Thursday, September 9, 2010

"I Love It When A Plan Comes Together!"

That quote from The A-Team's Hannibal Smith sums up well our flirt with an IT disaster last week.  Here's what our lead engineer, Gary Messmer, wrote:
Monday one of our virtual hosts' RAID array disks entered "predictive failure".  Should be 'no worries', after all it's RAID 5 and you can lose a disk without losing the data-- or so the theory goes.

However, server performance got bad when the disk failed and all the services on the virtual servers on that host became extremely unresponsive.  Since we have multiple churches and ministries from around the country hosted in our rack, we needed to restore high performance quickly.

In the 'old days', without virtualization, restoring a server with a failing hard drive required physically replacing the drive-- making that server unusable while doing so.  Our replacement drive arrived the next day, and then we had to install it and let the RAID array rebuild, too much downtime (about 36 hours of 'really slow' processing time) for our liking-- and our clients!

Thanks to virtualization, it was just a matter of minutes.  We stopped the essential virtual servers, copied them to another host, and then restarted them.  Everyone was working again in minutes!  This even while we waited for the replacement drive to fully restore the affected host!

When disaster strikes, virtual guests (the servers running on a virtual host) can be quickly moved to another host in a matter of minutes-- it’s just like copying files.
Well said, Gary!  The benefits of virtualization are huge!  And the cost of the software that makes it possible is free for most churches and ministries.

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