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  #1  
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: New York City
Posts: 9

One Server Solution?


Greetings Community,

The hand writing on the wall, has become a reality. We have clients who want VPS, and quickly deployed. I have several questions, and please excuse me if my questions sound uninformed.

Is there a one server solution to have Virtual Clients on?
Here is my concern, We have a server that we strictly dedicated to web hosting, it's a bit of a monster. 2 quad core cpu's with 32 Gig's of Ram, and approximately 6TB of disk space, using 2 RAID's.

Virutal Guests:

Current KVM solutions would require a 3 server configuration according to Parelles.

1. server for Linux based os's (Excluding Free BSD) as the product will not support Free BSD

2. A server for any Windows Based Containers

3. A server to control this mess.

So, it appears we are lookling at between 15-25k to build this out with Parelles or openVZ

Second option:

Using the Xen kernal that is included with Red Hat, we have the ability to Virtalize.

My concern is getting the most for our money.
We installed the Xen modified Kernal and it was a unmitigated disaster, as Xen and cpanels do not have a friendly relationship. It appears to get this working properly we would have to do the following:

* Reinstall the entire OS
* Then Install Xen
* Finally Install cpanels, and they say nice things about god and hope for the best? This would involve bringing the server offline and significant use of man hours, a trip to the data center, unhealthy use of caffeine and nicotine.

This is a server that is live and in production; with active clients.

I'm would appreciate any and all guidance the community could offer, including ditching cpanels in favor of a different hosting automation solution.

Additionally, the Xen process in RHEL 5.3 is very easy to deploy using the gui, but as we know cpanels disables Xwindows, is there a work around for this situation.

Spending thousands of dollars on new hardware bothers me, especially if we don't have the client base to justify such.

seems like we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, or we have missed some important information.

Again, Thanks for any suggestions.

Your Sincerely,
James



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  #2  
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Premium Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 479
You could look into reselling other VPS services to your customers until you have the time/knowledge/demand to put in your own infrastructure? When you get to the stage where you have enough clients to justify it you can migrate to our own servers in order to cut costs and take back control.

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  #3  
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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You have a production server that you can't mess around with (and I would NOT with live customers). I think the reselling idea is a good one, pretty painless way to get your customers into VPS's. This allows you to grow and then take your time on learning now to put together your own (2nd+) server for your own VPS solution if you want to still go that route.

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  #4  
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: New York City
Posts: 9
Perhaps?

Thanks for the brain storming, nothing like the community offering suggestions, and I truly thank you.

If we did the recommended reseller VPS suggestion, could you recommend a highly stable company. As we cater to a niche market of attorneys, and Real Estate Brokers. Our client base is a bit shall we say a mystery, as they are always concerned with things like trade secrets, and no one having access to their information. It's to the point where I have to buy an Ev ssl to keep them calm. that want the green bar!

Again thanks for the suggestions


Sincerely Yours,

James

  #5  
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Houston, Texas, USA
Posts: 2,849
How many customers do you currently have on the production server? What would be the impact if you were to move the customers off to a less beefy but still respectable server? Will your current customers be able to stomach the downtime? The migration will have to be planned very carefully to avoid disasters. Frankly, a dual quad core 32GB server is better off running some virtualization software.

If you can't obtain a maintenance window to move the current customers off, then you'll have to a) purchase an additional server, b) rent a server to create VPS instances on or b) resell from another respectable and reliable provider. Based on your concern about spending, I would go with option c) with b) being a close contender.

To answer your other question regarding Xen+Redhat, you don't need X Windows to provision VPS instances (I know you know that but I'm just emphasizing). If you don't have knowledgeable staff, I strongly recommend renting a managed server elsewhere and let the managing firm deal with the system issues. Just be sure to select a competent and helpful firm.

As far as virtualization technology, either HyperVM+Xen+CentOS or HyperVM+OpenVZ+CentOS. And you won't need X windows installed because you'll be installing the HyperVM tools, which are accessible via the Web UI. So provisioning will be done on the Web UI as well

I've been down this road many times so feel free to ask as many questions as you want.

