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Roadblocks To Virtualization

After the initial rollout, server virtualization projects often get stuck as managers and administrators begin to cope with how successful the first phase of the project was and begin to try to grasp how they can increase the number of systems that are virtualized. There are two big roadblocks to a high percentage of virtualization in most data centers; cost and efficiency.
After the initial rollout, server virtualization projects often get stuck as managers and administrators begin to cope with how successful the first phase of the project was and begin to try to grasp how they can increase the number of systems that are virtualized. There are two big roadblocks to a high percentage of virtualization in most data centers; cost and efficiency.Cost is being addressed by increasing virtual machine density using analysis tools like those from Akorri or Tek-Tools that allow for the inspection of the physical and virtual environment. They can then identify virtualization hosts that have additional resource capacity (compute, memory, network IO, storage) to provide or analyze the non-virtualized servers. They can then present a list of those servers that will be the next best candidates for migration to the virtualization environment. Some of these tools will not only provide suggestions as to which host to put these systems on but they will also simulate the impact on the virtualization host when the migration is made.

When it comes to storage there are several solutions for reducing the storage consumptions of virtual machines. Companies like Vizioncore with their vOptimizer product can analyze virtual machine's VMDK files to see which ones have been over-allocating space during the virtual machine creation. It can then adjust those files, saving disk capacity. While it does that the partitions are then 64k block aligned. VMware states that when VMFS partitions are aligned to 64KB track boundaries result in reduced latency and increased throughput.

The next step is to look at specific storage optimization technologies. Thin provisioning, as we discuss in our Thin Provisioning White Paper, can greatly reduce storage consumption in VMware environments. Additionally companies like Storwize and NetApp can offer compression and deduplication of VMware images, reducing the capacity requirements of the virtual machine even further.

All of these technologies though simply put more servers, although virtualized, into the same space. Each of these virtual servers still must be managed by IT personnel. The efficiency of the personnel is one of the key enablers to complete virtualization. The challenge is finding tools can allow the IT administrator to manage more servers (physical or virtual). We will explore some of those in our next entry.

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George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.