by December 1, 2010 0 comments



Sandeep Koul

After having read the preceding pages you would have realized that it’s no big deal to implement the Xen-based cloud platform in your organization, so the question arises: is it worth the effort? There is no doubt that consolidation of IT resources is a must these days and that IT resources should logically be available as a service for optimum utilization.
I’ll now try to put some points for contemplation: both in favor and against. But before I do that I ask you: If ‘OpenOffice’ and ‘MS Word’ were to provide almost the same features and feel, would you still spend money for the paid software just because everyone is doing so or just because everyone has been trained on it? Presented below are some points to help you frame a conclusive argument.

Pros
The biggest point in favor of implementing this platform is that you don’t have to pay anything for the software, and if you would use your old servers instead of buying new ones for XCP you don’t even pay for hardware. Talking about features, if you can implement all those provided for, then this software has almost as many as the ones offered by comparable paid versions. Be it sharpshooting or automatic failover, it has everything a cloud platform can provide and on top of it there are plenty of Open Source packages available that can be integrated with XCP to make management of cloud apps simple.
If you are thinking seriously about consolidating your IT assets like storage and servers then this one can be a great choice. It supports both iSCSI based storage or NFS. This means that if you have central storage like SAN, all VMs can get their storage from it and there is no need for any special arrangement. This means both your storage and computing power can become pools of resources from which you can draw as much as you want and without making any changes to the physical setup.

Cons
To start working on it, you need an IT team with lots of expertise and a deep understanding of virtualization and cloud concepts, plus the ability to work in a Linux environment. When I probed a couple of IT enablers in mid-sized organizations, they gave me dazed responses on the issue. There are no clear steps to follow. One has to face a lot of trial and error, and can take any approach and any supporting package, but the implementation is clearly dependent on what your team is most comfortable with.
And even if your IT team somehow manages to implement it, the question arises who would support it? Considering all your servers would run on this platform, what if something goes wrong and the IT guy or team who implemented it has left for the day? In short, there is no support available, whatever information you might get would require intense online research.
Another point, and a very important one at that, is while you were busy purchasing servers for your organization you must not have given enough thought about buying servers with the same processor family. What if your data center or server room has servers with different processors? Though you would be able to virtualize servers, you won’t be able to make resource pools from them which again is a big issue, and somehow defeats the whole purpose of creating a cloud platform.

Our verdict
This feature rich platform is worth trying and is as good as any paid version. Try it out within your test environment and when you get used to it, shift some of your non critical servers on it. If you see value over a period of time, move more servers to this platform, and lastly, document everything you do so that you can refer to it later at any point of time.

Xen Hypervisor: http://pcquest.ciol.com/content/topstories/2010/110110106.asp

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