WA councils go virtual with Linux, Xen

Virtual machines stop server creep

Three local government shires in Western Australia have adopted the open source Xen virtualization technology to virtualize Windows servers on Linux hosts and reduce its need for physical machines.

The Dardanup, Harvey, and Donnybrook/Balingup local government councils in Western Australia have a central IT support infrastructure and, according to IT officer Stephen Eaton, required a simple way of deploying and managing its Windows servers.

"We're running standard Windows 2000 and 2003 servers and started looking at VMware a few years ago as we were getting server creep," Eaton said. "And we starting to look at a replacement strategy for existing servers as we had a number of servers doing multiple roles, and we were looking for something for disaster recovery."

Eaton evaluated VMware and wanted to deploy it but because of the size of the installation it was deemed two cost prohibitive for the enterprise features like vmotion.

As a "big supporter" of open source and a Linux user personally, Eaton looked at the open source Xen hypervisor and waited about 12 months to deploy XenEnterprise 3.0 which supported Windows guests.

While not as well know as VMware, XenSource is building up a local presence through its channel partners.

XenEnterprise 3.0 lacked the XenMotion live migration tool but that came with the upgrade to 4.0 which Eaton describes as "great".

The councils purchased two dual-socket Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers with 16GB of ram and two quad core processors.

With eight cores per machine Xen is running eight virtual machines, with more to be added. These include Windows servers for Exchange, Terminal Server, domain controllers, file and print services, and an SQL server for a records management application.

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