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Best Practices for Rightsizing Cloud Enabled Storage Workloads

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February 11, 2016
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Rightsizing cloud workloads is a core component of moving to the cloud, and offers many benefits. It can prevent over-allocation waste; increase ROI for your infrastructure; improve VM configuration and performance; minimize swap activity and associated disk-thrashing; and even decrease your VM memory overhead.

Here are some tips to help you rightsize your cloud workloads effectively.

1. Time Your Metrics

Timeframe is a frequently overlooked variable in rightsizing cloud workloads. How much historical performance data do you need to examine — a week’s worth? A month’s? The answer is different for every company, because every company experiences usage spikes at different times. If you’re an online retailer, for example, you’ll want to gather metrics for the holiday shopping rush. If you’re in financial services, you may experience higher demand around April 15th. Marketing campaigns, inventory and other factors could also affect resource usage, so it’s essential to account for them in your planning.

2. Identify Gaps

With long-term performance data at hand, you still need to make a judgment call when it comes to rightsizing — one that is dependent on the IT resources available.

  • Staffing: Do you have staff that can respond to spikes in a quick, efficient way? If you don’t have the staff or clearly identified times when you can add necessary resources, you can size your cloud environment to handle workload bumps up to 80%. It’s not optimal, but depending on the complexity of your IT department, it’s best to build for the maximum load.
  • Environment Support Design: You may have redundancies you’re already aware of and know you can take a portion of your environment offline. Then you can add what’s needed and bring it back online when you’re done. This is the preferred method as it allows you to be more resilient and responsive to high demand. Redundancies allow you to service the demand while maintaining availability. If there’s a critical failure within the environment, redundancies will help without impacting your demand.

3. Understand VM Workloads

VMs can be particularly challenging to rightsize. Sometimes, less is more. Having too many resources dedicated to a project can actually slow you down.  If you’ve allocated four processors, the wait time can be a lot longer because the hypervisor will keep that workload waiting until there are enough resources available to accommodate all four.

There’s also a difference between converting a physical environment to a virtual one and a virtual one to the cloud.

  • Physical to Virtual: Typically, you will need to leverage half the resources of a physical server. A server with 8 GB of RAM and two processors can become a single VPU with 4 GB of RAM. Since VMs are scheduled, hypervisors can fully leverage the physical hardware. You only need to allocate the resources needed for your application to work. The hypervisor schedules it efficiently. (There are rare exceptions. Occasionally, application servers will have multiple people logging in and using one server as a desktop. In that case, you’ll see the opposite occur.)
  • Virtual to Cloud: When considering moving your virtual workload to a cloud provider, you’ll want to verify that you will have a virtual toolbox of resources to monitor your VMs.  At Peak 10, for instance, customers can log into our portal and run a utilization report to discover where to increase and decrease resources for the VM. Rightsizing your VM workload always requires a view of the hypervisor and the OS level. Understanding both perspectives is necessary.

4. Choose Your CSP Wisely

If you are working with a cloud service provider (CSP), verify the CSP will give you the information needed to rightsize your environment effectively. Some CSPs do not allow you to “tune” your environment. If you need more of a particular resource, you have to subscribe to a larger instance. That means you are paying for resources that you are not using. Providers like Peak 10 give low-level information, employ systems that monitor your environment over time, and offer rightsizing recommendations.

Conclusion

There are many benefits to rightsizing: it can prevent over-allocation waste, increase ROI for your infrastructure, improve VM configuration and performance, minimize swap activity and associated disk-thrashing, and even decrease your VM memory overhead.

Overwhelmed? Rightsizing your workloads is a challenging task, so if you’re weighing CSPs, look for one that will help you with the task. Tell your cloud provider not only what you want, but what you’re trying to accomplish.

At Peak 10, our engineers always look your business holistically, examining and asking about all of the above and more, so your business not only runs more effectively when you move to the cloud, but we’re also there when your business needs change, like they did for our client. You can call at any time and ask “who has experience with this kind of challenge” and we will pool our community together to ensure you arrive at the best possible solution.

 

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"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest