The Top Five Problems of Virtual Server Migrations.

The top five troubles of migration to virtual environments. How to avoid or successfully solve them.

Migration to virtual environments is not always an easy operation. It includes many implicit issues, manipulations and processes, any of them can be incorrect or cause a failure for the entire server. Moreover the whole operation’s success relies on the initial scenario of the system migration.

Evaluations of virtual systems also demands several new approaches as it is significantly different from working with traditional physical machines. The top five issues you may face before, during and after a system migration are
described in this post. Each of them has a solution, but only Paragon Virtualization Manager unites them all.

#1 Changing target virtualization environment

Today you have a wide range of virtualization software (VS) to choose from. Some of them are free and a little reliable; others carry a price tag but have also been tested in large enterprises. It is always better to determine what functionality, security and support level you want from your virtualization vendor before its implementation. One wrong decision may cause significant expenses of both time and money.

But what if you really decided to change your virtualization software vendor? For example you have been disappointed in Microsoft Virtual PC and bought VMware Workstation. What will you do in this case? Or you

have bought a brand new Windows 7 OS alongside with its embedded virtualization environment and want to transfer all data from your Parallels virtual machines? The answers may be several, let’s describe some of them. The first way is most obvious: you just reinstall OS and software from a scratch. Then copy all data by any means. Of course this is the most time consuming solution. The benefit is that you do not need to use any additional utilities. But this scenario can be initially doomed If you do not have software distributives anymore.

The second way is to somehow store your virtualized system into an image and then restore it inside of another virtual machine (virtual machine). Deployment of the whole system with software and data is much faster than the previous scenario, but you have to use an imaging utility. If you chose this way you will need to adapt the recovered system for the new virtual machine environment because different virtualization software emulate different hardware.  Concerning Windows family OS this issue can be crucial as these systems are very hardware-sensitive.

The better choice would be using one solution, which supports reading data from both source and target virtualization software. It also should be system adaptation aware, that is it should automatically tune OS for the new virtual machine hardware.

Paragon Virtualization Manager
has all the needed functionality to accomplish this.

The solution of the problem with Paragon Virtualization Manager is the following:

  • Create the target virtual machine with an empty virtual drive.
  • Attach both source and target virtual disk files to Paragon
    Virtualization Manager with the ConnectVD tool. Paragon Virtualization
    Manager supports VMware Workstation, Microsoft Virtual PC and Sun VirtualBox
    virtual disk formats.
  • Copy all partitions from the source virtual disk to the target one. Thus you will get  the exact clone of your environment in the target virtual machine.
  • Perform target OS adaptation for different hardware with the P2P Adjust tool.

Finally you will get the needed virtual machine with all your software and data.

#2 Repartitioning of a virtualized system

The volumes configuration of your actual physical system before migration may not be appropriate for the virtual environment (VE). For example you may decide to reallocate space between partitions or distribute data to volumes on several virtual disks. Of course you cannot perform all these actions with the source environment itself,  repartitioning should be done inside of virtual machine.

You have several options here, the first one is to install a partitioning utility on the system inside virtual machine and use it for repartitioning. This approach is literally the same as for the physical system with two important moments:
You will have to acquire another license for the program installation (and usage) and set it up on the system, which is not the best choice since this solution is one-time use and will be redundant.

The second approach is to use a bootable media and run the virtual machine from it. You can leverage the utility without its installation but you will be constrained to the limits of the virtual machine. You will not be able to exchange data between disk files of different virtual machines or transfer data directly to the physical one.

Paragon Virtualization Manager is a much more comprehensive solution that is able to perform different repartitioning tasks, and copying and migration scenarios. If you have access to virtual disk files or snapshots you do not need to install the solution or boot the special environment. All you have to do is attach the virtual machine containers (virtual disk files, snapshots) and perform the needed operations. Paragon Virtualization Manager is able to treat data on virtual disks of running virtual machine, but in the read-only mode.

