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Challenges for power with virtualisation

26 Nov 12

Michael Mallia, Eaton Industries marketing manager, Power Quality, looks at power management for server virtualisation.

Server virtualisation introduces both challenges and opportunities for IT and facilities managers.

In particular, while it makes preventing downtime during utility failures dramatically easier, it also adds new complexities to the demands of avoiding data loss during electrical outages when shutting down servers is unavoidable.

Deploying modern power management software significantly eases the complexities of keeping critical applications continuously available during power outages.

Indeed, the newest power management solutions can automatically and transparently move virtual machines from host servers impacted by an electrical outage to unaffected servers elsewhere within the server cluster.

In the very near future, the most sophisticated power management solutions will be equipped to help organisations capitalise on cloud computing’s benefits more easily by enabling them to migrate virtual machines into the public portion of a hybrid cloud automatically during power failures, using similar tools and processes they employ when moving virtual servers onto in-house servers.

Preventing data corruption is essential as well, however, and sometimes shutting down servers is the only way to meet that goal.

Data centres have long relied on a combination of UPSs and power protection software to shut down servers in an orderly fashion during utility outages.

Server virtualisation, however, makes safeguarding data during power failures significantly more complicated.

The challenges

When a virtualised data centre loses power, technicians must shut down not only their physical servers but the virtual machines running on those host servers as well. Additionally, they must execute the many steps in that process in a specific sequence, often in the face of intense time pressure.

Companies can overcome these challenges in several ways:

Download open source management code. Pre-written, open source operating system code for shutting down servers gracefully and in the correct sequence during power failures is being developed and distributed.

By downloading, installing and customising such code, data centre managers can equip their infrastructure to shut down servers in the proper order when utility/server power becomes unavailable.

Deploy advanced power protection software. The latest and most sophisticated power protection solutions support virtual machines, as well as hosts such as VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and Red Hat KVM

Consequently, they can be configured with the aid of the virtualisation management system to shut down both physical and virtual servers in pre-defined sequences that minimise exposure to data loss.

Add automated scripts to advanced power protection software. Many advanced power protection solutions enable users to create scripts that automatically respond to specific alarms in a predefined manner.

Companies can use such scripts to augment their power protection system’s built-in functionality in sophisticated ways.

Within the span of a few years, server virtualisation has progressed from promising new technology to data centre mainstay.

Along the way, it has armed IT and facilities managers with potent new tools for maintaining business continuity during electrical failures while making preserving data integrity during power outages more  complicated.

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