Feeds

The long and winding road to server virtualisation

It’s all about Tetris and the price of fish

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Meanwhile, back in reality, one point that came up time and again was: remember that whatever you're doing in the virtual world, will ultimately depend on the physical world. This point manifested itself particularly in terms of getting the RAM levels right in advance, and minimizing back-end bottlenecks – that is, between the virtualized servers and whatever resources they need to access.

Management does appear to be an area of cost that hasn't yet been fully bottomed out. Tools can be expensive, and as we have seen in research, management overheads can be greater than expected particularly if you want to take advantage of all that dynamic goodness brought by virtualisation.

Load balancing VMs across your server estate is something that occupies a lot more time than I would have thought when I started using virtualisation. The more I work with it, the more I realise just how much easier this would all be if we could only afford all that stupendously expensive management software. We've managed to overcome this with some very strict procedures and a *lot* of scripts, but someone just starting out would not necessarily see a reduction in maintenance overhead. I think that if you have the real management tools to accompany virtualisation it can be a phenomenal time saver.

Unfortunately, not every IT shop is going to have the scripting skills of some of the readers (including Nate '20,000 lines of code' Amsden). And as another reader said in answer to our article on management, money for tooling is not that easy to come by:

It requires that mythical substance known as 'money'. This is something you cannot pry out of the hands of the copper-counters with a plasma rifle. No matter the business case, they seem unable to pay for any form of software based on the concept, "it saves [individual] time."

To be fair, the virtualisation wave has happened so fast, it has taken some of the traditional management tools vendors time to catch up – particularly around the management of both virtual and physical from the same console. Says Nate:

At a couple different events I've been to I've come across companies specializing in VM management, but it's rare that they can extend that expertise to physical systems as well, when I ask them their faces just go blank.

Management is about risks as well

From a production perspective, the last thing we should mention in this context is risk management – into which we can include security, disaster recovery, data protection and so on. Most respondents seem to think that virtualisation brings quite a lot to the party in terms of new options – for example snapshots can be taken of entire machines, for backup or DR purposes, and if a physical server fails, it is relatively straightforward to re-start the virtual server somewhere else. "Personally, I trust my VM backups more than my tape ones," said one enthusiastic correspondent – your own mileage may differ, particularly if you've suffered from VM proliferation and your backups haven't kept up!

On a more sober note however, perhaps we should close with the thought that virtualisation really is a two-edged sword – used incorrectly, it could cause as many problems as it solves. "Don't keep all your eggs in one basket" was the advice from more than one reader. The trick appears to be balancing the inevitable basket-ness of consolidation-by-virtualisation, with hard-earned common sense about relying too much on too few physical systems:

If you go Borg, then one virus in the main matrix blows it all. If you then say well I will start putting up Checkpoint Charlies, then you move away from consolidation and into autonomous systems anyhow.

It will always be tough to get this balance right: indeed, as we move forward with virtualisation we shall undoubtedly run into the ruts created by our own, very human traits of poor planning, inadequate investment and the vain hope that bad things only happen to other people. But be in no doubt that virtualisation is ready for prime time as a technology, even if its management ecosystem (and indeed skills base) is still evolving.

Freeform Dynamics Ltd

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.