Best

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  #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
Thanks for the brain storming, nothing like the community offering suggestions, and I truly thank you.

If we did the recommended reseller VPS suggestion, could you recommend a highly stable company. As we cater to a niche market of attorneys, and Real Estate Brokers. Our client base is a bit shall we say a mystery, as they are always concerned with things like trade secrets, and no one having access to their information. It's to the point where I have to buy an Ev ssl to keep them calm. that want the green bar!
It's certainly going to be a challenge to migrate them off the server but, again, it's not impossible to successfully complete a zero downtime migration. You just have to plan it well, weeks in advance.

Regards

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  #7  
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: New York City
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* I think this could work!

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNIXy View Post
How many customers do you currently have on the production server? What would be the impact if you were to move the customers off to a less beefy but still respectable server? Will your current customers be able to stomach the downtime? The migration will have to be planned very carefully to avoid disasters. Frankly, a dual quad core 32GB server is better off running some virtualization software.

If you can't obtain a maintenance window to move the current customers off, then you'll have to a) purchase an additional server, b) rent a server to create VPS instances on or b) resell from another respectable and reliable provider. Based on your concern about spending, I would go with option c) with b) being a close contender.

To answer your other question regarding Xen+Redhat, you don't need X Windows to provision VPS instances (I know you know that but I'm just emphasizing). If you don't have knowledgeable staff, I strongly recommend renting a managed server elsewhere and let the managing firm deal with the system issues. Just be sure to select a competent and helpful firm.

As far as virtualization technology, either HyperVM+Xen+CentOS or HyperVM+OpenVZ+CentOS. And you won't need X windows installed because you'll be installing the HyperVM tools, which are accessible via the Web UI. So provisioning will be done on the Web UI as well

I've been down this road many times so feel free to ask as many questions as you want.

Best
Our clients are data dependent during prime time business traffic. Monday through Friday, We can schedule downtime on a late Saturday or Sunday nights. As far as how many clients we have, its small under 12, but they are the big boys who pay all the bills, the Wall Street Guys. I have probably broken some part of the non disclosure agreement by even saying that.

UNIXy We owe you a beer, or your favorite beverage, and if you are anywhere close to NYC, id be insulted if I could not take you out for some drinks.

We have to use RHEL for everything, as we just agreed to be a Red Hat Corporate Reseller, and in the process of the training, also, we are going to become a RHEL hosting partner. That being said I would assume that it does not change the process as centos is basically for all intents and purposes Red Hat.

Red Hat Corporate told me in a recent call, that they will provide specific migration tools, to go from Xen to KVM when they do a major dot release scheduled for august.

So does that change our current plan?

For the configuration described, which averages fairly low load averages what Virtualization would you implement?

The Xwindows thing in RHEL is just bells and whistles, everything can be done command line, It just that it makes the process quicker sometimes when you can point and click. I am guilty of that, and as a result my personal Linux skills have suffered.

This gets into the whole battle of KVM vs Xen, and quite frankly, I don't know. Everyone says that they are the best. I am willing to sacrifice a small amount of performance for ease of use, and the lack of agita, from latin meaning frigging headache!

So a 1 server solution is possible? this is doable?
I'm so thankful, to have joined this intelligent and responsive community.

Now I have to try to explain this to my system admin,who is a nervous about this whole thing, and probably rightfully so.

Thank you so much!

Most Respectfully

James

  #8  
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Houston, Texas, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
Our clients are data dependent during prime time business traffic. Monday through Friday, We can schedule downtime on a late Saturday or Sunday nights. As far as how many clients we have, its small under 12, but they are the big boys who pay all the bills, the Wall Street Guys. I have probably broken some part of the non disclosure agreement by even saying that.
It's definitely doable then. From my understanding of your configuration, you have one server with dual quad cores and 32GB of memory. The server doesn't have a Xen kernel and tools installed on it (first attempt didn't go as expected) and it currently has cPanel installed on it with your 12 or so production accounts / customers. Your goal is to install virtualization software (Xen kernel and tools) to be able to sell VPS based on the perceived increase demand but also host your current customers. Correct me if I'm wrong.

