HP LoadRunner or HP Performance Center on a VMware Instance or a Physical Server

LoadRunner and Performance Center installations are complex test rigs with complex design considerations. First you can deploy ALM/PC platform on a VMware ESX 4.0 server. The system configurations of each virtual machine are the same as the ALM/PC Platform server system configurations. BSM Platform can also be deployed on a VMware ESX 4.0 server with some limitations.

Benefits of deploying on VMware:

  1.  Availability – By leveraging VMware’s High Availability (HA) users are able to restore any virtual machine on another physical host in the event of a hardware outage. This means downtime due to hardware failures and maintenance are now reduced to virtually nothing.
  2. Performance – By leveraging VMware’s Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) the system will ensure the best performance. In the physical world if you run out of hardware you need to scale vertically by adding CPU and Memory. DRS allows you to scale horizontally by moving resources to free available nodes in the cluster.
  3. Consolidation – Ability to reduce your physical footprint by consolidation. For example, putting four VMs on one physical host means you don’t need four physical machines taking up space in a datacenter to do the same work of the virtual environment; also, saving resources such as network ports, maintenance, power, and cooling.
  4. System State Coherency – You can reduce outages and system state problems by taking VMware snapshots before critical system updates. After the system is successfully running for a predefined environment you can remove the snapshot. If the windows or application updates such as HP patches do not work, you are able to revert the system state. This reduces outages.
  5. Fault Tolerance – For applications which do not support Windows Clustering, VMware’s Fault Tolerance fills the void. VMware will run two instances of a Virtual Machine replicating the memory. If the Virtual Machine becomes unresponsive (VMware tools in the Virtual machine quits responding to the vSphere server) VMware will automatically make the real time replicated pair become live preventing outages. This is similar to High Availability failover in BSM.
  6. Support for Tier 1 Applications – By creating resource reservations you can guarantee a specific allocation of hardware for a Virtual Machine. For example, you could guarantee 5,000 GHZ to one specific system. With new versions of VMware there are enhancements for Tier 1 applications in a shared environment. You can leverage features like Network IO control which throttle down Virtual Machines which start saturating the network. Likewise, this feature is now implemented on storage connections as well.

Deterrents to deploying BTO software on VMware in general:

  1. There is additional storage need for VMware, a dedicated SAN is recommended by VMware
  2. Additional VMware licensing can be a limitation
  3. Creating VMware backups can be time consuming for administrators
  4. Virtualization is just one piece, there is also partitioning. Partitioning doesn’t have the overhead of creating a VM, but is more difficult to add definitions to.
  5. When looking to virtualize, you will need to perform additional capacity/performance planning to accommodate the additional HP virtual machines being created.

Deterrents to deploying specifically on BSM platform:

  1.  Performance of HP Business Service Management on a virtual machine can be expected to be slower than in a regular installation.
  2. Business Process Monitors can be run in a VMware environment, but HP will not address or resolve any support issues arising from Business Process Monitors running in a VMware environment until they certify that environment.
  3. HP Business Service Management capacities and performance will vary according to the various server resources, such as CPU, memory, and network bandwidth, allocated to HP Business Service Management components.
  4. No less than a Gigabit network card should be used.
  5. HP strongly recommends that you do not run a database server containing HP Business Service Management databases on a virtual machine if the database files reside on a virtual disk.
  6. Performance testing is bursty and random: LoadRunner generates significant workload when a test is run. The managers of the virtual machine infrastructure must be made clearly aware of the seemingly random nature of this burst workload. If they use default analyses which calculate averages for resource allocation then the hardware will not be sufficient when it is time to test.

Conclusion:
HP and Orasi recommend virtual machines, wherever possible, for easier maintenance and scalability. Just about every component of any BTO component is recommended to be deployed on VMware (ALM/ PC platform servers, databases, and core BSM servers. Below is what is not recommended to be virtualized.
Orasi is recommending that the controller and load generator machines should stay physical as opposed to virtual for tests run using a large number of load generator machines.

 

Bill Booker, Senior Consultant of Managed Performance Testing at Orasi Software

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