Improving Economics of Blades with VMware

  • IT managers are constantly under pressure to increase operational efficiency.
  • Consolidation yields very good results when IT is looking to improve server manageability.
  • A blade server typically includes a rack-mountable chassis of 6U to 8U size that can be populated with eight to fourteen blades.

Today IT efficiency is critical for competitive viability. However, IT organizations face many challenges, including, growing capacity while conserving or reducing operations cost, improving service availability and change request response time and increasing consistency and predictability.

Ever increasing requirements for maintaining more applications, supporting a larger user base and providing better up time do not come with increased IT budgets, higher headcount, or larger facilities.

VMware® ESX Server™ with VirtualCenter™ deployed on blade servers is an effective solution to these challenges. The combination of VMware unique manageability benefits, maximum possible density, server, storage, and networking virtualization technologies enables IT infrastructure that is highly optimized, cost-effective, and consistent.

VMware software further enhances density, operational efficiency, and easy provisioning benefits of blade servers. In addition, VMware software provides more flexibility and responsiveness in provisioning new software services and maintaining existing services. VMware VirtualCenter deployed on blade servers manages virtual and physical infrastructure to let you continuously consolidate workloads for optimal hardware utilization and decreased operational costs. With VMware you can:

  • Save 35% or more in operational costs due to higher systems utilization
  • Make your infrastructure utility-computing ready with on demand dynamic provisioning, affordable availability, and flexible management.

Introduction

IT managers are constantly under pressure to increase operational efficiency. Ever increasing requirements for maintaining more applications, supporting a larger user base and providing better up time do not come with increased IT budgets, higher headcount, or larger facilities.

To contain costs while growing their data centers, IT managers turn to consolidating computing resources into a smaller number of physical and logical elements and automating allocation, deployment, and management of these elements.

Consolidation strategies include consolidating heterogeneous servers to a central physical location, scaling up to larger servers, scaling out to identical servers, and native application consolidation. Each approach has its own “sweet spots” depending on the required application mix and constraints. For example, an 8-way server running a VMware virtualization platform is well suited for an environment where many varied applications need to be hosted and some of the applications are legacy or ill behaved. Native application consolidation may be a better approach for large uniform loads such as large-scale databases.

In this paper we will focus on consolidation with blade servers. Such consolidation yields very good results when IT is looking to improve server manageability and optimize operational parameters such as provisioning, cabling complexity, power and cooling expenses, and floor space utilization, while containing costs, and increasing system uptime.

VMware virtualization and VMotion™ technology provide unique provisioning and management benefits: complete virtual machines can be automatically deployed using centrally stored template libraries, virtual machines can be migrated between physical blades with zero user downtime, computing resource allocation can be dynamically managed without interrupting the workload. These benefits further enhance benefits of consolidation solutions on blades servers.

Blade servers are optimized for easy cable management both via integration with cable management systems and through utilization of built in elements such as switches and I/O modules.

Blade Server’s Benefits and Limitations

New blade server offerings such as IBM BladeCenter™ and HP ProLiant™ BL p-class servers go a long way to address the consolidation needs of enterprise IT managers.

A blade server typically includes a rack-mountable chassis of 6U to 8U size that can be populated with eight to fourteen blades. Each blade is an independent server with one or two processors, its own RAM, local storage and NICs. Usually, a blade is used to support a single application workload at a time.

The chassis incorporates elements shared by all blade servers such as built in network switches, redundant hot swap power supplies, fans, I/O and management modules. The form factor, high density, and standardization in blades environment are conducive to more robust system architecture with consolidated I/O and shared external storage such as SAN.

Let us consider two 42U racks deployed side by side in a datacenter. The first rack is populated with six blade server chassis and yields very high processor density, as high as 168 processors per rack. The second rack is populated with 42 1U rack optimized two processor servers yielding only 84 processor per rack density.

Such high density is invaluable if the datacenter floor-space is limited but there is a need to add computing power. In addition, blade server solution would provide 7% to 12% savings in power and cooling costs compared to non-blade solution.

Deploying blade servers is a good approach when the IT organization is constrained by people resources. Managing six distinct physical elements rather than forty two provides for better platform stability and is less costly. In addition, blade servers are optimized for easy cable management both via integration with cable management systems and through utilization of built in elements such as switches and I/O modules.

New server provisioning is also simplified. Often the IT administrator uses a “scale out exactly” approach where an existing blade is cloned and plugged into an available slot on an existing chassis.

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Jack Suri

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