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Michael Greene

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Hyper-V @ EDU

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This morning Microsoft announcied the Release to Manufacturing of the hypervisor for Windows Server 2008, also known as Hyper-V.  You’ll also find that some of our existing case studies are in Education!!!

I was ecstatic to learn during TechEd that several customers in higher education are already running Hyper-V RC1 in production.  I met one with over 80 production servers in Hyper-V, another with over 30.

Given the methods in which virtualization has grown, this is not super-surprising to see.  For the most part, virtualization did not get its start by a C-level executive declaring it would be the new path forward across a centralized environment.  Engineers have been working with virtualization software in test labs and developer/development environments for many years.  As the software matured and performance improved, the concept became more appealing to move some production services on to a virtualization platform.  First the lighter workloads and then over time it has grown to be a preferred method of server hosting.  I noticed some university bloggers even have a “percent of servers virtualization” ticker gadget running as blog flair.

So why does virtualization make so much sense in EDU?  There are many schools who have great intentions to provide new IT services but simply don’t have the funding.  Often this isn’t a budgeting problem as in where the money is spent, it is a funding problem as in there IS NO money.  Believe it or not, the Microsoft discount on software for EDU customers does put a new server within range even for customers with almost no funding, but finding $2,000 for a new server is sometimes just impossible.

To date, virtualization has grown mostly in pockets where IT groups were able to find funding.  The result is hundreds (yes literally hundreds) more servers on campus environments than just a few years ago.  Those numbers are about to take another leap.

With the release of Hyper-V, now any department or district that owns a Windows Server can also find themselves empowered with a hypervisor technology for hosting virtual machines.  Some of the interesting scenarios that I have heard:

  • We are running out of space in the server room/closet
  • Our datacenter is getting too hot and is causing hardware failures
  • I need to provide services at a remote school building but need to minimize hardware investment
  • We would like to host a server for another department
  • A professor/teacher would like to run a client/server application but needs hardware and we have no $ or space
  • We are interested in moving computer labs in to the cloud
  • We would like students at home to have the same computing environment they have here at school

One of my colleagues has built a presentation named “running your district on 6 servers or less”.  As hardware continues to evolve, the virtual machine density (vm’s per server) will continue to improve.  It may only be a few years before the title can adjust to “running your entire district on a 2 node Windows Server cluster”.

Cheers, and Happy Hyper-V Day.  Heroes Happen {EDU}.

Comments
  • We (a K-12 in PA) so far have two VMs running in production on RC0 (then upgraded to RC1).  We fall under the first scenario, running out of space in the server room.  Our secondary scenario is: There's one of me and way too many of them (servers).  When Hyper-V RTMed, I ran around the office and watched everyone roll their eyes.  I already have a blade system waiting to be put into a rack, I was just waiting for the RTM announcement and of course the end of the school year.

  • Awesome!  I know the eye-roll you are referring to, I got the same look from my wife.  Just wait until SCVMM hits RTM...

  • It's funny how new technology like this will be put to good use right away.  I have had a couple meetings about new software and I realized that in both cases a simple VM or two sitting on one of our new blade servers will more than do the job.  It's so much easier than having to bring in brand new hardware and try to find space for it and have to physically keep track of it.

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