6 Responses

  1. Doug Baer
    Doug Baer at |

    Great article, Chris!

    I think it is important for people to realize that tackling Business Critical Applications requires a high degree of organizational/operational maturity. Just as bringing applications into virtual infrastructure for the first time required careful planning and preparation to ensure that appropriate levels of *performance* could be provided, BCA’s have an additional requirement for uptime.

    Typically, these workloads have SLAs at or exceeding 5 “nines” and are consequently subject to more stringent change control, testing, and validation processes than I commonly encounter in environments that currently handle Windows or Linux (x86) virtualization. Those workloads are a little more forgiving of the middle-of-the-day reboot than, say, an application that handles bank teller access to customer accounts, balances and transactions.

    As administrators of the virtual infrastructure, we need to be cognizant of these facts and determine the best ways to provide the appropriate levels of service to these new workloads. We have the additional challenge in that migration from mainframe or traditional UNIX platforms to x86 virtualization brings with it an OS replatforming onto Linux (or Windows?). While ESX has a reputation for “mainframe-like” availability, the differences between AIX or HP-UX and Linux are still rather great and there is typically somewhat of a learning curve for existing UNIX administrators. I’m not saying Linux is bad; it’s just different.

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  2. Michael Webster
    Michael Webster at |

    Great article Chris. Unix to VMware (Linux or Windows) and VBCA has been my life since 2007. In this new phase of virtualization consolidation ration is probably the least important metric. The name of the game is resource efficiencies under blended peak workloads without any negative impacts to SLA’s and guaranteeing and improving quality of service, while at the same time automating and simplifying management, business continuity and security. Like Doug mentioned the change controls and management disciplines might be different to your traditional Windows and Linux workloads. This drives certain architectural and operational decisions, and can impact how the virutalization team does things. Operational readiness is critical. Linux is different, but a lot of Unix admins have been needing to use Linux for a while and the transition over isn’t that much of a jump. Virtualization phase 2 will be very exciting and it is a massive opportunity for customers, partners and VMware.

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  3. Tim Antonowicz
    Tim Antonowicz at |

    Nice article, Chris. Most people having issues with virtualizing BC apps usually have treated them as if they were any other VM. It’s important to insure sufficient resources to BC apps. Customers might not see the same VM density on hosts running BC apps than they see elsewhere, but the benefits of virtualizing those workloads more than pay for themselves in the long run. Virtualizing Business Critical applications can result in better uptime, recoverability and portability while delivering performance as good as, and in some cases better, than physical servers. However, if not done properly, it can lead to ongoing woes for a SysAdmin.

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  4. Matt Liebowitz
    Matt Liebowitz at |

    As the others have said – great article Chris. I think the time has come for VBCA more so than in the past. The applications are changing (AAGs in SQL 2012 are a great example as are DAGs in Exchange 2010/2013), the vSphere platform is maturing, and storage related products that can use flash/SSD to accelerate reads/writes are helping to ease performance concerns.

    I think folks always assume that all business critical applications are fully utilized on all of their processor cores, consume lots of memory, etc. There is nothing that says a business critical application has to be a heavy consumer of resources. That’s where, as Doug, Michael, and Tim have all said, the other key considerations and benefits come into play. Consolidation ratios aren’t important – providing better up time, better availability, etc., all come into play. It isn’t always about performance, though it often is for workloads like SQL.

    Virtualizing the app is really just one part of the VBCA story. The next part is having all of the other cloud management/monitoring/automation pieces in place to help ensure performance, monitor for errors, ongoing sizing, etc. That’s where there is also a ton of opportunity in the VBCA space.

    I’m totally with you – the next 2-3 years are going to be very busy with organizations virtualizing these applications. I can’t wait!

    Matt

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