Inside Memset’s Virtualisation Strategy - IT Hosts Reap Rewards For Thinking ‘Inside’ The Box

May 19, 2009
May 19, 2009 - (HOSTSEARCH.COM) - IT hosting company, Memset has today unveiled their Miniserver architecture, which not only challenges conventional vendor-led wisdom on how virtualisation should be done, but also makes their cloud service one of the cheapest available.

Since launching the UK’s first virtual dedicated server system in 2002, Memset have constantly investigated the new virtualisation technologies, combined them with the steady advances that Intel and AMD have made available, and have crafted them into a more secure, faster and better version of their Miniserver VM product.

Their Miniserver architecture goes against the widely accepted vendor-led wisdom of using large, expensive servers and SANs for virtualisation. Memset, who have thousands of virtual machines deployed, simply use 1U quad-core servers with 16GB RAM and 2 x 1,500GB SATA disks in a RAID1 configuration. Their chassis of choice is currently the Dell R300. Each of the four CPU cores are divided into 8 virtual cores using the open source Xen hypervisor, the RAM is split into dedicated chunks, and dedicated disk partitions are provisioned using LVM.

Kate Craig-Wood, MD of Memset said: "The limiting factor today with virtualisation is disk access time / transactions per second, not CPU or RAM, so using a SAN does not work. Using larger machines with more disks does not get around that bottleneck either, since even with a RAID5 array you are bumping into the fact that you have to wait for a rotating disk to go through roughly half a revolution before you can read data! Our long-experience in the field has shown that using simple, commodity boxes is the best way to host virtual machines."

Following recent upgrades in resource allocation, Memset’s award-winning Miniserver VM product is now the cheapest in the UK. Even when compared to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service Memset offers a far more cost-effective option for most businesses. Whilst Amazon’s EC2 service can be cheaper if you need to host a clustered application with a highly dynamic load profile, Memset is a lot cheaper for applications which just need one or more small servers that are available 24/7.

Craig-Wood continued, "Not only are we cheaper than Amazon EC2 in a like-for-like comparison, but their minimum instance size is a whopping 1.7GB RAM with half a modern Xeon core - comparable with our VM4000. We run major corporate Web sites with less resource than that! Our starting £9.95/mo VM1000 has 512MB RAM with one virtual core, which in CPU power terms is about the same as a 2001 Pentium but with enough RAM for today's applications. That is plenty for most applications being outsourced and virtualised as part of a legacy hardware consolidation / cost cutting program."

Memset’s Miniserver VMs have consistently been recognised for their green credentials having scooped the ‘Environmental Innovator’ award at the PC Pro 2008 Awards and a runners-up medal for the 'BP Environmental Project' at the British Computer Awards last year. Zahl Limbuwala lead judge at the BCS Awards commented: ‘Memset deserved recognition for their sustained leadership of the industry in the field of energy-efficient hosting with their Miniserver VM product.’

Despite the recession, Memset's gross revenues are up 8% since January 2009 thanks primarily to the demand for IT infrastructure outsourcing.

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