Virtual Hosts


Virtual Hosts

If you are anywhere close to the I.T. world these days, you are surely aware of the concept of “virtualization”. If you are not sure what this means then it is encouraged that you Google around and learn the basics. You may even find a use for it in your personal computing or at the very least pick up on some lingo the next time you sit through a meeting at work and someone from I.T. is putting the room to sleep. In short, virtualization changed the information technology industry and provided the catalyst to handle the “Internet of Things” concept.

My journey started when I was in my early twenties. Most folks will tell you that I was destined for a career in I.T. as it is very closely aligned with my nature of curiosity and cautious need to push the limits in one form or another. So as a college burnout not interested in student loan debt, I was fortunate enough to find employment at a managed services startup basically doing clerical sales work. It was obvious from the start this wasn’t where I wanted to be in the future; however, it was where i needed to be at that moment for the exposure to basic I.T. concepts in the enterprise that one can only learn about from the inside. Needless to say the bug bit, and it bit me hard. Once I was able to wrap my mind around virtualization I wanted to know as much as possible. Oh, did I mention that I am hands on learner? That clerical work was a block in the road and the only way i could get my hands dirty was to test at night, and observe and listen during the day.

I would imagine that like most folks I started out playing with Virtualbox, ESXI, KVM, and HyperV. Each of these platforms has its own strengths and weaknesses based on the particular need. My particular fascination at the time (and still to this day) was virtual migration or “vmotion.” The thought of being able to move a live computer from one physical machine to another without the computer ever going down was and is to this day one of the neatest things I’ve ever experienced. With that in mind, Proxmox was a good first choice as it offered live migration and along with the other standard virtualization benefits. Proxmox is based on Linux KVM and has a snazzy web GUI which was very convenient. Unfortunately, it ran just a bit heavy on host resources thus leaving my sub par virtual hosts pretty much maxed out with just a handful of VM’s running between them. Once in my current job, it was clear that HyperV was going to be my existence so it was only logical to make the switch at home as well. I started out with Windows Server 2012r2 and once i got everything configured, just removed the Server GUI feature. This setup ran so well that i decided to virtualize my firewall with PFsense in a cluster so that I could have even better throughput and redundancy so my wife wouldn’t roll her eyes and complain every time I decided to update the firewall. Clustered firewalls are an I.T. nerd’s best friend. Anyway, since then the hosts have been been through a failover cluster rolling upgrade to bare bones Windows HyperV 2016 server that Microsoft provides for free. I like the bare metal no GUI operating system because there is minimal footprint leaving less vulnerability chance, and resources used by the host are minimal. There was a bit of powershell needed to get the storage added through ISCSI but nothing that wasn’t easily searchable.

Physical resources per host are as follows…….(don’t laugh, I only have money in the relay rack cases.)

  • System Board – Gigabyte H57M-USB3 – MSI PCMate MS-7850 & Gigabyte GA-X79-UP4-rev-11
  • Proccessor – Intel Core i5 661 3.33GHz – Intel Core i7-4790@3.6GHz & Intel Core i7-4820k@3.7GHz
  • RAM – 16GB DDR3 – 32GB DDR3 & 40GB DDR3
  • OS Boot Drive – Mushkin 60GB 2.5 SSD
  • Vswitch Team – Intel Pro/1000 PT Dual Port Server adapter
  • Storage/migration – Onboard 10/100/1000 NIC
  • WAN – Dedicated Intel 10/100/1000 Server NIC
  • Power Supply – Corsair 500 Watt

This hardware at the time of this writing is hosting 14 VMs that when failed over in an idle state can be run on one host in a pinch.