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How can IT improve its virtual application capacity plan?

When IT deploys virtual apps, it must plan for the applications' capacity needs. Two common planning methods are monitoring app performance and load simulation.

Capacity planning for any virtual application can be tricky, especially for applications that are key to the business.

Unfortunately, there is no universally accepted method for assessing a virtual application's capacity requirements, and to make the planning more complicated, business apps vary dramatically from organization to organization based on what an organization does.

IT must find a capacity planning technique that is well-suited to its organization's unique application capacity needs.

Monitor application performance

IT can use a performance monitoring tool to test its virtual application capacity needs. IT can host the application in a lab and track the hardware resource consumption using a performance monitoring tool as the application launches and runs.

IT professionals can extrapolate the measurements and come up with an estimate of what resources the app will require to support the number of users they anticipate will work with the app.

Load simulation is often a better option than performance monitoring because it allows IT to test the effect on performance for a larger number of users.

IT pros must understand the limits and potential inaccuracies of using performance monitoring tools. Some workloads, for example, do not scale linearly, meaning that the capacity increase per additional user isn't always the same. In many situations, a tool will require more resources to run the first instance of an application than to run subsequent instances because it takes far more resources to deploy the application initially than it takes to deploy it to each additional user.

Another factor IT must consider when running a capacity planning test is that the greatest demand for resources may not occur on the server that hosts the virtual applications. Instead, the bulk of the resource demands might fall to a different server, such as a back-end database server.

Simulate application demand

IT can also use a load simulation tool to determine the resource needs of virtual business applications. Load simulation is often a better option than performance monitoring because it allows IT to test the effect on performance for a larger number of users.

Most of the load simulators available today are designed to simulate user logins and may not support application load performance testing. Therefore, IT pros should check that the load simulator is capable of doing the job they need it to do for their business application capacity plan.

Load simulation tools are also platform-dependent. A load simulation tool designed for VMware deployments, for example, might not work in a Citrix deployment.

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