Seven Best Practices for Virtualization
Virtualization is taking IT to new horizons from which whole new sets of opportunities are coming into view.
It's the rare enterprise that has a completely homogenous hardware/software infrastructure, so it's reasonable to expect that today's mostly single-vendor virtual environments will give way to greater heterogeneity before too long.
Many, in fact, are predicting 2012 to be the year VMware finally loses its hold over the virtualization market as users look to more specialized environments for select applications. As searchvirtualization.com's Beth Pariseau pointed out recently, there is growing demand for multi-hypervisor management stacks as users try to broaden virtual infrastructure to include Linux, Citrix and other platforms. In a way, this is a response to VMware's own management stack, vCenter Operations, which has become so full-featured that third-party vendors are looking to add value through multi-hypervisor support.
As well, VMware seems particularly committed to top-tier, mission-critical application support, says ServerWatch's Paul Rubens. This has allowed Citrix in particular to position itself as a lower-cost alternative for more mundane back-office operations. It may not lead to market dominance, but it certainly has potential to produce a healthy revenue stream.
For truly effective management of multi-vendor virtual environments, however, a fair amount of vendor cooperation is needed - the kind that is typically found only in open source communities. At the moment, interest seems to be coalescing around Red Hat's oVirt platform, which has drawn support from Cisco, IBM, Intel and other top players. The project naturally uses the KVM hypervisor as a base, but it is intended to provide broad infrastructure support with an eye toward extending virtual environments across increasingly varied public, private and hybrid cloud platforms.
To get there, though, many enterprises will have to overcome the lingering FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that still surrounds open source technology, says Convirture CEO Arsalan Farooq. These include old canards about open source being prone to viruses and malware, that it requires specialized scripting knowledge and that it involves complex licensing agreements. None of this is true anymore, with many modern systems, like ConVirture's ConVirt platform, providing graphical management interfaces that support functions like batch operations, automation, virtual migration and storage/network management.
In striving for a multi-vendor virtual environment, many enterprises are expressing the same frustrations that hamper single-vendor platforms in the physical world: limited functionality and the sense that the vendor, not IT, is in control of the data environment. Providing a bigger tent assures that the enterprise can not only adapt to rapidly changing user needs, but that it has the means to maintain control of your data even as it encounters the infinitely diverse resources on the cloud.