Migrating to a VMware infrastructure for server consolidation can save your company money by decreasing the number of physical servers you have to manage and support. While there are many tools available to do physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversions, few of them help virtualization administrators analyze server consolidation benefits on par with the tools inside the VMware Infrastructure Client (VI Client). In this article, you will learn about a new feature in the VI Client version 2.5 that can analyze computers in your organization and tell you the best candidates for virtualization and server consolidation.
About the new server consolidation analyzer
In my recent article about new features in the VI Client version 2.5, I covered a number of the excellent new features of the VI Client. The virtualization server consolidation analyzer, however, is one of the great new features that I didn't mention. A quick note: VMware officially calls it the VirtualCenter Consolidation Feature, even though it really is a virtualization server consolidation analyzer.
You will notice that this new feature is on the VI Client's toolbar. You will see a button simply labeled Consolidation:
Before moving on to how it works, I want to point out how VMware has spent some time improving the Help section for this new application. If you click on "Learn more about Consolidation," you will be taken to this screen:
Here, you learn about the three (perhaps over simplified) steps to performing server consolidation on an enterprise network:
- Discover computers
- Analyze workloads and identify virtualization candidates
Let's all hope that it is this easy! From here you can go to the Related Help topic on P2V conversions, but I just closed it out.
Using the consolidation analyzer
This tool does a few things. First, it analyzes current physical computers on your network and determines if those would be good candidates for server consolidation. It also reports which machines would be good candidates and how much savings you could achieve by virtualizing these computers. If you click on the Consolidation icon, you will be brought to this screen:
At the Getting Started screen click on the "Analyze physical computers for consolidation" option. You are given a list of computers in your domain (you can actually select the domain). Note that it did not show any client PCs in my domain. But it shows, in some cases, strange devices like non-Windows network appliances.
Select a machine and enter your administrator credentials. From there, the system adds to the Server Consolidation Analysis queue. You can see it going through the analysis process:
Ideally, the analysis should take up to 24 hours. At this time, the physical machines performance is being measured. The longer you let it analyze, the higher the confidence score will be. A high confidence means that the analyzer was able more accurately analyze this physical machine. When the analysis is completed or when you are comfortable that enough analysis has been done, you can click the Plan Consolidation button. This will bring up the Consolidation Plan window, below.
From here, you can choose your various physical servers in the Destination dropdown and the analyzer will tell you what that destination rates. In other words, it will tell you if it is a good or bad destination for the proposed P2V conversion.
Once you choose the physical ESX host servers you want the newly converted servers to be placed on, you can click Consolidate. From here, these importing of these machines will begin. You can monitor the progress in the Task pane on the bottom of your VI Client. *Note: One issue I ran across (that was solved by reading the directions) was that you 1) need to set the account you are using for analysis to be able to "log on as a service" on the VirtualCenter server, and 2) it is suggested to set the service credentials and consolidation credentials under Administration, then Consolidation Settings.
While I know that my demonstration only shows a single server and that may not show the full power of the Consolidation Analyzer. Picture, however, having 25 physical servers to consolidate. With that kind of volume, you can see where this type of tool could very quickly analyze those virtual machines, help you best place them (initially at least, until you enable automatic DRS load balancing), then -- with a single click --consolidate them.
I was impressed with the new VMware Virtualization Server Consolidation Analyzer. I think that this is very helpful both for those who are new to virtualization and even for consultants who are coming into a new network to perform a large consolidation project. The interface was easy to use and the analyzer went beyond analysis in doing what it said it would do. I recommend you checkout the new VI Client Server Consolidation Analyzer!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Davis (CCIE #9369, VCP, CWNA, MCSE, CISSP, Linux+, CEH) has been in the IT industry for 15 years. Currently, he manages a group of systems/network administrators for a privately owned retail company and authors IT-related material in his spare time. He has written hundreds of articles, six video training courses – including the Train Signal VMware ESX Server video training series. His websites are Happy Router.com and VMwareVideos.com.