Why Badgers Make Lousy Servers

Today's delicacy is a guest post from Christopher Adams, who blogs at Ramblings of a Christian Geek.

I recently purchased some shrink wrap for my windows to help save on energy costs at home, which got me to thinking about what all I've done this year to save energy in the server rack at work.

First off, we've all thought at one point or another that badgers would make a great cost-saving alternative to large servers dedicated to a single task.  Badgers may not be great multitaskers, but when you put a single straightforward request in front of them we can all agree they will accomplish the task very efficiently and with a touch of class that can only be described as a koala in a deerstalker serving drinks at a dinner party.  When putting a badger in your server rack, you are first tempted to put the battery backups at the bottom so the rack doesn't tip, but this is a rookie mistake.  Badgers, despite how little you may feed or water them, will eventually need to relieve themselves and post-badger-processed water always flows down and ruins whatever electrical components it gets on.  (and if you are one of those ferret lovers, don't try telling me ferret waste is any less harmful, there are too many whitepapers and newspaper liners that claim otherwise)

Another difficult decision is where to plug the Cat6 in.  There are few receptacles large enough for an RJ-45 jack, and the badger won't be too happy with either being used for data transfer. (small hint: prune juice will provide better throughput)

As you can see, it is very problematic using a badger just to save a couple of bucks on the electric bill, and you are still limited to one task per badger (and nothing is worse than trying to run multiple badgers in the same rack!).  So I've had to come up with an alternative.  That's where virtualization comes in. Virtualization is like storing photos of badgers rather than actual badgers.  When you look at them over the network, you can't tell the difference between a virtual machine and a real server being peed on by a badger.  I use a $4,000 dual quad-core Xeon server with 48GB of RAM plugged into a $10,000 storage array with 16TB of usable RAID 6 that is currently running about 25 servers.  If I had to buy 25 servers with a similar amount of storage, it would cost me over $100,000 to accomplish the same feat, and most servers would be running at 10% CPU most of the day, and would only serve overheat your badgers causing them to return jumbo frames all over your gear.

The awesome thing is I could add another $4,000 host server and run another 25 servers on it too!  That's over $200,000 worth of servers for less than $20,000.  In fact, I could throw another $2,000 into RAM alone to make sure Exchange and SQL server are happy while running along side several other less-demanding virtual servers on the same hardware and STILL stay under 75% CPU/RAM usage.

I can't imagine choosing badgers or dedicated servers over a virtual environment.  Both are guaranteed to just poop all over your annual budgets without feeling the least bit guilty.  Only virtualization will both save you money and cuddle up with you in the server room without biting.