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June 2011, Vol. 33

Preventing virtual resource oversubscription with capacity management

In today’s data centers, organizations are packing more virtual machines (VMs) onto fewer physical servers. That's great for server consolidation, but it could lead to oversubscription of CPU cycles, memory and other computing resources. In this tip, I’ll identify the symptoms of resource oversubscription and offer capacity management suggestions that can limit or prevent it. Server and desktop consolidation raises concerns that concentrations of workloads bring with them inevitable risk of downtime and the potential of oversaturation of the core computing resources—memory, processor, network and disk.  In the ideal world, a hypervisor should be consuming these resources as much as possible, while leaving headroom to accommodate the growth in the VMs as well any unexpected surges in workload. Expressed simply, a hypervisor consuming only 1% of memory, CPU, network or disk is underutilized. Likewise, a hypervisor running at 99% of memory, processor, network or disk is likely to provide poor performance and be a major bottleneck ...

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