Consolidation via virtualization…

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I host servers at my house. I suppose I could just have email and web services for my domain hosted by services like what Google offers, but to be honest I like having full control over my mail and web services. After the incident a few months back that caused me to upgrade my main server, I started looking into upgrading my two remaining servers. I reasoned that if a total hardware failure on old equipment can happen to my main server, it could happen to my two other servers. After all, they were much older, as the DNS server was fifteen years old, and the test server was ten years old.

However, the main problem I saw was one of costs and resources. While the hardware for both servers was ancient in computer terms, it also still did the trick as far as requirements were concerned. Neither server ran anything that was resource-intensive, so buying two brand new servers seemed like serious overkill. It finally occurred to me that I could migrate both servers to one brand new box using virtualization. I originally planned on using VMware vSphere Hypervisor, which is free and I was very familiar with from my last job. However, I soon realized that in order to use it, I’d have to purchase hardware that was quite a bit more expensive than I was willing to pay for. In the end, I opted for KVM running on top of CentOS.

I ended up ordering an HP Proliant server from Newegg that was similar to the previous server I had purchased, albeit a newer model. In addition, I purchased 4 GB of additional RAM to install. Once it arrived, I ended up shutting down the test server and putting the new server in its place. Installing the operating system went fine, as did making sure virtualization was enabled. When it came time to set up the virtual DNS server, though, I hit a couple of snags. The first was that Slackware Linux (the distro of Linux I use for the DNS server) didn’t like booting after installation from KVM. I ended up finding this tutorial that helped me get around that problem. The second was that once the old DNS server was shut down and the new one started, the new one couldn’t pass any traffic to the internet. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that simply power-cycling the cable modem (to clear the ARP cache) would fix the issue. As soon as the virtual DNS server was brought online, I quickly put together the virtual test server and shortly had it online, too. I’ve since done a secure wipe of the hard drives of the old servers, and have them in a corner of my office waiting to be taken in for recycling. The only part that isn’t going to be recycled is the test server’s 320 GB hard drive, and that’s simply because my father wants it for his home PC.

I have to say, I’m pretty happy with how this has turned out. For one thing, shutting down the two older servers and replacing them with the one virtual host server has actually caused the temperature in my office to go down considerably, where it’s actually comfortable to sit in there for extended periods now. In addition, whereas the test server couldn’t sit on the battery backup due to load concerns, I now can have all of my servers covered by the battery backup. All in all, I’m spending less (in electricity due to power and A/C), have more stable and up-to-date hardware, the cart with my servers is less cluttered, and it’s working as stable as it did before. I can pretty much consider this migration a success. :-)

One thought on “Consolidation via virtualization…

  1. Awesome. Though this kind of solution story always reminds me of the old “And this is the only computer you’ll ever need.” lol Still, glad you got it sorted and I’ll keep that KVM link under my cap for future needs. :)

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