Information Technology Operations teams, or IT Ops, as I'll refer to them in this article, sit at the center of the digital transformation trend that is sweeping IT. IT Ops can either be a conduit or a barrier to digital transformation efforts depending on their operating model. Their success is determined by a combination of the speed and accuracy by which they deliver services to internal and external users. This agility is achieved by elasticity, which is the foundational concept behind the 'Cloud Operating Model.'
Elasticity in IT is being able to programmatically create, destroy, and modify all infrastructure, including compute, storage, networking, security, and application components, while still upholding the necessary governance over IT assets, whether on-premises or the public cloud. This is also known as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) depending how far up the stack you're automating. IT Ops' ability to achieve this elasticity while meeting enterprise requirements such as performance, scalability, security, availability, capacity planning, and costing is the Cloud Operating Model.
This article will focus on the latter two capabilities capacity planning and costing and how this is implemented in VMware's vRealize Operations Manager (vROps). vROps is a vital part of VMware's Cloud Management Platform, known as the vRealize Suite or vCloud Suite. vROps provides end to end troubleshooting, monitoring, policy-based automation, capacity planning, and costing to highlight some of the principal value adds offered by vROps.
Capacity Planning in vROps:
vRealize Operations Manager boasts a sophisticated capacity engine that analyzes historical utilization and projects future workload using real-time predictive capacity analytics based on industry-standard data.
Capacity Planning within vROps makes use of this capacity engine, providing a set of 'What if Scenarios' that can be combined and run against infrastructure resources to determine if there is enough capacity to satisfy new projects. These projects could involve expansions to existing applications, new application deployments, and adding or removing infrastructure resources to see how these changes would affect the overall health of the environment.
Showback in vROps:
The out of the box Showback dashboard in vROps provides per-application cost giving granular cost visibility to stakeholders. Showback in vROps makes use of a reference database, taking into consideration capital and operational expenditures, including server hardware, storage, network, licensing, maintenance, labor, power, cooling, and facilities costs. The reference database uses industry values to calculate the costs of the mentioned above cost drivers. However, these can be individually modified to more accurately match actual values.
Below we'll give a few examples on how the 'What if Scenarios' and the Showback dashboard can provide stakeholders with much-needed visibility into capacity and cost trends.
In this example, we'll look at how vROps Advanced can assist with a MSSQL database expansion. We'll look to answer the following two questions:
- Can the current infrastructure support the MSSQL expansion?
- If not, how much additional capacity is needed?
Figure 1 shows a ‘What if Scenario’ where a total of four (5) virtual machines (VMs) are being added for the MSSQL expansion. These fives VMs are adding a total of 20 vCPUs, 80 GBs of memory, and 2 TB of storage.
After running the scenario, Figure 2 shows that on July 23rd, when these VMs are to be deployed, there will be CPU and storage deficit in the environment causing contention that can potentially lead to application performance issues. This means the current infrastructure does not have the resources required to meet the MSSQL expansion which is the answer to our first question. In order to support the project, we’d need to add compute and storage capacity.
Note: The cost of running this project in the public cloud is also included as part of the output of this scenario.
Figure 3 shows an ‘Add Host’ scenario where two (2) hosts are being added. This will help us answer our second question regarding the capacity required to meet the project capacity requirements. We’ll purposely add the additional resources on August 4, about two weeks after the MSSQL expansion, so we can easily see the impact that the additional resources will have in the environment in figure 5 later in the write up.
Figure 4 shows two ‘What-if Scenarios’ representing both the MSSQL expansion as well as the additional resources being added. We’ll run both scenarios simultaneously so we can analyze whether two additional hosts will be sufficient to support the MSSQL Expansion.
Figure 5 shows that on July 23, when the MSSQL expansion VMs are deployed, there will be a CPU shortfall pictured in red. Then, on August 4, when the additional capacity is introduced (pictured in the bold gray line), you see that this shortfall is no longer there. This analysis answers our second question; we'll need two additional hosts to have enough capacity to satisfy the CPU requirement for the MSSQL expansion project.
NOTE: This analysis can be done for CPU, memory, or storage. We picked CPU specifically to simplify the example.
The 'Showback' dashboard, pictured below, provides out of the box granular application costs for all applications. We have created a custom group, including the four (4) VMs representing the Financial System application. The goal is to get a monthly cost of the group of VMs that make up the application.
Clicking on the Financial Systems application under 'Showback Groups,' the dashboard provides detailed costing information on this application. vROPs Advanced also allows for full customization of these dashboards giving customers the ability to tailor the panel to present the data most effectively.
In summary, showback and capacity planning are necessary components for organizations that aspire to achieve private cloud status. vRealize Operations Manager makes these two components the 'low hanging fruit' in the private cloud journey. In a matter of clicks, vROps Advanced provides a capacity engine capable of accurately forecasting capacity, including CPU, memory, and storage. vROps takes the guesswork out of capacity planning and allows IT Ops to plan for upcoming projects requiring infrastructure capacity whether on premises on in the public cloud. The Showback functionality built into vROps Advanced will enable customers to have out of the box costs for all applications enabling chargeback of these assets to the various application owners.
Clearpath's technical account managers and their supporting pre-sales engineers can help you make the most out of your VMware investment. We’ve helped hundreds of customers optimize their IT systems and save money by utilizing solutions like vROps discussed above in the blog. Reach out to our team today to see how we can help your organization.
Clearpath Webinar on VMware Management Tools: https://info.clearpathsg.com/vmware-cloud-management-tools-webinar-recap
vRealize Operations Manager Documentation: https://docs.vmware.com/en/vRealize-Operations-Manager/index.html