4 Replies Latest reply on Aug 19, 2012 5:48 PM by jspanitz

    Virtualization's effect on patching. . .


      So last week, we had some fun discussion on the ever-shrinking maintenance window.  It got me wondering about virtualization in general, and its impact on your patching process. 


      The fact that a virtual machine is simply a file introduces quite a bit of versatility.  How has that impacted your process of patching, rollback, etc? 


      Are people using snapshots?  If so, are you using SAN-based snaps, or letting the hypervisor do it?  Has this made your lives easier? 


      Does the versatility outweigh the constant threat of VM sprawl? 


      Interested in your thoughts on this.

        • Re: Virtualization's effect on patching. . .

          For the most part virtualization doesn't play into our patching process.  The main reason for this is because the patching process already takes a considerable amount of manual management even with a patch deployment system.  If we were to include some level of snapshots that would add an additional level of manual management and for the size of our environment that becomes almost unmanageable.


          We do VM based snapshots for some select customers that have requested us to.


          Ultimately we are working toward a patching solution that includes less manual management and more automated processes which should also include snapshots; however the specific technology we use for those snapshots has not yet been determined.


          I personally think that there is a lot of advantages that virtualization brings to the table when it comes to patching, the trick is figuring out how to leverage it in a scalable way for large environments. 

          • Re: Virtualization's effect on patching. . .
            Sohail Bhamani

            I agree with Byrona.  A server is a server be it physical or vm when it comes to patching.  Seems like MS patching solutions are all over but 3rd party ones are few and far between.  I have not run across any that I can remember in my journeys to customers across the US.


            VM Sprawl is a definite concern for most of the customers however and it also seems like this has only recently become something they are attempting to deal with.  Of course my information is just from a small sampling of the impressive SolarWinds user base so please take it all with a grain of salt.


            Sohail Bhamani


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            • Re: Virtualization's effect on patching. . .

              I agree with Sohail...whether physical or vm, at least to an extent, a server is a server...where things really get interesting is when you start talking about provisioned/streamed servers vs the standard build....because then you just update your master copy then reboot the boxes.  We have implemented this with a large pool of app servers.  It works beautifully, it is scripted to the point that the servers are automatically dropped from a load balancer, rebooted, readded to the load balancer, then the other half of the servers in that VIP go through the same process....very little administrative interaction.

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              • Re: Virtualization's effect on patching. . .

                I'd have to concur with the three replies above.  So far our process is the same.  And we update the master images every few months for both physical and virtual servers.


                I can see us moving to a more vm aware model but so far the products just aren't there.