Stage 1: Determining the rationale
The idea of implementing production server virtualization came to Fergenschmeir from several directions. In May 2007, infrastructure manager Eric Brown had just hired Mike Beyer, an eager new summer intern. One of the first questions out of Mike’s mouth was, “So how much of your server infrastructure is virtual?” The answer, of course, was none. Although the software development team had been using a smattering of EMC VMware Workstation and Server to aid their development process, they hadn’t previously considered bringing it into production. But an innocent question from an intern made Eric give it more serious thought. So he did some research.
[ Start at the beginning of Fergenschmeir's server virtualization journey ]
Eric started by talking to his team. He asked about the problems they’d had, and whether virtualization could be a solution. There were obvious wins to be had, such as the portability of virtual guest servers. Additionally, they would no longer be dependent on specific hardware, and they would be able to consolidate servers and reduce IT overhead.
The actual business motivation came a month later. The server running Fergenschmeir’s unsupported, yet business-critical, CRM application crashed hard. Nobody knew how to reinstall the application, so it took four days of downtime to get the application brought back up. Although the downtime was largely due to the original software developer being defunct, this fiasco was a serious black mark on the IT department as a whole and a terrible start for Eric’s budding career at Fergenschmeir.
The final push toward virtualization was a result of the fact that Fergenschmeir’s CEO, Bob Tersitan, liked to read IT industry magazines. The result of this pastime was often a tersely worded e-mail to Brad that might read something like, “Hey. I read about this Web portal stuff. Let’s do that. Next month? I’m on my boat -- call cell.” Usually Brad could drag his feet a bit or submit some outlandish budgetary numbers and Bob would move on to something else more productive. In this case, Bob had read a server virtualization case study he found on InfoWorld’s site and the missive was to implement it to solve the problems that Fergenschmeir had been experiencing. Bingo! Eric had already done the research and now had executive OK to go forward. The fiasco turned into an opportunity.
The rest of the virtual virtualization case study
Introduction: The Fergenschmeir case study
Stage 2: Doing a reality check
Stage 3: Planning around capacity
Stage 4: Selecting the platforms
Stage 5: Deploying the virtualized servers
Stage 6: Learning from the experience