Last week, when I updated our Autodesk license server for AutoCAD 2011 products, I had my first experience with a virtual server.
I've messed around with Virtual PC before. I have it set up in case I need an app that just flat won't run in 64-bit Windows 7, but so far I haven't really needed it - so I was a bit curious about the concept of virtualizing a server.
Mostly I wondered, "Why do it?" Isn't it faster just to run it as an app on your server?
I was partway through the update. The new version of the network license manager (NLM) was installed, and I was on the phone with a desker to arrange for a new license file. You tell them your serial numbers and the MAC address of the server's network card, and they email you a file that tells the NLM what products (and how many of each) to allow running at your office.
Beep goes my email client, and I saw two messages come in. My new license file, and the second email was from the CAD manager at one of our eastern-US offices. He was looking for help with moving his NLM to a different computer.
How's that for timing? It's one of those Eureka moments, just the right nudge to figure something out.
The virtual server is independent from the hardware it runs on. It can even have it's own separate MAC address for its virtual NIC. And really, what IS a virtual server? Nothing but a file on disk. Move a copy to another PC/server that supports virtualization, start it up, and your NLM has been migrated.
Need NLMs at multiple locations? Do a successful installation ONCE, and never leave your own office. Fire up a copy of your working "server", choose a new virtual MAC addy, IP, and servername/network ID. Go online or call in for a new license file, and once that's in place you can shut down and ship the VPC file out for operations at your remote office.
Or maybe go out there and "install" it yourself, leaving everyone in awe of your skill. "Yeah, he set it up perfectly, first try, so he even had time to get in an evening of fishing while he was here."