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Virtualization’s sprawl problem — and how to fix it 

Servers, Storage and Networking | Posted on June 30, 2015

Virtualization in general has been one of this most impactful technologies of the past few decades.  Beyond the advent of x86 computing and Microsoft Windows, I can’t think of any other technology that has so quickly transformed the industry.

Adoption has also been astounding — today most IT organizations virtualize, and most corporate applications exist within Virtual Machines.

There are, however, some unintended consequences to virtualization’s massive success.  Forget about these, and you risk missing out on all those promises.

Virtualization Sprawl

Spinning up a virtual machine, compared to deploying a physical host, is extremely easy. While there are challenges in some organizations with security, network and storage resources being provisioned quickly, let’s put a pin in this topic for another day. For most shops, this is causing virtualization sprawl, with virtual machines deployed at will. And sooner or later the vSphere administrator starts to lose track of all the workloads in the environment. Poor visibility is the effect.

80/20 Maintenance Pains

The reality is the workload-to-administrator ratio is growing rapidly.  Every day IT is asked to deliver more applications and services and it starts to put a strain on IT resources. Simple tasks like troubleshooting network latency to a particular VM become so time consuming, IT spends nearly 80% of their time on break fix, and only 20% on innovation.

Optimization

Sure, back in 2008 you shrunk your IT spend significantly by introducing virtualization. You took a server farm of 50 and reduced it to 10 hosts. But, as Kanet Jackson might say,  what have you done for us lately? The reality is most IT organizations are being asked to further reduce capex and opex while improving services levels for the business. How efficient is your datacenter? What is your consolidation ratio? Are you able to increase the consolidation ratio without impacting performance? How do you show the business that you are running the datacenter as efficiently as possible?

Get fixing all these issues with a vSphere Optimization Assessment

To help address these effects of wide-scale virtualization, Softchoice designed the vSphere Optimization Assessment. This funded assessment is a point in time snapshot of the virtual environment designed to give IT administrators more visibility into the Health, Risk and Efficiency of their virtual environment. And it also has been known to mitigate virtualization sprawl.

The information gained from this assessment can be used to make immediate and meaningful changes that will positively impact your environment.

How does it work?

Once you sign up for the VOA TechCheck a member of our Assessments and Services group helps you deploy a trial of vRealize Operations Management Suite from VMware. This tool deploys easily from an OVF template as a single VM (in most cases) and gets pointed at the vCenter Server(s) within the environment.  We then upload our custom policy and allow the tool to collect performance data across the environment. 20-30 days later we upload custom report templates, pull down information and present it back to you in a pdf or PowerPoint format. The TechCheck focuses on (3) key areas, configuration, performance and capacity.

 

Configuration

 

The first area the VOA looks at is host and VM configuration. Is HA, DRS, DPM, and Admission Control enabled? What version of VMware tools is deployed across all the VM’s, which ones are not up to date or missing? What does the OS distribution look like, VM power state, how are the VMs sized? This information helps us identify confirmation issues which could impact the virtual environment and have a discussion about architectural decisions and their impact on the environment.

Virtualization's sprawl problem — and how to fix it 

Performance

Virtualization's sprawl problem — and how to fix it 

 

Looking at issues in the environment that impact performance we review all the active alerts that are triggered through vRealize Operations. We review Host CPU and RAM utilization and relative workload. We also look more closely at VM performance, RAM Ballooning, Swapping, read and write latency and use this information to identify changes that can be made in the environment to improve performance.

Virtualization's sprawl problem — and how to fix it 

 

Capacity

Virtualization's sprawl problem — and how to fix it 

Capacity focuses on ways to better optimize the environment to make better use of the available resources. Capacity looks at idle and powered off virtual machines to help IT administrators identify resources not being used. It also gives recommendations on resizing virtual machines, reducing the overall size of the VM to better fit the workload and allowing IT to reclaim wasted resources and increase consolidation ratios.

vSphere Optimization Assessment

 

The Virtualization Optimization Assessment not only gives greater visibility into the environment but information that can we used immediately to make impactful changes in the virtual environment.

If you would like to learn more about the Virtualization Optimization Assessment, how to reduce or eliminate virtualization sprawl, reach out to your Softchoice Account Manager today.

 

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