What is Server Virtualization
AbleIT likes to make work easy. Part of making work easy is demystifying how IT works. Servers are one of the most known pieces of hardware of a network. But what do they do? Also, what is virtualization and why is it useful? These are questions we hope to answer in this article.
A server is what holds the systems, programs and databases. The network facilitates connections to the server, or in essence, the network allows the server to function.
The server also provides the power to make these systems work. The core components of a server are CPU, memory and hard drive. These components work together to give you access and function.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the services that a server performs:
a. Domain Controller: This is what keeps usernames, passwords and applies rights or access to the network and programs.
b. Active Directory (AD) and Domain Name System (DNS): Active Directory provides the authorization for the usernames and passwords in the Domain Controller. The DNS turns hostnames into IP addresses to be used in the network as that is how devices are identified through the internet.
c. DHCP: This is what hands out IP addresses to all the devices on your network.
d. Print Server: This is where access to your printer is held. This allows printers to be shared. Otherwise, only one person could use a printer. Most printers, today, are network-aware and client computers print directly to the printers without the need for a print server.
e. Anti Virus Console, Spam filter, DataBackup: These are referred to as utilities, hosting them on the server allows administration and monitoring to be done centrally instead of individually on each workstation.
f. File Server: This gives the ability to have shared files and is managed by the AD.
g. SQL Server: This is a database engine. It holds and provides access to the data of specific software like sage, office productivity tools, quick books etc. It allows data to be managed centrally versus storing it and managing it on individual machines.
h. Exchange Server: This, simply put, gives you access to your email. It holds and deals out the email to individual accounts.
i. Terminal Server or RDS: Instead of having individual workstations have their applications like Office, Adobe apps etc. this system will hold them all and provide access individually. It works by you logging into your workstation and then logging into the terminal server or RDS, giving you access to all your programs like word, excel, sage, adobe etc. Instead of doing work with applications loaded on your workstation, you are doing work with applications running on the terminal server.
j. Back up and Disaster Recovery Console: Makes copies of the individual servers and stores their data in a backup repository.
Virtualization allows a single physical server to host multiple virtual servers on a single device.
The types of virtual servers we build are:
a. DC: This holds the domain controller, AD, DNS, DHCP and print server.
b. File Utility: This will contain the file server and all the utilities.
c. SQL: This will hold the SQL server, the database. It is large enough that it needs its grouping.
d. Exchange: like the SQL we find Exchange works best on its own.
e. Back up & Disaster Recovery: This will hold back up and disaster recovery systems.
f. RDS or terminal server: This will hold the terminal server.
Back in the day, there would be no virtualization and each of these virtual servers would be on there own physical server. Advancements have been made that increase the power of servers and allow everything to be on one. Virtualization is needed because without the layers separating these groups and services everything is competing for the same resources at once. When virtualizing you can dedicate specific amounts of computing power, ram and hard drive space to specific groups. You can even overcommit your resources, without going too technical, it can act as a line of credit. We can take a 1TB drive and create multiple 2TB virtual disks on the 1TB drive. Yes, we can still only use 1TB of disk total, but each virtual machine thinks it has 2TB of free space, but it isn't using all the whole 2TB capacity. This makes better use of the resources and can help avoid upgrading resources in a non virtualized environment.
If you'd like to learn more or have us help virtualize your servers, feel free to contact us below!