NAV2009 and virtualization


Well, not too much has happened on my NAV2009 implementations. But I thought I would blog on something that might be of interest, NAV2009 and Virtualization.

Seems that every time I open a serious computer related magazine there is at least one or another article discussing  virtualization.

Pre the release of RTC (NAV2009) we had already adopted a policy of implementing the virtualization of our servers using the VMWare product. This has not been without its issues for sure, but all in all this strategy has been great in allowing scalability, growth, and efficiency. The development team have been able to request and have delivered a fresh “Server” to work with in short order and without an investment in new hardware and serious tech time. As I am writing this I am in the middle of building a Dynamics Mobile server, without virtualization this is all hardware based and has cost issues hanging over its neck. I’m sure there is a way you can link this back to lowering your carbon footprint by saying you are running substantially less machines, perhaps you could even sell you carbon credits to China or India who are bellowing out carbon emissions.

As for RTC and virtualization for the VAR they seem to complement each other. We get a new customer and we simply deploy out a template VMWare image that has Server 2003/2008, SQL2005/2008, NAV2009 Preinstalled on it. Rename the machine to the customer name, add it to the domain, adjust the correct NAV related config file and Bob’s your uncle. With very little effort at all I have an up and running customer environment with which to work. No messing around with multiple Nav Service Layer services, each machine has its own service running and all the local employee machines can access the customer database with both RTC and Classic. Substantially less man hours needed to get up and running, and great reliability.

So far I am failing to find any downfalls with the use of Virtualization. We have had no performance issues, but we are not in a production 35 user setup, so not sure of the ramifications of Virtualization on a live client site. Our technical team have advised me they see no issues with the database performance, and we have implemented a turnkey solution to one customer which included a complete Domain on virtualization. I trust my guys and their knowledge, but then I always think back to how many times I have come across very smart, intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced guys who setup the Database in a RADI5 configuration and how you can’t convince them that RAD1+0 is the way ahead. I guess time will tell on the virtualization, I am not worried as I think we have a talented enough team here to quickly respond to issues should they ever occur.

The other type of virtualization that I have running is Virtual Server 2005 R2 on a Windows Server 2008 box. With this I am using the MS virtualization method of VPC. The images that MS give us to work with our great, however you cannot add them to your domain, and thus, you cannot get more than one person logged in at a time, they also have a lot of things installed on the machines. Very Swiss Army Knife, but not so great when showing the product and its running in slow motion.

The VPC server (We have affectionately named “The Hoff”) is again a place where I maintain a template (base) Nav VPC build when a new requirement to go to a site and “show” something occurs I copy the template, rename it, add it to the domain and TS license it. This opens my whole team to log in and work on this machine, and also they can work with it locally on their machines  by running  RTC or Classic. Come time to go to the site to demo what we have done I simply copy the VPC image to a External HDD (I recommend you plug the USB directly into the Server and not use the network) and we can then run the image on the Virtual PC. This makes the process truly mobile and exceptionally efficient. Once completed we can then archive the Vmc and VHD files onto a DAT or burn it to a DVD and store for later use. Freeing up space on the server.

The benefits here over the VPC’s the Microsoft gives you is that you have a lot more control and can add and take away what you want from the machine, freeing up precious resources. If you opt to run VPC on laptops I recommend you do some research into config settings, and best practices. Get this wrong and you will have a dog on your hands.