Use virtualization to reallocate storage assets

I sometimes mention specific products in my writing about storage topics.  But, believe it or not, none of the vendors pay a penny for my thoughts.  I tend to write about things I know and I've tried.  Over the past couple of years, I've made occasional use of a physical-to-virtual (P2V) product that, while not specifically targeted at solving storage dilemmas, can be used for just this purpose. 

 First, I'll give you a little background on an ongoing project where this product comes into play.

One of the initiatives underway at my workplace is a server consolidation project.  Most of our servers are significantly underutilized.  Our server CPUs regularly run at less than 10% utilization.  In this particular case, one of our physical servers was running at this low utilization but was also running low on disk space.  We had a number of options, including:

  • Add disks to the server;
  • Add a SAN and connect the server to it;
  • Use space available on another server.

However, at the same time, we had an immediate need to reduce the number of physical servers in our server room. So, we went a different route.

We had previously purchased and installed a VMware ESX 3 server, but had no virtual machines running on it.  Rather than simply throw more hardware at the problem, we used a product from PlateSpin called PowerConvert.  PowerConvert is a P2V product that seamlessly migrates physical machines into virtual machines -- OS, data, applications and all.

As a part of the physical-to-virtual migration process, you are able to specify the size of the migrated volumes.  In the case of the server on which we had inadequate space, we were able to upwardly adjust the volume size during the transition.  Problem solved.  Conversely, for other servers we did just the opposite.  Some physical servers had volumes that were oversized, so the virtualization effort provided us with the opportunity to more properly size these servers' volumes and make the best use of our ESX server's hardware.

Of course, there is a whole lot more to the project, and we will be expanding it in the future by adding a SAN for redundancy and additional ESX servers for load balancing.  For all of the projects, physical-to-virtual migration will play an integral part.