Server consolidation project planning: Three steps to success

As the Boy Scouts always say: Be prepared. With a server consolidation project, you can prepare for consolidation in three distinct phases.

Server consolidation is one of the main benefits of virtualization, because it allows you to run multiple virtual

machines on fewer physical servers. With a solid server consolidation project, you can reduce hardware costs and save space in the data center.

But you shouldn’t start a server consolidation project without a bit of planning. Think of your project in three phases: data collection, analysis, and finally, the virtual server migration itself.

This server consolidation project guide takes you through these three phases. You’ll find everything you need to know about collecting server data, determining the consolidation ratio and migrating virtual machines (VMs) to their proper hosts.

Phase one: Server consolidation project data collection
The first phase of your server consolidation project involves collecting data so you can understand historical server trends and metrics. The data collection phase is usually the longest part of a server consolidation project, because it requires you to take an inventory of all servers, including the operating system, middleware and the application or database that the server supports. Along with performance metrics, this information will help you determine the requirements for your servers in a virtual infrastructure.

Phase two: Determining the server consolidation ratio
Once you gather server data, you need to analyze that data to help determine the best server consolidation ratio. This part of a server consolidation project is critical, because the host-to-VM ratio influences the migration process, server performance and costs. Based on your data collection, decide which servers are good candidates for virtualization. Then figure out how many VMs you want to create and where you want to place each application and database instance.

Phase three: Virtual server migration and monitoring
After you’ve determined the best consolidation ratio for your server consolidation project, it’s time for the virtual server migration. First, make sure you’re prepared for the final virtualized infrastructure. Get staff properly trained, choose management tools, ensure that you have enough storage capacity and implement a disaster recovery plan. Then you should break the virtual server migration process into several waves, so you can monitor performance after each migration. Once you’ve consolidated, use VM monitoring tools to continue observing your server consolidation project.

This was first published in August 2011

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