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Tag Archives: Mission Critical Applications

The SDDC Seems Cool … But What Do I Do with It?

By David Gallant, VMWare Professional Services Consultant

Lately I’ve been receiving requests from customers to talk to them about the software-defined data center (SDDC). So I start to explain software-defined networking, software-defined storage, automated provisioning, and self-service portals.

And that’s when I notice the customer looking excited, but also slightly confused.

Last week at SAP TechEd 2013, I was in the middle of just such a talk when I decided to stop and I ask the customer why he looked puzzled.

His response? “That’s great, but what do I do with all that SDDC stuff?”

That’s when the light bulb came on. He was right to question me—why build a software-defined data center if you have no clue what you’re going to do with it?

To really harvest the investment in your SDDC, you need to be building toward a specific set of goals. We don’t build data centers without a purpose; and that purpose for SDDC, as it’s always been, is the application.

In most cases the best data centers have been purpose-designed and built around the organization’s business-critical applications; for instance SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft applications.

I’ll concentrate for now on SAP—if you can architect an SDDC for SAP, you can roll those concepts over to pretty much any other application. Continue reading

Don’t Miss Our PS Consultants at VMworld

This year’s VMworld in San Francisco is fast approaching: August 25–29. Are you ready? Have you been perusing the list of sessions to decide which breakouts and panels you can’t miss?

With 350+ sessions this year, we imagine you’ll be carefully planning your schedule in the coming weeks. We’d hate for you to miss the great sessions led by our VMware Professional Services Consultants and Architects, so we’ve included two on Virtualization below. Plus, don’t miss our run-down of End-User Computing sessions from last week.


Strategic Reasons for Classifying Workloads for Tier 1 Virtualization. Why Classify?

With David Gallant (VMware) and Denis Larocque (MolsonCoors)

Virtualizing business-critical applications can be a daunting exercise. It’s not just another application you’re putting on the virtual infrastructure. In most cases, it’s the system of record or the major finance application, the app that runs the supply chain, etc. You need to get it correct—the first time.

Workload classification of the existing environment is key to the success of virtualizing business-critical applications. Workload classification determines sizing for performance and capacity as well as application dependency.

“Getting rid of our costly UNIX environment was a good reason to virtualize, but SAP was a critical part of our portfolio, and we had to guarantee performance and reliability of the new system,” explains MolsonCoors Virtualization Architect Denis Larocque. “Having deep understanding of current state to be able to classify the workload and make a projection is the secret. It is not that difficult when you have the right information available.”

At this session you’ll hear from Laroque and VMware Virtualization Architect David Gallant, and discuss who, what, when, why, where and how to classify workloads for virtual environments.


How SRP Delivers More Than Power to Their Customers

With Girish Manmadkar (VMware) and Sheldon Brown (SRP)

SRP, the third-largest public power and water company in the country, with over 1,000,000 customers, has completely virtualized its entire SAP landscape (inclusive database). Since completing the production environment build in December, SRP has been busy stress testing, load testing, performance testing, and monitoring and tweaking the environment to ensure an excellent customer experience on Go Live day.

In this session you’ll hear from VMware (Consulting Architect – BCA/SAP practice North America) and SRP (hands-on SAP Technology Manager) about their reasons to virtualize the SAP environment and to migrate SAP workloads to elastic but optimal virtual environments. You’ll also find out what they did to resolve earlier performance issues like SAP BI, quick resource allocation, Oracle licensing, and much more.


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.