End User gadgets virtualisation

Update on Chromecast story – chrome literally being cast

Chromecast is now working for my browser. Yesterday I mentioned that I’d found the icon for using Chromecast from my chrome browser but hadn’t had time to test it. I’m working from home today so I’m sat in the TV room having a play testing.chromecast in browser

The pic shows my Google screen on both the Chromebook and the TV – it’s a Doctor Who special Google doodle if you’re interested.

Interesting thing is that I can be in one window on the Chromebook whilst another window shows on the TV.

Also interesting is the fact that the cursor that appears on the Chromebook doesn’t appear on the TV and there is understandably a lag between when I type and when it appears on the box. This isn’t a big deal. It’s just interesting (I think I may have mentioned).

The whole experiment with the Google environment does point towards the need for good quality high speed connectivity to make it all work. The photo in this post was taken with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and uploaded to Drive. I used online photo editing service to edit the photo fetched from Drive, subsequently saved to a specific blog images file back in Drive and then uploded to WordPress on my server at Timico (running VMware instance fwiw).

There was a little delay with each process step but not too bad – certainly bearable.


Business Cloud datacentre virtualisation

Joe Baguley of VMware is guest speaker at CTO Lunch

trefor davies with joe baguleyVMware CTO EMEA Joe Baguley was the guest speaker at my monthly CTO Third Thursday lunchtime discussion session yesterday. These are hugely useful debates over lunch on a subject relevant to today’s IT Director. We have a guest speaker and on this occasion it was Joe Baguley, CTO of VMware.

We heard about developments at VMware and the strategic direction in which the company is going. This isn’t good news for everyone. VMware are currently pushing out software defined networks and software defined data centres. The idea is that all the smarts are provided by VMware and all the end user IT Director has to do is provide low end commodity hardware. Not what the likes of Cisco, who are VMware partners, would want to hear.

The lunch lasted from 12.30 until 5pm so we covered a lot if stuff. I’ll leave you with one interesting snippet. Apparently Googler uses laptops for its cloud services. In this way if the power to the datacentre goes down the machine itself provides the UPS via its own battery. Innovative I say. I don’t know any more detail than that but it certainly sounds plausible.

The header is of me and Joe at the Timico Cloud launch earlier in the year. I forgot to take pics yesterday!

PS very personable bloke Joe 🙂

Cloud datacentre Engineer virtualisation

The Timico Virtual Datacentre #cloud #DCrevolution

I’ve had time to recover from the Timico Virtual Datacentre launch in London on Tuesday night. It was a great evening with a fantastic mix of people there from the IT Director community.

After the talks we had an “unconference” panel session where we discussed the issues of the day in the cloud. One of the things that came out of the discussion was the fact that whilst advantage of the Virtual Datacentre is massive scalability that can quickly be turned on, most standard enterprises don’t need these huge bursts of capacity.

What was interesting is the large increase in servers being used over recent years. One attendee said that he had increased server usage in his business fivefold in as many years. That’s 300 up to 1,500. The beauty of the virtual game is that it is easy and cost effective to do this.

So the question then arose “why not use AWS?”. The simple answer is “throat to choke” and service levels. With Amazon there is nobody to call when it goes wrong and no guarantees. Also AWS does not provide connectivity and the “embedding” of the server infrastructure in the connectivity infrastructure brings real performance benefits.

Another point that came out was the advent of the Platform As A Service. The Virtual Datacentre represents Infrastructure As A Service but starts ups these days don’t want to have to maintain infrastructure. They just want functionality. Office 365 and Google Apps are examples. PAAS is increasingly the domain of both very small and very large organisations whilst the mid-market likes to manage its own services and is the ideal candidate for the IAAS play.

The Virtual Datacentre is another key step for Timico in our onward march in the communications world. It is a sign of continued progress and investment and a recognition of the needs of our growing customer base. If you want to know more check out the Timico landing page here. Press release here. Thanks to Joe Baguley of VMware for his usual terrific talk.

Cloud datacentre Engineer virtualisation

Join the revolution – the software defined datacentre #DCrevolution

uninterruptable businessThere are two phrases that I thought I’d banned from this blog some time ago: “cloud” and “smart phone”. “Smart phone” is still banned but I’ve had to reluctantly use “cloud” as it is in such common usage and any replacement term is longer than the word cloud itself (phone is the replacement term for smart phone which makes the latter a non starter).

