The Virtualization Room

Jul 23 2007   7:19PM GMT

Server consolidation via virtualization: Advice on pitches, multi-purpose server conversion and P2V

Jan Stafford Jan Stafford Profile: Jan Stafford

Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf shared some good advice about
consolidating servers with virtualization in our recent interview
. Here are some quick tips gleaned from our conversation and some more-info links and questions for you about these topics.

Making a pitch

Make these key points when pitching server consolidation via virtualization to upper management:

  • Virtualization is a means to running fewer physical servers and, thusly, consumer less power in the data center.
  • With fewer physical servers, hardware maintenance and upkeep costs go down.
  • Virtualization increases server availability via dynamic failover enacted at the virtual machine level. So, any application oncan support high availability, and that is a big difference with virtualization compared to traditional clustering solutions.
  • (Have you made this pitch? What did you say? What were the results? Let me know in the comments below or by writing to

    Converting multi-purpose servers to VMs

    Watch out. This is tricky territory, says Wolf.

    “When I have multi-purpose servers, I generally want to take each application or service on that server that I need and run it as its own VM instance. So, in those cases, you are better off manually reprovisioning those services as separate virtual machines again; because in a dynamic failover environment, the VM itself is the point of failover. So, if I have a multi-purpose server, if I am looking at failover, every application on that server is going to be off-line for the period of the failover. If I have a single application per virtual machine, if the VM fails over now, only a single application would be down.”

    (Wolf talks more about this process in the interview. Has anyone out there tackled multi-purpose server-to-virtualization conversions? If so, please share your experiences with me at

    Physical-to-virtual (P2V) migration

    There are several approaches, says Wolf. Some common practices that work in small environments — such as manually staging a VM and migrating the data and relying on a backup product to help with the migration — are not a good fit for larger data center environments. When migrating many servers, use a product designed for that job to do do a hot clone of a virtual machine.

    “Not only does it let me move each VM in a live state, I can schedule when the VMs get converted so I can do a conversion during off-business hours.”

    More P2V info can be found here:

    SSV’s P2V news and expert advice;
    Measuring the success of your server consolidation project.

    Got other good P2V links or advice? Let me know:

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