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Managing Your Virtual Infrastructure

I was at Interop last week and although attendance appeared to me to be lower than in the past I thought the presentations were much better and I believe this is a result of the major shift in technology to virtualization and cloud computing combined with the soft economy. Challenging times bring out the best in many people!

One common theme at Interop was the challenge around bringing different technical groups together: storage, server, networking, applications. Virtualization requires considering the complete system so communicating between silos is necessary. I am an east coast person but it looks like what the IT team really needs is a non-technical west coast style tech team off-site somewhere in Orange County to work on communications and various team building exercises.

Once you have the entire technical staff working as a team here are the challenges you will need to address:

1. Visibility – Where is the application and where is the problem?
2. How do you prove source of problem to the component owner?
3. Where will the next constraint or problem arise?
4. Planning for the next expansion
5. Dealing with applications resource contention
6. Over use of VMotion – simultaneous moves in same LUN can cause poor performance

Virtualization creates the most dynamic data center that IT management has seen and this is great but it means there is a more significant challenge – The mantra becomes “constant monitoring, modeling and planning.” Depending on the size and complexity of your virtualized infrastructure the technical management team should at least once a quarter and maybe as often as weekly do a capacity planning style exercise based on current utilization and planned expansion.

Here are the virtualization mistakes to avoid:

1. Racing to deploy and failing to plan completely
2. Configuration mistakes – check before using default settings
3. Not enough storage IOPs
4. Resource contention – not all applications work well together
5. CPU access – underestimate demands
6. Not understanding work loads
7. Not taking complete system into consideration
8. Lack of awareness of the dependencies
9. Lack of awareness of workload curves

Here are a few companies that make tools you may want to consider to help you manage your dynamic virtual infrastructure: Akorri, Ixia, Blue Stripe, vKernal, Visioncore and CA.

Virtualization is one of the most exciting things that has happened in the information technology industry in many years so embrace it and enjoy it – “Virtualize your infrastructure with passion.”