How to Recycle Virtualization Resources for Better Data Center Optimization

The current economic realities have shifted IT's focus modestly from green IT to cost savings. But there remains an ultimate, if utopian, goal associated with accomplishing both at once. A properly functioning virtual environment constantly reduces, reuses and recycles, which serves to drive the cost savings associated with virtualization. But many companies do not have an active virtual recycling program in place. Here, Knowledge Center contributor John Suit shares what we can learn from our green counterparts to better optimize the data center environment.


IT organizations struggle with operating at an optimal resource utilization state. When IT resources are underutilized, they cannot artificially create demand to maximize their utilization. When IT resources are overextended, they cannot quickly create new capacity. While the opportunity exists for the overextended enterprise to potentially leverage a publicly available cloud infrastructure, there are quality of service (QOS), trust and control issues that exist.

IT can anticipate demand to a degree, but they cannot generate it when resources are idle. When you attach a windmill to your home, you can expect an average amount of wind over the year. But when there is no wind, you cannot generate your own wind. On the other hand, when you are generating more than you need, you can sell the power generated back to the grid. Ideally, the power can be dynamically allocated between all resources that need it.

Some would argue that if you took inventory of what you already have, such as bringing your own reusable cloth bag in the supermarket checkout, then you have achieved some savings. I personally have not spent much time thinking about how to best optimize my grocery bags like some have, but I have certainly thought a great deal about how to maximize IT infrastructure. The following are three steps to maximizing an IT infrastructure.

Steps to maximizing an IT infrastructure

Step No. 1: The first step to efficiency is to build an understanding of the entire inventory at your disposal. Once you are fully aware of the resources available to you, then you can create a strategy for using those resources to their fullest.

Step No. 2: The next step is to understand how those resources are dependent upon each other. From that knowledge, you can plan the most effective way to manage those relationships without adversely affecting the application owners' experiences or service levels. Understanding and documenting what service level thresholds are expected in your environment is key to maximizing the usability and ultimate reclamation of your resources.

Step No. 3: Creating a detailed matrix of the individual capacity of each component of your infrastructure will help establish a baseline. For example, isolating CPU, memory, storage and network capacity as initial metrics will help you to collect accurate metrics for actual usage of these elements over a given period (such as 40 hours). In that time, maintenance windows and non-peak hours might be less relevant to your usage analysis.