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We have an customized server app that communicates to other apps as an application server. The hardware requirements are not that great, so we used an Windows XP SP3 computer with a little better hardware than an
desktop-class typical PC.

That app serves pure tcp/ip connections over a internal windows domain, sometimes connecting outside computers through secured connections. It's not uncommon to have a hundred connections. So far the XP computer was enough.

We want to virtualize that appserver setup, as we acquired a set of new servers with throughput power more than enough to run this setup and other components of the system. The reason to virtualize is that sometimes we want to be able to reset the machine, which we won't be able if the app server runs on bare metal.

So far, I feel that solutions like VmWare Workstation or Virtual PC are dis- carded. But I want to hear your opinions about it. I really want easy to ad- ministration and very little trouble - VMWare Server would be an option if it wasn't stopped since 2009 - running the virtualizator as an app would be a nice option if possible. We prefer an simple and easy administration solution over an state-of-the-art one.

Note: I'm using VMWare examples, but this doesn't I don't have an open mind to other products.

Environment of the host:

OS: Windows Server 2008 R2
Ram: 6Gb
HD: RAID 1+0 1Tb (total storage space) RDBMS: MS SQL 2008 R2 (will run on bare-metal)


UPDATE #1: (Correct me if I'm wrong) Hypervisors are virtualization software that runs with hardware assistance (thus need processors with that capability) and mostly are implemented as a kind of SO itselves.
So after you install your server OS, etc. over them as virtual machines. My thinking is in a more server class virtualization software in the profile of VMWare server (which I don't call hypervisor, but simply an "virtualizator") that runs INSIDE of the OS.

UPDATE #2: SO (Sistema Operacional) is Portuguese for the name OS (Operating System). Corrected.

UPDATE #3: When I wrote the question, I wasn't aware of the existance of the categorization of hypervisors, therefore (before your answers) I was thinking that hypervisor is virtualization software that runs with hardware aid (of the CPU) and without an operating system. And virtualization software before hypervisors that runs as applications inside an OS (for which I didn't knew a name for them). Now, I know that all them are called hypervisors and they are, respectively, type 1 and type 2 ... Thank you all.

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Don't make up your own terminology, please. Evan linked to the Wikipedia article on the different types of hypervisors. It's Type 1 (bare metal) or Type 2, not "hypervisor" and "virtualizator", which isn't a real word, not even in IT. And what is an "SO" ? –  mfinni Aug 10 '11 at 20:54
    
I wasn't aware of hypervisor Type <N> terminogy. –  Fabricio Araujo Aug 11 '11 at 1:40
    
Also - what do you mean by SO? –  mfinni Aug 11 '11 at 14:50
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@mfinni : native language strike.... SO is Portuguese for OS (Operating System). Sorry. –  Fabricio Araujo Aug 12 '11 at 17:59
    
Aha! I had no idea, thanks for explaining. –  mfinni Aug 12 '11 at 18:03
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Use can use Hyper-V on Windows server 2008 R2 or you can put ESXi on bare metal and install 2008R2, XP as virtual machines on top. ESXi is fairly easy to administer and fairly stable. You do pay for Virtual center Server license if you want some cool features like migration VMs between 2 different hosts, High availability or cloning, otherwise free ESXi is pretty good.

I don't have much experience with Hyper-V, so would like to hear other peoples' experience.

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Hyper-V runs ON Server 2008? Seems I have to study it more, since I believed that hypervisors mostly runs on metal without an SO. –  Fabricio Araujo Aug 10 '11 at 19:19
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@Fabricio Araujo: Hyper-V is a role that you can install on Windows Server 2008 / 2008 R2. It's a type-2 (hosted) hypervisor that can allow you to run addt'l operating systems virtually inside a host Windows Server OS. –  Evan Anderson Aug 10 '11 at 19:41
    
As Evan said, there are multiple types (levels) of hypervisor. Hyper-V can run as a role on a Win2k8 server in the same way that Vmware Server runs on a Windows server. Hyper-V can also be installed bare-metal, like VMware ESXi. –  mfinni Aug 10 '11 at 19:44
    
Hyper-V is only a Type-1 Hypervisor. It does not run within Windows. The original Windows Server OS becomes the parent partition in the Hypervisor. Virtual Server (which has very little to do with Hyper-V) was a Type-2 hypervisor with some paravirtualization add-ins. –  Chris S Aug 12 '11 at 18:31
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You have a market of choices. xen, kvm, vmware... parallels, virtualbox.

does your CPU have virtualization instructions ? I guess that would be a better question to ask

V

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I think you're making things more difficult than you need to by even bringing virtualization into this. You're adding the headaches of:

  • Licensing the Windows XP OS
  • Keeping the Windows XP OS updated and securely configured
  • Making sure your hypervisor is updated and securely configured

Unless your application runs kernel-mode drivers there's no reason you can't run it on the "bare metal" and still be able to kill and restart your application just as you would if it were running in its own OS instance. Since you say it's a custom app I'd push to have the developers make it a proper Windows service so that it's easy to monitor and stop / start.

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Licenses are not a problem. Securing and updating are also non-prob. We want to decomission the already existant pc and running it virtually. And you missed that even an hypervisor would be not needed. –  Fabricio Araujo Aug 10 '11 at 19:16
    
@Fabricio Araujo: I'd like to see how you're going to virtualize an operating system w/o a hypervisor. We can argue about security, updates, and licensing (all of which I suspect you think are easier than they really are) but, when it all comes down to it, having one less OS and no hypervisor means fewer "moving parts" and less that can go wrong. That's my take on the problem. –  Evan Anderson Aug 10 '11 at 19:20
    
seems we have an terminology problem here. For Hypervisor I means products live vSphere, Xen - those who are executed as SO itselves. What I want is a product in the profile of VMWare Server which runs INSIDE the SO. Seems you call hypervisor it too... –  Fabricio Araujo Aug 10 '11 at 19:23
    
@Fabricio Araujo: Indeed, we do. I'm using the "type 2 hypervisor" definition as described by: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypervisor If you were going to use a hypervisor running on Windows Server I'd probably use something like Hyper-V or VMware Server 2 but, having said that, I'd still recommend against using a hypervisor and an independent copy of Windows XP altogether. –  Evan Anderson Aug 10 '11 at 19:38
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