Pushing Virtual Limits

Managing a Growing VMware deployment in a Software Development and Testing Environment
July 20, 2008, 3:29 am
Filed under: vmware | Tags: , , , ,

Big title, Big problem.

I think anyone here gets the basics and probably has a VCP or some other certificatation to prove they know what they are doing. On a technical level I have my fair share of challenges right now (SQL2k to 2k5 upgrade of the VC, an ESX Host that has decided two of its NICs are dead, and a variety of client issues) but those are pretty straight forward. VMware support has been challenging lately(see my earlier post on how they told me SQL2k was no longer a support DB backend with VC2.5 and told us we HAD to upgrade) but with the forum and other people out there posting I don’t think anyone ever hits a “unique” technical problem.

What we all hit that is unique is our management structure, our IT structure, and the ever changing requirements of the security teams. These not technical obstacles have always proven to be the limiting factor in my deployment and I doubt I am alone.

Let me set the stage a bit for the discussion that will follow. Right now our environment is working on at least three major new products and providing sustaining and support for at least twelve others. Our average machine profile – 1 cpu, less than 2gb of ram (1gb avg), under 60GB total hard disk space. The problem is we add or remove a dozen or more a day and have 100+ users with Virtual Machine Administrator rights.

The tricky problem comes in when you take a look at 26 hosts spread across more than five business units. Now that we are fully utilizing DRS the “I bought this host and therefore it is all mine” mentality becomes challenging. If one team has excess capacity shouldn’t they be part of the solution rather than hoarding an easily reclaimed resource?

At EMC we have this concept of “One|EMC” to try and bring all the acquisitions together. There are good things and bad things with this policy but I think this is an opportunity to do a real good. In this effort my management team has been very supportive with “lending” our excess capacity to other teams.

My BU owns the hardware, licensed the software, and pays for all upgrades and maintenence. There are a ton of costs associated with this effort and we have no intention of “charging” for utilizing idle assets (exactly what VMware excels at). What I do need to do is provide “cost visibility” to my management and the business units we work with. In order to do this we have purchased and are implementing VKernels “Chargeback Appliance.” The plan will be to provide scheduled reporting based on the following levels:

Deployment Total

Business Unit

Project teams within each BU

(Other reports as necessary)

The great thing is that these reports will be ready at anytime and I can give a login right to my management structure so they don’t have to ask me to generate reports for them. We will also be going one step further to show just how much we save by buying big iron – we will create a cost in VMware vs a physical system cost. VKernel has provided a great baseline for costing out the big numbers as well as all those little things that I just assume will be there (like electricity). Metrics matter and here they matter more than at most places. We know we have had a great thing for the past few years but now I finally have the tools to collect the metrics to show the big guys exactly how much money we are saving.


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