What should be in your Hyper-V or VMware vSphere design?

The design for your virtualization platform is a very important part of building a new virtualized infrastructure. The design should reflect the requirements of the customer and should have sufficient information for the person who builds the infrastructure. At all times it should be avoided that during the building of the infrastructure essential questions are still unanswered.

Input for the design can be get by  asking the customer for requirements.  Most customers are not aware of features of the solution and what choices are to be made. You will need to help the customer by asking the right questions.
Also it should be known how many resources your virtualization platform needs to deliver. Resources are diskspace, disk io, cpu capacity, network capacity and internal memory capacity. Several methods are available to create an inventory of current resource usage. VMware has a software tool available named Capacity Planner. This will give an overview of hardware specifications and resource usage of the current physical servers. It will then report on the number of needed ESX hosts. Capacity Planner can only be used by VMware Partners. Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit offers equal functionality. Also a third party tool like Platespin Recon can be used.
A different approach which works well for small deployments is by counting the needed resources manualy and order servers accordingly.

Most important step in the design phase is to make sure enough storage is available. Extra CPU and memory are easy to add, but storage is more complicated and more expensive and has more impact on production. Calculate the current storage consumption, multiply by the annual growth of storage (do not underestimated the growth of data per year) and think about additional space for snapshots and saved memory state files used in virtualization platforms.
Another thing to note: make sure you know the network. How many network adapter does the virtual machine need, and how many does the host need? Are you using iSCSI? Think about if it is possible to add network interfaces to your servers later. Make sure all VLAN’s are know. Are you using DMZ servers on the same host as internal lan vms?

Backup and recovery is a part of the infrastructure which is easily forgotten. A lot of companies decide to continue using the current backup solution. Does it support your virtualization platform? Can it make image level backups or only file level backups. In case of file level backup, do you need an additional network interface in your vm to split production client/server traffic from the backup traffic.

Your design should contain answers to all the questions above. What should be in your design?
1. what platform is selected, which version.
Hyper-V, VMware vSphere or Xenserver? In case of Hyper-V, full installation of Windows Server 2008 of Core? In case of VMware, which edition and why.

2. host design
Describe the specifications of the host. Which brand, how to configure networking, blades or rackmounted servers. How many?

3. Storage design

How many TB of data? How many tiers, only FC or FC and SATA disks. iSCSI or FC. Volume size. Naming conventions. IP-configuration if iSCSI is used. Replication configuration if used.
4. Network design
What are the phyiscal nics in the host used for. How many virtual switches. Standard or distributed. VLANs and IDs. IP configuration of host, ILO or DRAC etc.

5. Management
Configuration of SCVMM or vCenter Server.

6. Virtual machines
Configuration of templates and virtual machines. Time synchronization of your VM’s. Thin or thick provisioned disks.

6. backup and restore
What solution is used for backup.

7. Monitoring
Are the hosts being monitored by SCOM or other tool.

Take your time to create a solid design. If will be a time saver later in the project!


About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

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