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Windows Server Migration

A Live Example of the Value of “Live Migration”

Hyper-V helps a major medical center support multiple instances of SQL Server with high availability and seamless failover.

    Like most people, I’m more impressed with seeing real-life examples of successful IT endeavors than being told what is possible. After reporting on Windows Server 8 Hyper-V with Live Migration in yesterday’s blog post, it occurred to me that a case study would add another level of illustration to the very exciting developments in the next release of Windows Server and Hyper-V virtualization in general.

    Microsoft Case Studies reported recently on the success achieved at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), a 600-bed healthcare facility in Boston that treats over a quarter-million patients per year.  BIDMC’s celebrated IT department ranked \#12 in last year’s Information Week 500.

    The case study describes many challenges the BIDMC IT department faced, one of which was the need to isolate SQL Server instances from one another.  They were running multiple instances on many machines and could not dedicate resources to those instances.  Failure of one would bring down all, and server crashes would impact many users. Making matters worse, provisioning new instances required new server builds that took days of labor-intensive staff time.

    BIDMC used Hyper-V to create virtual machines that would support separate deployments of each SQL Server instance.  Using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 allowed the IT admins to create virtual machine templates, which are used to provision new virtual machines rapidly. MSCVMM also enables them to load-balance the virtual machines across the multiple host servers in their environment.

    Live Migration cut the planned downtime significantly.  In fact, the feature allowed BIDMC to move virtual machines with no impact on application availability.  This meant no work disruption for users.  Provisioning of new SQL Server instances now takes minutes.

    Live Migration is also making cluster failover a reality for BIDMC.  The loss of any host machine triggers failover of the virtual machines to another host.

    All of this was accomplished with the current version of Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V, so don’t hesitate to embrace it now! 


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