Just attach the needed virtual machine container (or several) with the ConnectVD tool of Paragon Virtualization Manager and you will be able to perform:

  • Create, format, delete volumes;
  • Move/resize partitions;
  • Convert file system;
  • Change cluster size;
  • Change partition ID and other parameters;
  • Merge partitions, redistribute free space;
  • Defragment file system;
  • Copy volumes;
  • Undelete partitions and much more;

Any data operations are easy to perform with Paragon Virtualization Manager. Its broad functional covers nearly all possible data management scenarios and it is all concentrated inside of one handy solution.

#3 Reviving outdated environments as virtual machines

Computer hardware is improving very fast; a high-end computer bought in the past year is a middle-class machine today and become outdated in the next year. So everybody makes upgrades or purchase brand-new systems. But if
you have a well-configured and tuned system with your favorite software you will naturally want to use it after computer upgrade. Unfortunately sometimes differences in the previous hardware and new one make this scenario

The better option is to conserve your old environment inside of virtual machine. And again as in the first scenario you will have to deal with manual or utility-assistant migration process. However you probably have some archives
of your system, thus you become able to make virtual machine directly from such archive copy even if you do not have a physical machine anymore.

You may also have some old images of your system which you want to transfer into virtual environments for future use. virtual machine can be a handy substitute for any archived image as it can be run at any time. Combining all these sources as virtual machine is another task for Paragon Virtualization Manager that it successfully solves.

Paragon Virtualization Manager enables you to revive old environments with Windows OS (versions since Win2K) in a virtual machine with the help of the P2V Adjust tool. You can restore the old archive in a virtual machine by any means and then perform OS adaptation.

Moreover if you previously used other Paragon solutions for system imaging, you can simply convert or .PBF archives into virtual disks of the needed format. Just run the P2V Restore tool and Paragon Virtualization Manager will create
the virtual disk with all your software and data.

#4 Transferring data between virtual machines

Exchange of large amounts of data between several types of virtual environments can be a hard labor. You will have to use some kind of media to connect many virtual machines, which could be rather slow, unreliable and inconvenient. Also you probably will not want to download or install a particular tool to perform a single data transfer between your virtual machine and one you got from a remote source.

For example you need to quickly transfer data from a virtual machine to a brand new virtualized system. You may use a network connection, a flash thumb drive or any other mean, but only if both virtual machine can work with these things.

Paragon Virtualization Manager is the best choice for fast data transfer of large amounts of data between different virtual machines and physical computers. Its ConnectVD tool is able to attach as many virtual disks as you want, then you may do whatever you want with data on them.

Connection of snapshots is another great opportunity as you become able to rapidly copy some data from an old snapshot to the actual virtual machine you work with. Even if you make wrong actions or delete some files – you may simply copy them from the previously created snapshot or the archived image.

#5 Returning back to the physical machine

Deployments to a physical machine from a virtual one is even more difficult than initial migration to virtual (P2V). This is caused by a lack of appropriate solutions for this task on the market as there are only several typical virtual machine hardware configurations for each virtual vendor and the endless number of physical hardware configurations that the software will have to adjust to.

Despite that the issues of deploying to physical machines is not related with migration to virtual environments directly, this is kind of a backward process. You can face it if you made a mistake when chose the virtual vendor or decided to give up virtual implementations. It is also possible that you run a development server in virtual space and then need to transfer the data to a physical server.

The solution depends on what you exactly need to do with the data. It is not very difficult to copy some data from virtual machines to your computer, but a whole environment deployment is a rather complicated task.

As in the first scenario you can reinstall all from a scratch and copy data. The limitations are the same: absence of distributives and time expenses. As in the first scenario you can restore an image of the system, but you will face hardware incompatibility issues and get a non-functional system.

Paragon Virtualization Manager can significantly speed up the whole deployment process. Its tools can help you copy all data from the source virtual machine to a physical HDD and tune up the system.

