Main concerns for Database administrators, especially for those working with Large and complex databases that are under heavy loads are reliability and performance. Virtualisation can play a big role in improving the reliability of your datacentre; paired with consolidation you can tackle the main concerns of your data platform.
Consolidation is pretty much exactly what the name suggests – taking your estate and consolidating your servers to reduce the physical number. So instead of having separate physical servers for each project with their own hardware, databases and software, and their own individual support and maintenance overheads, you merge your solutions onto fewer machines.
The separate solutions approach leads to "islands" in your datacentre. You may think this is a good thing - if one server goes down, others won't go down with it. However, if your servers are interdependent then you'll still suffer if one server fails. In addition, having multiple machines, each needing OS, server and software patches, security monitoring, backup solutions, and other maintenance work, is a waste of resources. Consolidating your servers reduces the maintenance overhead massively. It could also save you a lot of money in "per seat" licensing fees.
Database consolidation is something that many support DBAs and Database consultants shy away from because of the perception that it is too difficult. There was a time when this was true, but modern server installations offer much better consolidation options, and there are many benefits to consolidation.
Now is a good time to start looking at database consolidation. Microsoft will be ending SQL server support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 so if you are running that version, or an older and currently unsupported version of SQL server or Oracle Database, you should seriously consider upgrading soon.
Newer versions of Microsoft SQL Server including SQL2014 and Oracle Database 12c offer many performance improvements, even on relatively old hardware.
With consolidation, you can enjoy:
Better use of your existing hardware - no more servers sitting at only 10% CPU utilization for most of the day.
Improved scalability - it's easier to move a VM from one machine to another than it is to completely rebuild a physical computer.
Easier backup and recovery - take snapshots of your VMs periodically, and you can re-load them easily to get up and running instantly. Reinstalling a traditional OS (or even re-imaging a drive) takes far longer by comparison.
Rapid provisioning - you can deploy new virtual servers on demand.
Consolidation isn't a magical fix, if you are considering consolidating your database estate you should bear the following in mind:
Performance can be bottlenecked by the speed of your drives in environments with heavy I/O. Consider using SSDs to get around this issue.
The virtual environment you use may limit performance.
Consolidating your servers is a good way to reduce waste and improve performance and reliability if you have several standalone servers which generally experience only light or medium load. Tread carefully when considering consolidating servers that are heavily utilized, and make sure that you do not overload the physical machine that is hosting the VMs.
For more information on Database consolidation give our Professional Services team a call.