new type of hardware that you incorporate in your network to support a data center. With VM it takes one Windows Server 2008 R2 VM for everything. You only need one template that contains everything needed for deployment.

9. Fast Deployment
VMs do not require shipping, do not require installation, do not require power hookups, do not require network drops and do not require SAN cabling. By using templates or staged ISO images, a VM’s deployment can take only minutes or at most a few hours.

10. Dynamic Capacity
With a traditional system you will have to plan far in advance to scale-up for a major marketing campaign that requires new physical computing capacity. However, virtualization allows you to rapidly respond to changing business conditions. You can scale-up whenever you need the extra capacity and even scale back whenever you don’t.

It seems that virtualization can do a lot for your company’s infrastructure by making things a whole heck of a lot easier. If it is within your company to do so, maybe virtualization is the perfect next step for you. Just make sure you do all your research first.

5 Free Great Server Tools

Servers are one of the most important things for any company, but what is more important is making sure that your server is running as it should. In order to do so, however, you need two things: a good IT tech and the right tools. A good IT Tech isn’t really hard to come by, especially in today’s business field where it seems like everybody and their mother are going to school to learn about computers. Tools, on the other hand, are a different story. While the tools themselves may not be hard to come by, knowing which ones to get can be.

There are many different types of tools you can download off of the internet in order to help with your server management. Some are good, some are bad, but the best ones may even be free. Take a look at some great server tools your company needs that are completely and utterly free.

Nagios
Nagios is an enterprise infrastructure monitoring suite. Besides being free, Nagios is also mature and commercially supported all around. The tool has grown from being a simple software project to a major contender in the contemporary network management field. Companies like Domino’s Pizza, Ericsson, ADP, Wells Fargo, Citrix and even the United States Army are all avid users of Nagios.

Apache
If you think the Apache project is just simply a web server, then you are wrong. The project, which goes by the formal name of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), consists of nearly 100 unique projects which are contained under Apache.

PSTools
If you want a suite of very useful command-line Windows tools which are considered essential to survival in a Windows-infested network by IT professionals, then PSTools is the tool for you. PSTools provides incredible automation tools, not to mention that it is considered to be the single best free toolset for Windows available. You can grab this handy tool for free directly from Windows.

Wireshark
Wireshark is a must have tool for anybody who runs a network, regardless of size. Wireshark is a network packet capture and analysis program that is here to assist you in achieving a trouble-free network. Network problems will not be prevented by Wireshark, but the tool will allow you to analyze your problems in real time and, hopefully, avoid future problems.

SharEnum
Most people will consider SharEnum a little obscure, but for those who use it the tool is very useful. SharEnum shows you all the file shares on your network as well as their associated security information. This tool is a very valuable security tool and is also free from Microsoft.

So there you have it, five incredibly useful and incredibly affordable (come on, they’re free) tools that every person should have for their servers. IT professionals from all over use these tools and ones like them every day in order to keep their servers working as well as possible, so why shouldn’t you? If you are in need of some good server tools, then start downloading these five freebies now!