The Story Of A Real And Virtual Move

Oh man it’s been a while since I wrote anything. Work keeps you busy, life always wants something and then there’s other things that need to be done. Like moving into a new home and at the same time also moving the servers into a new home. And that’s exactly what I did for two weeks now…

The Real Move

It all started with finding the perfect place to move to in the long term: an apartment with guest bathroom and a normal bathroom, one bedroom, one study/kid room, a living room, a work room a kitchen and a balcony. And most importantly, fast internet and a working phone line – all for only twice what I’ve been paying for my old place. A really good deal and I wanted to check it out quickly.

It turned out to be a really good deal. The place was in near perfect condition, with only minor issues that I had to patch up (rusted door lock for example). Signed the papers and hired some movers so I don’t spend an entire month moving everything alone. So far the best choice I’ve made.

But, there was something else I also discovered during that: AMD Ryzen servers.

The Virtual Move

I’m an early adopter of the AMD Zen CPUs, buying a AMD Ryzen 1800X just mere three weeks after they were back in stock and upgrading my entire system to what was practically the future for my older computer, which was running a i5-4690.

When I saw that Hetzner offered AMD Ryzen based servers with Dual-SSD and decent amount of RAM, I kinda had to test it out. After all, the 1800X i bought myself has done really well for any Desktop and Graphics task so far – and I wanted to see if they perform similar in Server tasks. And ordered one for testing.

Nobody could have prepared me for just how much better the CPUs are in a server environment.

The Tests

I started off with some simplistic tests, Disk speed, RAM speed and latency and network, and then went on to begin configuring the first few services. During this I noticed that the server was booting much faster than any other server, without seemingly any reason – even services running on the server had a much easier time to start up since all the hardware was already initialized by the time they were starting up instead of having to wait a long time.

This was kind of a surprise, the server matched another older server almost 1:1 except for CPU and data center. So I did further tests with what was previously impossible to do without hitching or performance loss: Virtual Machines.

Virtual Machinery

A topic that many dislike, but it is a really good test of hardware capabilities and security of a CPU. I started off by installing the Xen hypervisor and configuring it properly so that the main instance would only ever see 4 GB of RAM and use one core, and then installed two Debian VM clients. Next came the testing and to my surprise, neither of the VMs could detect that the other was doing work – there was no hitching, no disk delay, nothing. It was as if the VMs were running on actual hardware without actually running on actual hardware.

In the end however I decided to go with a more physical approach to server hosting and removed the Hypervisor again from the boot list (but keeping it configured in case I change my mind).

Installing and Configuring Servers

So after discovering just how fast and unfazed this CPU actually is by what is running on it, I started with the usual: Install, Configure and Test all Services that were running on other Servers at the time. I started off with the Teamspeak 3 server which was up next to instantly, then went on to Web servers (HTTP, PHP, MySQL) and finally dealt with E-Mail and FTP, both of with caused me a lot of mental pain.

Initial tests of the services were going great, the web services all had much faster response time (almost 80% faster) and MySQL finally had a decent chunk of memory to work with, allowing for larger queries to be executed faster. What didn’t work was e-mail, and this turned out to be a pain to fix. For future readers, if Dovecot randomly refuses to authenticate Postfix LDA requests, make sure that Dovecot is told to actually allow that – even if the configuration magically worked on another server.

Since most things were working now, I decided to slowly move domains over to the new data center, starting with xaymar.com. To date, two domains have been moved over and are mostly working, two more are waiting on confirmation and the other domains are waiting on the owners request to be moved over.

So the next thing was to try to run Game Servers on it.

Game Servers

You’d think that since Ryzen is so good at desktop gaming that they’d be good at game server hosting too – and you’re right with that. With Ryzen I was finally able to run an ARMA3 modded Server without desynchronization with over 500 AI units and two players – while running all of the other services as well.

The Zen CPU beat the Xeon server in all possible ways, even where the Xeon is supposedly faster. I don’t care how, but this is amazing work from AMD and I’m likely going to order another few Zen-based Servers for hosting in the future. They are far easier to use and cost a lot less than Intel-equivalent versions.

So long and thanks for reading.

- Xaymar

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