A new Web Hosting Business Model – Part II
Imagine a rack filled with 10 physical 2U servers, 2 NAS appliances, a large switch, and a firewall device providing a platform for 150-200 virtual servers with storage and backup to NAS (that’s what the second NAS appliance is for). Yes, this will require a large investment, but the ROI can be tremendous. You can sell physical-class virtual servers for physical-class prices on a fraction of the foot print it would take if you would go physical all the way. Imagine the reduction in hardware cost comparing the purchase of 150 servers compared to 10. We’re talking hardware and support cost in this case. Imagine leasing 1 single rack with a nice bandwidth package on top of it and compare it to the expense you would have leasing several racks to provide the same platform if you would go physical.
Now lets have a look at some of the functionality of VMWare and what it can do for you. Ever heard of "VMotion"? The VMotion functionality allows you to hot migrate a VM (Virtual server) from one host to another without ANY interruption for the customer. Example: You experience a hardware problem on one of your physical servers and need to power it down for maintenance. Happens to physical machines and usually affects 1 server and 1 customers. Instead of shutting down the virtual machines, you just "vmotion" the VMs to another host without any interruption of service for the customer. If properly setup VMware allows you to do this. You replace the hardware and move the machines back to the server when it is back up. Again, no interruption for the customer. Example 2: One of your customers websites becomes extremely popular after being mentioned on the news. The site is flooded with traffic. In the old world it would probably kill the server and take the site down due to the traffic. With VMware you allocate more resources available to the machine and within minutes the server is much more powerful and capable of handling the traffic. Not enough resources on this host server left? Migrate some less resource intensive machines (VMs) with VMotion off to another host to free up resources and you are good to go. You get the idea.
It happens every once in a while. Hardware dies and takes down an entire server. It can take hours to have the server hardware replaced and to bring it back up. If this happens to a VMware host, this would be pretty bad. VMware Infrastructure takes care of this problem for you while you work the hardware issue. With preset rules and procedures in place, VMware Infrastructure sees the host down, grabs the machines (VMs) and powers them back on – on the remaining physical hosts in your farm. Downtime for the customer just a few minutes.
How does this all work? By using the farm approach the virtual machine hard drives are stored on the NAS or SAN – accessible from all physical machines. If a host goes down the virtual machine hard drives are accessible from another host and VMware will bring up the server (virtual server) on a different host automatically and connect to the virtual hard drive. The key is to share the resources across the board and to provide sufficient internal connectivity so that resources can be accessed from anywhere within the farm.
The initial setup of a VM Farm requires a significant investment. The savings in hardware and administrative work however will pay for this investment very fast. The ROI is tremendous and significantly higher compared to deploying physical servers and renting them out.