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[Xen-users] In the process of deciding to virtualize, many uncertainties

Hi all,

I have 2 web servers running with Raid 5 (software raid). They run centos
5.4. No other devices attached.

Then I have a windows 2003 server running backups on the network, including
the web servers via samba. Backup is stored on a external hard disk,
connected to the win server over USB.

There is a fourth server running linux, that is used for general purpose
and special scripting testing. It has a USB hub connected, with 2 or more
smart card readers (type Smargo). No raid, just basic setup.

I started testing of virtual servers with Oracle Virtualbox. The hosing OS
was windows XP pro 32 bit. The entire OS and data was encrypted with
truecrypt. Easy going, but found out the hard way that the virtual platform
is only as safe as the host OS it is running on. Got a nasty virus, and
after 2 weeks trying to get rid of the virus, I found that this is not safe
enough as a production server solution.

So I reformatted the new server and installed XenServer. One of the first
things I found out was that the USB printer that I had connected did not
show on the installed Win XP VM. After doing some reading, Is this a known
problem? Also the DVD burner could read discs, and be used for installing
software on the Win XP VM, but not for burning. The external HDD connected
with USB cable was not recognized either, just as the USB pen was not

So I am seeking assistance... . Is PCI and USB passthrough is supported in
one of the XenServer products? By the way, my server hardware is 64 bit
compatible, how tell I XenServer to run in 64 bit, and can I run 32 bit

In the mean time I am trying to anticipate any future issues. Next on my
list is to do a basic test by installing Win XP VM. Can anyone advice me in
if the know issues are going to be solved:

- USB printer in XP VM
- HDD via USB cable visible in XP VM
- Burning DVDs on XP VM

If this is working, next is the Linux server with the USB hub and USB
Smargo card readers. Is this supported by XenServer?

Next will be importing the 2 Centos web servers. Is software raid
supported? Can anybody confirm this? If not, I wonder how to convert the
server to VM? I can not make an image of the entire setup including all
mirror partitions. Any suggestions?

If raid5 is not supported, then what is the best solution to have my
servers secured against HDD failures? What is the best strategy? Normally I
consider one server at a time, like choosing the raid type, firewall,
antivirus, etc? .

Backups are another concern. Right now I use Acronis Enterprise, but feel
that this solution is not good enough, due to the fact that I am in big
troubles when shit will hit the fan, and it will. I?ve been there ;-).
Acronis is just not fool proof when it comes to securing linux servers. I
am looking for a bare metal recovery solution like R1Soft, where snapshots
are being used, and hotcopying the partitions. What is the closed I get
when using XenServer? I could consider running 2 VMware servers, and where
server 2 is a mirrored copy of server one, to ensure load balancing /
redundancy. Or is there an easier solution? Please your 2 cents.

Last, but not least, is encryption. When using software like Truecrypt,
does XenServer allow to encrypt the entire OS and underlying data, or it it
advisable to encrypt only the VMs?

I guess this is the foundation of my fear that I am trying to do the
impossible. But I will let the VM structure architects be the judge of
that. Looking forward to hear the verdict ;-).



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