Modern Middle Manager
Primarily my musings on the practical application of technology and management principles at a financial services company.
More Server Consolidation

Monday, May 05, 2003  

The Experiment of the Month has been getting a Citrix Metaframe server running under VMware's ESX Server on a dual-Pentium 4 Xeon Dell PowerEdge 2650. The installation went flawlessly and the Citrix Metaframe server we used had been developed under VMware's GSX Server so it migrated smoothly to ESX. Two major issues cropped up once the server was in production: performance and backups.

The backup problem is relatively simple -- ESX Server looks like it's a modified Linux kernel and, as such, should be able to back up over the network. However, it uses a proprietary file system called VMFS that can't be accessed by BackupExec's backup agent for Linux. To back up the VMFS files, one has to use a tool called vmkfstools that converts the virtual disk to files that can be saved. At this point we're looking for a solution -- perhaps suspending the server in the wee hours of the morning with a Perl script, copying the VMFS files to the Linux file system and moving them to our filer.

The second (and more noticeable) problem was performance. The performance of Microsoft's Office suite was terrible with only 6-8 users on the system. Outlook took a while to load, Word and Excel would frequently pause. Interactive performance, overall, was ugly. Although we opened the network pipe from 100Mbps to 1Gbps, it still worked poorly. Finally we came across a new product, Expedian from Wyse. The software appears to tune memory requirements for certain DLL's so that they don't take forever to load. I'm not sure exactly what it's doing to "optimize" the system, but I now have 20 users on simultaneously without any interactive performance problems. This is an impressive product. I'm very pleased.

posted by Henry Jenkins | 5/05/2003 02:34:00 PM

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