For a smooth transition, you'll have to a) rent a managed server b) move your current customers to that server make sure the migration has completely successfully. When the dust settles, c) reinstall Red Hat with Xen tools. This will enable you to sell VPS instances and utilize your dual quad core server to the fullest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
UNIXy We owe you a beer, or your favorite beverage, and if you are anywhere close to NYC, id be insulted if I could not take you out for some drinks.
That'll be great! Although I didn't do much to deserve one . I currently live in Houston so perhaps when I visit NYC. Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
We have to use RHEL for everything, as we just agreed to be a Red Hat Corporate Reseller, and in the process of the training, also, we are going to become a RHEL hosting partner. That being said I would assume that it does not change the process as centos is basically for all intents and purposes Red Hat.

Red Hat Corporate told me in a recent call, that they will provide specific migration tools, to go from Xen to KVM when they do a major dot release scheduled for august.

So does that change our current plan?
Without Red Hat we wouldn't have CentOS and without GNU/Linux we probably would have neither. And without GNU/Linux, UNIXy would probably not be in business today. If you have the resources, Red Hat is the way to go. Other than RHN (Red Hat Network) and support, the two are identical. Although, I'm not sure KVM has passed the test of time and is mature enough. It's just an opinion but I personally wouldn't deploy it in production. Xen, on the other hand, has been production ready for a long time now.

I may be misunderstanding your previous post. Have you successfully installed Xen on the "monster" server? If it hasn't been installed, then the Xen to KVM migration tools aren't going to be useful. You could implement the above a, b, c migration plan and then simply install KVM on the bare metal server. But again, I don't recommend KVM for production. At least for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
For the configuration described, which averages fairly low load averages what Virtualization would you implement?
There are trade offs between performance and security (container isolation). You'll get better performance out of OpenVZ. You'll get better isolation using Xen. Based on what you've described so far, I'd go with OpenVZ.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
The Xwindows thing in RHEL is just bells and whistles, everything can be done command line, It just that it makes the process quicker sometimes when you can point and click. I am guilty of that, and as a result my personal Linux skills have suffered.
Nothing beats ease of use. Although, it's prudent to have access to an experienced systems administrator just in case. You never know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
This gets into the whole battle of KVM vs Xen, and quite frankly, I don't know. Everyone says that they are the best. I am willing to sacrifice a small amount of performance for ease of use, and the lack of agita, from latin meaning frigging headache!

So a 1 server solution is possible? this is doable?
I'm so thankful, to have joined this intelligent and responsive community.

Now I have to try to explain this to my system admin,who is a nervous about this whole thing, and probably rightfully so.
I think it's a good sign that your sysadmin is nervous. Meticulous planning is a must. If you don't have Xen or KVM installed already, you'll need a second server to move your current customers to while the 32GB server is being refreshed/reinstalled. Perhaps, you could rent a second server, move your customers there, and then spend the time to rebuild the 32GB server with virtualization. You could then release the rented server after you move the customers back on the 32GB server (running in one VPS).

So to recap
  1. Rent a server and move your current customers there
  2. Rebuild the 32GB server with virtualization (I recommend either Xen or OpenVZ)
  3. Create an instance on the 32GB server and migrate your customers back on a VPS
  4. Release the rented dedicated server

Steps 3 and 4 are optional but if you're wanting to cut costs, go for it. I hope this wasn't too confusing. Again, questions / comments are welcome

Best

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  #9  
Old
Junior Guru
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 220
The thing about KVM is that it is remarkably easy to get running on your existing server. You don't need a new kernel (unless it is ancient) and you don't need to alter the OS or even reboot. You just load a module and run the user space program.

