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Are You a ‘Server Hugger’? How to Virtualize More Apps

Best Practices, SAN, virtualization, VMworld No Comments »

At VMworld in Las Vegas, leading analyst Bernd Harzog, presented an intriguing case for how to increase the use of virtual servers.  In his session entitled “Six Aggressive Performance Management Practices to Achieve 80%+ Virtualization,” Bernd described both the reasons why more applications aren’t virtualized today, and what to do about it.

Since there seems to be much industry confusion about “best practices” for increased virtualization, we wanted to highlight some of Bernd’s key takeaways.  First, he accurately identifies the fact that it seems all the benefits accrue to the team managing the infrastructure, NOT to the application owners.  For the app owners, dedicated hardware is a comfort blanket they are unwilling to give up, and he affectionately refers to these folks as “server huggers.”  To these huggers, virtualization is all risk and no reward!

So what’s the answer?  According to Bernd, companies implementing these solutions should deliver better application performance on their shared services virtual infrastructure than they are able to deliver on dedicated physical hardware.  He goes on to offer best practices for HOW.  Bernd describes a six-step process, but it’s step number two that Virtual Instruments can help with the most.

  1. Implement a Resource based Performance and Capacity Management Solution
  2. Put in Place an Understanding of end-to-end Infrastructure Latency
  3. Take Responsibility for Application Response Time!
  4. Rewrite your Service Level Agreements around Response Time, Variability, and Error Rates
  5. Base Your Approach to Capacity on Response Times and Transaction Rates
  6. Make Response Time and Transaction Rate Part of your Chargeback and Workload Allocation Process

As our customers know, Virtual Instruments can help with nearly all of these.  But we’re best known for step two, understanding the end-to-end infrastructure performance – not just VMware performance or SAN performance, but literally end-to-end performance – and infrastructure response time is the key metric we offer that really differentiates us.  It’s perhaps the most valuable metric to the team supporting the virtual infrastructure.  Bernd talks about it in some detail, and he goes on to offer advice on criteria that will help accomplish this second step to increasing virtual server success.  His list:

  • Measure IRT – Monitor how long it takes the infrastructure to respond to requests for work, not how much resource it takes
  • Deterministic – Get the real data, not a synthetic transaction, or an average
  • Real Time – Get the data when it happens, not seconds or minutes later
  • Comprehensive – Get all of the data, not a periodic sample of the data
  • Zero-Configuration (Discovery) – Discover the environment and its topology, and keep this up to date in real time
  • Application (or VM) Aware – Understand where the load is coming from and where it is going
  • Application Agnostic – Work for every workload or VM type in the environment, irrespective of how the application is built or deployed

We couldn’t agree more!  I can’t do justice to Bernd’s presentation, so to hear more, go to  the Performance Management Topic at The Virtualization Practice, or listen to the webinar we did with Bernd.

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