Part of my work in Web-related services is as Webmaster for PVMA Deerfield. 

IMG 1466For some time we have been looking to migrate to a new machine two of our most important sites, American Centuries and Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704. Our current Dell machine is 13 (!) years old, and while it is still operational, we know that it's days are numbered. Of even more concern was the aging server software running on it.

 

Byzantine Realms of Software

The software part of the equation was what has held us back, because we had to update a lot of code so that the site would continue to run on a modern system. Many thanks go to programming wizard Don Button of Digital Gizmo for handling most of that huge task. American Centuries in particular is a gargantuan website, with many types of code running concurrently, some of which dates back to 1999. This site has several large databases attached to it, a large image collection with many searchable documents, many lessons created by Teachers, activities and more. Over the years, more and more features have been built into it. It's a terrific repository of local and national history.

My duties as webmaster include maintaining and managing the websites, managing the hardware, managing backups, and 'being there if something goes wrong'.

Love The GCC

This server machine is housed at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, Ma. I would like to digress for a little just to let you know what a gem this place is. I got my Associate's Degree in Art here back in '86, and it's gotten ever better over the years. The long period of renovation a couple years ago was worth it. The space has been opened up to provide more light. The dining area and library are especially great places to hang out. If you haven't been by for a while, it's worth it just to grab lunch. One of the best places in town.

New Webmaster Tricks

A lot of thought went into how the new Server would be configured. We still needed to run the old server to dish out images (long story), so we needed to run different server operating systems side-by-side. 

Enter: VMWare virtualization. Thanks to my good friend Tim Parsons, I was pointed towards the now common practice of loading several virtual machines onto one piece of hardware. You have the VmWare ESXi host system, then within that you can load a number of "virtual machines" created either from scratch, or converted from other existing systems. They all run concurrently side-by-side on the same hardware. This is both efficient and convenient if you need to move to another piece of hardware in the future. 

So I now have Windows 2012 Server, Windows 2003 Server and Ubuntu Linux running on the same hardware. Fabulous!

Below are just a couple pix of the server being put in place. Many thanks to Steve Harris of the GCC IT department for all his help. 

The server is not fully armed and operational yet, as we are still in testing. But I couldn't wait to tell folks about this!

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