Uptime Case Study from OpenVZ

Late Friday I got this case study release from the crew over at OpenVZ, which I thought I would share. Because it proves the adage that sometimes the simplest solutions are the slickest solutions.

JunkEmailFilter.com (JEF.com) is one of those third-party vendors that provides clients with active filtering of spam and e-mails that have these things called “vi-ruh-sus” attached. (We in the Linux world might not be so familiar with this strange V-word, but I hear it’s a big thing over in Windows-land.)

Naturally, there’s a lot of emphasis on uptime for JEF.com, since downtime means lots of junk filling up their clients’ inboxes. Redundant systems, clearly, are a good solution to this uptime problem. But multiple boxes are expensive to own and expensive to run, even when open source software is used.

So, what the vendor did was set up virtual servers with OpenVZ operating system server virtualization software and maintains backups so that, if necessary, a virtual server can be restored on another physical server and started up immediately. Bing! No spam, no viruses.

According to OpenVZ, JEF.com uses four OpenVZ virtual servers on each of four physical servers that run e-mail server software, MySQL, and SpamAssassin. The four virtual servers as large as four gB.

“OpenVZ has almost no overhead, so we are giving up almost nothing in terms of performance to run virtual servers,” says Marc Perkel, support manager at JEF.com. “In our experience, OpenVZ has been compatible with most everything we run so it’s one of those ‘just works’ solutions.”

JEF.com has used OpenVZ software to create templates for different virtual servers, such as its VoIP phone system and SpamAssassin servers that process e-mail. Each virtual server is deployed on a physical server independent of others, which enables virtual servers to be moved among physical servers to balance workloads when the need arises.

This is why I like virtualization so much: everybody can get all buzz-wordy and talk about virtualized deployments as the next great disruptor, but to me the thing that really counts are the real-world, straightforward solutions.

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