Capacity Planning and Allocation
Closely related to business continuity and disaster recovery, in terms of business flexibility, is server capacity planning and allocation. Virtualization will likely play a major role in helping organizations to better plan and allocate computing resources.
"While consolidation is often one of the first use cases for virtualization that [companies adopt], organizations quickly realize the potential for virtualization to deliver improved continuity and the ability to provision capacity on demand," says Iams of Ideas International.
Capacity planning is made easier with virtualization, he adds, because the virtual infrastructure allows pools of resources to be defined that can be tapped into on demand. This ensures that workloads have computing and storage resources when needed.
IDC says organizations can treat multiple host systems as a single pool of computing resources, and virtual machine loads can be balanced across the pool based on processor, memory, I/O utilization levels and policies set by users. As a result, IT shops can plan capacity at the resource pool level, knowing that any sharp increases in demand can be met by a quick reallocation of available server resources.
With its virtualized servers, Marriott International is able to move server workloads within a particular farm as capacity needs shift. "We're moving workload on a weekly or monthly basis within server farms in order to [meet user] utilization demands based on business processes, time of year or any other reason," Blanchard says.
"[Virtualization] is implemented mostly if we don't get capacity planning done in time, so we can quickly move workload if we're in a hurry. That's where virtualization really helps us, because we can do it extremely quickly and with a high degree of confidence."
Marriott views its virtualization project as a performance management effort--including making sure that established service levels for IT are being met--and capacity planning and allocation represent a huge part of that. Virtualization "improves our ability to be flexible to any number of [factors affecting service], including hardware failures, network failures or any other contingencies for operational events that could occur," Blanchard says.
Saint Vincent's also is using server virtualization for capacity planning. "It makes our life easy, because [virtualization] allows us to monitor all aspects of our server virtualization farm and is capable of alerting us to which host we need to deploy the next [virtual machine] on," Edupuganti says.
With the need for greater flexibility in a fast-changing business environment, expect virtualization to play an increasingly important role in capacity planning.