These questions represent some of the possible questions that should be asked when designing out a solution. These questions have been complied from many resources, experience, and trial and error. In no way is this a complete list, but it should be a decent starting point. I will try to keep this list updated as my knowledge grows, feel free to post other questions in the comments area if you feel I’m missing something important.
Questions to ask “C”-Level team include:
- What is unique to your processes that can impact our design? (Employees need remote access, must have web site accessable with 99.999% uptime, etc)
- What are the budgetary constraints, both current and future?
- For Disaster Recovery do you have a defined RPO and RTO (Recovery Time Objective, Recovery Point Objective)?
- What services provided by IT are the most critical to the company in your opinion?
- How much data loss is acceptable? (If any at all)
- How much would it cost the company to be down for 1 hour? 1 Day?
- How much downtime can each application have?
- Custom App
- What types of security concerns do you have?
- How many employees are there accessing IT resources? How much do you expect this to grow over the next 12 months? 24 months?
Questions to ask IT team include:
- What is unique to your processes that can impact our design? (Policy and procedural)
- What types of SLAs do you have in place?
- For each server what is the RTO? RPO?
- Do you plan to reuse existing hardware for virtualization? Or will we be purchasing new hardware?
- What is your preferred vendor for servers? Switches? Storage?
- How many CPU’s, how many cores and what is the CPU speed for each host?(refer to capacity planner)
- How much RAM will be configured in each host? (refer to capacity planner)
- How much local disk space will be configured?
- How many NIC cards and ports will be used for each host?
- Fault Tolerance?
- Will you be using Fiber Channel or iSCSI or NAS Storage?
- What are your current storage requirements? (refer to capacity planner)
- Is there any storage requirements not listed in the capacity planner?
- How much do you foresee your data growing over the next year? 2 years?
- Are there any applications that are disk latency critical? High IOps? High MBps?
- Do you plan to use SAN based snapshotting in conjunction with VM level snapshots?
- Do you plan on using thin provisioning?
- On the SAN do you have a standard LUN size? If so what are the standard sizes of LUNs?
- Do you have a naming convention you would like to use for VMFS volumes?
- Do you want to deploy ESXi or ESX?
- Do you plan to use any local VMFS volumes?
- Is there a requirement or a need to run any monitoring or management software in the ESX service console?
- What type of core network is in place now? (eg. Gig switches, 10 gig, 100 Meg?)
- Will we be purchasing new switches or using existing? Do you have enough ports available if using existing?
- Do you use VLANs? If so, what are the VLANs and how are they used?
- Do you have a need to group virtual servers into groups (subnets/VLANs, etc)?
- Do you have a server naming convention that needs to be followed?
- What subnet do you use for management?
- Do you have a physical machine acting as a PDC or BDC? If not can a machine be reclaimed for this purpose?
- Do you plan to run Virtual Center Server as a VM or a physical machine?
- What database do you plan to use for vCenter? SQL, SQL Express, Oracle?
- Will the vCenter database reside on the same server, or on a remote server?
- What type of backup technology do you currently use?
- Do you want to preform file-level, VM-level, or SAN LUN-level backups?
- Are you using storage replication? If yes, what type?
- Do you have a policy that requires off-site backups? Tape retention?
- Any other information we need to know about your backup policy as it is now?
- What is your expected average annual user growth rate?
- Will you size your servers for your initial needs or account for all of your expected growth? (Discuss capacity/server consolidation analysis results.)
- How many users will access your applications?
- Are you planning on virtualizing any workloads that are mission-critical and cannot afford any downtime?
- Are you planning on virtualizing any multi-tiered applications?
- What operating systems are currently running your existing applications that you wish to consolidate?
- Do any of your physical servers have to have more than one CPU? (Discuss the risk introduced by vSMP with virtual machines.)
- Are any of your current physical servers/application workloads clustered using Microsoft or Veritas clustering solutions?
- What type of security concerns do you have?
- Is there a disaster recovery plan in place? Has it been tested?
- Do you have a list of priority VMs based on groupings? (High, medium, low)
- What other sites do you utilize for DR?
- What is the connectivity between sites?
- Is there a need to replicate ESX/ESXi hosts at the DR site?
Thanks for this, Justin. Given me a quick helping hand ! 🙂
Is the intention for this in regards to virtualizing server environments, or a good reference for general virtualization practices? I find in general we as IT professionals tend to ask too little about the applications and the business itself. I would add a couple basics to the C-level such as:
1. How are your users geographically distributed?
2. What business processes do your applications accomplish, and how do they work with day to day revenue?
Quite often companies don’t go into enough detail and we miss some extremely important high level information that would allow us to provide a more consultative approach.