Virtualization Management from the Ground Up

Arthur Cole

By now, most of you should be prepared for the onslaught of virtualization solutions guaranteed to fix everything from server performance to your tech manager's adenoids. But close on the heels of the actual virtualization solutions are the means to manage this new architectural netherworld.


Primarily, the goal of virtualization management systems is to prevent the very problem that virtualization is supposed to correct in the physical realm: server sprawl. It doesn't take a genius to realize that the ability to quickly launch partitions to address every particular user need is a capability that's ripe for abuse.


Analyst Andi Mann, for one, sees management as one of the biggest problems facing enterprises deploying virtual networks, topping even security. Mann says key issue will be integrating the physical and virtual management systems into a cohesive whole that can govern configuration, capacity planning, load balancing, and a range of other tasks. Plus there's the fact that a proper management solution will work wonders at defusing the conflicts among employees and business groups that are bound to arise in the age of shared resources.


Some other key problems that enterprises and vendors alike will have to deal with are application licensing rights and transaction monitoring, according to this roundup of experts in ITNews. Licensing is a whole new ballgame because the easy creation of servers, operating systems and applications turns the old user-based system on its head, while keeping greater tabs on the transaction level is a direct result of the fact that virtualization transfers network complexity onto the fabric where the beginnings and ends of operations can get lost in hundreds or thousands of pathways.


Successful virtual management is a matter of creative processing, according to this piece in Reseller News. The old process for server provisioning is out the window, so the new process must manage the virtual machine lifecycle and its impact on everything from physical elements to service level agreements. A single badly planned virtual machine can wreak havoc on other VMs that share the same physical resources.


It's for these reasons that the newest virtualization platforms place management front and center. The new XenEnterprise v4, for example, can incorporate any number of third-party management solutions, such as VMLogix' LabManager, Insystek's Control Center and Platform Computing's VM Orchestrator to combat sprawl, enhance automation and manage resources. And then there's Cisco, which is entering both the virtualization and data center fields through the VFrame appliance, designed with a strong management component that lets you keep tabs on things as your virtualization capabilities grow.


In a way, virtualization is breaking the pattern that has governed technology advancements in the modern age: Roll it out, and figure out the details later. This time, efforts at optimization are coming out at the very beginning.

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