Virtualising your
    mission-critical applications:
    Seven things you need to do

    Enterprises that seek a succes...
lower the marginal cost associated with the                    To manage the cost of your virtualisation project,
mean that the server’s memory needs are              backup and restore, disaster recovery, snapshotting
        greater t...
require a different toolset from that used to change                              It has argued that external best-in-clas...
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Virtualising your mission-critical applications


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Virtualising your mission-critical applications

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Virtualising your mission-critical applications

  1. 1. Virtualising your mission-critical applications: Seven things you need to do Enterprises that seek a successful move to virtualisation have a number of hurdles to overcome; and not all are obvious. Virtualisation offers much to the organisation that implements it correctly—a reduction in power and cooling costs, fewer physical servers to manage, faster go-to-market with new services, and easier, more effective administration of computing workloads—but those improvements can be realised only when the process of virtualising your mission-critical applications is managed appropriately. This paper identifies seven key things that you must take into account if your business is to be successful in virtualising your mission-critical applications. Introduction 1. Align virtualisation projects with business goals Virtualisation—in the data centre, a storage Organisations that decide to virtualise do so for system, or even on a personal computer—has a number of reasons. The “classic” reasons become a major IT trend. Virtualisation software are generally: • separates the physical from the logical in an Less hardware to maintain by consolidating IT environment, enabling a single physical multiple physical systems to virtual machines computing resource to function as multiple virtual on fewer physical systems • resources. As virtualisation technology becomes Reduced costs for power, cooling, management more mature, the conversation is moving from and provisioning • whether virtualisation should be used, towards Greater flexibility in assigning physical the when and the how. resources to workloads • Higher levels of uptime with fewer single The process of introducing virtualisation into a points of failure in the environment data centre can be daunting. Deciding which of your applications to virtualise, and how best to Yet these “classic” reasons for virtualisation are do so, requires careful planning and execution. not quite the “right” ones. While important, they Properly managing and monitoring workloads don't capture virtualisation’s real potential for once they are virtualised, requires specialised achieving business goals, which should always tools. It's all too easy for virtualisation to be your primary priority. reduce—rather than enhance—the operational flexibility of IT. With the right tools and techniques, virtualisation can be a catalyst for levels of automation not This paper identifies seven key tactics for otherwise seen in the IT environment. By creating successful virtualisation of your mission-critical workload templates and automating actions 1 applications. across swathes of workloads, you can substantially
  2. 2. lower the marginal cost associated with the To manage the cost of your virtualisation project, creation of new services. Above all, virtualisation’s it's critical to get the volume and architecture separation of the logical from the physical of storage right. • transforms IT's agility, making it much more able Anticipated growth of server and service to respond rapidly to the changing needs of needs. Virtualisation’s ability to quickly create business. Businesses that declare success in their new servers and services from templates can virtualisation projects do so when virtualisation lead to virtual machine sprawl. Planning for augments the processing of business. this growth, and creating policies and governance to prevent uncontrolled server/service growth, 2. Create a full inventory is critical to a successful virtualisation strategy. • Once you have a virtualisation strategy in place, System management tools and their capabilities. the first step—before any technology rollout—is It's likely that not all assets will be virtualised, a full inventory of your environment. An effective so it's worth knowing what, if any, tools you inventory must include, at minimum: have for monitoring and managing virtual and • Server composition, location, networking physical assets as an integrated whole. and peripherals. You can't determine your hardware needs for virtual hosts without 3. Monitor pre-virtualisation performance understanding the capabilities of your existing If you host multiple virtual machines on a single assets. Location information is important host, they must share its resources; so if one because virtualisation environments are highly machine oversubscribes processing resources, it's centralised, so some services may need to be likely to affect others on the same host, resulting relocated to be virtualised. Peripheral inventory in a reduction in quality for multiple IT services. is critical because many virtualisation solutions Because of this heightened potential for multiple do not support certain types of peripherals. failures, understanding the performance of virtu- • Server workload and installed software or alisation candidates and identifying those with services. The business services you plan to unusual needs is an important step in ensuring host atop your virtual machines, along with virtualisation success. Although hundreds of their needs for interconnectedness, will performance metrics are available, here are the determine how they are positioned in the ones that are truly necessary to gather the gross virtual environment. resource requirements of a virtualisation candidate: • • OS and application licences. Processor time. This measures the percentage Because virtualisation changes the terms for of time a processor performs productive work. many types of software licences (some licence If a service requires large amounts of processor costs will go up, some down), deciding what time, it may be difficult to collocate it with others services to virtualise requires an accurate on a virtual host. • understanding of existing licences. Processor queue length. If a processor cannot • Server performance baseline. Only by keep up with its load, instructions queue up for understanding the current performance of a its attention. A high processor queue length physical server can you make an educated can indicate that the workload needs more decision about its virtualisation potential. Getting processing power. • this data can be hard, with native tools such as Total and available memory. Virtual systems Microsoft Windows’ PerfMon being difficult to can assign memory to services on demand, so use. This is the most critical inventory activity, identifying unused memory will enable you to trim discussed in more detail in the next section. configurations to use memory more efficiently. • • Current and anticipated storage requirements. Memory page rate. This indicates how much Moving from segregated, direct-attached storage memory is being swapped out of high-performing to consolidated storage requires significant RAM to low-performing disk. When available 2 investment in technology upgrades. memory is low and the page rate is high, it can
