Feeds

Can virtualisation reduce the management overhead?

Yes and no. Maybe

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Lab Server virtualisation is quickly becoming a mainstream route by which IT services are delivered. Already much of the “low hanging fruit” has been identified, with server consolidation projects providing an entry point for virtualisation. But after such implementation projects are completed the challenge will become one of managing virtualised systems in daily operations. Does virtualisation make living with IT systems simpler or more difficult?

We know from research with Register readers that virtualisation, especially of server systems, is more widely deployed than in the past. However it is becoming clear that whilst some of the obvious benefits expected from such systems are being enjoyed, challenges are also becoming apparent.

The research shows that the majority of IT professionals are positive about what virtualization can deliver in terms of rationalizing x86 Windows and Linux server estates. However, the data also points out that there are issues to be addressed in the design and configuration of virtualised environments. Furthermore, and much more importantly, it is clear that identifying operational best practice and using such in everyday operations are matters with room for improvement.

The ease of creating new virtual machines is resulting in an ever larger number of virtual machines being run. The ease of starting new virtual machines can be beneficial in many scenarios, notably by simplifying the often complex management workload associated with providing rapid disaster recovery or service resumption following ‘faliure’. Clearly this is a very good example of management operations being enhanced with virtualisation.

On the flip side though, experience shows that this virtual machine sprawl can also have negative effects on previously routine management activities. Amongst the areas identified as posing problems in virtualised environments is the modern take on patch management, where organisations are still seeking effective tools and procedures to patch virtual servers, especially when they are dormant.

Other similar issues are creating operational challenges. Vendors shout about how quickly new virtual systems can be spun up if service response drops or workloads increase, but this raises the question of how should virtual machines be monitored for health and service performance? With the creation of virtual machines becoming a simple task - or even subject to automation engines - do you have processes in place to ensure that application and other software licenses are available to ensure that systems are operated in accordance with established license terms and conditions?

Clearly keeping virtual server proliferation under control is a key element in managing virtual systems. As well as demanding the use of good tools and establishing sound operational working practices, this will also mean that some internal political and, perhaps, budgetary processes need to be updated to reflect the new IT infrastructure. We know that many budget holders still want “their physical systems” to host only their virtual applications rather than sharing the physical resources amongst multiple budget holders.

So, the key question becomes – does virtualisation make management easier or harder? We suspect neither, for the simple reason that any extra management capacity made available by consolidation will be more than taken up by subsequent proliferation of virtual machines. This may be an anathema to the virtualisation evangelists, but what is clear is that management tools and (more importantly) processes to deal with virtualised environments are thus far lagging behind those available in the physical world.

As things move forward, based on reader feedback among others, it would appear that the operational administration of virtualised systems will need new management processes to be identified and refined – and these will need to be supplemented by new management tools. How are things evolving in your organisation? If you have any feedback, please drop us a line in the comments box below. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.