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Server virtualization training: Effective lessons from ACG Worldwide

Anuradha Ramamirtham, Principal Correspondent

Server virtualization has caught the fancy of Indian companies, and an increasing number of organizations are now taking recourse to it. But certain critical aspects such as server virtualization training for the IT team are critical for the success of these initiatives. On this front, ACG Worldwide’s endeavors are worth a look. When it opted for server virtualization (on HP-UX), it took care to provide

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server virtualization training to its IT team. “This is a new concept for the IT team, as all these years they have been working with physical servers,” says Vilas Pujari, the general manager for corporate IT at ACG Worldwide.

Pujari personally undertook the task of training his IT team on server virtualization and its management. As part of these sessions, he explained the basic concepts in detail to his team members. Although the vendor (in this case HP) has technical consultants to provide server virtualization training and explanation of the processes in detail, a customized and personalized touch can be only given by an in-house expert. Consultants typically tend to impart more of theoretical knowledge than provide examples based on the real time environment.

ACG Worldwide’s server virtualization training started with restructuring the company’s existing infrastructure (which used physical servers) and explanation of the initiative’s benefits. The second part of the training was spent on why the company chose to go for server virtualization. For ACG Worldwide, going in for server virtualization was not just because of advantages like reduction in the number of physical servers or saving power cooling costs. The main criterion was that the company had two SAP instances running—ECC 5 and ECC 6.

“It’s neither possible nor recommended to create two different instances from a single server. I cannot load ECC 5 and ECC 6 simultaneously on the same operating system, even though the server was capable enough. This issue was to be addressed by going in for virtual servers, which was explained in detail during server virtualization training,” adds Pujari.

The IT team was not very aware of (nor conversant with) dynamic allocation of memory as per requirement. So, the initial server virtualization training had to factor in this aspect. While allocating and reallocating resources, the IT team was trained in such a way that they understood the implication of each and every action. They initially allocated and reallocated resources in a test environment to check servers’ behavior.

ACG Worldwide had multiple servers working on a single environment. So the IT team was trained to ensure that in the event of a server’s shutdown, there is no interference with the operation of other servers.

So, while conducting virtual server training for the IT team, did ACG Worldwide stress on virtualization certification? “Our company had an in-house existing IT team when it went in for server virtualization. So there was no need for our employees to get a certification as such. However, I will definitely opt for a certified person for fresh recruitments. So even if I don’t have an opportunity to test his knowledge, a certification will go a long way in checking his credentials,” adds Pujari.

ACG Worldwide has deployed server virtualization on its HP-UX server to consolidate development and test servers of different group companies (including Associated Capsules, Pam Engineering and Lukaps). The company runs SAP on this server. Its server virtualization implementation has been practically maintenance free so far. Since ACG Worldwide hosts SAP servers, only experts are allowed to work on this platform. As a result, the implementation requires only routine maintenance.