The solution with Paragon Virtualization Manager is the following:

  • Boot the physical machine with Paragon Virtualization Manager WinPE media. Thus you will be able to use Paragon Virtualization Manager without any actual system installed on the computer.
  • Mount a network share or get access to the source virtual disk drive by any other way.
  • Attach the source virtual disk drive to Paragon Virtualization Manager with the ConnectVD function.
  • Copy all partitions from the virtual disk to physical one.
  • Perform target OS adaptation for the different hardware with P2P Adjust tool.

In the end you will get the physical machine with the needed software environment and data. Process speed depends on the amount of data that needs to be copied.

Paragon Virtualization Manager is able to help you successfully solve many tasks related to migration into virtual environments and virtualized data management. The key opportunity of Paragon Virtualization Manager is that it has comprehensive and diverse functionality inside of one application. Thus you do not need to search and buy different utilities to perform any task.

Best Practices on Virtual Server Backup Strategy – White Paper

Are you looking for the best practices in implementing and maintaining a virtual server environment?

Download the latest white paper explaining the best practices in virtual server implementation and maintenance.

IT systems have become such an integral part of the business process that down-time must be avoided at all costs. Those responsible for enterprise systems, both large and small are asking tough questions when it comes to business continuity and disaster recovery, questions such as:

  • How can we keep down time to a minimum?
  • How can I future proof my business continuity solutions?
  • What new technologies deliver improved 24×7 access?
  • How can I demonstrate the Return on Investment (ROI) of a disaster recovery solution?
  • Is there a way to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) with new technologies?
  • How can I build synergy into a backup solution that delivers future value?
  • How can I avoid dead-end technologies?
  • What criteria should I use to select and integrate recovery products?

Simply put, businesses large and small needing to maintain 24×7 access to IT resources are looking for a better way to deliver 24×7 access, prevent disasters and recover quickly from unpreventable events, all without breaking the bank and still maintain scalability with products that are future proofed. Continue reading Best Practices on Virtual Server Backup Strategy – White Paper

Partition Manager 11 – A Data Center’s Best Friend

Paragon is about to release the latest version of Partition Manager and has built in technologies that have again made this product the leader in server optimization. Any server environment can use a tool like Partition Manager. The real power of the software can be seen when used in a data center. Partition Manager’s ability to redistribute free space across a large storage environment is a cost saving beast. Just ask RackSpace.

With this new release we are also introducing a virtual edition of the product that is ideal for companies using virtual machines to run applications and virtual storage space. We are going to be holding a webinar on Partition Manager 11. Register at the bottom of this post.

10 licenses of Partition Manager 11 Server will be given away to some lucky attendees.

Maximize performance of physical Windows® Server!

Partition Manager 11 Server includes all the functionality to maximize the use of storage while minimizing downtime and the required technical applications used when optimizing and administering a physical Windows Server.
· Partition alignment to boost performance of storage
· Drive re-partitioning and system optimization
· Comprehensive bootable environments
· Backup and disaster recovery options
· Disk Editor and Boot Corrector…

PM for Virtual Server
Manage hosts running virtual Windows® environments!

Partition Manager for Virtual Server bundles Partition Manager Server and Virtualization Manager to provide a cost-effective storage management for virtual machines that run on a single physical host

* License per physical system hosting up to 99 virtual machines
* Management of virtual machines
* Partition alignment to boost performance of storage
* P2V, V2V, V2P, and P2P migration for Windows OS
* Exclusive system reconfiguration and disaster recovery tools…

Continue reading Partition Manager 11 – A Data Center’s Best Friend

Virtualization and Server Recovery

Paragon Software is putting together a special webinar for IT Professionals, our customers and partners that are looking for more information about virtualization. The number of Virtual Servers and use of Virtual Storage is a growing at a fast pace. Are you looking into virtual infrastructures for your company?

This webinar will be great for IT Professionals of all sizes to get a better understanding of virtualization, how to manage it effectively and what Paragon Software offers as solutions to common pain points.