For these reasons if I had to run virtualization on an existing production server then KVM would be my first choice.

Unfortunately it isn't very easy to work with the virtual machines, the supporting tools are mostly non-existent. The libvirt project might make things easier, I haven't tried it so I don't know. Either way, renting KVMs to end users is going to take a lot of custom development.

Thanks to the nested KVM support (VM acceleration inside the VMs, KVM 85 has it) you could actually just use it to run a Xen dom0 or an OpenVZ host (or both, and that management "box" you mentioned). You could then run something like HyperVM on the virtual machines to manage the Xen/VZ sub-virtual-machines that are rented by customers.

OpenVZ certainly runs very happily under KVM, I did this for a while when moving data centres, and there were no problems. Just remember, if virtualization doesn't fix it, add another layer!

Sorry to add an unconventional option, it isn't always helpful, but it might fit the bill.

Jim

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  #10  
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Join Date: May 2009
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We are a go !

Greetings Unixy,

Looks like we are a go for this project. I hope in not imposing with such further questions. I never expected this type of community support in a competitive market place. We have scheduled a service window for next weekend with our clients.

To review the hardware configuration:

2 socket Dell pe_2950 III (circa 2009)
32g Ram
2 Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5420 @ 2.50GHz
2 Embedded Broadcom, GB Ethernet NICS with TOE
embedded usb port (This is suggested to use as a hypervisor by Dell for Vmware, or any small footprint Virtual Os. We have a 16g Usb drive, with a image of the os, and dell diagnostic tools installed for disaster recovery
Os, Red Hat A.P
6 1T Drives (4 on a Raid 5) (2 on a raid 1)


Questions:

1.Can Cpanel coexist with HyperVM?
2.Does our site/services reside on Dom0? a VPS?
3.What services do the base OS use and what does VPS use (email, etc)? Conversely, should we only use live services for ourselves and just sell VPS, for those whom who have requested it?
4.Best partition layout/type for containers?

3-4 is confusing for me. I basically asking, if we should stick cpanels, and various services in a container, and use that for hosting?

so we are looking at this process
Backup Everything to the last minute.
Reinstall the Os
Install The modified Xen Kernal
Install tools Hyper VM
Create a VPS
Install cpanels on either the VPS or locally



Once again, Thanks so much for the help.

Most Sincerely,


James

  #11  
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
Greetings Unixy,

Questions:

1.Can Cpanel coexist with HyperVM?
Hi again James,

HyperVM runs on the management node. In this case, it's dom0. dom0 should have nothing else installed on it (no cPanel either). Otherwise, you risk destabilizing the whole Xen server.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
2.Does our site/services reside on Dom0? a VPS?
No, your services/websites reside on domU (short for a Xen instance). Where the U in domU stands for Unprvileged. So you'll have multiple domU's (a.k.a VPS) on one physical server. Each of those domU's can host an isolated instance of cPanel or any software of your choice. For example, on the first domU, called server.mycompany.net, you'll install cPanel on Red Hat and host 20 Websites. on the second domU, you could install a monitoring application on Debian with a hostname monitor.mycompany.net. And on the third domU, install another cPanel instance on Red Hat. Etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
3.What services do the base OS use and what does VPS use (email, etc)? Conversely, should we only use live services for ourselves and just sell VPS, for those whom who have requested it?
4.Best partition layout/type for containers?

3-4 is confusing for me. I basically asking, if we should stick cpanels, and various services in a container, and use that for hosting?
I understand that it can be confusing. But you have to convince yourself and start believing that a VPS is just another server. Just as you can run any service on a physical server, you can run any service on a VPS as well. So, when you rebuild the 32GB server, you'll have a Xen virtualized node. By default, only dom0 will be installed. Dom0 is the master node to be used for HyperVM only. You'll then create one domU and install Red Hat on it. That's where your current 12 cPanel customers will be migrated. When you receive a request for a new VPS, you'll proceed with creating another VPS, etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesPRobinson View Post
so we are looking at this process
Backup Everything to the last minute.
Reinstall the Os
Install The modified Xen Kernal
Install tools Hyper VM
Create a VPS
Install cpanels on either the VPS or locally
All looks good except for the last line. Don't install any software locally on dom0. About the only software you'll install on dom0 ("locally") is hypervm and SSH.

