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4 Easy Steps to Approach the Server Virtualization Project

4 Easy Steps to Approach the Server Virtualization Project
4 Easy Steps to Approach the Server Virtualization Project
4 Easy Steps to Approach the Server Virtualization Project

If it is the first time you are thinking about virtualizing your physical server infrastructure, you probably don't have a clue where to start. While we all acknowledge the benefits of server virtualization, if not done properly, we could defeat the purpose of it. Randomly purchasing physical servers to virtualize existing ones might seem like a quick solution but after the server consolidation project ends we have not really decreased the number of physical servers by a significant amount, virtualized the proper servers, or made our infrastructure more manageable.

Here are the few easy steps to follow that will give you a better insight into your server infrastructure and a better idea on how to proceed with a virtualization project:

Conduct an interview

The first thing you need to do is conduct an interview with system administrators or IT managers responsible for server infrastructure. Ask them basic questions like, how many servers they have, what kind of operating system servers run, what is the average age of the servers, what are the most important servers they have, what kind of utilization each server receives, how many system rooms they have and where they are located.

You will probably not get all the answers and you may already know some of the answers, but it is still important to ask them. The person might reveal some new detail in his or her answers that will give you a better general overview about the infrastructure.

Perform a physical inspection

After the interview you must perform a physical inspection of the system room or rooms where the servers are located. Ask questions about the servers and what roles or services they run. Visually detect aging servers and write them down. Detect servers with specialized hardware devices such as USB dongles, serial ports that are in use, or fax boards. These servers probably cannot be virtualized. Detect any workstations that are maybe used as servers because they are perfect candidates for virtualization. Look for new servers that are not older than 2 years. It is common practice that the new server is purchased with each new project and is often over sized and because of that underutilized. These servers could actually be used as virtualization hosts that will run virtual machines.

Measure server utilization

The first two steps were all about collecting useful data that gave us overall picture of the infrastructure. This step is, however, the most important one as we will perform exact measurements of each server utilization. The parameters we will monitor are CPU, memory and disk utilization as well as disk capacity usage. You will only want to monitor servers that you have identified as candidates for virtualization and you already know which they are because you have already performed the first two steps. You should monitor the utilization for extended period of time, usually for one week but extended monitoring might be necessary in some environments. The idea is to capture the periods of highest activity. The purpose of this step is to fine tune your list and to gather utilization data that will help you to properly size the future virtualization infrastructure such as the number of servers required and its characteristics - CPU, RAM, disk capacity and performance.

Document and propose

After you have gathered all the data and recorded the server activity you need to document your findings and propose a solution. All the steps performed should be described in this document so that reader knows how did you come up with numbers and why you are recommending the exact solution.



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