Here are the details on how you can register for the free webinar by Paragon Software:

Date: May 3rd 2010 11:00 am PST


  • Explain virtualization as a storage and instant recovery option.

  • Drive Backup overview

  • Adaptive Restore overview

  • P2V operations for backup

  • P2V Copy for instant recovery

In addition to attending the webinar you will be gain access to two special white papers by Paragon that explain the best practices in virtualization, storage and disaster recovery.

Storage Virtualization Helps Alleviate Virtual Server Bottlenecks

Storage virtualization is the new focus for many IT Mangers and CIOs. Paragon Software for the most part has been known for server optimization and disaster recovery in both physical and virtual environments. Our latest technologies have given us an edge in virtualization that none of our competitors have been able to replicate. The unique ability to connect to virtual machines that are dormant allows technicians to access virtual machines in ways never before possible.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Enterprise Storage Forum and got to speak about the virtualization market and what we see happening.

Compounding the mismatch between server virtualization and storage resources is a tough economy that has brought increased pressure to maximize virtual infrastructures by increasing virtual machine density. This increased density puts additional pressure on an already strained storage infrastructure.

“IT managers are being forced to do more with their existing infrastructures with less resources being made available, and this is forcing them to look for new ways to reallocate free space on their storage to save on hardware,” said Koka Sexton, manager of business development at Paragon Software. “IT managers are learning how to analyze their virtual infrastructures more closely and implement projects of migrating data to lower-performing drives to free resources.”

Some of the key factors in choosing a storage system for a virtual environment, according to Sexton, include ensuring that storage customers possess a complete understanding of the virtual platform that they are planning to implement and that they are sure that the system can scale to meet their needs.

“In general, the more VMs you have on a host, the more NICs you’ll want,” said Sexton. “However, the network workload of these VMs is the biggest influence. For example, if VMs have light workloads, you’ll need fewer NICs; if VMs have heavier workloads, you’ll need more NICs. As a rule, you’ll probably experience other resource bottlenecks before the network becomes an issue on virtual hosts.”

There are many aspects to consider when using virtualization one of the primary things to consider is the ability to scale and use a tool that can be virtual environment independent.

What are the major concerns you have about virtualization?

Disaster Recovery for Servers

Protecting company information is the most important task of an IT Manager. Making sure the servers are up and running is a daily responsibility. In the event of a server crash or other disaster, having a rock solid recovery solution in place is paramount.

Drive Backup 10 Server is the top-level disaster recovery & system migration solution for both physical & virtual Windows® environments. Combining all of Paragon’s latest patented technologies and expertise, our newest version delivers:

  • Increased efficiency to assure business continuity
  • Significant capital cost savings
  • Enhanced IT productivity

Disk Imaging for Physical and Virtual Machines

Paragon’s Drive Backup 10 Server software leverages disk imaging tools to simplify storage management issues, from consolidation to disaster recovery protection, in both physical and virtual environments.

By Jack Fegreus, openBench Labs

Entrenched at the top of the list of storage challenges is data protection, which includes the perennial problem of data backup. IT groups at large enterprises continue to struggle with meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that continue to tighten both the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)—the maximum amount of data measured in time prior to the disruption that could be lost in the recovery process—and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO)—the maximum period of time that it could take to recover. Meanwhile, IT administrators at SMBs, who often have less storage expertise and tighter budgets than their peers at larger enterprises, struggle with more prosaic issues, such as choosing technologies to simplify backup processing within shrinking backup windows.

To help IT deal with data protection issues at all types of sites, Paragon Software Group’s Drive Backup 10 Server creates exact image copies of live disk drives on physical and virtual systems running a Windows-based OS. With a technology foundation featuring synthetic backups, along with full support for both VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, Drive Backup 10 extends standard data protection constructs with wizards that employ the same menus for backup and system migration processes to support physical-to-virtual (P2V) consolidation.

