This blog, and my other blogs, used to run on a rather old server: two 1GHz Pentium III processors, 1GB memory and 2 x 18GB SCSI hard drives. I host with Ridgeon Network, which is owned by my friend Chris. I help him out with some networking stuff from time to time so he loaned me this spare server for personal use.
A few weeks back one of the hard drives failed. Service continued as normal but it was an acute reminder that the server was getting old.
Recently Chris bought a powerful server for use as a VMWare ESXi hypervisor, along with a large iSCSI SAN to host all the disk images, and powerful shared MySQL database server. As he was moving lots of his servers from physical boxes to virtual machines, I decided to do likewise.
So this website, and my other sites, are now hosted on a CentOS virtual machine, with their databases on a separate CentOS database server. Given that the load average on the old P3 wasn’t very high I wasn’t expecting a noticeable improvement in performance. But how wrong I was! The site is noticeably faster to load and navigate, and in particular the WordPress management interface is miles faster.
All in all, I’m happy with the new platform. To anyone else considering replacing old servers with a virtualised infrastructure, I say go for it. You’ll save tons of electricity, take up less rack space, pave the way for later expansion (by adding more hypervisors or more disks to the SAN) and have better manageability and backupabilitiy.