vSphere Solution Design (Pt1. Before Course)

Next week I will be attending a VMware vSphere Design Course in Chicago and thought it would be interesting to write an article on designing out a virtualization solution before, and then do a follow up post on what I have learned and see what I was missing/reinforce what I already know.

Step 1: The first step in any project should be discovery, as there is no way of knowing what you need to get the project done successfully without a good discovery. There are many parts to this first step they include:

Server discovery – we will need to know as much about each machine as we can find, the major things are # of CPU’s, CPU Speed, % of CPU used on average and during peak usage, Memory Size, % of memory used, Hard Disk Size, HDD IOps, HDD MBps, and Network Card Configuration. All of this information can be easily obtained by running the VMware Capacity Planner or other similar applications.

Client Interview– we will need to interview several groups of people to get all of the information we need. The first group we need to interview is the “C” Level personnel, as this group determines what downtime costs, what budgets are available, and what their long term plan is for the company.

The second group to interview is the I.T. team, they need to be asked some of the same questions but more importantly the tech questions that the “C”-Level team would not know.

(For questions to ask refer to “Design Questionnaire” page)

Step 2: In this step we take what we have learned about the customer and we put together the best possible solution to meet there needs. We research what hardware we will need to purchase, and how it will all be interconnected. White boards are a critical piece of this step, as is peer input. If there are any flaws in the design they need to be discovered during this phase while they are fixable without sacrificing uptime and profits for both the consultant as well as the client company.

Step3: Develop customer deliverables. This in step we put together a proposal for the customer that explains all of the design details at a high level, something that can be understood by management while still providing enough details to the IT team to have an understanding of the direction we are going. The purpose of this is to give the client an idea of what the project will cost and to also explain how each part of the design will interact with the others and why it was chosen instead of a different product. This would involve a meeting with key people as well as bringing in vendor reps in case there are any questions as well as to determine if the project will be purchased or leased, if lease how long will the lease duration be as warranty lengths should be adjusted to cover the entire term of the lease.

Step 4: After the project is approved a more in depth bill of materials will need to be presented along with labor estimates and final pricing. Another meeting with the IT team would then need to be setup to discuss implementation and develop windows for downtime.

Step 5: Convey all presales knowledge to the implementation engineer(s) so that he or she has knowledge of the entire project and any questions they have can be addressed before implementation.

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