Architecture Journal: Green IT in Practice: SQL Server Consolidation in Microsoft IT

I'm a lucky guy.  Besides the fact that I'm healthy, alive, & living on the planet earth "in interesting times" as the fortune cookie says, I had the opportunity to contribute to an article which appeared in the Green IT issue of The Architecture Journal:

Green IT in Practice: SQL Server Consolidation in Microsoft IT

Mark Pohto, α-Geek #1
The primary author is Mark Pohto, an engineer for MS IT responsible for architecting Microsoft's SQL Server consolidation solution.  He's taken the lessons learned & documented them to make the planet a better place on which to live—especially if it's your job to create such a solution.  Mark's work provides an excellent head start.  Remember, this ain't no theoretical mumbo-jumbo, this is how Microsoft actually gits-'er-done.

The article demonstrates the convergence of the best interests of business, people, & the planet—which happens a lot more than some folks think—but that discussion is for a different forum...

Ward Pond, α-Geek #2
There's my name, there at the end of the article, along with Ward Pond.  Ward is an Architect for Microsoft's IT Operations Excellence group.  Both Mark & Ward were instrumental in crafting the SQL Server Ranger program, part of the path to the Microsoft Certified Architect: Database certification.  To be associated with these folks in any capacity is quite an honor.  (See "lucky guy" comment above as well as this & this.)

Ward, always a step or three ahead of me, already cited the article on his blog.

<ADD>If you're not already a subscriber to the fine resource which is Ward's blog, I invite you to do so.  His timely & entertaining prose—technical & personal—is always a welcome respite from the usual humdrum.</ADD>

Critical Noteriety
The article has received critical noteriety, including the following:

Server consolidation and Green IT Computing
Kimberly L. Tripp, SQL Skills

SQL Server Consolidation Initiative Under Way at Microsoft
SQL Server Magazine

Where's the Beef?
Enough fluff!  What does the article actually say?  OK, OK, alright, already, hold your equine beasties!  Here's the ToC:

  • Data Center Energy Consumption Trends
  • Opportunities
  • Initial Situation
  • Desired Situation
  • Solution Mindset
  • Solution Implementation
  • Results
  • General Benefits
  • Conclusion
  • Resources

Getting it Right
Yesterday Mark shared the latest-&-greatest high-level diagram of our environment.  Mark's dedication to getting this "right" has been impressive, an exquisite example of the iterative process associated with the following:  Perception, Reality, & Incrementally Tuning World-Class Applications.



Normalizing Disparate Platforms: Compute Units (CU)
Among others, one of the most interesting new concepts was normalizing disparate platforms through the use of Compute Units, CU.

A data-driven discussion. Microsoft IT developed the RightSizing initiative to ensure effective utilization of servers in the data center and in managed labs. Because significant underutilization occurs, one of the initiative’s first tasks was for Microsoft IT to identify underutilized servers that might be good candidates for virtualization...

To accurately compare the performance of server platforms of varying architectures, Microsoft IT has developed a Compute Unit (CU) formula for each server platform that utilizes an industry standard, architecture-agnostic, benchmark suite from the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). The SPEC benchmarks are developed in such a way to allow a repeatable test with strict result submission requirements. The Microsoft IT CU formula uses a baseline (not peak) benchmark that measures the rate of integer calculation work a server platform can perform in a given amount of time.

According to the Technical Case Study, Identifying Server Candidates for Virtualization:

The benchmarks that Microsoft originally used, the SPEC CPU2000 - CINT2006 Rates - Baseline Rates, have been retired. Microsoft IT is now using the SPEC CPU2006 - CINT2006 Rates - Base Results. For more information about the SPEC benchmarks and ratings for individual servers, visit the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation Web site at

SQL Server 2008 & Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V Best Practices
For maximum benefits, couple the concepts from Mark's consolidation article with this one from the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team (SQL CAT):

Running SQL Server 2008 in a Hyper-V Environment - Best Practices and Performance Recommendations
Authors: Lindsey Allen, Mike Ruthruff, Prem Mehra
Reviewers: Cindy Gross, Burzin Patel, Denny Lee, Michael Thomassy, Sanjay Mishra, Savitha Padmanabhan, Tony Voellm, Bob Ward


Senior Performance Consultant: SQL Server
A.C.E.: Assessment, Consulting, & Engineering Services
"If it is fast and ugly, they will use it and curse you; if it is slow, they will not use it." —Computer science professor, billionaire, & entrepreneur David Cheriton

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