Home > Virtualization Concepts > Physical Requirements vs. Virtual Provisioning (Part 1)

Physical Requirements vs. Virtual Provisioning (Part 1)

Part of my day-to-day job is to deploy new virtual machines for the client. These VMs are deployed with specifications given to us by the client. Lately, I’ve noticed an increasing trend of over-powered virtual machines being requested, and it seems the mentality for these request is that the application states the physical requirements, so that is what is being requested of us. This increasing trend kicked off a debate between myself and a few of my co-workers on the topic of Virtual Provisioning versus the Physical Requirements.

First, let me start of by stating that my client is very new to virtualization. We are only utilizing about 95 Virtual Servers, 80 Virtual Desktops, and 13 ESX host, mostly in a non production environment. We are mid deployment of our largest, full production data center. The client is definitely eager to jump into virtualization, but still hasn’t fully grasp the concepts being virtualization.

My latest VM provisioning request was for a Windows Server 2008 x64 Enterprise Edition machine. The VM will be used as a Sql Server Reporting Services (SSRS) machine in a test/development environment. The VM will be used to assess the benefit and abilities of SSRS, and determine if it’s a viable solution to deploy into production. Given the use of this VM, I figured the required specs would run along the lines of 1 vCPU and 1-2GB of Memory, right?

WRONG! I was baffled with the approved spec sheet came across my screen. 2 vCPUs and 8…yes 8GB of Memory. I was so baffled that I called to confirm this was the right spec sheet for the right VM. Once the shock wore off, then came the confusion. Why would someone request this many resources for such a small use machine, and who would approve this?

Another example is a MOSS 2007 server that was deployed for user training of the powerhouse collaboration system. After deploying the machine with a modest amount of resources (1vCPU and 2GB of Memory) the application team was complaining of latency issues. Instead of bringing the issue to us to research, an approved request came across to increase the memory to 4GB and add another vCPU. A month passed by with no word until a second request came to add MORE memory. Yes, to make this machine an 8GB VM.

After the SSRS VM request, I began looking back through the environment to find if this trend wasnt just something I was imaging. I started with the MOSS server. The server has been live for roughly 4 months, so performance data was there to look at. Over the entire life of the VM, the server had utilized on average 11% of its total available memory. That equates to less than 1GB on average. The rest of the performance data supported that this VM was very overpowered.

The point of these two examples, is to introduce the conversation that there appears to be a common breakdown between the provisioning process, and transition from the mindset of a physical environment, and a virtual one. I definitely want to hear from other admins/engineers as to where they think the breakdown is. Please leave your comments, or email me, and share your experiences that you’ve encountered regarding this issue.

I’ll continue this series across a few different postings as I feel this is definitely a topic that plagues many admins.

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