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Virtual Hosting Services at Northwestern

Northwestern IT offers centrally managed virtual hosting services as a cost-saving alternative to hosting or managing physical servers. University schools, departments, researchers, or any other member of the University can request virtualized hosting services for a new project or application, a new service, new portions of an existing environment, or for a hosting only platform.

Guest hosting services are also available for research and administrative applications.

In a traditional computing environment, servers typically run an individual application with a single operating system. Virtualization allows multiple applications with independent operating systems to run on a single physical computer, increasing machine usage and efficiency. These "virtual" servers exist on the host computer separately from one another as if they were on a dedicated machine.

The majority of the University's environment operates on managed virtual servers including key enterprise-level applications:

Virtual Hosting Benefits

Virtualization allows for the quick creation of different operating system environments. It is easy to run legacy applications alongside new versions, migrate applications to new environments, and restore systems in post-disaster scenarios.

Additional benefits for clients using virtual servers include:

Hosting Server Requirements

Research Application Guest Hosting Service―Research virtual servers including operating system, initial database installation, and backup provided centrally.

Administrative Application Guest Hosting Service—Administrative or departmental virtual servers including operating system, initial database installation, and backup provided centrally.

Managed Server―Virtual servers for Enterprise applications including operating system, initial database installation, and backup provided centrally. Additional application services are also provided as needed.

Request Virtual Hosting Services

Members of the University including schools, departments, and researchers interested in virtualized hosting services for a new project or application, a new service, new portions of an existing environment, or for a hosting only platform must complete the Virtual Server Hosting Request Form.

Types of virtual server hosting requests may include Application Server, Database, File Server, and Web Server.

Requestors are encouraged to respond fully to the questions, provide additional supporting materials as necessary, and submit the completed form to Northwestern IT Cyberinfrastructure.

Northwestern IT staff assesses the completeness of the requests, compares the requirements to available resources, and makes a determination. The requestor is notified within three business days of the decision.  Upon approval, Northwestern IT Cyberinfrastructure begins project implementation planning with the requestor.

Any requests for physical servers will require a face-to-face meeting with an Northwestern IT Cyberinfrastructure representative to examine the requirements for a physical rather than virtual server.

Why Virtualization?

The University’s Data Center facilities rely upon virtual infrastructures for storage, computation, and network services to provide the University with improved development, deployment, and disaster recovery functions, and increased availability during maintenance periods.

Within this virtual environment, the University reduces the number of physical devices and allows physical resources in the underlying server—including processors, RAM, and adapters—to be shared across multiple applications resulting in a more efficient and environment-friendly use of resources.

Related Practices

The following practices are applicable to any applications or equipment hosted in the University Data Centers:

Last Updated: 20 March 2017

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