Robert Larson

Thoughts and information on Virtualization and other topics

Assembling the Justification for Server Consolidation Project

Assembling the Justification for Server Consolidation Project

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Adapted from the Virtual Server 2005 R2 Resource Kit - Chapters 12-14

Many companies are looking at server consolidation as a way to reduce their IT infrastructure costs. Making the move requires project justification and projected costs and cost savings before they will be given the budget for the project.

When we wrote the Virtual Server 2005 R2 Resource Kit, we wanted to not only tell you how to deploy, use, manage, and operate the product, but how to assemble a project from envisioning to pilot. This information is adapted from those chapters of the book.

The following is a summary of the first steps of a project that lets you assemble the project justification.

1) Envision the project
2) Discover your infrastructure
3) Analyze the data
4) Determine project costs and cost savings
5) Write a great project proposal

Envisioning the project

Envisioning is all about getting the project team to agree on the project vision, problem statements, goals, scope, issues, risks, and expected end state. This is extremely important so that you can focus on only what is within the scope of the project and so you can accurately explain to the executive sponsor what the project will accomplish.

  • The project vision should be short but easy to understand.
  • The problem statements should explain what issues you are trying to address with the project. They should be quantitative where ever possible so that you can set a goal to reach as part of the project scope. This allows you to get buy-in and then evaluate the projects success.
  • The scope should define what locations, servers, applications, business units, etc are in scope.
  • The risks should focus on potential issues that might arise and how you could mitigate the issue from happening.
  • The issues list tracks the issues that did happen and their resolution status. The list should be maintained for the entire project
  • Expected end state should describe what the team expects the infrastructure, operations, and management should look like at the end of the project.

Discovering your infrastructure

Before you can determine what can be virtualized you need to assemble the data to analyze. This should involve collecting hardware, software, and performance information on every server that is a potential candidate. You also want to assemble the space and power rating information for each server

Hardware inventory should include the configuration information for the processor (speed, #procs, #cores, make, model, stepping), memory (installed), network (# NICs, speed, MAC, IP, make, model), and disk systems (#disks, size, total space, space available).

Software inventory should include the installed applications, version, and update information.

Performance data should collect information for processors, memory, network, and disk. You typically want to collect utilization (max, min, avg) and usage information, and collect it for each component if there are multiple. You want to collect the data over a period of 30 days so that you see the workload signature of the server over an entire business cycle.

Space information is typically how many rack units a server requires. Power rating is combined rating of all the power supplies in the server.

[You will find scripts and reference to tools to assist in the data collection in the Virtual Server 2005 R2 Resource Kit DVD)

Analyzing the data

Once you have the data, you need to determine the following:

1) Determine any exclusions you want to set or have to set due to the limitations of your virtualization solution (for example servers with 64-bit OS for Virtual Server guests)
2) Set your usage or performance criteria for a virtualization candidate (memory - MB, processor - MHz, Disk - GB, NIC - Mb/s)
3) Remove the servers that meet the exclusions
4) Evaluate each machine against the criteria candidate criteria.
5) Group the servers on how they will be consolidated
6) Determine the host configurations you will use and set thresholds
7) Combine the workloads of each group of servers so that you get as close to the thresholds you set without exceeding them. Count the number of required hosts.

So now you should know the number of hosts required for each location.

[You will find sample spreadsheets on the Virtual Server 2005 R2 Resource Kit DVD that will make this a simpler process)

Determine project cost savings

1) Evaluate the hardware from all the virtualization candidates for possible reuse as hosts
2) Combine all the space and power requirements together to determine the amount of space, power, and cooling that can be saved from the project.
3) Determine the capital costs savings from eliminating the physical servers
4) Determine or approximate the cost savings for supporting hardware like KVMs, Monitors, network switches, etc.

Determine the Project Costs

There will be costs in the implementation. You will be deploying new servers, new software, and modifying processes.

1) Determine the cost of the hardware for the Virtual Server hosts (offset by the reusable servers). Do not forget any supporting hardware like disk cabinets, switches, etc..)
2) Determine the cost of Windows 2003 Data Center Edition (you want to use this one so you can freely move virtual machines around), you will need a single license per host.
3) Determine the cost of the virtualization software
       a) Virtual Server - free
       b) SCVMM, SCOM, SCDPM - E-SML license
4) Determine the cost of any consulting services
5) Determine the deployment cost
6) Determine the training cost

Writing the Proposal

Now you have all the information about the virtualization candidates, number of required hosts, cost savings, and project costs, now is the time to assemble the proposal to management. The proposal should include a summary of the vision and scope, the risks, the assessment findings, the project costs, then the project savings.

Hopefully the project savings outweigh the project costs by a hefty factor to make the discussion quick and painless.

For more detailed discussion on these topics, refer to the Virtual Server 2005 R2 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press.

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