Information Systems Education Conference
ISECON Proceedings

2011 ISECON Proceedings
Wilmington NC

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Conference Highlights/Program

Abstract Presentation

A Low Cost Green Virtual Machine Vending System

Douglas M Kline
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Tyler Loftis
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Patrick Green
University of North Carolina Wilmington

Abstract
Virtualization technology offers a means to help provide infrasture to meet the needs of IT instruction. We present the work-in-progress system that allows faculty and students to self-serve virtual machines for their use. Aside from the benefits of the easy provisioning of virtual machines, the entire system is based on older hardware that would normally go to a landfill, has low power consumption, and is more reliable than the previous virtualization environment.

Description
Providing infrastructure for IT education is extremely challenging. Applications, servers, and curriculum change frequently. Often, a server must be set up for a single semester course, then remains unused for the rest of the year. Next year, the technology or curriculum may have changed enough that the server must be re-built. Each instructor has different needs for the course that they teach. In graduate program environments, masters students often have the need for servers or isolated machines for their projects. Virtualization helps address some of these challenges. Servers can be set up “virtually” without making the underlying hardware unusable for other purposes. Hardware can be used throughout the year, by swapping virtual guests on the host server. A virtual server can be created without the purchase of new hardware. However, provisioning of virtual machines can have significant administrative overhead. Provisioning of a new virtual machine can take several hours if done manually. Furthermore, it is easy for virtual machines to proliferate, e.g., management of 30 virtual machines across 5 physical host servers, requires administration of 35 machines. In addition to the above challenges, budgets in universities have been extremely tight for many. And what about green considerations: power consumption, cooling needs, and keeping equipment out of landfills? We will relate our experiences creating a low cost virtual machine vending system that is eco-friendly. Technologies used include: the Zetta File System on Open Solaris, MS Hyper V, low-cost network switches, and donated servers. We achieved more reliability, less power consumption, and re-use of hardware that would normally have been thrown out. The entire system is further used as a teaching “reference system” with color-coded networking cables, labeled components, and best-practice workmanship.

Recommended Citation: Kline, D. M., Loftis, T., Green, P., (2011). The Proceedings of the Information Systems Education Conference, v.28 n.1787, Wilmington NC.