Tim is our server geek and he loves to tackle interesting server projects.
Tim built a Xeon server in a mini-ITX case that is smaller than my toaster. He installed Microsoft’s Hyper-V system, along with a pair of Windows 2012 Server virtual machines, a Windows 7 virtual machine, and a Windows XP virtual machine. For good measure, he used solid state drives instead of the normal rotating drives.
Using the two 2012 virtual machines, he set up a test for one of our customers. Their Quickbooks data file is almost a gig and a half in size. Simple reports can take 30 minutes or more to run on their current server. On the test machine, the same reports run in 30 seconds or so. I think we have the customer’s attention.
I’ve quoted the customer for a Hyper-V based box of their own. By using one virtual machine for a file server and a second one for terminal services (“RDS”), our customer’s sales folks can carry a iPAD or other tablet with them on sales calls and place their orders directly, sending an invoice via email before they ever leave their customer’s location.
The cool thing about Hyper-V is that the virtual machines are hardware independent. You can move a virtual server to another physical server and you are good to go without any concern about drivers or other compatibility issues.
Windows Server 2012 comes with licensing for Hyper-V, up to two processors, and up to two virtual servers. This represents a $1000 savings on the OS compared to having two Windows Servers running on two separate single processor servers. Likewise, building a single physical server with enough horsepower to run two full blown virtual servers is not as expensive as building two separate physical servers.
The Windows 7 and Windows XP virtual machines are for my benefit. I am going to be testing some software updates without taking the chance of trashing a conventional desktop system. If something blows up, I can simply reinstall the virtual machine image and be back where I started.
I’ve also been working on updating our desktop line of custom built machines. The Intel motherboard we’ve been using for the last year and a half or so has been replaced by one that can take advantage of the newest third generation Intel core processors. I built an i5 quad core system using both one of the new motherboards and a brand new third gen processor. The performance is amazing and isn’t THAT much more expensive than our reference i3 dual core system. We are also updating the reference system without a price increase from the previous generation.
Both Tim and I have been testing a NAS (Network Attached Storage) based backup system to solve an issue that one of our customers encountered when trying to use high capacity USB drives to backup their server. Windows Server’s built in backup program chokes on modern hard drives. Both of us are partial to backup solutions that include both onsite and offsite backups, but this particular customer is extremely price sensitive and so we are trying to come up with a solution that fits their budget. I’ll have a better idea tomorrow whether or not my latest test backup configuration works. I’ll also see how Tim’s testing has worked out.
For good measure, I’m installing beta mail server software on multiple servers while I write this GEEKNOTE. These updates are generally painless, unless I make a mistake.
I absolutely LOVE my job. It sometimes seems that I get paid to play with the latest computer “toys”. I wake up early and can’t wait to see what challenges the day will bring. It has taken me a while to find my “dream” job, but the search was definitely worth it. Life is too short to spend 8 hours a day being miserable. If you don’t love what you do, keep looking.
As always, feel free to drop me a note or give me a call if you have any questions about your computer or the Internet.
Rob Marlowe, Senior Geek, Gulfcoast Networking, Inc.