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Consolidation of physical server systems in large data centers

The consolidation of physical server systems is important for everyone running large data centers. My colleague Markus Winter from SAP has just finished his PhD thesis on this exciting topic and published his thesis as a book. It is written in German and those of you understanding German and who are interested in server virtualization might find it an interesting read.



Over the past years, data center operations have become a major challenge for application service providers and corporate IT departments. A growing number of heterogeneous system landscapes led to rising costs for infrastructure operations and management. The increasing demand for consolidation of computing resources within the data center is a reaction to the continuous growth of underutilized server units that resulted in an inefficient utilization of hardware infrastructure as a whole. This dissertation addresses the research question how physical server infrastructures can be consolidated in order to increase data center efficiency without impacting existing services. The presented research work takes real-world server utilization data into account and suggests a methodology to estimate required physical server infrastructure.

The author presents the findings of a case study on resource utilization of very large business applications (VLBA). Results are based on collected utilization data from about 700 physical servers containing multiple different customer environments hosted by a large data center provider. The case study validates oversizing statements and identifies potential consolidation parameters for improved infrastructure sizing. It analyzes the utilization of CPU, RAM, network I/O, and disk I/O with regard to a potential consolidation of server infrastructure. The results show that CPU utilization is not necessarily the only indication for oversizing; hence a holistic approach is required to establish reliable initial sizing estimations for a consolidated data center infrastructure.

In addition, this dissertation proposes a methodology to perform such an initial estimation for required physical server infrastructure when consolidating via server virtualization. This methodology aims to provide additional support in identifying the limiting parameters while planning a consolidation scenario, for example to review commercial aspects and to estimate required physical data center resources. Following this methodology and using data from the case study, the evaluation confirms disk I/O as the limiting parameter for a consolidation of the analyzed environment.

The author closes with an outlook beyond server consolidation endeavors and describes the transformation of corporate data centers into compute clouds. Consolidation based on a thorough analysis of existing infrastructure utilization and sizing is an essential step before shifting any software environment into infrastructure clouds, especially with regard to today’s VLBA. This is key to tangible benefits and efficient IT utilization in infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud models.


Bibliographic information:

Author: Winter, Markus
ISBN: 978-3-86844-304-2
Title: Server-Virtualisierung im Rechenzentrum: Konsolidierung von IT-Infrastruktur am Beispiel von SAP®-Systemlandschaften
Publishing date: 20.12.2010
Publisher: Sierke Verlag, Göttingen, Germany
Price: 56€

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