A search for cloud on brings up lots of posts that discuss it one way or another. Although it’s been a trendy topic for a while now it’s amazing how many businesses don’t use the cloud. For example Microsoft reckon that 85% of businesses don’t yet virtualise their server infrastructure. Also the market for dedicated servers is still very much all about solid bits of metal and hard drives.

This means that despite the term cloud feeling almost so old it’s about time we got a new one (cf “Unified Communications” replacing “VoIP for Business”1) there is still a huge amount of mileage left in the market. It is still very much  emerging.

With that in mind I’m having a bit of a Timico bash in London next week where we will be talking about cloud services for UK based organisations

–          It’s about a revolution in how IT infrastructure is produced, consumed and maintained

–          It’s about the need for UK data centre sovereignty

–          It’s about the importance of quality connectivity to hosted virtualised infrastructure

To add some pizzaz to the evening I’ve got Joe Baguley, CTO of VMware coming along to do a bit of a talk. Joe is a top banana when it comes to talking about cloud infrastructure. His talk is entitled  “Container Ships, Kittens, Chickens & Coffee Shops”. You know it makes sense. We will also be chatting about what Timico is doing with VMware.

The party is at a super cool venue called the Ice Tank (pun intended) in Covent Garden. Because I’m a good guy I have some tickets reserved for blog readers. The event starts at 6.30 on Tuesday 23rd April – that’s next Tuesday. If you want to come along let me know here. There’s also more info about the gig here.

Please only come along if this is of genuine interest. I don’t want any time wasters, costermongers, itinerant salesmen, rear admirals, unemployed actors or general low life:). Most of the attendees will be IT Directors/CIOs etc. Attendees will also be able to trial Timico Virtual Data Centre services FOC for their businesses.

1 also feels as if it’s about time we found a replacement phrase for UC.

Business Cloud virtualisation

The Psychological Challenge of the Cloud

Big platforms such as Google (Drive), Apple (iCloud) and latterly Microsoft (SkyDrive) are driving customers towards cloud services. The move to use these resources is almost certainly inevitable, for the consumer. The constraints are largely down to cost and privacy concerns. For the business user replace the word “privacy” with “security”.

I buy into the future. I have almost universal connectivity, at a price. I also have a growing amount of data being stored on my laptop. My data is currently backed up to two external hard drives, one at home and one in the office. The time is fast approaching where the laptop will run out of hard drive space. It is only a year old so I’m not going to replace it just to get a bigger hard drive.

It’s getting close to decision time on a cloud based strategy.

datacentre Engineer virtualisation

242GHz processor with 767GB RAM? oh ok

john milner - top timico applications engineer
Here at Timico’s Newark datacentre we have just expanded our main VMware cluster with a couple more Cisco UCS B200 blade servers (see earlier post ). The cluster is now running at a whooping 242Ghz of Compute power with 767.51GB of RAM! Impressive ou quoi?

It’s a bit mind blowing if your experience with buying computers is based on time spent in PC World staring at specifications trying to decide whether to pay the extra few quid for 2GB more RAM and a slightly faster processor.

This is just one of the many virtualisation clusters needed to run an ISP and another step forward in Timico’s P2V campaign – onwards and upwards. In fact it’s onwards and downwards when it comes to things like data storage space colocation rackspace, power and of course cost. On the back of this work we have just been able to cancel two cages in Docklands datacentres which will save us £100k a year. That’s significant. That’s half a million quid over five years – that’s very significant.

Virtualisation is allowing us to better manage and control our systems so we can always provide the best possible performance to the services we offer. If you’re a Timico customer you may have noticed the improved performance on services such as hosted web and email.  This is because these services have been virtualised with the accompanying improvement in performance.

Gimme a shout if you want to chat more about this or to come and see it in action for yourself. Info courtesy of that fine engineer John Milner again :)) (sorry if this is embarrassing John but you are a good guy 🙂 ). Check out the Enterprise Private cloud page at Timico.

Apps Cloud Engineer virtualisation

EMC datadomain compresses 103TB of VM backups to 6.8TB using deduplication

john milner - top timico applications engineerJohn Milner is one of our top systems engineers specialising in Virtualisation. Over the last year he has been running an experiment to see the potential of using an EMC datadomain as the primary repository for VM backups. He has approximately 200 VMs (150 Linux and 50 MS Windows) backing up nightly to this appliance. What is amazing is that this appliance has managed to reduce nearly 103TB of production VM backups to 6.8TB using de-duplication and compression!