What’s more, IT can use the Paragon Script Language (PSL) to customize the synthetic and differential backup wizards in Drive Backup 10 Server. Using PSL, IT administrators can create scripts to automate end-to-end data protection processes, which can implement Paragon Hot Backup and Microsoft VSS snapshot technologies to maintain transactional integrity. In particular, the Paragon synthetic backup scheme by default supports differential backup, which on multiple VM backup jobs can reduce storage capacity requirements on the order of 30-to-1 without the extra processing incurred with inline data deduplication. As a result, administrators can leverage PSL to invoke fast differential backups to support near-CDP levels of replication for VMs, and then match that aggressive RPO with an equally aggressive RTO using synthetic backup images that can be restored in minutes. Continue reading Disk Imaging for Physical and Virtual Machines

White Paper: Maximize Data Protection for Physical and Virtual Systems

For IT organizations of all sizes, storage continues to be the primary resource driving operating costs. Entrenched at the top of the list of storage problems is data protection, which includes the perennial problem of data backup. IT groups at large enterprises continue to struggle with meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that continue to tighten both the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)—the maximum amount of data measured in time prior to the disruption that could be lost in the recovery process—and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO)—the maximum period of time that it could take to recover. Meanwhile, IT administrators at small to medium sized business (SMBs), who often have less storage expertise and tighter budgets, struggle with more prosaic issues, such as choosing technologies to simplify backup processing in shrinking backup windows.

To help IT at all types of sites deal with data protection issues, Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server creates an exact image copy of a live disk drive on physical and virtual servers and workstations running a Windows-based operating system. Using multiple snapshot technologies, Drive Backup 10 Server is able to maintain transactional integrity of the file system structures on the disk, including all Windows OS files, configuration files, and databases.

More importantly, IT does not have to purchase extra-cost options to leverage Drive Backup 10 Server in a virtual environment, such as VMware® vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V™. Running Drive Backup Server, an IT administrator can go beyond simply restoring a backup image as a virtual machine application or as a collection of Windows OS files. By applying Paragon’s 3rd generation of Adaptive Restore technology, an IT administrator is able to insert new drivers into an image and create a bootable volume for an entirely different physical or virtual environment.

Of particular importance for IT at SMB sites, Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server is very easy to deploy and use. In addition, the optional Paragon Remote Management (PRM) application provides a single management point for launching and running scripts developed with Paragon Drive Backup on systems across in a distributed enterprise environment. As a result, PRM is especially useful when running multiple VMs in a virtual environment, as IT administrators can rapidly backup and restore systems in minutes to garner an immediate return on investment.

More importantly, as CIOs focus on the virtualization of systems and storage as the magic philter to extract higher resource utilization and lower management costs, IT administrators are now working with limited numbers of abstract device pools rather than multiple instances of proprietary devices. VMware® vSphere™ 4 typifies such an environment with multiple heterogeneous servers running ESX® or ESXi™ hosting multiple virtual machines (VMs) running a variety of server and desktop operating systems. In the process of simplification, however, multiple levels of logical abstraction and resource redirection can also obscure and complicate important IT operations.

Among the hardest hit IT operations are those associated with file-level data protection. That has the potential to turn IT’s magic philter for gaining operating efficiency into a poison pill for compliance with regulatory mandates to secure and maintain critical business data. Fortunately, a key characteristic of a virtual environment is the encapsulation of VM logical disk volume as a single physical disk files. This representation makes image-level backups faster than traditional file-level backups and enhances restoration as virtual disks can be restored as either a whole image or individual files. That’s why, many general purpose backup packages integrate with VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) to provide imaging-based backup.

Nonetheless, VCB assumes a shared-disk storage infrastructure via a Fibre Channel or iSCSI SAN. For SMB sites functioning well with direct attached storage (DAS) and simple file sharing via networked attached storage (NAS) or FTP storage servers, the need to introduce a SAN in order to protect data in a virtual operating environment presents a prodigious stumbling block.

