Most year-end predictions are focused on cloud computing as the next major step in data center evolution. I have no doubt that's true, but it seems to me that a more immediate concern for most of you in the coming year will be keeping your virtual environments under control.
Now that the majority of enterprises are well on their way toward virtualizing server and storage environments, it's becoming clear to many that the true benefits of the technology will be lost if you can't oversee the environment.
That's why a flood of new virtual management systems is hitting the market, drawing healthy interest from established players and a new generation of start-ups.
VMware and HP have worked together on integrating physical and virtual resources for some time. Now, the two companies are expanding that relationship to include a unified management system that transcends both worlds. The companies have announced they will unite the HP Business Technology Optimization software with VMware's vCenter Lab Manager with the aim of standardizing management tools to oversee all enterprise resources as a single internal cloud.
This unified management stack follows a similar one announced by CA last month that has the company expanding its Enterprise IT Management system with a new toolset for physical and virtual resource management. Again, the goal is to bring tasks like provisioning, change management and monitoring under one roof in anticipation of pooling data center resources into internal cloud architectures.
We mentioned start-ups, though, and there is no shortage of specialized management systems ready to wedge their way into the market. DynamicOps, for one, recently extended its Virtual Resource Manager system to include virtual desktop provisioning and management. Another player is PlateSpin, which has updated its Workload Management system with new tools for migration and management of server workloads across physical and virtual environments. And Canada's Embotics recently drew $4 million in venture capital to further develop its virtualization lifecycle management technology, not an easy thing to do during a worldwide credit crunch.
With all of these new systems coming your way, what is the best way to determine if they truly meet your needs? Mark Shirman, CEO of GlassHouse Technologies, says an optimized virtual environment should meet a number of requirements. Among them are reduced costs, improved visibility and smooth-flowing processes that integrate themselves naturally into your business environment.
It's no coincidence that many of the new virtual management systems are geared toward establishing internal cloud environments. Clouds are all about pooling resources under a unified architecture, and the way to do that is through management. Before you even begin thinking about clouds, though, you need to make sure you've got the chops to maintain control of your virtual infrastructure.