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					GETTING IT RIGHT

Virtualization
for the

BY TUNING UP THE INFRASTRUCTURE

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I. ASSESSMENT
Any organization approaching virtualization may be pondering the questions “Is this really for us, and what kinds of workloads can or should be virtualized?” To find the answers, an organization must first be fully aware of all the resources within its infrastructure, as well as performance loads and variable organizational needs, according to Paul Rad, Consolidation/ Virtualization Practice Lead with Dell’s Americas Enterprise Services Expert Center. “Almost any company can benefit from virtualization,” says Rad. “Everyone may benefit by addressing the challenges they have today with conflicts and with underutilized servers.” While virtualization may enable lower hardware costs through server consolidation, it does add a new layer to the IT environment, so it is critical to determine the benefits to be gained against the costs involved. Companies will need to factor in the cost of the virtualization management software, such as VMware Infrastructure 3 and Altiris Enterprise Management Suite, and (potentially) advanced processor technologies and shared storage and networking devices, as well as the cost of any retraining required. Determining how and where to start requires a rigorous assessment to evaluate the impact that a virtual infrastructure will have on a company’s data center. Dell’s Virtualization Readiness Assessment can help you determine how your newly virtualized environment can improve server management, maximize uptime and streamline deployment. Dell utilizes automated discovery and data collection tools to provide a complete inventory of hardware and software that is encompassed in an IT infrastructure as well as applications performance. The assessment focuses on the current linkages, network proxies and storage capacity on which the organization’s databases and applications depend. Through interviews with IT staff and business stake-

I R T UA L I Z AT I O N I S M A K I N G a tremendous impact in the IT community around the world and across enterprises, agencies and institutions. The results of virtualization demonstrate clear benefits and tangible value to managers and decision-makers at every level of the IT organization. Virtualization technology changes the game by transforming a traditional IT environment into a virtualized IT environment, or virtual infrastructure. Virtual infrastructures provide great flexibility and open up new ways of thinking about the IT environment. A virtual infrastructure aggregates servers, storage and networking to provide a true utility computing model that matches computing power and storage capacity to the needs of the organization and its business requirements. Dell collaborates with Intel, VMware Altiris and EMC—industry leaders in complementary disciplines—to provide production-proven virtual infrastructure solutions. Orchestrating the technologies, solutions and expertise of each of these companies, Dell helps customers simplify the transformation from an existing or traditional IT environment into a virtual infrastructure. The collaboration has produced an established framework of best practices and basic readiness training for the IT staff that can greatly speed implementation of virtualization. This technology brief presents experience-based guidelines for a phased approach to the assessment, design, implementation and management of a new virtualized IT environment. Review and follow these realworld guidelines to gain an understanding of how migration from an existing IT environment to a virtual infrastructure can provide remarkable flexibility, reduced complexity, reduced risks and economic savings in any IT environment.

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them with business objectives such as lowering operational and capitalization costs, enabling business continuity and using data center power, cooling and available space efficiently. According to a recent IDC report, “The Impact of Virtualization Software on Operating Environments” (IDC #203989, Oct 2006), early adoption of virtualization has largely been aimed at server consolidation, but the focus is expected to shift to broader uses, including business continuity, resource management and utility computing. Following the assessment phase, the virtualization consulting team will plan a set of suitable server workload candidates for transforming into a virtual infrastructure. This may involve the entire installed base of servers or only a couple of applications and related servers and storage devices. “Virtualization is a technology that aims to make things more efficient, optimize an IT environment, and improve manageability,” says Bogomil Balkansky, VMware’s Director of Product Marketing. “Most customers take a phased approach. Over time, they will standardize on virtualization and define a policy that mandates all applications to be run into virtual machines.” A critical part of any virtualization design is evaluation of the existing infrastructure. This includes existing physical assets, such as networking and storage; the human assets, such as the skills sets of the IT staff; and the processes that a particular organization has evolved over time. It should also factor in the scalability of each application within the organization, SLA requirements, and governance issues such as financial management, chargeback, and regulatory compliance, as well as the corporate security policies that a corporation wants to put in place. Other key inputs in this phase include architectural workshops with key stakeholders, including line-ofbusiness representatives. By bringing them into the design phase, IT planners will reduce, if not eliminate, potential political resistance to needed changes. The virtualization plan should establish goals to address each component of the virtualized infrastructure, including solutions for application migration and business continuity, as well as containment strategies whereby new projects are provisioned with virtual machines rather than physical servers. Finally, the plan should encompass organizational goals for lowering costs, higher availability, faster provisioning and operational efficiency. A test-lab environment will flush out documentation and rationalize the process and procedure for migration to ensure that the plan is tested out prior to passing on to the build phase.