The below chart shows the actual data (blue) growing rapidly compared with the disk used to store this information (purple).

This allows us to retain data for much longer periods of time than usually possible. John’s next experiment will be to try the same using Veeam Backup and Replication as a comparison.  It’ll obviously take a while to get the results but I’ll let you know when we have some numbers to show.

deduplication in actionCheck out the Timico Data Vault page here.

Business media virtualisation

The last post!? Hell no:)

Trefor DaviesIt’s Friday, the last day of term. Maybe the last day ever as we await our fate and for the Mayan prediction of apocalypse to kick in. I sit here contemplating this fate, reflecting on a life that has passed by at blurred speeds governed by a constant of Einsteinian proportions.

I have a cup of tea on my desk, a comfort as I gaze at the horizon wondering whether the clouds I see are the innocent tip of a stormier gathering. My twitter stream is filled with observations, concerns and contemptuous noises of disaster.

But hey, it is indeed as I said, the last day of term and Christmas holidays have finally arrived yay. I turn my thoughts to more joyous considerations. Another year gone, and although it has been a tough one, another year of growth.

There has been plenty to talk about business-wise. At the start of the year we opened a new data centre to much fanfare together with a wonderful new Network Operations Centre facility. We spent a lot of money on a core network upgrade and now have a spanking new Juniper core that is going to allow us to provide a multitude of new services in the future.

Virtualisation has played a big part in our year. 75% of our infrastructure is now virtualised using VMWare and we now have our first Private Cloud customers. We also introduced our eVault hosted/centralised server backup solution and have been very busy both training existing staff and adding new experts to the team – I’m talking more VCP5 CCNP and MCITP for those that understand acronyms. On the network front we also extended our carrier relationships with links into Talk Talk and O2 Wholesale.

Awards and prizes have come our way. Winners of Best Unified Comms Solutions at the ITSPA Awards and Winner of Excellence in Innovation at the Nottinghamshire Best Business Awards. We also made it as  finalists in loads of awards including Business of the Year at the Nottinghamshire Best Business Awards.

On a customer industry front we hosted the COMIT (Construction Opportunities In Mobile IT) meeting in September. We have a lot of customers in the construction industry – it’s an area of the business that is building nicely:).

In February we acquired Redwood Telecommunications Limited who have not only added some great people to the team but a fantastic capability and knowledge in the burgeoning Unified Comms market.

Timico has been in the news a lot in 2013 being covered in at least ten articles in the mainstream press including the Telegraph, Guardian and the BBC. On a personal note I have also appeared a number of times on BBC Radio including The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4, on 5 Live Breakfast with Nicky Campbell and numerous local BBC radio stations. I also gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee for the Draft Communications Data Bill. The nature of this Bill is now being reconsidered following inputs from many stakeholders opposed to its original form.

Readership of has also risen this year. In the January world record attempt it received 9,449 visitors leaving 5,455 comments in 24 hours. The blog has nearly 50,000 visitors that have returned more than once during the year and around 20,000 unique regular readers.

All in all it’s been a good year and I’m sure that everyone is now looking forward to a well earned break. Have a great Christmas and I look forward to engaging with you in 2013:)


PS I was thinking of signing off with “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish”  but there is still no sign of the apocalypse. Must have made a mistake in their calcs somewhere!

C ya…

Business virtualisation

The complex weave of the modern IT world

Cisco certificationsCisco, as you may know, has introduced a new set of professional technical certifications based around the data centre. This is a natural move. Cisco already has Voice, Security, Routing and Switching and Design certification streams and the Data Centre is a big part of its future.

At Timico we use a Cisco data centre fabric with UCS blades running on top of EMC storage. On that infrastructure we run VMware. We also run Microsoft applications, use Cisco at the Edge of the network and Juniper in the core. Most of our ISP server estate is Linux based.

That’s an exciting technology mix. It’s also a lot of areas of specialisation and not only are our engineers often doing training courses but we are always on the lookout for specific talent, especially in the virtualisation world.

Where is this conversation leading. I guess I’m concluding that it will be increasingly the case that our customers will not have the right mix of skills in these technology areas to be able to effectively develop solutions for their own business. The role of an IT department, apart from servicing their own stakeholders, will be more and more strategic focusing on the selection management of their supplier partners.

