This content is part of the Essential Guide: VMworld 2014 conference coverage

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Key advantages to a virtualized server environment

An infrastructure architect details his journey to increasing the number of virtualized servers in his UNIX environment.

During his VMworld 2014 session, "Virtual Server Fleet: A Dream Comes True," Denis Larocque, infrastructure architect at Molson Coors, detailed the company's transition from UNIX-based hardware to a virtualized server environment based on vSphere, moving from 50% virtualized servers to 94%.

The session detailed the tools and techniques used by co-presenter David Gallant, who works as a practice solution architect for VMware, that helped fulfill Larocque's desire to reduce his infrastructure footprint while making life easier for the systems administrators.

In addition to cutting hardware costs by going with a cheaper x86 blade system to run critical SAP workloads, another advantage Larocque wanted was being able to perform important updates in a more timely fashion. Instead of putting off upgrades and patches with their old system, Larocque said virtualization has given them the ability to execute these administrative tasks without much difficulty.

"We're a big company so it was pretty hard to get an [maintenance window]. We were doing a shutdown two times a year to do all kinds of updates," said Larocque. "Those [maintenance] windows would get more and more stuff in it. Most of the time we were not able to do everything that was planned so the thing that was always cut off was the firmware update. Then, six months after, we would run into a bug that we realized was covered by the last firmware update we didn't do. So, you're not helping yourself doing that."

"With this [vSphere] environment, it's so easy to do your firmware upgrade. You just put the host on maintenance mode, vMotion everything outside, you do your patching then you bring it back. Then you can do your next [host]. There's no excuse anymore to not do the firmware upgrade. It's a big benefit," said Larocque.

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