BVLog Bryan Voss’ mental synchronization point

18Apr/080

1.27%, baby!

Average CPU usage

We had VMWare run an analysis of 43 servers in our datacenter (about 1/3 of our total) that we thought would be good candidates for virtualization. They ran a monitoring box that collected performance stats for a couple of weeks and compiled the results to report back to us. The final results proved that we are in an absolutely ridiculous state right now. They told us we can consolidate those 43 servers down to 2 or 3 ESX servers running at around 15-20% CPU utilization. Given the way we have to space servers in the racks now due to power and cooling limitations, we could potentially consolidate 4 racks down to a few servers.

How is it that we have so many servers sitting there practically idle sucking up power and cooling 24x7? It comes down the the specs provided by our vendors and the fact that we generally purchase hardware and software as a package deal from the vendor. The vendors spec out the latest and greatest hardware and we just blindly accept what they suggest. After all, they're the experts, right?

We left a lot of servers out of the analysis. Primarily database servers and servers with special hardware like Brooktrout fax boards that can't be virtualized. There are also several systems that the vendors specifically said they would not support under virtual environments. That's another hurdle that we have to overcome: virtualization acceptance. There is some movement in that direction from our vendors, but many are still clueless when we ask about it. There are also a couple of cases that I am aware of where vendors say they cannot support a virtual environment due to licensing restrictions on third party code that they include with their products. That should subside over time as virtualization becomes a standard deployment platform.

One day, enterprise applications will be provided as self-contained virtual appliances that we deploy on a virtualization layer. The hypervisor is becoming the OS and the OS is becoming merely a set of APIs between the hypervisor and the application. Sure, there is a lot of friction from companies like Microsoft that have made their monopolies on operating systems, but the times they are a changin'.

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