Paragon Backup 10 Server, however, provides IT with dedicated image-level data protection for VMs running a Windows OS on either a VMware hypervisor without VCB integration or a Microsoft Hyper-V environment. SMB sites can use Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server to provide VMs with full data protection without a major storage infrastructure change from DAS to SAN. What’s more, Paragon enhances the value of Drive Backup 10 and PRM for SMB sites with support for the ESXi hypervisor under the free public license as well as with a full paid license. With more servers featuring ESXi firmware bundles, the ability to work with Windows-based VMs hosted on this hypervisor with the public license is particularly important for IT at SMB sites.

Download the free White Paper.

Paragon Software Enables Migration of Windows Systems to a Virtual Environment

In keeping with its commitment to enabling seamless transitions between operating systems, Paragon Software Group (PSG), :  the technology leader in innovative data security and data management solutions, today announced the debut of its Virtualization Manager 2009 Corporate Edition.

“Virtualization Manager 2009 Corporate is truly state of the art technology that saves our customers time and money while providing complete flexibility to migrate within both virtual and physical system environments.”
As IT executives look to conserve budget resources, server virtualization is proving to be an attractive option, offering benefits including, optimum resource utilization, reduction in hardware expenses, lower energy consumption, and the ability to reallocate IT personnel. Fewer servers also require less maintenance, thus, further reducing IT infrastructure costs.

Paragon’s new Virtulization Manager 2009 Corporate Edition was developed to help ease the migration process and enable businesses to maximize their current IT investments. A powerful tool that easily migrates a Windows-based system to a virtual environment, Paragon’s Virtualization Manager :  2009 Corporate Edition helps businesses maximize the utility of servers increasing their efficiencies while decreasing energy costs by up to 80 percent.

Virtualization Manager also easily migrates a Windows-based system to a different environment, whether it be a physical to physical (P2P) or physical to virtual (P2V) migration. Additional Virtualization Manager :  functionalities include: recovering an OS after an unsuccessful system virtualization by a third-party tool; creating a virtual clone of the physical system and saving it on a network for backup purposes; providing a failsafe that ensures business continuity; and enabling the installation of several different operating systems on one computer.

“Paragon Software is committed to offering the most powerful and easy to use system migration and data conversion tools on the market,” noted Tom Fedro, president of Paragon Software Group. “Virtualization Manager 2009 Corporate is truly state of the art technology that saves our customers time and money while providing complete flexibility to migrate within both virtual and physical system environments.”

Key features and benefits include:

—  Full Windows OS Support – Guaranteed support for any Windows OS post-Win2K
—  P2V Copy – Migrate a physical system to a virtual disk
—  P2V Restore – Migrate a physical system backed up with Paragon software to a virtual disk
—  P2V Adjust – Recover OS startup ability after unsuccessful virtualization by a 3rd party tool
—  P2P Adjust – Recover OS startup ability after system migration to a different hardware platform
—  Hot Copy Technology – Online processing of locked hard disks for easy
—  Smart Driver Injector – Makes adding new drivers smooth and simple
—  Virtual Disk Map – Preview changes before applied
—  Flexible Destination Choices – Choose any destination to place virtual disks
—  Partition Auto-Resize – Easily set desired partition size when creating virtual disks
—  2 Types of VMWare Disks – Create either IDE or SCSI disks for VMWare
—  Disk File Split for VMWare – Automatically cut virtual images to files of 2 GBs each for improved data management

Virtualization Manager is now available from Paragon Software; please visit to learn more.

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The Power Of Partitioning

10/9/09 By: Christian Perry

A segment of storage in almost every data center skirts by every day without doing much work. But through the use of partitioning, it’s possible to get that storage back to work and keep it there.