holders, Dell consultants will assess the technology and business goals that IT is striving to achieve and help determine the amount of outside resources needed. According to Rad, some organizations already have applicable expertise in-house and may only require assistance during particular phases, whereas others may need more ongoing external assistance, or even an endto-end implementation. Once the discovery phase is complete, the Dell consulting team conducts a modeling and normalization process to determine what results could be expected by moving existing operating systems and application loads to a virtual infrastructure. This modeling process will evaluate various server consolidation scenarios and plot resource capacities required by different applications hosted in virtual environments on a shared physical server. The consultants will also provide an assessment of current servers and other resources that can be utilized in the virtual infrastructure as well as those that may be moved to a remote backup location, or may no longer be usable. After determining which servers and applications are suitable for virtualization, Dell consultants will make recommendations and establish a roadmap for implementation, factoring in current and future capacity needs and detailing the return on investment expected from the migration.

II. DESIGN AND PLANNING
VMware Infrastructure 3 software offers a productionproven virtualization technology that is able to allocate up to four virtual CPUs and up to 16 GBytes of RAM to a single virtual machine and can virtualize just about any application, including mission-critical Microsoft Exchange and Oracle Database servers. Hardware platform resources, such as server processing power, memory, I/O and attached or networked storage, can be allocated and prioritized as needed based on business and application requirements. The latest Dell™ PowerEdge™ 2950 server featuring Quad-Core Intel® Xeon® processors further increases the capability to virtualize enterprise-class applications. Nevertheless, every organization has its own specific requirements and specifications, and an appropriate virtual infrastructure design will match hardware and software technologies to meet the organizational requirements for performance, availability and service level agreements (SLAs). Planning how to utilize those resources involves more than just mapping applications and software workloads to server and storage hardware. A good virtualization design will consider all corporate IT objectives and align 2

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configured with 16MB RAM and multiple I/O devices, provides a robust virtualization platform. Redundant resources are highly recommended to help increase throughput and ensure high availability. In addition to the PowerEdge 2950, Dell offers a wide range of PowerEdge servers and blade servers to suit any need. Recent tests by Dell engineers demonstrated that Dual-Core Intel Xeon 5160 and Quad-Core Intel Xeon X5355 processors available on the PowerEdge 2950 provide a significant boost in performance—as much as 272 percent—over previous-generation Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors. That enables more VMs to be hosted, with greater overall system throughput (see: http://www.dell.com/downloads/global/power/2007020 1-muirhead_preprint_new.pdf). Shared storage in the form of a storage area network (SAN) or network attached storage (NAS) provides economies of scale for the virtual infrastructure. Shared storage helps simplify backup preparations and expedites systems redeployment times for disaster recovery. Shared storage also helps make high-availability functions like server clustering and workload balancing practical and less complex to implement. Dell/EMC shared storage devices provide full support for features such as VMware VMotion technology, DRS, HA, VMFS, and Consolidated Backup. It is important to size the storage systems according to the anticipated demand and to ensure the right amount of memory in the array to support simultaneous environments. Dell is working with hardware industry partners Intel and EMC, and software virtualization leaders VMware and Altiris, to help drive standardized virtualization solutions. Through a strong, longstanding relationship, Dell and VMware have collaborated to jointly test and certify VMware Infrastructure 3 virtualization software on Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell/EMC storage as well as Dual-Core and Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors. The collaboration of Dell, Intel, VMware, Altiris and EMC aims to ensure customers increase operational flexibility and efficiency, realize transformative cost savings, minimize risks, enhance IT service levels, and optimize IT environments. Dell has integrated key products from leading vendors to deliver a comprehensive, integrated and cost-effective virtualization solution. Security and Compliance Any IT infrastructure decision these days must be made with security and compliance as foremost concerns, and virtualization is no different in that regard. In fact, the

