Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Designing Server Infrastructures: Virtual Consolidation

In data centres across the globe, underutilized (mostly Windows) servers are being consolidated onto virtualization platforms, like VM Ware and Xen. In the midst of this changing environment, we pick up our evolving discussion on server infrastructure designs for large enterprises, with Virtual Consolidation.

A virtualization layer, or hypervisor, is installed directly onto the server; providing a platform for multiple virtual server or guest to share a single physical server.Just as Server Sprawl was a reaction to the Standard Enterprise Stack design, Virtual Consolidation is a reaction to Server Sprawl. It addresses Sprawl's most obvious flaw, hardware underutilization. Depending on the amount it can bring enterprises' singificant reductions in required hardware.

Also like the Standard Stack, the hypervisor provides a common platform for application portability and distributed availability.
Unfortunately while solving two problem, two more are introduced. Of primary concern is the lack of capital controls, physical hardware procurement provided. Less scrutiny will lead to more virtual servers, who's life cycle now must be supported. This trend, known as VM Sprawl, can be mitigated with proper VM life cycle management, unfortunately most enterprises do not commit the necessary "blood and treasure".

Also the virtualization layer now performs hardware abstraction and resource sharing, leaving only a single duty, providing common system services, for the operating system. The components of the operating system that used to provide these services are now redundant. Add to this the irrelevant middleware components inherited from server sprawl and there is a significant amount of unnecessary software.Virtual Consolidation doesn't do anything in an of itself to help with supporting asset's life cycles. For the most part, except for the act of deploying servers, all the life cycle problems from Server Sprawl still exist in this design.

Since this is the current state of many enterprises infrastructures, what problems need to be addressed:

  • unnecessary software
  • manual software and hardware life cycle processes
  • lack of VM life cycle management

Cost: Foot Print: H/W Low S/W High

Cost: Life Cycle: Medium-High

Responsiveness: Medium

No comments:

Post a Comment