Getting Back to the Promise of Virtualization

A virtualized environment is everything your organization hoped for and more, right? Almost unlimited resources, easy spin-up/spin-down of virtual servers and a big cost-savings on hardware. When industry experts, analysts and even your colleagues proclaimed it to be true, you quickly charted your course and set sail on the virtual sea.  

So why hasn’t your ROI materialized? Why isn’t your virtualization strategy panning out the way you expected? Why is your organization experiencing spikes in both operating expenses (OpEx) and capital expenses (CapEx)?

After speaking with hundreds of customers, we’ve concluded that the answer to these questions rests with one simple fact:

It’s so easy to create and distribute virtual machines (VMs) that companies have become complacent about the need to properly manage them.  

As part of this three-blog series, we’ll explain the key concepts you need to optimize virtualization management within your organization.

VM Density

While you can create and run dozens of VMs per physical server, keep in mind that even though the workloads are virtual, the server and storage resources are not.

VM density is an important metric because you trade it off against optimal performance. If your density is too high, then your VMs are competing for precious resources, which can lead to poor performance. While it can be a problem, it’s easier to find than low density.

If your density is too low, then you’re underutilizing your physical resources. The most common symptom is excellent performance, which makes it look as though there’s no problem at all. However, once you edge back toward high density that’s when you begin to see performance problems. Striking the balance is what optimizing virtualization management is all about.

VM size is also a factor in density. Creating immense VMs leads to inefficient sharing of disk space, physical memory and CPU.

VM Sprawl

Physical sprawl is pretty easy to spot. While rows of servers take up a lot of real estate and cost a lot of money, VM sprawl is less conspicuous and can be more difficult to identify. Almost every virtual data center exhibits some symptoms of VM sprawl:

  • Abandoned VM images—They’re no longer in the inventory, but they’re still in your virtualization environment. Even though they’re invisible, they consume resources.
  • Powered-off VMs—Nobody has started them up for months (years?), yet they still take up physical disk space.
  • Unused template images—If your organization has published templates for creating VMs, are you sure anyone uses them anymore?
  • Snapshots—VM snapshots that go a long time without modification are also disk hogs. If they’ve outlived their usefulness, then they’re candidates for deletion or archiving to inexpensive storage.
  • Zombie VMs—Self-service provisioning is a great idea, until it isn’t. Most users assume there is no cost associated with spinning up a few VMs (and then forgetting about them), but zombie VMs consume resources needlessly.

VM sprawl leads to wasted storage and computing resources in the virtual environment. It’s inconspicuous at first, but it doesn’t remain that way for long and it eventually affects your performance and OpEx.

Read the E-book: An Expert's Guide to Optimizing Virtualization Management

We’re just getting warmed up. In the next two blogs in this series, we’ll take a look at optimizing virtualization management. Meanwhile, download our guidebook, An Expert's Guide to Optimizing Virtualization Management. It highlights five important areas many companies overlook in their virtual landscape where they can usually recover lost ROI and regain the promise of virtualization.