One advice, be sure to take good backups. Verify the consistency of the backups. cPanel tends to create corrupt backups, occasionally. If I were you, I would get my hands on an unused server (or a PC will do) and practice the Xen kernel install, VPS creation, cPanel account restore, etc. Be sure to develop a roll back procedure just in case things don't go as planned.

Last but not least, I know the 2950's have redundant power supplies but be sure to have a business continuity plan (Ex: what if the 2950 server is "dead"? How long will it take from RMA to node up? etc).

Best

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  #12  
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Hi James,

How did it go?

Best

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  #13  
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Join Date: May 2009
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It's In the works

Hi, Thanks so much for the follow up.

As advised we have done multiple backups, checking for any data integrity loss, or corruption. We have also spend a considerable amount doing "dry runs" practicing the installation of the Xen modified kernal.


I have also followed your advise and reviewed our BCP "Business Continuity Plan.

3 Weekly Backups, the data is stored on the server as well as two independent remote machines. We have also tested the restore functions durung this time.

This is a transition period for us, as we have never offered any services to the general public. We are in the process of redesigning our web page, and are going to eventually offer our services to the general public.

This is something, I am very nervous about, but from a business perspective a natural transition. I have ordered an additional server, to make this transition easier from a hardware perspective.

Also the current hardware available is amazing, 2 socket 8 core Machines, I would assume from the literature, and our vendor is the ideal configuration for Virtualization, bringing value added for the customer.

We never thought we would end up in this profession, this started out with us just doing a favor for close business contacts. It sorta grew unexpectedly, and here we are.

I'm very concerned about offering services to the general public, as I want to be 1000% sure, that we are giving people fair and honest resources that they can use.

We are installing everything tonight and tomorrow morning. It looks like we have our bases covered, thanks to you, for the guidance you have provided.

I never thought, that we would ever be provided this level of guidance from the community, in a recession and a highly competitive environment. You sir are a rare breed, and I thank you for everything, as well as everyone who has contributed to the conversation.

I will check in and let you know how everything works out. We are expecting some problems, and I'm sure we will. We do have another additional server on standby thanks to the data center.

So even if we completely disable our server, we have a plan B so to speak.

Most Respectfully,

James

  #14  
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Newbie
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New York City
Posts: 9
Greetings Community,

We have decided to take a few extra days for the VPS upgrades. I encountered a cpanel restore problem. This made me very nervous in proceeding. So we did a full traditional backup, and any new changes are being recorded by rsync.

We are verifying the data integrity from both off site targets.

As soon as we can say with a 100% certainty, that all data is valid and intact, we will proceed.

We think this will occur sometime tonight or tomorrow. We are moving very slow, and methodical as not to cause any stupid mistakes.

I created a entire project plan, and we are using a step by step, and verify process.

I will Keep Everyone updated.

Thanks again, you guys are amazing!

Most Respectfully,

James

  #15  
Old
Newbie
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: New York City
Posts: 9
We are almost there

Hey Unixy,

We have successfully rebuilt the server. We still have our clients on a dedicated server, until we feel comfortable with the VPS system. We ran into some confusion with LVM's and PV's but we figured that out without a problem. I have some final questions.

We have RHEL 5.3 running on Dom0 with minimal services, and hyperVM.

We have sucessfully created a DomU, and are currently testing it, for any issues.

How do we create a template or install Red Hat on a DomU for our personal VPS?, and how do we create current templates like centos 64 bit?

Most Respectfully,

James

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