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Virtualisation: Find the right application profile

20 Apr 12

Businesses of all sizes have embraced the virtualisation trend with vigour, as a means to reduce costs and enhance service delivery. Realising the promise of this technology, however, does not simply end with the decision to virtualise. Once a business begins operating in a virtual environment, they need to ensure they are managing their virtualised data centre effectively. Getting the right profile of applications is integral to effective management and should be the subject of a business’ shrewd review.

When businesses look at where virtualisation is today and where it will continue to go, application management stands out as a dominant predictor of success. Like any other significant technological change, virtualisation was initially disruptive to data centres’ operations. Most businesses have survived that disruptive stretch and are now in a position to review their status and to think about refining their IT processes and application selection techniques in order to maximise the promise of virtualisation.

Some of the biggest challenges of achieving maximum virtualisation centres on application configurations that, for one reason or the other, are simply not the best as virtual machines. Addressing application management will pave an easier path for businesses to get the most out of their move to virtualisation.

For example, there are a lot of design considerations if a database server is going to be deployed. Licensing, management, performance and other concerns can greatly influence the way a database system is deployed. If a design has been optimised for a physical installation as a behemoth database cluster, it might not be a good virtualisation candidate for several reasons. 

But what if a different approach is taken for that same database server? Could a few database server virtual machines do the ?same work as that single virtual machine ?that currently runs all databases? This ?problem is not to be confused with an issue ?of scale. Both vSphere and Hyper-V virtualisation technologies can support large virtual machines. This is rather a general aversion to the dreaded ‘Monster VM’ in IT environments. Every aspect of this dreaded VM is awkward, including backups, ?migration, upgrades and placement. A much better scenario is to have applications running as VMs that fit a consistent management profile.

Managing unstructured data 

The dreaded monster VM is not the only thing that needs to change today. Large amounts of unstructured data can also be difficult for organisations to manage, in both physical and virtual realms. Unstructured data, such as large amounts of file content, introduce difficult placement challenges. Further, this data profile is difficult to backup and among the least desirable things for most infrastructure administrators.

Applications that put this data into ?organised constructs, such as databases, are friendlier for virtualised infrastructures. Databases can include multiple disks attached and file groups going to multiple storage resources. While businesses need to be aware that this can complicate the provisioning process of a virtual machine, they should also know that this potential to complicate is better than large file spaces with millions of files which are potentially impossible to move or protect.

The role of databases in virtual environments 

Selecting applications to manage large ?data expanses in a structured format, such ?as a database, will also result in a large storage requirement that does not ?necessarily require high RAM or CPU. This approach is fine for traditional applications that IT administrators support, but today we also have other new options. Technologies such as the Spring framework, Azure, .NET and others are virtualisation ready. If we need to address scale, these apps are ready to go. The decision process to change the application will no doubt be arduous and filled with endless discussions of why one software solution is more suited to run in a virtual environment.

For businesses already on their ?virtualisation journey and keen to advance, ?a review of their application profile is important in order to best optimise the operating environment. 

By Don Williams, country manager, Veeam Australia and New Zealand

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