Cloud Engineer virtualisation

Think global act local – vmware survey

vmware surveyI’m not an angry person but some things can certainly irritate the heck out of me. Today it is survey forms. It’s not concept of filling in a survey – I don’t mind doing that sometimes, especially if I have a particularly good or bad experience.

I should explain:

I just downloaded VMware  player for my laptop. I got the usual message “this may take several minutes” and for once it did take several minutes – usually the installation is quite quick regardless of the message. Coincidentally a survey from VMware popped up on the screen as I was wondering whether o believe the message and go off and do something else in the meantime.

I started to fill in the survey, it was a simple one, and fortunately for VMware the installation  finished just as I came to the bit about rating the experience. I didn’t really have anything bad to say. They warned me it might take some time and it did.

What annoyed me though was the fact that when it came to selecting my country of residence the name at the top of the list was the good ole United States of Americay. Now hear this VMware. It doesn’t do anything for me having the USA as the first name on the list. It just it just makes me irritated to think that you, an American company think it is more important for your countrymen to have life made easier for them but not anyone else.

Either they need to have every country in alphabetical order or, more cleverly, their survey system could recognize the country in which the survey was being completed and push that one to the top. It isn’t difficult.

If you want to be a global company you need to change your culture accordingly. Simples.

Apps Engineer virtualisation

Meet John Milner VCP5-DV, MCTS, MCSA+M/S, MCSE+S, MCITP: EMA/SA, A+, S+, eater of cake

John Milner and the VMware monster cake - click for a closer picJohn Milner started with us earlier this year to help with our virtualisation programme. He has a string of great qualifications and has now just passed his VMware Certified Professional – Datacenter Virtualization examination.

We are proud of him and glad that he has come to work at Timico. He has made an instant impact. He’s one of those guys you can chuck a job at knowing it will get done in a totally professional manner. We seem to be very lucky with the quality of our engineering staff all round.

In keeping with the cake making tradition we have here at Timico John has brought one in for everyone to help him celebrate his success. It says much about the character of the man that he admitted that the cake was actually baked by his sister. After all you can’t be good at everything:)

I of course am on a health kick and will not be partaking. It has been made easier by the fact that I’m sat at home waiting for a film crew to turn up but more on that later…

Well done John & keep up the great work :))

Just for the record & any SEO (smiley face) I repeat his qualifications here for your perusal: VCP5-DV, MCTS, MCSA+M/S, MCSE+S, MCITP: EMA/SA, A+, S+, eater of cake

PS John – sorry if this is a somewhat personally embarrassing post having nice things said about you but credit where credit is due 🙂

Cloud Engineer virtualisation

video case study BTiNet did of Timico

Filmed at Timico’s Network Operations Centre in Newark. I get a cameo role 🙂

footnote – posted this on youtube but find it has been taken down – the BTiNet uploaded one is there. They must have complained -or Google searches for duplicates! Dunno.
I’ve embedded the iNet version.

Cloud datacentre Engineer virtualisation

View from inside a Network Operations Centre #digitalbritain

the new Timico Network Operations Centre in Newark has gone liveI’m excited to say that the new NOC is now up and running as the header photo shows. The screen content is evolving at the moment but is intended to serve as a useful visual monitor of what is going on in the Timico network.

Timico NOC being populated with furniture prior to "go live"

The photo on the left shows the view of the Timico NOC from inside "manage" meeting roomroom being built. The photo on the right is the view from the “manage” meeting room which has a glass wall showcasing the facility.

The security levels applied to the NOC itself means access is restricted to NOC staff. No sales people, no customers but there is a great view from the meeting room.

The shift system currently means that some desks are unoccupied at times. However as the business grows the staff will operate a hot desk system with personal possessions kept in a movable tray.

The also use a PCoIP zero client desktop hosted on our VMware platform. When a shift worker logs off and a new person logs on from the same seat the PC instance is completely rebuilt using the new logon credentials.

The official opening of the Timico Newark datacentre and NOC is on Wednesday 18th January.

