One side of my production shop is all-Mac. Or soon to be all-Mac hardware. Say what you will, we have our reasons. I've tooled around with Parallels server in the Virt Test Lab for IW; now I'm trying it with real end users.

Joe Hernick, IT Director

October 13, 2008

3 Min Read

One side of my production shop is all-Mac. Or soon to be all-Mac hardware. Say what you will, we have our reasons. I've tooled around with Parallels server in the Virt Test Lab for IW; now I'm trying it with real end users in the mix.I've fired up a 60-day demo on a VT-x, 8-way, 32GB, 3x15k SAS Raid xServe. Yes, Apple makes such a 1u beast. I won't get into why we have an 8-way, 32GB, 3x15k SAS Raid xServe. Know that we do, and that it is connected to an FC SAN. We also have a smaller xServe in the wings waiting to be a secondary VM host.

Painless install of the not bare metal version Parallels Server. Retail price, $1248.75 - a nice round number. We've been waiting for a production bare metal hypervisor for Apple hardware from Parallels. They tell me it's coming. My production shop couldn't wait, so we've moved ahead with a demo install to test production performance of a mix of W2K3, Linux and, ta-da, Apple Leopard Server VMs.

The first test of the new setup involved Parallels Transporter, the company's P2V and V2V converter. We have a handful of mixed VMs hosted on two older VMware Servers that need to migrate.

I paused one of my VMware W2K3 guests, pointed Parallels Transporter at the image, and let it crank for about 45 minutes, converting the 8GB bundle, and fired up the new V2V'd guest on the Mac.

It mostly worked. After tinkering with network settings I had a mostly-happy anti-virus patch server back up, serving patches to 500+ production users. Our InterMapper netmon and other tools found the migrated guest server, and users were none the wiser. I was not successful installing the "one-click" Parallels Tools add-on for the W2K3 guest. I need to dig a bit to see why, but I'm guessing a conflict with the existing VMware tools resident in the guest.

All in all a pretty painless platform migration.

So how's it running? Just fine so far. Next up, P2V of a legacy W2K facilities management system, a couple of light-use Leopard servers, and a Debian postgreSQl box.

This is not ESX. But Parallels Server might just address the production small-scale VM needs for our Mac shop. Good: Migration tools, GUI and CLI management for local and remote admin via the 44MB Parallels Management Console. Not so good: No live migration. Not free, but not expensive.

It also happens to be the only production solution for Apple Server HW or server SW. If performance, stability and management hold up, we'll close the deal well before our trial is up. Now if only they'd release the bare metal version...One side of my production shop is all-Mac. Or soon to be all-Mac hardware. Say what you will, we have our reasons. I've tooled around with Parallels server in the Virt Test Lab for IW; now I'm trying it with real end users.

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About the Author(s)

Joe Hernick

IT Director

Joe Hernick is in his seventh year as director of academic technology at Suffield Academy, where he teaches, sits on the Academic Committee, provides faculty training and is a general proponent of information literacy. He was formerly the director of IT and computer studies chair at the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, CT, and spent 10 years in the insurance industry as a director and program manager at CIGNA.

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