Top five virtualization problems: Virtualization capacity planning

Fast Packet blogger Josh Stephens says a lack of virtualization capacity planning is one of the top-five virtualization problems that must be addressed.

Capacity planning. Just thinking about those two seemingly harmless little words makes me lean  back in my chair, let out a huge sigh and rub my eyes. Network capacity planning is one of those activities we all know we should do, but most of us seldom find the time or the resources. Yet when it comes to virtualization capacity planning or planning for SAN management, there is no time for procrastination.

Capacity planning is the art of looking at trends in performance data to predict future capacity needs and then building budget, acquisition and deployment strategies around that data. It’s super critical when it comes to virtualization because the resources are so dynamic. In the physical world, there are natural impediments to growth that take some of the pressure off the need for capacity planning. Physical servers have to be purchased, imaged and physically installed in the data center. Virtual machines (VMs) have none of those limitations. Capacity planning in these environments usually happens annually during the budget planning process or as part of a major project rollout. The removal of these natural impediments to growth can cause VM Sprawl.

With this type of rapid growth, it's crucial to understand the trends for usage of computing resources like CPU, memory, disk space, disk I/O and network bandwidth. In virtual environments, because of the dynamic nature of the infrastructure, capacity planning needs to happen very frequently, or just as quickly as the resources are being allocated - at a minimum on a daily or weekly basis.

Capacity optimization as part of virtualization capacity management

Capacity allocation and usage can change so quickly in a virtual environment that in some cases capacity planning has morphed into what is now called capacity optimization. Capacity optimization is the art of managing resources in near real-time to best leverage your infrastructure investments. By constantly balancing resource usage across your infrastructure, you can ensure optimum performance of your IT services and optimum advantage of your resources.

Advancement from traditional data center to private cloud exponentially increases the need for accurate and timely capacity optimization and management tools because it removes even more of the common constraints for system allocation and provisioning. Based on customer demand and the value of doing aggressive capacity planning and optimization, leading vendors of virtualization and storage technologies have recently started including basic capacity planning capabilities within the management tools that they provide. However, because the need for advanced capacity planning is so overwhelming in this area, niche products have also been developed by startups and mature management technology vendors to satisfy the need.

If you remember only one thing from this blog post, I hope it’s this – if you’re not investing in the time, effort and tools for capacity planning and capacity optimization in a virtualized environment, you’re already behind…

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