Cloud datacentre Engineer virtualisation

We are in! – new Timico datacentre

Cisco blades are being used at the new Timico data centre in NewarkAt 10am this morning, 28th November 2011 we officially took delivery
Timico development engineers review progress so far at the new Data centre of a datacentre. Not quite the same impact as the ceremony that ended the first world war (10th hour of the 28th day doesn’t sound quite the same as 11th hour of the 11th day) but hey…

I’m not even sure there was a physical ceremony. If there was I wasn’t there but the new build is certainly buzzing with engineers doing their stuff.
EMC storage now in situ at new Timico data centre

Progress is going to be rapid now with the official launch/opening ceremony due on Wednesday 18th January. The box on the right is one of the EMC SANs I showed being delivered on Friday.

The initial environment will have Juniper in the core network with VMware running over Cisco Nexus and EMC. I’ll post more detail on this as we get nearer launch though if you urgently want to know more drop me a line at [email protected].

Timico is using Juniper in the core network of its new data centre in Newark

Business Cloud virtualisation

Looking for a pre-sales engineer for data centre environment

If anyone knows a good pre sales engineer from a hosting/data centre background then I’d be grateful if you could put them in touch.

Skill sets are vmware, virtual desktops, Citrix, hosting – that kind of stuff. The job comes with lots of perks including being featured on this blog (probably) and if they can get in quick enough they can come to the xmas bash which is sold out and therefore a really hot ticket 🙂


PS a Timico mug goes to the person with a successful referral. Now there’s an incentive…

Cloud Engineer virtualisation

It’s All About Storage – datadomain #VMware

datadomain storage

Nice bit of lab kit we have just installed downstairs. This is a datadomain DD630 backup storage device.  You can see that it has 12 x 1TeraByte hard drives – that’s quite a chunk of storage compared to your laptop or desktop PC.  The box above it is running test servers using VMware (click on the header photo to see it all).

This is all lab work being done in preparation for the new data centre when it opens in January. The twelve 1TB drives result in around 9TB of useful space once RAID, hot spare and storage of the OS are taken into consideration.

The beauty of this though is that we are likely to be able to store far more than 9TB of real data once it has been “deduped”  – for example identical copies of operating systems removed. In our trials we are backing up some VMs and are seeing 2TB of data being compressed and deduplicated down to only 140GB on the datadomain. We won’t necessarily get the same savings when the system scales up but it is easy to see that it is an attractive piece of kit.

One of the nice features is that if you lose your primary VM server then the system allows you to boot from this backup whilst it rebuilds the original server in the background.  This can save a couple of hours of work – very valuable in  a problem situation.

As we start building out the virtualisation platform I’ll do some more update posts. The inset photo is the same kit with the front cover on.

broadband Business Cloud virtualisation

EFM Growing at 53% Year-on-Year Driven By Need to Access Cloud

Rhossili beach far away in time

These days I back up all my family photos on both an external hard drive and online on Google+ (it’s free and so far I haven’t hit a limit).

In August I had two holidays. From surfing on the Gower I brought back 2GBytes of photos (not including those I took on the Galaxy S2 which automatically upload when in range of a wifi and most of which had done so before I got home).  Wild camping on the Isle of Mull generated 2.4Gigs of media including video.

That’s not only a lot of storage for one month’s activity but it is also a lot of bandwidth used to upload the photos to Google+. Assuming my home ADSL does 1Mbps upload speed, which it doesn’t, and assuming no packet headers, which there will be, it would take me around 10 hours to upload that lot.

In the office I have a 100Mbps connection and the whole of August can be uploaded in the the background in a fairly short time. The bottleneck is probably the Google+ server at the other end though I am not familiar with Google’s i/o speeds for a given account if they have any.

With cloud services the upload speed, long ignored as secondary by the ISP community, is becoming a critical factor. At Timico our ADSL sales into the business sector are still increasing but at nowhere near the rate of Ethernet. Although an Ethernet circuit is of much higher value than an ADSL (or FTTC) line the number of lines is growing nicely.

The first 8 months of this year have seen an increase in Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM) activity levels of 53% over the same period in 2010.

This is happening for a number of reasons. Firstly EFM is more reliable than ADSL and carries a Service Level Agreement. Secondly is the symmetrical performance – EFM can have up to 10Mbps upload as well as download. This combination is important because companies are increasingly using resources in the cloud as part of the day to day running of their business and many of these online resources, such as VoIP, are mission critical.

Large businesses have been using Ethernet for years – they were traditionally the only ones that could afford the cost. They also have the distributed systems and resources that requires the reliability and speed. Now SMBs are moving into the cloud – 48% of those in the UK according to VMware.

