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October 7, 2007

How to make virtualization add value

The installed base for virtualization management is set to exceed four million by 2009, as many organizations implement infrastructure virtualization solutions in production environments. The increase in virtualization will require a greater focus on how to manage service levels and the ability to provide the service level view, which is missing from many current systems management tools.

By CBR Staff Writer

Virtualization will see increased adoption because of the significant benefits it can offer organizations: reduced power and cooling costs; increased agility in the way IT resources are used; and reduced management costs. However, it is the last benefit that is more questionable than the other two. Whereas centralized management is definitely more cost-effective, managing a mixed physical and virtual data center currently presents a new set of challenges.

These challenges are the reason that, according to Netuitive – a business service management (BSM) vendor, 27% of IT managers have no confidence in their current systems management tools capabilities, and 70% would rate the current crop of systems management tools as poor.

The biggest issue with the current crop of systems management tools is that they all rely upon manual policy setting, which, in the virtual world, becomes even more complex than it currently is. Imagine monitoring hundreds of virtual machines (VMs) and receiving many different alerts, which must have a corresponding policy, or be reverted to an operator for intervention. When, in this scenario, the organization wants to monitor a complete business service executing different applications on a range of physical and virtual environments, this requires many separate point solutions to be configured and integrated.

Systems management tool vendors are only now responding to the rise of virtualization as a technology, which is set to become widely adopted in most data centers in the next two to three years. The problem with this late arrival is that management tools are perceived as playing catch-up with the technology, which is rapidly evolving into many different solution architectures.

The policy from most of the major management tool vendors is to focus its attention on those technologies that its current user base needs management solutions for, and to enhance its existing policy-based solution accordingly. While this is a sensible approach for ensuring existing customers do not switch supplier, it does not provide a new approach for a new paradigm of IT operational requirements that virtualization brings. This situation has created a new generation of management tool vendors that are providing technology-neutral solutions to manage the physical and virtual infrastructure, using new approaches that enable the benefits of reduced management costs to be realized.

The established management tool vendors are rapidly recognizing the emergence of these new entrants, and are being forced to re-assess the approach to management in the new virtualized world. Currently, we do not see any single major management tool vendor as having a significant differentiation in its offering. However, it will not be too long before these vendors present new approaches to management that will be required to succeed in the data centers of 2009 and beyond.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (www.butlergroup.com)

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