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Using PlateSpin Recon to Optimize Workloads and Automate Chargebacks

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Discover, monitor and report: In the October and November issues of Novell Connection, we discussed how you can use PlateSpin solutions to discover what’s in your environment, monitor performance and generate reports that help you plan and implement your virtualized data center. This month, we’ll step you through some of the challenges in keeping your virtualized environment healthy and green, and the role of PlateSpin Recon in helping you meet those challenges with effective management decisions.

Once the virtual implementation is complete, you should get the same performance as before while making more efficient use of hardware, power, cooling and real estate. It’s tempting to think your virtualization work is done at this point, and that you can just let processes run the way they always have.

But that’s an approach rooted in the physical past. Virtualization offers the opportunity to reinvent the data center as an organic environment that can be reshaped on the fly as workload and business requirements evolve. In your virtualized world, discover, monitor and report aren't just implementation phases—they're the IT equivalent of regular watering and weeding to keep your virtual environment healthy and productive. PlateSpin products continue to play an important role.

Validating Your Server Consolidation Plan

The goal of server consolidation is to move workloads from individual physical servers to virtual machines that can run in tandem on the underlying hardware, providing a better balance of server loads while using fewer resources. (See Figure 1.)

Validating the success of your consolidation plan requires you to monitor resource use to ensure you have achieved the ideal balance. With PlateSpin Recon, you can easily graph usage, see trends and even compare usage between different systems—all in the same automated report. Validation also means ensuring virtualized processes are running at the same performance levels as before, and PlateSpin Recon allows you to compare performance levels in both the physical and virtual environments.

If you’ve been following this series of articles, you already know how to do all this. That’s because the discovery and reporting process is the same, whether you’re looking at physical or virtual systems. Because PlateSpin Recon does not require agents, you can discover and report on virtual machines as soon as they’re created, following the same steps as we described in our November article, Building Your Virtual Landscape Without Messy Disruptions. The only difference is that in Step 4, Discover Your Servers, you’ll want to click on Virtual Center instead of IP Range to bring up the appropriate set of reports.

By running a report that graphs resource usage across multiple virtual machines, you can verify at a glance that your virtualization design is providing the usage levels you intended. (See Figure 2.)

Performing Health Checkups

At this point in the process, you should see positive results. You have the reports in-hand to show critical business processes are running with the same availability and performance as before, while consuming fewer resources.

But things change. Workloads are added and deleted, and resource demands evolve with changing usage patterns. With PlateSpin Recon, you can perform regular checkups to make sure workloads are always optimized and balanced. You can also identify corrective actions whenever necessary.

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This ability to monitor and adapt on the fly is one of the primary benefits of virtualization. PlateSpin Recon makes it easy to do the following:

  • Identify underused virtual hosts
  • Pinpoint capacity bottlenecks in virtual hosts
  • Predict and avoid future capacity bottlenecks in virtual hosts
  • Discover unused resources that can be reclaimed from virtual hosts and reassigned to other projects
  • Find and fix areas of suboptimal configuration to maximize performance in both hosts and virtual machines

To get started monitoring the health of your virtual environment:

  1. Select Inventory/Virtual Center...
  2. Enter your credentials when prompted

The inventory process goes beyond discovery to gather all known details about the virtual servers you select. With the inventory complete, the next step is to begin monitoring the virtual servers that interest you:

  1. Choose a range of servers
  2. Right-click, and select Start Monitoring from the pop-up menu

For an accurate picture of usage patterns, we recommend you monitor servers for at least 30 days. Preferably, a significant event in your company’s business lifecycle should be included in this 30-day period. If you’re looking at the virtual hosts for your financial applications, for example, you might include the end of the fiscal quarter or year.


  • article 1 of 3:
    Designing Your Virtual Landscape
  • article 2 of 3:
    Building Your Virtual Landscape Without Messy Disruptions
  • article 3 of 3:
    Environmental Sustainability
  • Figure 1

    The first goal of server consolidation is to virtualize and migrate workloads so you can optimize and balance performance using fewer physical resources.

  • Figure 2

    This PlateSpin Recon report graphs CPU use across multiple virtual machines over a defined time period.

  • Figure 3

    This report shows an opportunity to avoid a potential performance bottleneck by moving storage capacity from the virtual hosts on the left (under 30 percent disk use) to the virtual host on the right (over 70 percent disk use).

  • Figure 4

    This version of the detailed virtual host usage report highlights peak values, flagging potential performance problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.

  • Figure 5

    In this example, flat raters are being used to chargeback departmental usage of memory and disk space over the preceding month.

  • Figure 6

    Chargeback reports, such as this one, demonstrate the business value of IT and ensure appropriate .reimbursement for the services you provide.

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