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Tag Archives: Application Dependency

Knowing Your Applications is Key to Successful Data Center Transformation

By Eiad Al-Aqqad, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

This decade has offered more Data Center transformation options than most IT Professionals were able to keep up with. Virtualization has dramatically changed the way things were traditional done in the datacenter. Having the largest Data Center is not something to brag about anymore, as it might be a symbol of inefficiencies. Next, the Cloud Computing storm hit the datacenter and while IT Professionals started to digest it, the Software Defined Data Center concept has evolved. While each of these Data Center Transformations has offered great advantages to adopters, it had its own challenges and quite frankly, planning was not optional for a successful implementation.

Planning is critical for Data Center transformation and does not stop at the infrastructure planning, but extends to understanding your applications.

Most organizations are good at conducting the infrastructure portion of planning, but have difficulties in planning their applications for transformation. I’ve witness many transformation efforts where the customer team has a hard time answering these  simple questions:

  1.      What are your Applications Priorities?
  2.      What are your Applications RPO/RTO and how are you planning to achieve them?
  3.      What are the security requirements of each of your APPs ?
  4.      What does your Application Dependency look like?

It is critical to know your applications well enough before starting any transformation effort. The four questions above are a good start. While the first three questions can normally be answered by collecting bits and pieces from contacting the right SMEs & business units, Application Dependency is more challenging and is what I want to focus on in this article. For more thoughts on workload classifications, please check out my colleague David’s post:  Business as Usual with Tier 1 Business Critical Applications? – Not!

Application Dependency has proved to be more challenging due to many reasons including:

  1.      Applications Dependencies aren’t static and can change on daily basis.
  2.      Most organizations have inherited legacy applications with very little   documentation.
  3.      Current Change Management systems while helping to document changes are still lagging when it comes to documenting Applications Dependencies.
  4.      Application Dependencies are always filled with unexpected surprises that no one wants to admit, like having a critical application dependent on a DB running on a PC hidden under a developer’s desk.

While Application Dependency Planning without the right tools might be challenging, the point is, before any data center transformation, thorough planning and investigation is required for a successful end game. Tools definitely help with your efforts but even more importantly, making sure you ask yourself the questions above is really the first step before anything.

At last the good news is the availability of tools and services that help automate the process of creating an accurate application dependency mapping of your environment.  ADM & the Virtualization Assessment service (includes the use of Capacity Planning & Application Dependency Planner (ADP)) offered by VMware can be quite handy in creating an Application Dependency Mapping for applications within your environment. For more information about ADP, please visit:  My VMware Application Dependency Planner Post

Eiad AlAqqad is a Senior Consultant within the SDDC Professional Services practice. He has been an active consultant using VMware technologies since 2006. He is VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX#89), as well an an expert in VMware vCloud, vSphere, & SRM.


Business as Usual with Tier 1 Business Critical Applications? – Not!

By David Gallant, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

Ok so you’ve decided to virtualize your Tier 1 Business Critical Applications, awesome that’s great news.  The daunting question is “Where do you start?” As a VMware PS Consultant, I see customers go through this process every day; some customers get us involved when that question comes up, others get us involved much later. I can say with certainty earlier is always better than later.  Tier 1 application design and architecture it is hardly ever business as usual, but it had better be business as usual when you finish!

So, where do you start?

Without a doubt I always start with something I call “Workload Classification.” It’s the phase where the virtualization architect or administrator works with the application teams to understand 3 aspects of enterprise application architecture.

  1. Application dependency planning (Enterprise Architecture)
  2. Understanding the performance profile
  3. Defining the security profile

We will explore these tenets deeper in upcoming blogs for this month, so I’ll start by talking about the core classification work.

When classifying workloads for virtualization the first instinct is to collect as much data as possible.  That would be incorrect, instead think about the 4 components we measure for vSphere: Compute (CPU and Memory), Storage and Network. I recommend only collecting data on these areas to start as it makes our work much simpler to gather and analyze this data.

CPU Memory Storage Network

  • CPU collect Utilization by percentage and by MHz at the server level, instance/process level and database level when measuring databases.
  • Memory collect utilization by percentages and some measure of bytes (KB, MB or GB).
  • Storage collect IOPS, throughput, Storage consumed, and growth rate.
  • Network collect percentage, keep in mind you need to know the link speed of the target and source to match them up.  If you want to go deep use a tool like Wireshark to measure the individual application

Collect the data for a period of time (typically 4 weeks). I like to use ends of quarters when possible so I can see trends in larger data spikes. Further, the fiscal year end is the best time, especially when trying to classify finance applications like SAP ECC.  Also think about the data collection interval, the amount of frequency of when you grab a data point.  I typically use 1 minute intervals for most workloads, but a smaller interval may be necessary for a high performance / low latency application. If a smaller interval is the case, reduce the period so as to limit the amount of data you’ll have to analyze and instead consider two or more collection periods.

Once you have your data; analyze it against the target hosts’ specifications to determine how many hosts are required and some initial placement strategies. Remember vSphere DRS will help with final placement and keep the load balanced, so think of this as a theoretical exercise to help architect and design the environment.

After the workload classification study is complete I always compare my results to an Application Dependency Plan; the two studies together should provide an excellent basis for a migration or re-platform study.  Another piece of the puzzle is defining the security profile of the target environment, comparing and contrasting the existing security profile versus the future state one.  There are tremendous advantages to implementing proper security in the vSphere environment that we will describe in a future blog this month.

I’ll leave you with some final thoughts on workload classification.  If done ahead of time, going through this process will not only guide the design of the future environment, but will probably help define a new optimized way to go to market for your business critical applications. You will probably find business level design flaws in your current environment that when changed, will allow you to more easily manage, maintain, optimize and scale up and/or out in the new environment.

If you’re thinking of virtualizing your business critical applications and you’re not sure where to start, contact your account team and get us involved today.

David Gallant has worked at Vmware for over 2 years with over 20 years experience in the IT industry. He specializes in Virtualizing SAP, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Non-RAC.