Preparing for Virtual Management

Arthur Cole

Installing virtualization software in the enterprise may be one thing, but making sure it does what it's supposed to do and is delivering results as promised is quite another.


That's why virtualization management has become such a crucial aspect of most enterprises. But while vendors' management stacks are usually optimized to run on their own systems, it's crucial that IT managers have a clear idea of what exactly "success" means when it comes to managing virtual environments.


IDC recently offered tips on how to determine whether a virtual infrastructure is truly living up to its promises. While counting the number of servers consolidated or storage systems allocated is helpful, IDC points out that costs and efficiencies can also be measured by how much staff it takes to manage the system, what the per-processor costs are, and whether other tools like ITIL can be implemented effectively to streamline operations even further.


One of the main problems that many virtualization vendors fail to take into consideration with the management technologies is that most enterprises are already hybrid environments, says consultant Dan Kusnetzky on ZDNet. Finding a cost-effective way to handle not only multiple vendors' technologies, but a mix of mainframe, midrange and small servers as well will be a primary challenge going forward.


One group that's taking a stab at it is the Distributed Management Task Force, an industry organization that just released a virtualization management standard that covers everything from inventory and lifecycle management of virtual systems to performance and systems monitoring. The group has put out five preliminary profiles for vendor implementation.


Some vendors are already heading toward open source technologies for their management solutions. Sun Microsystems recently unveiled a new General Public License (GPL) v.3-based management tool for the xVM Ops Center. The company bills it as a comprehensive management solution covering provisioning, monitoring and management and it is intended as part of Sun's overall IT management suite for both physical and virtual technologies.


Clearly, virtualization will improve workflow and lower costs simply by cutting down on the number of servers needed at any one time. But if you want to make the most of your investment, a strong management portfolio is needed to ensure that efficiencies are being maintained as your virtualized environments expand.

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