Building Virtual Environments Using HP’s Sizing Tool (Part 2)

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:


Sizing a virtual environment sometimes seems like a combination of art and science. However, with enough data, sizing calculations can move quickly to the science side of the equation and be much more accurate, especially if you can get application performance details. That’s where HP’s Unified Sizer tool comes in. Once downloaded, you can install this product onto your Windows machine. When done, you will find a series of sizing utilities installed.

Server role options – continued

In Part 1 of this series, we began working with an example of a large environment to be built using the Sizer tools. We left off on the options page shown in the figure below and that’s where we’ll continue in Part 2. You will see a number of additional options at your disposal in this part of this series.

Figure 1: We’re still working on Role Server Options

Memory options

In keeping with the Sizer’s aim to build an environment that meets the technical needs you’ve already defined as well as taking into consideration your additional needs, the Memory Options section provides you with information regarding the calculator’s memory size as well as an opportunity to assign to each server additional memory for other needs not identified.

Network options

Likewise, the Sizer provides an overview of how much network bandwidth it thinks that the solution will require. As an administrator, you can indicate to the Sizer that you want to add additional ports and you can also request that the Sizer perform its calculations based on the use of 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports rather than 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Server power savings mode

Not all servers – virtual or otherwise – need to run 24/7 in some organizations. In these cases, you might opt to run your environment in a way that conserves power. You can elect to enable this option in the section at the bottom of the window shown in Figure 1.

Role storage options

Once you’re done choosing server configuration options, you then have the opportunity to provide input as to how you would like the resulting storage environment to be configured. This screen is shown below in Figure 3. Here, you can choose to simply allow the Sizer to do its job or you can specify that you want to use direct attached storage (DAS) or either an iSCSI or Fibre Channel SAN.

Figure 2:
Server storage options

The storage configuration window also happens to be the last input screen available in this phase of the sizing process. Click the Finish button to allow the SIzer to begin calculations based on the inputs you’ve provided thus far.

Figure 3:
Calculations are underway

The results

Now this is where the fun begins! At this point, the Sizer has worked some magic and determined what it believes to be an optimal solution based on the inputs you’ve provided. In Figure 4 below, you can see that the Sizer has recommended a pretty substantial solution based on the inputs that I provided earlier. You will see that the Sizer recommends a total of seven host servers, each with 128 GB of RAM and decacore (10 core) processors. That’s a lot of computing power! But just wait until you see the storage recommendation which calls for an HP P9500 SAN with more than 2,100 disks to meet both capacity and performance needs.

Figure 4:
An overview of the proposed solution

Tweaking the results

The screen in Figure 4 is just an overview. After calculations are complete, the Sizer provides you with a chance to tweak the configuration to meet individual needs.

Figure 5:
Solution server options

  • Physical host. Here, you can override the Sizer’s server selection and choose a specific server model that might better match your needs.
  • Model feature. This set of options will be different depending on what server model you choose. For example, if you choose a ProLiant ML370 G6, you will have the opportunity to choose between small form factor and large form factor internal SAS disks.
  • Cooling fans. If your selected server has different cooling fan options, they will be listed here.
  • Power supplies. Many scenarios can call for different power supplies. If your selected server comes with different power supply options, you can choose the right one here.
  • Server management. Which HP management solution do you want to include in your bundle?
  • Expansion slots. This section displays a list of the expansion cards that will occupy the various slots available in the selected server.

Processor options

Although the Sizer does its best to choose an appropriate processor, you may wish to override the calculated solution and choose your own processor. That’s possible by using the Processor option in the recommended solution, shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6:
Physical host processor choices

RAM options

Generally, I recommend to my clients that they cram as much RAM as they can afford into their host servers. After all, RAM is often the first resource to be exhausted in a virtual environment. With that in mind, you may wish to increase the amount of RAM that the Sizer recommends you install in each server. Or, you can simply accept the Sizer’s recommendation, shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7:
Server memory options

Network Interface Card options

Likewise, if there are network interface card options for your solution, you will see them here. As you can see in Figure 8, the Sizer calls for 10 x 1 Gb Ethernet ports for the selected solution.

Figure 8:
Server network interface card options

Blade server options

If your selected solution calls for a blade server or if you’ve opted for a blade server-based solution, you will have an additional option screen providing you with a number of blade-server based options, as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9:
Blade server options

  • Number of blade enclosures. How many blade enclosures are required for the solution?
  • Number of blade servers. How many blade servers are required for the solution?
  • Input phase. Are you using single phase or three phase power to run the blade enclosure?
  • Blade enclosures. There are a number of different options at your disposal with regard to blade enclosures. Which one do you want to use for this solution?
  • Hardware options. Blade enclosures connect to the main network using one or more different modules and there are a number of different modules from which to choose. For example, you can choose to use a Cisco-based 10 gigabit Ethernet blade or you can opt for an HP Procurve-based 10 gigabit Ethernet blade, but there are also many other options.

Power values

Please note that the screen shot shown in Figure 10 is not from the same set of variables used in other screenshots. The large environment I created for the Sizer didn’t have any power utilization details. So, I went back and created a second scenario and got the results you see in Figure 10. On this screen, you can see the total power consumption, heat output, and airflow details. This can be critical information as you build supporting infrastructure around the calculated environment.

Figure 10:
Power values for the solution


And that’s it for Part 2 of this article series. In part 3, we will wrap up our look at HP’s Sizer tool ad I’ll share my overall thoughts on the quality and usefulness of the tool.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

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