A number of NHS Hospitals have been asking about running Eclipse-fm® on virtual servers. There are many reasons for this, including an increasing emphasis on reducing carbon footprint where a reduced number of physical servers is one contribution to this (and one which we have been doing ourselves, incidentally)
Yes it can be done, and with the power of current servers, done well. However, there is, as usual, "no such thing as a free lunch", and virtualisation of itself does not increase the performance of the physical hardware. In fact, the added virtualisation management is inevitably going to add some overhead, no matter how little. So there is a limit to what can be achieved by, say, halving the number of existing physical servers and moving applications to virtual servers created on the remaining existing physical servers.
If you look at our published server spec, here, then leaving aside details of hard disk storage, the minimum needs are
Plus the implication that the (single physical) server will have its own network card.
This spec supports Eclipse-fm® as a local PC installation, with the MS SQL Server database also on the server. If planning to deploy via Terminal Services or Citrix, either of which which we find gives better performance, less network traffic and a great many benefits in terms of flexibility of deployment, then the memory requirement would be higher, and dependant on the number of users you are supporting.
This means a virtual server for Eclipse-fm® will need to see at least that much processor and memory resource. If that physical server has no more than twin, single core processors, and is then divided up between several virtual servers, then the Eclipse-fm® environment is going to be well below spec. If on the other hand the physical server is current generation, based on twin quad core processors, and with lots of memory to share out, then the Eclipse-fm® virtual server can sensibly be allocated what it needs.
A little appreciated fact is that typically, each physical server has a network card.
Eclipse-fm® when deployed PC by PC is relatively network intensive, even now when using MS SQL Server (another advantage of deployment via Terminal Services or Citrix is that this removes the PC to database traffic, considerably reducing overall Eclipse-fm® related network traffic). That network card is now going to have to service multiple virtual servers, and if these are also putting traffic on the network, that single card is going to become a major bottleneck.
Ideally, your physical server should have enough network adapters installed to allow for each virtual server to have a dedicated network adapter, but virtual servers can share a network adapter with each other, so there is some economy to be achieved. But the provision of adequate network I/O to a heavily virtualised physical server has to be a considered decision, and not just left to the default, probably single network adapter.
What about 64 Bit servers?
Increasingly current spec servers are running 64Bit Windows, and this gives many relevant benefits, especially in terms of the amount of accessible memory.
As from v4.1, Eclipse-fm® is supported running as 32Bit software within the overall 64Bit environment. This means that if your hospital IT strategy is to deploy these latest servers, no worries about installing Eclipse-fm® on them!
Hosting - Reduce your carbon Footprint!
If the reduction of the carbon footprint is a real concern, one option to consider is hosting at Asckey Data Services Ltd. While that may not reduce the UKs carbon footprint, it would contribute to reducing that attributable to your hospital!