|Checklist: Method for maintaining staged VMs|
|Set up base virtual machines tailored to your offered services and store them on removable media, such as an external USB drive or DVD. As a best practice configure application-specific user data to be stored on a separate virtual disk. This will allow you to update VMs without any disturbance to customer data.|
|Deploy your virtualization server (VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server, etc) at the customer's location.|
|Stage the VMs on the customer's server. If any custom configurations are needed, create a backup of the customer's final VM. This will allow you to update the backup VM and redeploy it as new updates come about.|
|As updates become available, you can update the source VM and copy to the customer's VM either on site or remotely. Note that customer-specific data files should be stored on a separate virtual disk so only the VM disk files specific to the OS and application files will need to be updated. This ensures that user data will remain unchanged following the update. Ideally, you should back up the customer's source VM prior to updating the VM OS and application virtual disk source files.|
Another approach to updating customer VM disk files would be to create a differencing disk (MS Virtual Server) or linked clones. I will cover that configuration in my next tip.
Taking on an appliance mentality can enable you to streamline managed system deployments and can also add additional flexibility to managed server hosting. With fully virtualized hardware, servers are also portable and not dependent on a specific host system. This could allow your IT shops to perform hardware updates without having to worry about OS driver implications. For resellers and service providers alike, the opportunities presented by virtualization may represent the next frontier in outsourcing and managed services.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Go back|
Chris Wolf, MCSE, MCSE, MCT, CCNA, is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Server-File System/Storage and the Computer and Information Systems Department Head for the ECPI College of Technology online campus. He also works as an independent consultant, specializing in the areas of virtualization, enterprise storage, and network infrastructure management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).
Copyright 2006 TechTarget
This was first published in October 2006