Data growing pains?

used with permission from HP Technology at Work

Virtualization. Like other technology buzzwords, some users work this term into business conversations without really understanding its meaning or how its strategic application can streamline operational efficiencies, improve resource allocation, enhance network security and reduce costs.

It’s worth learning. Careful evaluation of existing non-virtualized environments is the most vital first step toward choosing the best virtual server and storage solutions for any given environment. This evaluation should be done with an eye on present and anticipated computing and power requirements, as well as the number of existing and future users.

Growing data storage requirements are always a major concern of large corporations and institutions. But “big data” has become an issue for small businesses, too. Varying operating systems, a growing number of applications and the increased use of mobile, BYOD and other technologies threaten to overwhelm existing physical server and storage solution capacities.

Rather than allocating resources toward upgrading aging servers or buying new ones—the ‘ol “throwing good money after bad”—more IT and other administrators see the benefits of “going virtual.” Indeed, Acronis’ Global Disaster Recovery Index found that 21 percent of surveyed small businesses planned to adopt virtualization last year, a number most likely to increase in 2013.

Additional virtualization benefits include enhanced network performance, lower maintenance costs, streamlined and centralized management capabilities, improved disaster recovery, and the flexibility to easily accommodate additional users and applications. The buzz surrounding virtualization is well deserved. But what does that aforementioned network evaluation consist of? How do you get from Point A (physical storage environment) to Point B (virtualization)?

Ask yourself the most pertinent questions:

  • How many physical servers do you have? What functions do they perform? How many do you need?
  • How many users do they serve? Are you experiencing any issues with your current servers? Are you looking to streamline any business processes?
  • What percentage of your resources is underutilized? By how much?
  • What are your present and anticipated storage requirements? How much of your existing infrastructure can you virtualize?

As server hardware and storage solutions become increasingly clogged with users accessing a growing number of applications to perform business processes, system responsiveness can lag on various days at different times. Asking these questions while conducting component inventory and performance metrics helps determine the amount of virtualization needed.

Virtualization improves application and process access through pooling, sharing and clustering on an as-needed basis. It also reduces the need for physical solutions and their related operational and ownership costs.

Generally speaking, the best candidates for the virtualization of hardware and storage solutions are older servers requiring frequent upgrade costs, infrequently used servers, and multiprocessor servers dedicated to single-processor applications. Applications such as those in a development or test environment, those using a single processor and those with low use rates/frequent idle times are best offloaded onto virtual storage solutions.

Ever-increasing storage requirements, irrespective of business or industry, call for migration to a virtualized infrastructure. Massive file sharing, increasingly sophisticated applications and the ever present danger of costly downtime from technician mistakes or cyber attacks further underscore the need.

HP’s Converged Infrastructure systems bolster network performance, decrease maintenance and save money. These systems comprise a wide variety of server and storage solutions in addition to delivering the virtual bandwidth required to handle massive amounts of data. HP ProLiant servers, running VMware and Microsoft® Hyper-V® virtualization software, help optimize performance, simplify management, speed deployment and reduce risk.

HP Converged Storage virtual solutions bolster ROI by eliminating physical, logical and management boundaries, leveraging such technologies as deduplication, compression, metadata search and object APIs for cloud applications.

Similarly, HP Storage for Server and Client Virtualization utilizes scale-out designs with clustered architectures for optimal performance under unpredictable mixed and heavy VM workloads. Hardware-assisted thinning converts legacy storage and cuts capacity requirements by 50 percent, while enabling the deployment of new VMs in seconds. These innovations are able to cut management overhead by as much as 90 percent.

Simply stated, before the introduction of virtualization technologies, businesses had to operate separate servers for incompatible, platform-specific applications. The result? Massive hardware investments and maintenance costs. In a virtualized environment, a single server can run multiple operating systems while supporting a variety of business applications. The question is no longer whether to virtualize, but rather when.