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  1. The VM4rent service provides a short, medium or long term on demand rental service for Virtual Machines running Linux or Windows 2003 servers. The service is currently based on a dual, quad core Xeon system with iSCSI attached storage.

  2. The servers may be used for any purpose as long as they conform to the University's IT rules.

  3. The NSMS Team are happy to consider any suggestion for enhancing the service.

Service description

  1. Virtual machines are available in units of a 'Standard VM'. A Standard VM has the equivalent of 384MB RAM, a minimum 1/10th share of a quad core Xeon CPU and 10GB of storage.

  2. Given that a typical server might only be using 5-10% of the resources of a single core physical server, the CPU allocation is typical of what most servers require. If more CPU is required, this can be allocated for a supplementary charge, but you are recommended to wait and see what performance you get from the basic allocation before committing to extra costs.

  3. If extra RAM is required, this can be provided for a supplementary charge. Don't rush into committing to the extra costs of more RAM without checking on usage and performance. Experience with running a wide range of server applications indicates that the 'Standard VM' allocation is sufficient for many server requirements. The RAM allocated to a VM can easily be expanded if required. In the next release of ESX, this can be done while the system is live; currently a reboot is required. The maximum allocation currently offered is 1GB RAM; for anything greater than this please contact NSMS directly. It is important to understand that the ESX virtualisation technology is very effective at sharing RAM so you may find that actual RAM requirements are less than theoretical figures suggest. RAM is probably the scarcest resource in the system which makes extra RAM relatively expensive. It is likely that future hardware developments will result in cheaper memory and we will then remove this bottleneck.

  4. Statistics about RAM and CPU usage of a virtual machine can be made available on request.

  5. More storage is available in 10GB units for a supplementary charge.

  6. A virtual machine can run any one of Windows 2003 Enterprise Server or Linux (Red Hat, Debian or CENTOS).

  7. For Windows 2003 servers, there will be a supplementary monthly charge to cover the cost of the Windows Server Enterprise Edition licence.

  8. The acquisition of appropriate CAL licences for Windows servers is the responsibility of the customer.

  9. The system providing the service is running VMware ESX Server Standard Edition.

  10. A VM rental is requested via a web page that allows the server requirements to be specified and a purchase order provided. On submission of the VM rental request, a basic VM of the specification requested will be set up from a standard template and the requestor will receive access details for the virtual server by a secure means.

  11. Backup is the sole responsibility of the customer but it should be noted that all the virtual machines provided by this service include an installation of the TSM software which we recommend that all customers use.

  12. NSMS can provide a short-term VM snapshot service for an additional charge, should you wish to make changes to your server that may need to be rolled back. We can also provide full clones of virtual machines in special cases. Please contact NSMS directly if you require this.

  13. The IP addresses of servers will be allocated from the subnet space available to NSMS within the OUCS machine room.

Summary of OUCS’s responsibilities

Hours of Service

  1. The service operates at all times.

  2. The support hours for the service are Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm, excluding bank holidays and the University Christmas closure period. It is worth noting that in the two and a half years we have provided services using VMware ESX there has been no loss of service related to ESX system software malfunction. Virtual Machine guest operating system failures can be dealt with using the same tools as a physical server and are within the control of the customer.

  3. If a fault is notified between 09:00 and 17:00 on a working day, OUCS will commence investigation and correction within one working hour (provided that no similar fault is also being handled by the same team).

  4. If a fault is notified outside of these hours, its resolution will commence in the next working day.

  5. OUCS reserves the right to close down a virtual machine without notice and without liability if the VM is behaving in a manner that might possibly compromise the integrity of the overall system. For example, this situation might arise if a VM became infected with malware.

  6. If action has had to taken as described in item 5 above, OUCS will inform the customer as soon as possible.

  7. If action has had to taken as described in item 5 above, the customer will have to demonstrate to OUCS that the problem has been resolved before the virtual machine can be put back into service. OUCS may have to levy a charge for any significant work that arises in this context.

Serviceability Targets

  1. It is intended, as far as is possible, to maintain service of all components at all times. When non-critical maintenance is required, this will, whenever possible, be done outside normal working hours.

Resilience and Backup

  1. The filestore discs are resilient to single disc failures. Systems have dual power supplies and duplicate network routes.

  2. The equipment is in the OUCS computer room, and shares a UPS with other essential services, giving approximately 30 minutes standby power in the event of a power failure.

Hardware and Software Maintenance

  1. The equipment is under warranty from the supplier.

System Development

  1. There is no scheduled development time. Any scheduled down-time for maintenance or upgrade will be notified at least 24 hours in advance.

Administration and Support

  1. Notification of faults, outages, etc are circulated by email directly to NSMS customers.

  2. Fault Reporting

    • There are two levels of support provided to the Customer: urgent and non-urgent.
    • Urgent support requirements relate solely to serious loss or degradation of service and OUCS will respond to such calls within 1 working hours.
    • If non-urgent calls are not attended to within 3 working days, the Customer will be entitled to escalate such calls to the 'Urgent' level.
    • Contact arrangements for non-urgent support issues are as follows:
      • By telephone 73209
      • By E-mail nsms@oucs.ox.ac.uk
    • Contact arrangements for urgent support issues are as follows:
      • By telephone: 83200 (OUCS Reception) and ask for NSMS emergency support.

Summary of customer's responsibilities

  1. The management of the virtual server is entirely the responsibility of the customer; this service is not providing managed servers. NSMS can provide managed servers, but these do not fall within the scope of the VM4rent service - contact us for more details if you are interested in managed servers.

  2. The systems administrator of a virtual machine agrees to maintain the guest operating system software up to date and secure against intrusion as far as is reasonably possible.

  3. The customer is expected to manage the amount of storage space used within the limits allocated.

  4. The customer must refrain from activity detrimental to others or to the reputation of the University (as detailed in the University Regulations Relating to the use of Information Technology Facilities).

  5. The customer must keep their passwords secure and private.

  6. Server backups will be the responsibility of the customer to organise. However, all VMs have TSM software pre-installed as a standard part of their template.

  7. When renting a Windows server, the acquisition of appropriate Microsoft CAL licences is the responsibility of the customer.

Premium services

  1. The NSMS can provide a fully managed server for any customer. Please contact the NSMS service if interested.