Feeds

Has virtualization really ended all your worries?

The very real limits of happiness

Reducing security risks from open source software

OK, so you’ve virtualised a bunch of servers and saved yourself a bit of money on hardware. Life is a little easier because you no longer have to go through the server procurement and provisioning cycle quite so often to meet new requirements.

But has anything fundamentally changed in the way you manage systems and deliver IT services?

All of our research, including various Reg reader studies, suggests that for the majority it hasn’t. Server virtualisation initiatives are great for a one-shot payback, but once you have gone through your estate and consolidated what you can, you may not be hugely better off than before.

Virtual servers need patching, monitoring, managing and troubleshooting, just like physical ones. In fact, some report that the administration and support challenge is actually more difficult because it is all too easy for virtual images to proliferate and create virtual server sprawl.

Plus ça change

Furthermore, many have been caught out by virtualisation’s knock-on impact on the rest of the infrastructure. We frequently hear stories of unanticipated network and storage bottlenecks, as well as of funds not being available for adding more capacity because the necessary upgrades were not budgeted for.

Meanwhile, even our latest research, which we will be discussing over the next few articles, is telling us that many IT departments are still not happy with their ability to keep up with demand and meet service-level expectations.

Whether you look at the ongoing level of overhead and hassle for IT or at how well change requests from the business are handled, the picture today is not that much different from how it looked five years ago, before the virtualisation wave started rolling.

You can take automation only so far by working in just one area

The truth is that the real enablers of IT systems efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility are joined up management and automation.

If you examine how the more successful IT departments differ from others, you usually find that they have paid a lot more attention to integration of management tools and processes, and taken steps to cut down on the manual work involved in routine administration.

These aspects of management are closely linked because you can take automation only so far by working in just one particular area.

If you are going to get into automatic or assisted server provisioning, for example, the last thing you want is to spin up a server that immediately chokes because of lack of network bandwidth, or fails because of a storage constraint.

Culture clash

If you are going to get into dynamic quality of service management on your network, your automation policies had better reflect application dependencies across all the relevant servers, storage devices and applications.

In an ideal world, integration of both tools and management processes would come first to prevent different automation initiatives overlapping and running into each other.

Already, however, we have seen problems occurring where tactical automation initiatives win out. A common scenario at the moment, for example, is server virtualisation management stepping over into networking and storage, and then running into conflict with traditional networking and storage tools and processes.

While it is easy to talk in principle about cleaning up the fragmented and disjointed mess of tools and processes currently in place, it is incredibly hard to pull off.

Depending on the size and complexity of your organisation, you might have a number of operations teams in place – one for storage, one for networking, one for x86 servers, one for Unix servers, one for ERP, one for Microsoft apps, one for Oracle apps, and so on – each with its own set of policies, standard operating procedures and tooling.

Speak your mind

In fact, even within one management domain, it is not uncommon to find multiple approaches and management software systems in use.

Over the coming weeks, we will delve into some of the practicalities involved in taking a more joined-up view and moving towards what is sometimes termed unified management.

In the meantime, as a lot of what we have been discussing is close to every BOFH’s heart, we are sure you have some views on the matter.

Is genuinely integrated management just pie in the sky, with nothing ever likely to change? Or perhaps you have already started joining the dots in your organisation and figured out what really matters.

Either way, let us know what you think in the comment area below.®

Dale Vile is managing director of Freeform Dynamics

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.