Taking the Risk out of Server Consolidation Capacity Management for Virtualized Environments

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1 Taking the Risk out of Server Consolidation Capacity Management for Virtualized Environments 1

2 Drive Toward Efficiencies Server consolidation is a high priority of every large IT organization today due to the inherent efficiencies and cost reduction it promises. Benefits include increased hardware utilization, reduced energy demands, optimized data center / real estate utilization, and improved management efficiencies. Gartner recently reported that utilization of most IT infrastructure only reaches 10 20%. One Hyperformix customer averaged hardware utilization under 7% across the company prior to consolidation. Their post consolidation utilization now averages a comfortable 60 70%. Large financial institutions have told Hyperformix that it costs $1800/month to house each piece of hardware in their data center. One of these companies had over 200 servers running under 5% average utilization. Using 5% of a $360,000 corporate asset is not a sustainable practice. Fortune magazine recently reported that companies, like Equinix, do not have time to wait two years to build new data centers to feed their demand for growth. For companies like Equinix, consolidating servers in their current data centers is one way to recapture valuable data center rack space immediately. The Risk of Consolidating Too Much, or Too Little For all of its benefits, consolidation does not come without risk. Many companies are turning to VMware and other server virtualization technologies that enable them to reduce the footprint of servers in their data center. The opportunity to consolidate numerous servers demonstrating low utilization rates (e.g., 5%) to one server with an average utilization of 50% seems promising. There are risks associated with consolidation though: Consolidate too much, and you may blow the top off the server. In this case, if the server could not handle the consolidated workload it would lead to poor availability and performance or worse, frustratingly slow end-user response times on critical business systems. Consolidate too little, and you are not realizing the economies of scale promised by the timeconsuming server consolidation effort. Although any level of consolidation is likely valuable to a company s bottom line, consolidation projects can require months of planning, calculations of projected savings and efficiencies, testing of new platforms, and monitoring to ensure success. Before committing hundreds of thousands of dollars to these efforts, companies also need to ensure the fastest ROI possible. Many companies today are focusing consolidation and virtualization efforts on non-critical, low-utilized servers to mitigate their risk as they evaluate their consolidation and virtualization results. Few companies today would risk consolidating servers running even moderately important applications to distributed servers using virtualization technologies like VMware or other partitioning software, fearing slow response times due to lack of proper capacity on the system. 2

3 The key to successful server consolidation and virtualization is to combine insights about application loads, user demands, and hardware capacity into a comprehensive capacity planning model. Providing an exact match of infrastructure to the business demand that will be place on it ensures the highest levels of asset utilization while optimizing performance for the IT organization s customers. Relying on Knowledge and Expertise The challenge of deriving these answers has historically been left to a very specialized discipline of performance engineers and capacity planners resources with many years of experience and an encyclopedic knowledge of technology capabilities and capacities. With most of their expertise gained from years of capacity planning in mainframe (partitioned) environments, their knowledge and discipline has been slow to migrate to the complex world of distributed servers where capacity approximations have been hindered by too many independent, ever-changing parts. A high risk is associated with inaccurate approximations that lead to over-consolidation. For this reason, many consolidations have focused the lowest value applications that are not mission-critical or high volume, and as a result have returned only lackluster results or economies of scale. There is an alternative. Companies are managing server consolidation projects from traditional servers to virtualized server environments using a proven, systematic solution for capacity planning. The results are accurate, comprehensive, and timely. Reducing Risk, Improving Accuracy Hyperformix enterprise capacity management solutions reduce the risk of server consolidation efforts. Hyperformix has helped 150 of the Fortune 1000 to consolidate server infrastructure and optimize application performance with clear accountability for performance today and well into the future. Using Hyperformix capacity management solutions, our customers achieve the greatest efficiencies and cost optimizations, while significantly reducing risks in their server consolidation projects. Hyperformix adds significant and measurable financial and risk-avoidance benefits to server consolidation projects targeting traditional, as well as virtualized, server environments. Hyperformix helps companies quickly evaluate the best hardware options, improve asset utilization, and eliminate risks when consolidating both mission-critical and non-critical platforms. When business-critical processes such as supply chain, manufacturing, or customer self-service are on the line, Hyperformix provides the peace of mind that CIOs need. Streamlining Hardware Evaluations Hardware vendors often recommend their newest servers that have been optimized for VMware or other server virtualization techniques. Understanding the true performance of these systems in a test lab or production staging environment has been difficult due to the cost and time associated with evaluating, purchasing, configuring, testing, and deploying the many alternative solutions available. 3

