Over the past year I have been leading a project to Virtualize and consolidate our EMEA Support Test Lab environments using VMWare ESXi, moving away from various rack mounted servers and ailing desktop machines.
I started off by cataloging what we had "physically", and virtually (stored on PCs running Microsoft Virtual Server, and VM Ware Server 1.0.x). The result was that over half of the physical machines would benefit from conversion to ESX, and that environmentally we would be removing old hardware which could then be recycled, a good idea all round!
One major factor was to improve the availability of lab machines for all EMEA support consultants, and to be able to build various Virtual Machines using high-spec hardware, providing performance improvements of the labs. The ability to deploy from templates pre-built with OS, Patches and core-software was also required.
Since installing the new blade servers and Shared SAN storage we now have around 150 Virtual lab environments with operating systems ranging from Cent OS, Redhat Enterprise, Windows 2k3, 2k8, Vista, and Windows 7.
Running on these Operating Systems we have various in house products that we support, as well as databases such as sybase, oracle, sql server and clustered solutions.
At present we have reached the capacity of the two DELL blade servers (each 32GB ram) and 4TB SAN space and are looking to upgrade this as soon as possible to continue building more lab environments.
Other problems faced over the past year include managing permissions to the Virtual Center, the availability of command line (root) access to run vmtools commands for Thick Disks (Clustering), as well as High Availability Support which has had to be turned off to allow full usage of the available RAM on the blades.