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February 2012, Vol. 37

Defining an ideal virtual server consolidation ratio

The ideal virtual server consolidation ratio can be elusive. Larger servers and higher core counts are tempting, but licensing models and uptime concerns are keeping IT managers from overconsolidating. When it comes to designing a virtual server consolidation strategy, how much is too much? How much is too little? If you’re using virtualization, that can be a surprisingly difficult question to answer. In the early days of virtualization, the goal for a server consolidation ratio was usually “the more the merrier.” Stuff as many virtual machines (VMs) on to a server as it can possibly hold, reasoned IT managers, to get maximum bang for your hypervisor software buck. But that was then, when virtualization was relegated to handling low transaction, lightweight workloads. These days, virtual servers host an increasing array of mission-critical applications that can’t go down, and certainly not for simple reasons like poor capacity planning. To a large extent, that has put the brakes on over-the-top virtual server consolidation ...

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