Tackling the Virtualization Paradox

Michael Vizard

Virtualization management is one of those chicken and egg problems. You don't really run into the issue until more than 40 percent of your servers are running virtual machine software. But then the next question that has to be asked is: Are the number of servers running virtual machine softwarebeing artificially limited because of a lack of tools to manage virtual servers at that scale?

The folks at rPath, a provider of IT automation tools, suspect that this issue is more pervasive than most IT organizations realize, especially within larger enterprises. Of course, there are other concerns ranging from performance of virtual machines in production environments to the cost of commercial virtual machine software. But at the end of the day, the practical issues associated with managing large-scale virtual server environments need to get addressed.

Jake Sorofman, chief marketing officer for rPath, says this means it's only a matter of time before more companies look to automate the management of their virtual server environments. The simple fact of the matter is virtual server environments can spiral out of control quite easily. Sorofman says what IT organizations are going to need are tools that can first model their existing environment just so they can get a better handle on the virtual chaos and then take steps to proactively manage those virtual servers with as little intervention from IT personnel as possible.

Of course, every IT manager is convinced that they can better optimize their environments manually. But when you're dealing with hundreds of virtual servers, the issue of whether the IT staff is better than the automation software quickly becomes beside the point. Rather, the issue is that IT organizations can't afford to keep throwing people at the problem, so some form of IT automation beyond a few isolated scripts here and there is going to be required.

The virtual world is ten times more complex to manage than a bunch of standalone physical servers. In fact, the management of the virtual machine software creates a paradox where all the economic benefits of adopting virtualization in the first place are eaten up unless the virtual machines are properly managed. So when all is said and done, there can be no mass adoption of virtualization, particularly in cloud computing scenarios, without new tools to automate the management of these environments.

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