  3. 3. mean that the server’s memory needs are backup and restore, disaster recovery, snapshotting greater than its available memory. and many other processes can sometimes be • Disk queue length. Virtualisation solutions can more valuable than the benefits of consolidation. have heavy requirements for disk performance Where this is the case, it can be valuable to in order to process changes within the virtual locate a single high-use server on a virtual host. machine. If a candidate workload has a high In fact, a consolidation ratio approaching 1:1 can disk queue length, a bottleneck may exist with be an acceptable goal for deployment. So take a its disk subsystem. hard look at the business benefits associated • Thread context switch rate. Each process is with virtualisation. To help you determine the made up of a number of threads, and a processor right consolidation ratio, consider the use of switches between them (context switching) to monitoring tools that analyse data across multiple process them simultaneously. A high context servers, since these can provide guidance as to switch rate means that many threads are vying their ultimate destination and configuration. for processor attention. 5. Right-size virtual resources to workload needs While these measures help to identify physical IT environments today often over-engineer their servers that may not be good candidates for physical servers because it is inexpensive to do virtualisation, it's important to note that these so and ensures that machines have similar counters are designed to measure entire-server physical characteristics. But this practice makes performance only. To maximise your chances of little sense if your goal is to use hardware more creating a high-quality virtualisation environment efficiently through virtualisation. Instead, you that supports only suitable services, you should need to fine-tune assigned physical resources to also measure the performance of individual the needs of your virtualised workloads. applications and business services. For many virtualisation solutions, doing this with native tools ranges from difficult to operationally unfeasible. Measuring resource needs from within a virtual machine does not accurately portray those needs from a physical standpoint. And the tools at the virtual host layer often can’t dig far enough into virtual machine configurations to provide actionable information. To avoid a costly mismatch between assigned resources and virtual machine needs, you need tools that can look at individual processes within virtual machines, compare that information with data seen at the virtual host layer, and analyse current and historical data to illuminate where This sample report shows data used to determine strong resources may be incorrectly assigned. candidates for virtualisation using key performance indicators such as processor and network utilisation, average disk utilisation and the top processes 6. Decouple hypervisors from their consuming memory. management tools If you manage a virtualisation solution using 4. Think beyond consolidation only the tools provided by its vendor, you'll If you're virtualising only to consolidate hardware, usually need a different tool for each you may dismiss servers as candidates due to management action. For example, administering high resource use. But virtualisation has many configurations within a virtual machine will more benefits than consolidation. Improvements in 3
  4. 4. require a different toolset from that used to change It has argued that external best-in-class solutions the virtual machine’s configuration on the host. can augment existing virtualisation platforms This duplication of management tools reduces with needed planning, monitoring and the overall efficiency of the virtual environment. management capabilities. By decoupling an environment’s hypervisor from NetIQ AppManager and NetIQ Aegis fulfil those the tools used to manage it, it's possible to needs. These solutions deliver proven-quality administer the entire IT environment more system performance and availability management, effectively. Find a unified interface that lets you and enable integrated IT process automation manage physical machines alongside their virtual across hybrid physical-virtual environments. counterparts, and that can manage elements of Their management and monitoring capabilities help the IT environment lower in the stack, such as align virtual management with IT management networking, together with those higher in the as a whole. stack, such as databases and applications. NetIQ AppManager identifies performance pain 7. Monitor the end-user’s perspective points both pre- and post-migration to a virtual There's another reason for using a management infrastructure. It uses industry best practices and solution that works across systems: simple rich monitoring data to determine and position monitoring that looks only at on-system counters virtualisation candidates. Pre-virtualisation, the is not enough to truly capture the end-user's metrics it collects from everyday management of perspective. Users often experience system systems and applications becomes valuable performance problems that aren't reflected in intelligence in understanding how a virtualised on-system counter measurements. So ensure that system will perform, long before purchasing your virtualisation management solution includes decisions are made. AppManager also includes top-down monitoring that captures metrics end-user experience metrics that can feed data to associated with the end-user's experience— consumable reports and actionable visualisations. looking at transactions among IT systems and between those systems and their users—to identify NetIQ Aegis automates many of the processes areas of low-quality performance. These tools also conducted by operations, security andvirtualisation measure aggregate traffic across the network as administrators, thereby ensuring that these a whole, to identify where additional network processes are properly followed and environments traffic may be contributing to the user's problem. remain secure. ® NetIQ AppManager aligns virtual management Together, NetIQ AppManager and NetIQ Aegis with IT management can give you the confidence to manage, This paper has explored seven critical factors for and accelerate the virtualisation of, your successful virtualisation of your applications. mission-critical applications. NetIQ Limited NetIQ Europe Limited Mallard Court Building 2, 2nd Floor e: Market Square Parkmore East Business Park Staines, Middlesex Galway, Ireland TW18 4RH, United Kingdom t: +353 (0) 91 782 600 t: +44 (0) 1784 454 500 Copyright © 2009 Attachmate Corporation. All Rights Reserved. Attachmate, and the Attachmate symbol are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Attachmate Corporation, in the USA and other countries. All other trademarks, trade names, or company names referenced herein are used for identification only 4 and are the property of their respective owners.