You’ve decided that you need a virtualised, next-generation data centre, so whether you’re starting afresh or you’re updating what you already have in place, what are the key preparatory steps you need to take?
First you need to prepare your physical servers. These will become the hosts for your hypervisor in a virtualised environment, so ensure that firmware and BIOS are updated, enable any hardware assisted virtualisation features that are available and make sure that you have installed all the recommended drivers for the hypervisor.
The next step is to install the hypervisor. Follow the vendor’s guidance documentation and record key information such as host names, IP addresses etc. Launch your admin platform, adjust any security permissions, such as firewalls, and ensure your storage arrays are discoverable and accessible. This is important because I/O throughput can be adversely affected by the storage configuration. If the storage solution isn’t configured correctly for the workload and the throughput and IOPS aren’t matched, performance at the front end will be affected.
The next step is to ensure your network is configured appropriately for a next-generation virtualisation platform. If a virtualised server can’t communicate properly over the network, the benefits will be lost. Install the appropriate network interface cards, network adaptors and network cards are installed and test end to end connectivity once hypervisors are connected to the network.
Cybersecurity is just as important in a virtualised, next-generation environment as it is in a physical data centre, so the apps and OS need to be secured and protected by isolating the management information from the virtual machine traffic. A Single sign on solution can ensure that only those with the correct permissions can access management information.
A virtualised environment is flexible enough to improve the performance of applications that are latency sensitive, but some tweaks may be necessary to power management settings and network adaptors to ensure they aren’t slowing things down.
Following the migration of your servers to your new virtualised environment, there are many advanced management tools you can utilise for high availability, load balancing and networking. Enable monitoring and capacity planning tools which can enable machine learning and smart-management of the environment. Granular reporting on uptime, performance, capacity and efficiency can really help prove the value of your investment in the next-generation infrastructure.
Set out the settings that your virtual machines will all need and document that as a template so that they are all optimised from the outset. To make sure your VMs are all running at peak performance schedule backups and virus scans at off-peak hours so they don’t impact performance.
When the virtualised data centre is up and running, you can look at the high-availability, replication, or fault tolerance tools that are fundamental to the performance of the business.
In short, by leveraging a next-gen virtualisation platform properly you should be able to deliver a higher quality service, with less risk, at a lower cost. What’s not to like about that?