Develop a solid virtualization capacity planning strategy

Last updated:April 2017

Essential Guide

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Editor's note

The role of an IT capacity planner isn't entirely unlike that of an oracle. For all intents and purposes, both are expected to predict the future -- the only difference is that rather than prophesy the future of heroes and demigods, capacity planners prophesy the future of the data center. This remarkably less mystical -- yet no less difficult -- task entails using careful calculations to estimate space, hardware and software resources to develop a capacity planning strategy that ensures an IT organization sufficiently meets the workload demands of its end users.

Virtualization further complicates the already daunting task of devising a capacity planning strategy for the data center. Compared to traditional physical servers, virtualized servers consume more resources. Virtualization makes it easy to migrate workloads from one physical server to another, but the process of moving multiple VMs at a time can result in resource shortages. With so many moving parts, it's easy to see how an administrator might face difficulties when provisioning computing resources. It's essential that capacity planners accommodate for the additional challenges virtualization poses when predicting data center needs.

This essential guide helps capacity planners determine what to look for when putting together a comprehensive virtualization capacity planning strategy, how virtualization fits into the picture, what potential problems they might encounter and which tools they should use.

1Common virtualization capacity planning challenges

Virtualization presents a unique challenge to capacity planning because virtual servers run multiple workloads simultaneously and consume significantly more compute resources than traditional physical servers. Failing to take this into account when developing a capacity planning strategy can have serious negative consequences. Poor systems management techniques also pose a serious threat to capacity planning, and set even the best-laid plans awry. This section deals with common virtualization capacity planning challenges, how they affect resource use and performance and how to overcome them.

2Capacity planning management, tools and best practices

Finding the right virtualization capacity planning tool is a tall order -- it has to pull data from physical and virtual servers, make predictions, understand other apps in your data center, navigate common virtualization challenges and more. Even if you find the perfect tool, your work isn't done: You now need to figure out what to do with the data received and how it can help you create a better capacity planning management system. In this section, we'll look at some popular capacity planning and performance monitoring tools and best practices, and how they improve functions in your data center.