Critical Data Center Needs Many organizations approaching virtualization have run out of room in their data centers to install new racks or servers, or have determined it is too expensive to lease a new data center and equip it with the raised floor and power/cooling requirements needed to operate efficiently. In that type of situation, a relatively straightforward physical-to-virtual migration may be planned, utilizing tools that will transpose existing servers and applications into a consolidated set of virtual servers. In addition to server consolidation, IT organizations are also turning to virtual infrastructures to better manage available IT resources. By deploying advanced features available with VMware Infrastructure 3, such as VMware VMotion technology, Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), High Availability (HA), and Dell/EMC shared storage, IT administrators can rapidly provision and re-provision available resources to more rapidly respond to changing business demands and to increase the availability of services during planned and unplanned system maintenance. Other organizations may require an efficient means of establishing a backup data center to ensure business continuity in the face of outages. In that type of scenario, an organization may opt for local replication or remote replication depending on particular needs. Utilizing EMC’s SnapView software, Dell/EMC networked storage systems can offload replication chores from the server by creating local point-in-time copies of data within the storage array that can be used for testing, backup, and archiving and recovery operations on a backup server. Remote replication can leverage EMC’s MirrorView or SAN Copy software for storage area networks to create a secondary storage array for backup and recovery operations, again with the storage devices themselves doing the actual replication, thus offloading requirements from the processor. Hardware Selection Of course, the ultimate success of any IT transformation project requires assembling the right hardware and software combination. Dell PowerEdge servers with QuadCore Intel Xeon processors are an excellent virtualization platform. With four processor cores and Intel Virtualization Technology, Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors deliver the multitasking performance you need to maximize your virtualization efforts—making your enterprise applications more responsive even as you consolidate server resources. Dell’s PowerEdge 2950, 3

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developing rapidly, but no one vendor has a complete tool set for managing it all, says Neal Kondel, Senior Product Manager, Alliance Product Strategy, with Altiris, a leader in service-oriented management solutions. “We have many of the systems management solutions needed to adequately manage virtual systems already available and running on the Altiris platform,” Kondel says. “In cases where more advanced or custom management of virtual systems is required, we’ve put integrations in place or have opened up our platform to allow customers and other vendors to more easily plug in their solutions.” Altiris architected a powerful data repository known as a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) that maintains information about virtual and physical machines. According to Kondel, a comprehensive virtual infrastructure management solution should provide policybased automation of management functions; standardized configuration across physical and virtual resources; virtualization-awareness of all assets in the infrastructure; VM security compliance and auditing; fast, standardized deployment and re-purposing of the virtual infrastructure; visibility and control of virtual machines; and detailed configuration inventory. Providing common tools for managing physical and virtual resources offers IT organizations a single console for device management and standardized configuration across physical and virtual resources. Change Management Strategy A sound change management system will maintain an organization’s virtual infrastructure standards by tracking each change as it is performed, simplifying the resolution of problems when they occur. If everything is documented, it should be much easier for IT organizations to determine the root causes of problems and provide much more rapid resolutions to issues. The Altiris CMDB provides a complete record of all configuration items potentially affected by a change. The CMDB tracks all changes throughout a server’s lifecycle as well as its relationship to other devices, virtual or physical. Such an integrated solution helps provide for a more secure and productive IT environment and makes it possible to automate virtually all tasks and processes from start to end. Provisioning and Deployment Virtual machines can be deployed and configured leveraging the same standardized options as physical servers to capitalize on the benefit of uniformity, while also

ease of provisioning new server applications and workloads on virtual infrastructures will likely result in the proliferation of new systems, so it is even more important to build in security procedures up-front and enforce existing security policies. The IT organization should plan on frequent and thorough security audits to ensure that the provisioning of new virtual servers complies with security requirements and to ensure appropriate remediation of any violations. In a virtual environment, attention needs to be focused on maintaining patch synchronization across virtual machines, complying with software licenses, and dealing with configuration changes that may have been made to alter a system that was formerly in compliance. Comprehensive reporting and tracking is critical to document what was discovered and what remediation was employed.

