For effective implementation of virtual-server solutions such as VMware, application, database, server, networking, storage, and backup administrators all must be retrained. With multiple applications sharing physical server, network,and storage resources, and with applications moving dynamically from one physical server to another, well-established processes and methods based upon a one-application-per-server model must be re-examined.
There has always been a need to have well-defined roles and responsibilities among the IT operations team, and virtualization doesn't change that. In a virtualized environment, the VMware administrator is charged with ensuring that physical servers are optimally utilized, that new virtual servers are quickly provisioned, and that those applications that require higher availability are placed onto servers that provide automated virtual-server failover. Meanwhile, the application administrator continues to be charged with ensuring application performance and scalability. And finally, the backup administrator is charged with ensuring that recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) for applications, as defined in the business rules, are met.
Virtualization places new pressures on all administrator roles. The backup administrator, used to deploying backup agents on physical servers, may be unaware of agentless backup methods that are less disruptive and offer higher performance. Administrators, used to backing up physical servers, may not know how to perform backups for virtual servers or how to schedule a backup in such a way as to avoid impacting the performance of other applications residing on the same physical server. In today's virtualized environment, the physical resources are shared and the applications are dynamic. The VMware administrator may have no awareness of how the movement of existing applications from one server to another or the deployment of new applications on an existing virtualized server affects the ability of the backup administrator to complete timely backups. The application administrator, used to having tight control over the timing of physical adds, moves, and changes to ensure that service levels for application availability and performance are met, now must deal in a world where other applications or processes, such as backups, can unexpectedly impact application performance.
Action Item: Companies that want to make effective use of virtualization with production applications should follow a three-step action plan to avoid unintended negative consequences:
- Re-examine all tools and processes to determine if they will continue to work in a dynamic, shared, virtual-server environment;
- Evaluate new backup and data-protection methods, along with application and infrastructure management and monitoring tools that are specifically designed for virtual-server environments;
- Establish a multi-disciplinary team that includes the virtual-server administrator, application administrator, and backup administrator, and task them with ensuring that production applications continue to meet the business unit's requirements for application performance, availability, and recoverability, from the standpoints of both recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO).