Corky McMillin Companies
Southland Technology was tasked with the creation of a test environment capable of validating many of the critical business functions common to enterprise network environments. This development environment would be responsible for validation of disaster recovery procedures, backup/restore of critical servers, testing clustered and load balanced nodes, patch testing of custom applications and critical servers, and ultimately act as a proof of concept for a major Active Directory and MS Exchange domain consolidation.
The requirement for an exact replicate of the McMillin corporate server farm lead Southland Technology to a virtualization solution through our enterprise partnership with VMware.
VMware’s virtualization technology allowed for the identified critical servers to be cloned and placed into this test bed. Using a combination of Acronis and VMware’s P2V software, physical servers were imaged and restored as virtual machines. Careful network isolation and routing procedures allowed for a duplicate network to be created, using identical computer names and IP addresses, while still allowing for Internet and remote access.
Identified servers were virtualized in both online and offline states to avoid downtime on production servers. In a virtualized environment, CPU, Memory, Disk I/O, and Network bandwidth can be throttled giving priority to virtual machines requiring additional resources. Conducting tests on virtual servers allows for easy rollback procedures, no longer requiring a restore from the previous snapshot of the physical server, saving 4 – 16 hours per server. Virtual machines can be moved between servers given their now virtualized hardware. All domain and network functions are identical to that of the live network, with many performance improvements given the virtualized network and shared infrastructure.
New servers can be added into this virtual server farm environment in a matter of minutes. Development time has been reduced, allowing for patch and application testing to be expedited. Expensive KVM over IP equipment, usually required when creating parallel networks, has been avoided using VMware’s remote console. Impact on end users has been minimized by conducting tests and developing migration procedures initially on the virtual machines. Once procedures have been documented, maintenance windows and disruption to the production environment can be properly anticipated and executed.
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