Ten Tips For Successful Server Virtualisation by primusboy


									Ten Tips For Successful Server Virtualisation
You may be ready to implement server virtualisation, but ensuring that
each stage of the process is successfully carried out can be easier said
than done. This 10 step easy-to-follow guide provides ten expert tips to
ensure that server virtualisation is an exercise that is undertaken only
once and provides a platform for future application containment.
With the assistance of purpose-built software tools they have engaged
consultants to undertake the obligatory capacity planning exercise and
armed with that information new hardware has been purchased and the first
applications migrated into production. But is that really any way to
implement what is truly a paradigm shift in the way applications are
delivered to the business? Many organisation's that have rushed to
embrace this technology have found to their cost that further due
diligence is required; that the third-party 'Capacity Planning' report
tell them little more than they already know, certainly not enough to
deploy the technology in anger. To ensure server virtualisation is an
exercise that is undertaken only once and provides a platform for future
application containment, the following 10 tips are provided:
1. Adopt a Strategic Approach
To avoid these pitfalls it is important that organisations take a more
strategic approach: align project milestones with the hardware
replacement program and proactively plan scalability of the server farm
accordingly; scope and define a standard platform; implement a Proof of
Concept but replenish the test environment; react to short-term business
pressures by implementing tactical requirements strategically.
2. Align with the Business
Aligning with the business therefore means working 'with the business',
either to overcome these constraints or where this is not possible to
recognise them in the design process. It also means ensuring that the
organisation's business strategy and project success criteria form part
of the design process:
• What targets for cost savings has it set?
• Does it have intentions to move to a 24 x 7 operation?
• Is the organisation looking to improve its Disaster Recovery
capabilities or perhaps intent on implementing a 'charge-back' model?
• What Service Levels has the business associated with the applications
that are to be virtualised and how can this be achieved?
3. Consider the Underlying infrastructure
A number of questions concerning the underlying infrastructure needs to
be considered:
• What are the additional storage requirements?
• Is a Storage Area Network required: - fibre channel or ISCSI?
• How will the storage be presented: CIFS, NFS, Lun or raw device?
• What are the implications for: backup/recovery, business continuity,
local & wide area networking?
• How will the training budget be affected?
4. Design a Platform for Growth
To realise these objectives, break the cycle of purchasing hardware to
fulfil short-term tactical requirements and lay the basis for utility-
based capacity-on-demand, organisations should resist the temptation of
only provisioning sufficient capacity to meet short-term needs. Instead
they should provide a 'platform for growth' - a platform that is scalable
- with sufficient capacity to meet longer term needs and that can react
quickly to the changing demands of the business.
5. Rationalise your Application Set
Having undertaken a capacity planning exercise the software inventory
that generally accompanies it is typically overlooked in a rush to scope
the server farm. However unless the organisation already has this
information it is a good idea to review the inventory as a pre-requisite
to defining a set of standard operating system builds and reducing both
the set of applications / versions the organisation is supporting
6. Use Migration Tools with Discernment
In migrating applications to a virtual state, resist the temptation to
jump in and make indiscriminate use of Physical-Virtual (P-V) migration
tools, which may speed application deployment, but migrate with it a
lifetime of patches, fixes and unknown registry changes - 'rubbish in
equals rubbish out'.
7. Understand the impact on Operations
The operational management of the new environment is another area that
can typically get overlooked, surprisingly when the loss of an individual
server has significantly greater potential business impact. A number of
questions need to be addressed:
• How will the new environment be managed; what will be the impact on
people and processes; will it fit within the existing management
framework or will additional management tools be required?
• How will applications be protected; what service level agreements have
been defined?
• What are the backup/recovery options and what disaster recovery plans
are required?
• How will new applications be deployed and growth of the environment
• What are the security implications; where are the risks?
• What additional skills / training will be required?
8. Security, Security, Security!
Security as always should be an area of particular consideration during
the design and planning process; Virtual Servers and guest operating
systems need to be secured like any other operating system.
9. Review the Options
Microsoft and VMware are clear leaders in this space with many subtle,
and not so subtle, differences in their features and overall product set.
Similar product offerings are also available from a group of smaller
companies such as VirtualIron; XenSource and SWsoft. Organisations
looking to adopt server virtualisation technology should make themselves
aware of the various merits of each vendor before making their platform
10. Engage with a Partner
In order to ensure consolidation is an exercise that is undertaken only
once and provides a platform for future application containment,
organisations should engage with a partner who will take the time not
only to undertake a capacity based assessment of their server estate, but
will understand their complete environment
John Malabon manages Alphas website http://www.alphacom.co.uk Alpha, a
specialist data management integrator, who work with many of the leading
UK organisations to help them address their Data Security, data storage,
Data Backup& Disaster Recovery Infrastructure and Server and Storage
Virtualisation processes.
As a VMware Accredited Consultancy (VAC) and VMware Enterprise Partner
they provide a solutions for all data management requirements. Visit
http://www.alphacom.co.uk or email info@alphacom.co.uk

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