III. IMPLEMENTATION
The key deliverable of the planning and design phase is, of course, a comprehensive project implementation plan. It should clearly lay out the scope of the deployment and identify the goals being pursued. Physical migration timelines need to be mapped out to ensure the organization lines up resources and eliminates or at least minimizes any disruptive impacts; for example, the plan should consider whether there are periods during the year when particular applications are used more than others, so that the deployment can take advantage of less-impacted time periods. As the consulting team and IT organization discuss the physical infrastructure and software resources required to undertake the virtualization migration, they also need to assess the internal skills required to manage the new virtual infrastructure. In addition to mapping out the physical-to-virtual migration roadmap, the project should incorporate training to ensure the IT organization gains the skills needed to implement and manage a new architecture. Systems and Infrastructure Management In the virtual infrastructure, it becomes relatively easy to reallocate resources. It also becomes possible to automatically provision new virtual machines when certain workload thresholds are exceeded. But this ability to stretch and create resources requires even more attention to good systems management policies—in particular, standardization, automation and change management. Systems management for virtual infrastructures is 4

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performing these common tasks from a single console. All aspects of the provisioning cycle can be automated—from operating system to application deployment—reducing the time it takes to manage servers and freeing your key assets to work on more important assignments. Software packages can be quickly deployed, software patches can be automatically installed, and server maintenance can be automated. Once an organization establishes its standard, the Altiris system allows those configuration rules to be applied across all servers, eliminating redundant tasks. This helps make management across all servers easier and more costeffective. And it frees your most valuable asset—your highly trained IT staff—to spend their time where they are most needed. Systems Monitoring Time savings and cost savings, which are critical to IT organizations, can easily be lost when applications are mismanaged or otherwise left unmanaged. It is critical that an effective enterprise systems management platform be able to differentiate physical servers from virtualized servers and the relationships between physical hosts and virtualized servers and associated storage and networks. One of the potentially most disruptive changes in an infrastructure is a case in which a rogue virtualized server appears on a network. Only authorized IT systems administrators should be authorized to deploy new virtualized servers, and a good management system should “see” all virtualized resources, capture a complete inventory of physical and virtual resources and initiate a set of compliance policy tasks against any server, such as ensuring the operating system is properly patched and all software is appropriately licensed. The system management platform should also be able to account for powered-off or dormant systems that could be compromised immediately on start-up if left in a vulnerable state. Performance/Load Balancing VMware Infrastructure 3 features advanced distributed resource management technology that provides capabilities to automatically migrate virtualized servers from one physical server to another, as well as to restart virtualized workloads on a separate host server in the event that a host server malfunctions and stops operating. VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler, a product

Practicing
What We
he Dell IT group uses a server farm running virtualization software to provide more than 1,000 test and development environments on fewer than 100 physical servers.* The development teams at Dell place increasingly heavy requirements for servers, applications, and updates on the Dell IT group infrastructure. “To equal the number of virtual servers in our VMware farm, we would have to deploy approximately 320 physical servers—about $3 million in hardware costs,” says Rick Merino, senior systems engineer in Core Engineering, Dell IT. Dell IT implemented a virtualized server farm of some 1,200 virtual machines based on approximately 100 Dell PowerEdge 6650 and Dell PowerEdge 6850 servers, each with four Intel Xeon processors and 16 GB of RAM. Dell IT plans to augment this infrastructure by adding next-generation Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers. The Dell IT team utilizes Dell OpenManage for servers to keep tabs on the health of physical servers in the farm. Running VMware ESX Server 2.5, the servers are divided into groups of 20 for manageability, but they share the same storage area network (SAN) and are managed by a single PowerEdge 2650 server running VMware VirtualCenter 1.2. To quickly and easily deploy virtual servers, Dell IT uses a scripted installation process that utilizes the Altiris Deployment Solution. The SAN supporting these servers is based on a Dell/EMC CX700 Fibre Channel RAID array, with most of the virtual machine disk files residing on RAID-5 logical units. In addition, the Dell IT group utilizes the EMC Navisphere Management Suite to provide complete storage management, monitoring, and configuration—all from a simple Web browser interface.

