Virtualization has revolutionized server rooms and data centers around the world. This new tool has allowed server rooms to get smaller, backups have been simplified, and server up-times have been lengthened. In my senior year of college I got to see this new technology in action. At the time I was working for PTC in Needham, Massachusetts. In the first week they put me in the drivers seat of their new VMware ESX 2.5. I quickly learned the basics and I realized the potential for such a new technology.
I have always tried to think outside the box when it comes to technology. With virtualization I saw a world of new opportunities for its use. When the next semester rolled around and my need to come up with a senior project came about, the first thought in my head was VMware in the classroom.
-Create a VMware ESX environment capable of running 25-30 VM’s
-Create easy to use and maintain templates representing various environments
-Templates are used to create “dev” VM’s for student labs
-Dev VM’s are then used on a class-by-class basis (VM’s are turned on, edited for a lab assignment, then the snapshot feature is used to bring it back to the original state for use in another class)
-Dev VM’s can also be on-going (students can save the VM as part of an on going project or lab assignment)
Estimated hardware needed:
-A Blade environment would be the quickest to set-up and most cost-effective to upgrade in the future
-For a 30 (running) VM environment I estimate 3 blades would be needed
-Each blade having two quad core processors and loaded with 16-32gb of RAM
-Two solid state hard drives, Mirrored, for local storage would help with local i/o
-For long-term storage a NAS with 3-5 terabytes of space in a RAID 5
This basic setup could be used to create a scalable, cost-effective, and easy to use environment that would give students the ability to learn how to administer various server environments without fear of crashing or messing up.