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Software apps and the server room

Does virtualization just deal with ‘everything’?

Workshop As mentioned in last week's Reg reader server management poll results, one of the curses of the IT industry is the ease with which we can remove the working context between things and talk about them, as though they exist in isolation.

Pundits, analysts and anyone with a point product to sell do this with ease. But it doesn’t really help anyone make better decisions: in the real world nothing exists or happens in a vacuum.

Previous research into software applications and the environment in/on which they run shows that some aspects of development and operations are not always ‘aligned’. Often, IT operations staff are obliged to catch whatever is thrown over the wall at them and deal with it.

Fundamentals aside, what about running things day to day? You have a load of software apps and a finite set of resources – servers, for the purposes of this article – to run them on. Where would you wave your magic wand to make some improvements if you had the chance?

On the face of it there are lots of places you might consider as possible candidates for improvement (or major overhaul). Whether we think about performance from a scalability or resilience point of view, security, protection, and ‘top down’ (service management) or ‘bottom up’ (server and inside the server level) approaches to management, there are lots of things to go at.

But do these things have any direct relationship with the servers themselves? I mean, a server is a server isn’t it? Beyond the form factor and the specification you pay for, surely it’s down to what you do with them and how you manage them as much as the box itself? Is it possible to isolate the server and still have a sensible think about what we need them to do? Common sense says no, given the multitude of other things that need to be taken into consideration.

However, from one angle, it's arguably what virtualization takes care of.In the absence of knowledge of what a server would be used for, and not knowing ‘how big’ is the right size, the ability to devote as much or as little of a single server, or a pool or servers to running a particular workload is somewhat useful.

So perhaps the magic wand has already been waved and slowly but surely, we’ll all get there in the end by virtualising anything and everything. In the meantime, we don’t doubt for a moment that you don’t have your own strong views on what could be improved in the server room though, and as usual, we’d love to hear all about them.

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