4 Hyperformix capacity management solutions allow our customers to test the newest servers and contrast them with existing server inventory targeted for server consolidation. With Hyperformix library of over 2500 infrastructure components, what-if scenarios for server consolidation and virtualization can be developed and analyzed in as little as a few minutes. Quickly and accurately evaluating hardware options using Hyperformix solutions is simple; one large communications firm saved millions of dollars sizing the appropriate server environment that supported a large retail sales application. Like many of our customers, ROI on their capacity management technology purchase was achieved many times over during their first project. Improving Utilization and Response Time Targets VMware and server virtualization consultants often recommend consolidating to a target of 30-50% utilization. Many consultants driving server consolidation projects to virtualized environments rely on ruleof-thumb analysis or spreadsheet calculations to determine how much infrastructure can be consolidated and how to best partition the platforms for optimal performance. In practice, consultants and their clients seek consolidation targets that allow a large comfort zone for miscalculations, typically leading to moderateor negative- returns on the projects. While the risk of performance degradation may be lower, the project invariably fails to meet one of its key objectives maximizing the value from IT assets in support of the business. Although this may be a significant improvement over the original configuration of traditional servers, it presents inherent risks. Companies need to have a keen understanding of the performance of the new virtualized server environment under peak demand periods, both today and well into the future. Hyperformix capacity management solutions can demonstrate performance and response time effects immediately following consolidations, and forecast performance and response times as business demands continue to grow. Performance and response times can also be accurately simulated with a variety of user loads from one to tens of thousands of users. Accounting for the Future Leading a server consolidation project is risky when future demands on the consolidated infrastructure are not well understood or taken into account. For example, consolidating three servers showing 10% average utilization today to one larger system using virtualized partitions may not look too risky, but there are many factors that could negatively impact this initiative. Hyperformix solutions help evaluate current and future capacity with precision, helping to accurately and quickly evaluate the risks. Risk examples include: What if the workload demand on the consolidated servers grows 5% per month for the next 12 months as a result of a new developer team being hired or a marketing program generating new site traffic? What if you are consolidating four different applications onto a server, where one application may be heavily used while the other three demonstrate light usage patterns. When will increased workloads on the heavily used application outgrow its assigned virtualized partition on the server, or when will it begin to negatively impact the performance of the three other applications running on the server? What if you have not accounted for network or storage elements and their effect on overall performance? 4

5 Hyperformix solutions and capacity management best practices help customers determine today s needs, but also forecast availability of capacity on the host servers and virtualized partitions. If capacity bottlenecks are forecasted to impact performance or response times of an application six months from now, what-if scenarios can quickly be built and analyzed to determine the optimal changes and timing to alleviate the issue before it impacts end-users or other business applications. Using Hyperformix capacity management solutions, customers have improved their asset utilization from server consolidation projects significantly over inaccurate, manual capacity planning approaches. Additionally, with the improved accuracy companies achieve with Hyperformix solutions, broadening consolidating efforts to servers that host higher volume applications onto virtualized server environments improves the return on investment for the overall project. Organizations can take on projects that return the highest value with confidence. Realize the Maximum Potential Server consolidation and virtualization will continue to be a hot topic for IT organizations for years to come. Driving these efforts with the right enterprise-class capabilities and best practices will offer the best opportunity to realize all of the benefits of consolidation and virtualization projects. Hyperformix enterprise capacity management solutions help businesses ensure those benefits are realized to their maximum potential. Hyperformix is your perfect partner to identify, quantify and minimize the risk of any virtualization project. About Hyperformix Hyperformix enables IT to efficiently, dependably, and predictably deliver good business outcomes, productivity and growth for their organization. Our solutions accurately predict and prevent IT capacity and performance issues before they negatively impact business. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Hyperformix has offices throughout the United States, Europe & Asia. For more information, visit Hyperformix at 5 V2.1

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