awareness [VMWare]

My wife is an architect and is into “green” design which I whole-heartedly support. Today she sent me a blog post titled: Server Rooms and the Future of Humanism. It piqued my interested quite a bit mainly due to the fact that one, I am a human… and two that I implement and maintain servers for a living.

The purpose of the article is to raise awareness that servers are bad for the environment due to their stringent cooling requirements. The author (Geoff Manaugh) went so far as to say that a single server can do as much damage to the environment as an SUV. However, of the many remedies that Manaugh purposed, he (hopefully not knowingly) didn’t talk about “server virtualization” at all.

Since Manaugh didn’t raise the awareness of server virtualization, please allow me.

Wikipedia defines server virtualization as: “a method of partitioning a physical server computer into multiple servers that each has the appearance and capabilities of running on its own dedicated machine”.

So think of it like this: typically we think of SUVs as a bad thing for the environment. However SUVs would be at least somewhat better if they were always used to their maximum potential. In that I mean, whenever they are driven there are 8-9 people seated in them. Server virtualization is the same thing. Typically a physical server only uses 10%- 20% of its resources, so you could use a product like VMWare to setup 5-10 “virtual” servers to run on one “physical” server.

I know that I am a total computer geek, but I am really excited by VMWare and I want people to understand that computer software can be “green” too!!

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2 Responses to awareness [VMWare]

  1. christopher says:

    actually suv’s being used to their full potential would only be true if it results in less overall usage of automobiles by others. otherwise, the impact of an suv being used is the same whether 1 or 8 people is in it. so simply being full doesn’t make it “better.” in fact, if it is full, it’s using more gas to pull the weight and is actually worse for the environment. like neil postman said when decrying television – good television is worse, because it makes you want to watch television, and the problem is watching in the first place.

    that said, if vmware actually works and allows us to make more efficient use of our servers, that’s great. two things i would want to know; 1) what’s the extra heat and electricity usage when a server is being loaded more (thus more environmental impact) and 2) does it really work? servers crash enough as it is, are we smart enough to make software that really optimizes them to the point that it’s worth it? not knowing anything about vmware is sounds suspiciously like the kind of software platform my work’s hosting company switched us to so they could throw thousands of websites on a server farm. sure, they get to reduce overhead substantially, but overall service went down the tubes and problems rose exponentially. sounds great in theory, a whole other thing in practice.

    but you’re absolutely right in suggesting that better use of our resources is part of the solution.

  2. Blake says:

    I heartily agree with you Shane. VMWare really does rock. I’ve used it quite a bit in my software jobs as test platforms and I’ve known of several companies that have doubled their server density by running two VMs on a single box (Apparently this is the density that VMWare recommended as of two years ago in order to guarantee performance) in production.

    Christopher: the beauty of running servers on vms is that the whole “machine” is simply a set of data files, meaning the machine is portable and can be easily replicated by simply copying the data files. You can also take snapshots of the server in various states so that you can very easily roll-back when it encounters problems. For example: if you’ve just finished installing and configuring an MS Exchange server and have verified that it works, you’d take a snapshot of the computer at that point. That way if something funky happens in the future and the server stops working, you can simply “roll back” to that snapshot and voila, your server is working again. đŸ™‚

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