10 Tips & Tricks to Maximize the Value from Your VCE Blocks and Racks

Businesses have embraced the facts: converged IT infrastructures offer significant advantages in the marketplace.

Market intelligence firm, IDC, found that VCE Vblock® Systems are faster to deploy, easier to scale, and simpler to operate and manage—improving your productivity and delivering substantial cost savings. You’ve heard that—perhaps you’ve even read the study.

But as a VCE customer or prospect, you may still be wondering, “How can I ensure that I receive full business value from my investment in VCE converged and hyper-converged platforms?”

Drawing upon our first-hand experience with hundreds of leading companies of all sizes in dozens of industry segments, we’ve compiled a concise list of best practices—10 Tips & Tricks—that will ensure you maximize the value of your VCE Vblock, VxBlock™, and VxRack™ Systems.

Tip 1: Clearly Define the Logical Configuration

The first step toward obtaining the business value you seek is completion of the Logical Configuration Survey (LCS). The LCS helps define the technical characteristics of your VCE systems. Your responses to the online survey will guide VCE’s manufacturing facility in pre-configuring vital elements such as naming conventions, IP address ranges, storage, virtualization, and even your physical server/chassis layout.

One CIO I recently spoke with confessed, “I didn’t understand the importance of the LCS. If I had, I would have put more effort into it and saved us from the changes we’re making now.”

By the way, if you’re already using VCE systems in your environment, working with us to update your LCS is key before adding blades, or doing anything to extend the capacity or reach of your system.

Tip 2: Assess the System Build

Next, when your new system arrives on your

create a manual for daily operations
create a manual for daily operations

loading dock, the first thing you’ll want to do is assess the system build.

All VCE systems come with a Configuration Reference Guide (CRG). Comparing the CRG to the LCS you completed ensures that your Vblock, VxBlock, or VxRack System is set up properly. This is also an ideal time to use the preloaded VCE Vision™ software to conduct a thorough system health review and run a Release Certification Matrix (RCM) compliance check—ensuring that you have the right firmware and software. You should also test and verify the system’s “Call Home” capability designed to notify you of critical system events.

Tip 3: Establish Operational Best Practices

If you’ve used a traditional IT infrastructure in the past, you may have established operational best practices for individual compute, storage, and network components. Tip 3 is to become thoroughly familiar with the best practices for operating your converged or hyper-converged infrastructure in a unified way. For example, on a Vblock System this would include best practices for everything from using the VCE Advanced Management Platform to monitoring and managing the vSphere hypervisor.

You should also make your system as resilient as possible by changing default security credentials, authenticating your LDAP configuration, and so on.

Establishing best practices goes beyond just the technical.  Teams also have to learn to work together in new ways.  Modern IT platforms based on converged and hyper-converged architectures make it simpler for IT teams to collaborate and manage the overall application environment holistically. However teams need to take advantage of this by developing new skills and processes. Keep an eye out for a new Reflections blog from VCE COO, Todd Pavone, in which he’ll discuss this topic in more detail.

Tip 4: Visualize your Architecture

The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” can help you get the most out of your VCE system. Seeing how everything works together in your environment will make life easier for you and everyone on your team.

So, diagram it! Create a connectivity diagram with network connections and ports mapped out. Illustrate your cabling scheme. Draw up an elevation and a detailed floor plan. Visualization will help you more effectively explore, analyze, understand, and remediate architectural elements as needed.

Clear diagrams make your life simpler!
Clear diagrams make your life simpler!

Tip 5: Create a Runbook

The last of the tips we’ll examine today is the creation of a runbook. This manual serves as a “bible” with a set of well-defined practices and processes that govern your daily operations. Creating a runbook is a logical first step toward full process automation.

If you need help, VCE has a structured on-boarding service that lasts for approximately 90 days and assists you in learning and applying best practices and developing a runbook for your environment. A specialized VCE technical consultant leads the on-boarding and an assigned VCE project manager oversees and coordinates all facets of the engagement.

In the next blog, we’ll look at the remaining five best practices that can ensure you maximize the value your business receives from your VCE Vblock, VxBlock, or VxRack Systems. If you want more detail about any of our 10 Tips & Tricks, leave a comment below or visit our Professional Services page.

About the Author: Pat Grazioli