“Properly partitioned hard disks will allow the data center to maximize its storage investments by reallocating unused disk space and consolidating data, resulting in the need to purchase less new storage,” says Jim Thomas, technical services manager for Paragon Software Group ( “Increased system performance can also be noticed through defragmentation of partition contents and the MFT [Master File Table].”

Key Points

• Partitioning can help data centers deploy previously unused storage space for applications, testing, and other tasks by dividing hard drives into separate storage areas.

• Although the actual partitioning process is simple, experts recommend planning before conducting partitioning sessions to determine the best use for the technology and prepare for potential changes.

• Partitioning can force drive letter assignment changes, conflict with existing file system problems, and cause other issues, so data center personnel should expect the possibility of some problems with the technology.

Division Lesson

At its core, partitioning is the process of dividing hard drives into separate storage areas, or partitions, to make use of previously unused disk space. According to Curtis Breville, data storage evangelist for Crossroads Systems (, partitioning was originally designed to dedicate part of a disk drive to a specific purpose to allow the data to be physically close together and speed up access to data on a device that used random-access searching.

“Partitioning also allowed for better use of disk space and kept one application from taking away space needed by another. With astute planning and accurate growth prediction, each application would have the right amount of storage, and there would be less wasted disk [space],” Breville says.

Today’s flexible partitioning technologies continue to build on that performance-enhancing tradition, delivering automated and unattended operations, RAID support, dynamic disk support, Windows-based tools for on-the-fly partitioning, and even bootable recovery media to enable partitioning operations while systems are offline. Also relatively new is thin provisioning, which allows partitioning without the need to physically allocate storage at initial setup.

Partition Plan

Data center managers who neglect to implement partitioning for fear of disrupting delicate system environments might be pleased to learn that partitioning can occur while systems are online. However, before moving ahead with partitioning, experts recommend some basic planning procedures to ensure that the technology is working to its full potential.

“Typically, after the goals and business case for partitioning have been established, history performance data on existing servers and applications is collected to assist in the planning process as well as information on the importance of each application to the business,” explains Gary Thome, director of strategy and architecture for Infrastructure Software and Blades at HP ( “Architectures and partitioning software are chosen based on the goals of the project, along with plans for management, high availability and disaster recovery, and backup and security procedures.”

Thome also recommends determining the metrics the data center uses (or will use) to measure success. For example, is IT judged based on response time to end users? On percent of unplanned downtime? On costs of capital expenditures or of the power bill? Also, data centers planning to implement partitioning should gather utilization data from their existing servers, storage, and applications, Thome says.

The actual process of partitioning new or existing drives is surprisingly simple. “Most partitioning utilities show each hard drive in the system with graphic representation of the partition layout. After installing the partitioning software, an operation such as resizing partitions is usually as easy as dragging the border of a partition to the desired size or entering the desired size of the partition in numerical form, before allowing the application to carry out the partitioning operations behind the scenes,” Paragon’s Thomas says.

Rolling partitioning into production—that is, moving programs and data into a partitioned environment—can be accomplished with tools that automate the transfer of applications from physical servers to virtual servers, Thome says. From there, data centers can use ongoing monitoring and capacity planning to ensure the optimal distribution of workload and resources.

Tread Carefully

Although partitioning is generally a safe process, it’s not without pitfalls. For example, Thomas warns that when booting a server from recovery media, drive letter assignments might display differently than how they appeared in the host operating system. Further, he warns that file system errors and bad sectors can cause numerous problems, so it’s wise to check for physical errors and file system errors before creating or modifying partitions.

James Wilson, product manager for HP StorageWorks, says that another concern with storage cache partitioning is that the time required to move cache is variable and does not address short-term hot spots or sudden changes in workload. Further, the cache being moved is not available to any partition from the start of the move until the cache is reassigned to the new partition.

Despite these potential drawbacks, partitioning is here to stay in data center environments as an effective method for increasing operational efficiency. “Partitioning is like cutting a child’s birthday cake,” Thome says. “As long as you plan ahead and measure carefully, everybody is going to be happy.”