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Server Virtualization Means High Utilization and Lower Costs


The best approach to deploy the technology is to first establish careful measurement of workloads versus capacities to identify resources being underutilized or overutilized and support the analysis required to evaluate options for improvement. It’s vital to have accurate workload measurements, configurations as provisioned and utilization of key resources to feed the optimization process. This means 24-7-365 data collection methodologies.

In the case of Power Systems servers, data collection services built into IBM i (Collection Services) and AIX* and Linux* (nmon) provide logging of much of the required data. For competitive Solaris and HP-UX servers, SAR provides some of the data. You’ll also need to count all of the costs of manpower, power and cooling, real estate, server hardware, network, OS and middleware software, applications software, training, and migration. Identify under- and over-virtualization risks, and the symptoms, causes, cures and costs.

You’ll want to quickly determine if the projected operating costs to virtualize are lower than doing nothing or continuing on a suboptimal course. Avoid analysis paralysis. Identify plausible options and determine if they’re politically feasible or desirable. Ideally, estimate costs out at least three years or the lifecycle of the equipment under consideration. Study details of realistic, plausible, sellable alternatives only. If nobody is going to buy in, it isn’t worth spending a dime trying to sell it. Finally, seek help from the vendor or business partner community. This is what they do for a living.

Top 6 Benefits

If you’re going to put forth all of this effort, you must see a payback. The most commonly identified benefits of virtualization include:

  1. Better return on capital invested in servers, storage, memory, network, training, OS, middleware and apps
  2. Lower operating expenses including manpower required, real estate, power/cooling
  3. Higher IT infrastructure agility that improves speed and the capability to respond to business needs such as an acquisition, change in laws or competitive threat
  4. A longer lifecycle from existing equipment and software
  5. Extended lifecycle of existing real estate, power and cooling infrastructures
  6. Reduced core count from consolidation/virtualization that can dramatically reduce software licensing and software maintenance costs

Greater Reliability

Augmenting virtualization in making the case for deployment of large server technology versus server sprawl are sophistication of the operating systems deployed in its capability to manage multithread processing; sophisticated and large scale L2 and L3 cache; and the capacity of the server architecture to support a large quantity of disk controllers, disk drives, multipath DASD access, and various RAID and mirroring schemes, as well as SSD.

Virtualization is a very simple, elegant concept that becomes quite complex under the covers. It requires a skill level not often required or found in server farms. But a little dose of virtualization talent can scale in effectiveness rapidly, with huge leverage derived from the automated tools built into virtualization engines.

Jim Young is the VP of Sales for Midrange Performance Group, providers of performance management and capacity planning software and services for IBM Power* platforms.



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