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*Based on a report from Dell dated November 2006, titled “How Dell IT Uses Virtualization to Enable Test and Development.”

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Conclusions Since IT operations account for a significant percent of IT budgets in many organizations, moving to a virtual infrastructure offers many advantages. Volume servers running in today's enterprises can average 10 to 15 percent utilization, so consolidating servers can save costs in hardware, energy bills, real estate, and administrative overhead. But migrating from a purely physical infrastructure requires a concerted, phased effort to assess, plan, implement and manage the virtual infrastructure. Server sprawl is a reality for many organizations today, and assumptions about the numbers and functions of physical servers often prove to be woeful underestimates. It is vital that organizations undertake a comprehensive discovery to fully assess all the current physical resources and the relationships and dependencies between them. Just as importantly, migration from the physical to the virtual should be founded on alignment of IT with business goals, and a complete assessment of the processes and personnel is required to successfully manage both the implementation and the ongoing operation. Effective systems management becomes even more critical in the virtual infrastructure, as automation makes it possible to more quickly provision and deploy new servers that must be monitored for security and regulatory compliance and operate in a manner that dynamically reallocates resources to changing needs. Standardized configuration management will be a crucial element in an ongoing asset management plan to keep labor and software costs low and utilize computing power in the most effective manner throughout the entire IT environment. Dell’s commitment to standards-based virtualization architectures and longstanding relationship with industry leaders Altiris, EMC, Intel, and VMware provides customers with proven virtualization solutions that address top IT challenges. By delivering certified configurations, comprehensive infrastructure services, and providing a single source for enterprise support, Dell helps simplify the transition from a physical to virtual infrastructure.

feature of VMware Infrastructure 3, constantly monitors the virtual infrastructure, so if an application or a service is running on a given server that suddenly starts to starve for processing resources or I/O, non-priority applications can be shifted to other servers in the resource pool to ensure no disruptions or outage. In addition, new physical servers and storage that are added into the infrastructure can be automatically detected and utilized to adjust workloads on existing servers. Policy Setting and Policy Management Another key element of standardized configuration management is policy-based automation of various management functions. Such functions include patching of operating systems, software delivery, baseline compliance, security auditing of configuration and compliance, and uniform deployment and provisioning of virtual and physical machines. This is important to managing virtual infrastructure and machines because it gives IT staff the granular capability to include virtual systems in the same policies used by physical machines where it makes sense, while giving the option of separating them where it doesn’t. Servers will be provisioned, deployed, and configured consistently, reducing conflicts and issues on the network. Ongoing Asset Management According to an Altiris white paper, “Configuration Management for Virtual and Physical Environm e n t s ” ( h t t p : / / w w w. a l t i r i s . c o m / u p l o a d / w p managed_virtualization_std_config_mgmt_003.pdf), current surveys indicate that organizations using virtualization in production environments realize a typical reduction in physical servers of about 20%. But at the same time, it is not uncommon for those same IT organizations to see an average increase of close to 50% in the total number of overall systems managed (physical and virtual). Strong asset management can ensure the IT organization is utilizing that computing power to enable overall cost reduction and time savings throughout the entire IT environment, even when virtual systems and infrastructures are added.

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Dell and PowerEdge are trademarks of Dell Inc. Intel and Xeon are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. ©˙2007 Dell Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA. Reproduction in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of Dell Inc. is strictly forbidden. For more information, contact Dell. January 2007


				
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