Top tools and techniques for VMware automation
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Large organizations typically have a few legacy servers that were bought by a group or an individual inside the larger company to avoid straining shared resources. But due to IT staff turnover or sheer neglect, these "infrastructure orphans" get left behind without a way to manage them.
Every VMware admin has seen those legacy ESX 3.x hosts that linger and prove to be a political hot potato to migrate or even try to decommission. Sometimes the virtual infrastructure relies on virtual local area networks or infrastructure that is available to a single host. Often these hosts utilize only a percentage of the available capacity, making the unused compute -- beyond growth and contingency -- a burden by adding to cooling, power and maintenance costs.
Managing these servers is difficult because they don't fall under the domain of the IT department. Even worse is that frequently, when a group buys hardware for virtualized infrastructure, they only pay for one host and no shared enterprise-class storage. This brings in issues around creating single points of failure. When the machine fails, the blame will fall upon the IT department and become their issue. VMware vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) helps negate some of these issues. Here are a few key VMware vCAC features that can help manage legacy infrastructure.
Divvying up virtual resources
VMware vCAC removes most reasons to have a dedicated physical infrastructure for groups or individuals by giving groups their own virtual infrastructure where they are guaranteed access to their allocation of resources.
Maintaining the health of the whole infrastructure
VCAC also allows a large degree of customization for the owners of compartmentalized infrastructure. In essence, vCAC decouples the hypervisor and support infrastructure from the virtual infrastructure. By using vCAC to separate the physical servers from virtual servers, administrators can more easily maintain the virtual infrastructure across releases. It also removes the need to keep up with purchasing VMware licenses and encourages a centralized license methodology. VCAC can help lower costs by ensuring resources are used more efficiently, allowing administrators to drop hosts and still provide a good service. Removing physical servers also removes the issue of dealing with legacy infrastructure for the IT department.
Provisioning that removes IT from business practices
Another useful vCAC feature is the hands-off provisioning. The IT staff no longer has to deploy from a template or handle the setup. When configured correctly, vCAC takes IT out of the allocation process and hands the workflow to the business side, which can then approve and manage VMs throughout the lifecycle.
Handling the ebb and flow of demand
VMware vCAC comes into its own when you have a number of templates for stateless VMs to handle demand peaks; the machines can have an automatic expiration date, if so desired, to limit VM sprawl. This can be especially useful if you have seasonal traffic profiles. VCAC will allow you to use external cloud capacity to run these additional machines so you don't pay for hardware that isn't fully utilized.