This means that there are going to be a lot more customers out there looking for higher upload speeds. At 10Mbps FTTC does bring faster upload but the FTTC footprint is still under construction. In the meantime there are over 2,000 EFM POPs out there (BT and TalkTalk) which probably cover a fairly high proportion of UK businesses.

Coming back to the photos the average size of jpg from my Canon Powershot is roughly 3MBytes – some more some less. This is for a 12Megapixel camera. Looking back 5 years I had a 4 Megapixel camera that produced 1MB jpgs. This suggests to me that in 2016 I will be taking 36Megapixel photos using 9 or 10MB of storage. My 4.4GB August family photo album would be more like 14GB which would still take 3 1/2 hours to upload even if I had a 10Mbps uplink speed.

It is easy to imagine that in 5 years time 10Mbps upload won’t be good enough for home use let alone business and that everyone will be looking for the next level up. It is also easy to imagine that people will find it hard to remember what the world was like before they lived in the cloud.

Apps Business Cloud virtualisation

UCAS should have a cloud based virtual system that can scale with demand

The A Level results were released just before I went on holiday. For me the noticeable bit was the fact that the UCAS system failed to cope with the demand for people wanting to see how they got on. Someone from UCAS came on BBC Radio to discuss this and mentioned the fact that due to next year’s University course fee hikes they had planned for a huge increase in visits but in the end the capacity was still inadequate.

This is clearly an example where a cloud based implementation would get by the problem. UCAS would have been able to increase the resources available just for the period of high demand which is of course only for a few days in a year. Lets hope they get their act together for next year when kid #2 goes through it all.

PS I’m back – didn’t have time to write this in the mad rush before going on holiday.

PPS It’s good to be back 🙂

Apps Cloud Engineer virtualisation

PCoIP over VMWare View (for Keeping Up with the #Cricket Wherever You Are)

PCoIP thin client technology in use
I’ve been trying out thin client software at the office, specifically PCoIP running over VMware View.

It’s going very well. The station I sat at had just a keyboard, mouse and screen with a small connector box hooking me up with the network. I was running a virtual instance of Windows with the actual application running on a virtual machine in our data centre.

You wouldn’t know that there was no PC in a box underneath the desk.  The beauty of this technology is the fact that I can install a virtual client on my PC at home (or anywhere else) that will allow me to log in and replicate my work environment. It consumes much less power and also makes management of the whole estate much easier.  New users can be provisioned in seconds – the process of building a PC can take a day.

EVGA PD02The experience is great – in fact I didn’t know I wasn’t sat at a PC when I started using it. The header photo shows the workstation set up (a bit untidy – click to see more) and the inset photo (right)  is of the EVEA connector box. You can have up to 4 monitors using a DVI splitter plug – something our geeks really like.

The box is an EVGA PD02. They retail at around £216 plus VAT. When you add the costs of the licenses the individual per unit cost is roughly the same as a fully loaded new PC so the cost saving is in the management – IT staff headcount I guess if you were looking at a large estate.

Note England are doing well in the cricket against India which is why I sat at the workstation in the first place – I wanted an update of the score 🙂 . Invitations to the Oval test gratefully accepted.


Engineer virtualisation

Virtual Machines for Email Platform

We have stepped up our use of Virtual Machines at network level at Timico and recently rolled out a significant number of Xen based platforms. Xen (see  For those that don’t know a Virtual Machine is a virtual server that can run on multiple hardware devices simultaneously but can be seen as a single entity by the network. 

Because the company has been growing the need to scale up easily has become more and more pressing. Over the Christmas break (the Network Operations team is allowed two hours off for Christmas lunch which they take communally in the kitchen at the NOC 🙂 ) a new email platform was rolled out on Xen based hardware. As the burden of mail inevitably grows all Timico will have to do is add new hardware capacity with no need for network downtime or reengineering.

The beauty of Xen is that it takes very little time to add capacity to a server farm and downtime is minimal or non existent. You can therefore move a service from a small machine to a more powerful one with perhaps as little as 60 milliseconds interruption. 

All new servers are rolled out with Xen now at Timico. Whilst Xen is open source  and therefore free Citrix does sell a commercial version. If you have no skills in this space it could be an option but otherwise drop me a line if you want any advice on the subject.