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Infrastructure & Operations is implementing a new compute solution to host virtual servers.

Information Technology Services I&O hosts about 1,000 virtual servers and that number is expected to grow dramatically. The new solution consolidates servers, storage and networking into a pair of tightly coupled integrated systems.

Brent Caison ITS Infrastructure & Operations, headshot
Brent Caison, Director of ITS Open Systems

Will conserve resources and improve disaster recovery

This integration leads to better efficiencies in data center space, power and cooling, said  Brent Caison, Director of ITS Open Systems. The new standardized solution leads to increased staff efficiencies and will enable new business continuity/disaster recovery practices. ITS Research Computing has already successfully implemented this technology.

Up and running by mid-spring

ITS has ordered this equipment and expects delivery in February. The solution will be in production by mid-spring.

ITS will move to a modular approach to virtualization based on virtualization pods. Each pod will have two storage enclosures that host eight shelves of drives. “At capacity, each pod should scale to support 450 virtual hosts,” Caison said.

ITS will install these pods in ITS’ Manning and Franklin locations. Where possible, ITS will separate the workload on these servers across pods. If one pod fails, services can continue to run on another pod. To enable Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery, data will be mirrored nightly across the pods in the two data centers. If a pod (or data center) goes offline, ITS will have the capability to spin up the virtual servers in a partner data center. Historically, this recovery has required a restore from backups.

Recovery times shrink from days to hours.

ITS moved into virtualization about eight years ago. In the original implementation, one hypervisor—also called a virtual server—runs seven or eight virtual machines. Hypervisors provide a big bang for the buck because they can run seven or eight pieces of hardware on a single box, thereby saving considerable space. This new infrastructure will host 30 virtual servers on one physical server with a goal of driving density higher, if possible.

Goal is 90-percent virtualization

More than 60 percent of ITS’ servers are now virtual. PeopleSoft, for example, is mostly virtualized. All new server requests are presented as virtual servers unless there is a technical requirement for a physical server. As traditional physical servers are retired, their workload is being moved into virtual servers. “A 90-percent virtualization rate is an achievable goal,” Caison said.

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