Virtualized environments are much different from those based on physical infrastructure. They are much more fluid, offer a great deal of flexibility and allow for more efficient use of available resources.
By their nature, then, they are highly complex -- a fact that is brought into focus as soon as you apply standard management tools to the virtual world.
Sadly, it seems that message is lost on a large number of CIOs. According to a new survey from data management and DR firm Veeam Software, fully 80 percent are looking to extend their current management regimes into virtual infrastructure. The results are predictable in that nearly half of the 253 respondents say they lack visibility into virtual environments and are putting the brakes on virtual deployments due to lack of management capability.
Clearly, the same tools used to oversee physical resources are not up for the rollicking world of virtualization. However, many of the top management vendors are opting for the next best thing: integrating virtual, physical and cloud management into a single platform. As CRN's Kevin McLaughlin pointed out recently, much of the M&A activity surrounding management technology is pointed in this direction. NetApp, for example, bought out virtual/physical analytics specialist Akorri earlier this year, while VMware has been busy folding technology from Integrien and parent company EMC into the VCloud Director suite.
Just because virtual environments are more complex than their physical brethren doesn't mean management has to be as well. As Forrester's Rachel Dines describes it, a few simple changes of attitude can go a long way toward mastering the virtual. One way is to broaden your focus beyond simple boxes to encompass all resources as a whole. In this way, you concentrate on data needs as a whole and can shift management skills wherever they are needed at a given time. This also allows you to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the layers of management that develop between line managers and CIOs.
And according to the Aberdeen Group, the very concept of management tends to fall apart in highly virtualized settings anyway. So instead of looking for solutions that maintain control over systems and resources, it's much better to focus on achieving defined performance goals. In this regard, automation, optimization and building a dynamic infrastructure will, by their nature, bring about the necessary monitoring and management functions.
For many organizations, the basic problem with virtual management seems to be timing. In the rush to virtualize as much infrastructure as possible during the early deployment phase, most firms regarded management concerns as something to be dealt with later. Well, later is finally here, and the only way to truly leverage the investment you've made so far is to retrofit a management framework onto what's already in place.