Look for the “Perfect Storm” in Virtualization Management in 2011

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Summary:

We live in a very dynamic industry, and spend a lot of time throughout the year talking with customers, analysts and other virtualization vendors, trying to get a handle on how the market is shifting, and how market needs are changing over time.

At this time every year this activity intensifies as market leaders put their reputations on the line and make their own predictions for the new year.

Embotics has been doing this now since 2007, and has a pretty good track record when it comes to our predictions.  Although any market analyst will tell you that past success is no guarantee when it comes to predicting the future.  The market usually finds a way to humble us all.

That being said, we have identified three powerful industry drivers that will significantly impact the market when it comes to virtualization management. These are:

  1. Increasing complexity in the virtual environment,
  2. Increased pressures for visibility into the virtual environment, and
  3. Lack of time within administrative teams

These drivers are not independent of each other and we believe that they will work together to create a challenging vortex or perfect storm for virtual administration teams.

Increased Complexity
Anyone who works in the “virtual datacenter” knows the complexity of virtual environments. They include all the traditional complexities of the physical datacenter with the added dimensions of mobility, increased volume of servers and wider mix of configurations. – But without the benefit of the standardization and management tools that are available for the physical space.

And of course, as virtual environments grow, by their very nature, this complexity increases making it more and more difficult to manage and optimize. There are lot of dimensions to this complexity. Configuration standardization and management are an example of one.

Standardization is the key to effective operation of any IT environment. Standard configurations make it easy to maintain, troubleshoot and predict overall performance.  Configuration standardization is relatively easy to do in the physical datacenter, where provisioning can be tightly controlled. But can be more challenging in the virtual space where not only the VM can be configured differently.  However, what’s inside the VM (operating system, applications and patches) can move off standard over time.

Most organizations use templates to enforce standard configurations to start with and a variety of tools and manual process to update and maintain them.  But, without a means of automatically identifying drift this is a challenging task. For example, we frequently see customers who used standard templates and updating tools that are surprised to discover that a sizable percentage (sometimes well over a third) of their VMs were created manually, and consequently were out of standard to start with, while other VMs that were identical to start with had drifted significantly over time.

Increased Pressures for Visibility
While the virtual environment was a small percentage of the overall datacenter, few people outside the administrative team and their immediate management needed visibility into the virtual environment, and the admin teams could get what they needed through VirtualCenter or vCenter.

But also as virtual environments become a larger percentage of the datacenter, more and more of the traditional management “silos’” become involved, creating interdepartmental coordination and communication issues.  This drives an increased need for information and real time visibility into the environment; especially when process change is needed.  These non-admin team stakeholders are not trained on VirtualCenter or vCenter, and consequently have to involve the admin team whenever they need information.

Lack of Administrative Time
At the same time, very few IT virtualization teams have been able to make the investment in additional management and automation systems necessary to reduce their workload and improve their management capability, and are consequently already running flat out.

Add in the increasing complexity, and rising workload providing visibility to non-admin stakeholders, the “perfect storm” forms.   Admin teams are already overloaded, and yet additional workload from the first two drivers are inevitable. This means that if nothing is done about this, some form of “crash” is inevitable.

How will this impact the need for Virtualization Management?
The number one reason why customers come to us is to help virtualization administrative teams work smarter (not harder), by providing better, and more actionable information in real time, and incorporating policy driven workflow to take either simplify or automate a variety of day to

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