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Sometimes less is more when it comes to vSphere design

Picking a design is one of the first decisions you have to make when deploying VMware vSphere. It might seem like an easy task, but overcomplicating your design could lead to difficulties.

VMware vSphere is one of the most advanced virtualization platforms on the market, with numerous ways to customize its configuration. But administrators don't need to do a lot of manual intervention after deploying vSphere in their data center.

Authors Matt Liebowitz, Christopher Kusek and Rynardt Spies address the basics of installing vSphere in Chapter 1 of their book, VMware vSphere Performance: Designing CPU, Memory, Storage, and Networking for Performance-Intensive Workloads, available on Wiley. When picking a vSphere design, they suggested administrators keep things simple by using the default settings. Their reasoning: The best practices that vendors offer can often change as updates or releases are available; a simple setup makes it easier to manage how a patch is handled when vSphere hasn't undergone extensive customization.

The authors also noted that some users have been hesitant to switch to virtual servers from physical servers based on past failures. They suggest giving the same amount of resources to virtual servers that they give to physical servers to keep performance at a high level.

The writers prescribed establishing a baseline for your apps when deploying vSphere. They suggested that rather than relying on vendor best practices, analyze CPU usage to help establish an application starting point. The authors noted that the hardest part about analyzing CPU usage is resisting the urge to tamper with settings right away.

Later on in Chapter 1: Performance Design, which can be downloaded here, the authors talked about integrating virtual machines and diving into vMotion, DRS and high availability. After that, they explored the different options for vSphere design, such as if scaling up or scaling out is the right choice, and how to select a server to run high-performance workloads.

From Chapter 1 of the book:

The preceding sections provided examples of guidelines used for establishing a baseline. What exactly is a baseline, though, when it comes to VMware vSphere? A baseline is a series of predictable characteristics based upon what infrastructure you have in place for your CPU, memory, network, and storage.

Something you may realize quickly after designing and architecting your application is that once you start to establish a baseline, you've overprovisioned. Don't let the fact that you will likely overprovision 99 percent of your environment discourage you; the fact that you're reading this book is a sure sign that you're trying to get help for this!

There is no right or wrong baseline for your virtual machine and your applications. The exception is when you have anomalous conditions that should be treated as just that, an anomaly that, depending upon the characteristics, this book should help you identify and resolve. So without further ado, let's get down to the business of your baseline.

Next Steps

Five tips for building a VMware virtual infrastructure

Chapter excerpt: VMware vSphere design, planning and deployment guide

This was last published in September 2014

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