Virtualization's Hidden Challenges

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Top 10 Benefits of Virtualization

Virtualization has taken a firm hold at most enterprises these days, but the fact is we've only just begun to unleash the true potential of the technology.

To read the promo pieces, virtualization is just about the easiest thing to master these days. Not only does it vastly reduce hardware costs, but it adds the kind of data flexibility needed to tap into the wonderful world of cloud computing.

That is true as far as it goes, however the reality is that deploying and maintaining virtual environments are a bit more complicated than the trade show brochure would have you believe -- particularly if you really do want to reduce your hardware spend and tap into cloud computing.

Once the "Get virtual, be happy" phase of the process has faded, there are a number of specific challenges that are unique to virtual environments. As's Kevin Fogarty pointed out recently, virtualization done wrong can actually be a financial drain. Pitfalls exist across a variety of disciplines, including technical (low VM density), managerial (poor lifecycle control) and conceptual (failure to plan for tomorrow's needs). By focusing on key metrics like VM populations and capacity/workload requirements, many of the serious issues plaguing virtual environments can be avoided.

In the early days, virtualization for its own sake was common practice. Today, it's hard to view a virtual environment as anything but a stepping stone to the cloud. But to pull that off will mean overcoming some very specific challenges, according to Embotics CEO Jay Litkey. A fully dynamic environment will require a real-time network configuration management layer, not only to work around data roadblocks and other I/O issues, but to prevent virtual sprawl and isolate problem areas before they begin to affect performance. Without real-time information, even the most advanced management/automation system will appear sluggish in the cloud.

And as uncomfortable as many CIO's may feel about it, the smart thing to do with any virtual deployment is to get the user community involved as soon as possible, according to tech blogger Alex Williams. The development community in particular (gasp) can provide key insights into the challenges they face when dealing with virtual environments. After all, if users can't function at least equally well in the virtual world compared to the physical one, then any cost savings in hardware or operations will be diminished overall.

The point here is, virtualization is most certainly worthwhile, but it sure ain't easy. A quick installation and a handful of virtual machines may be a foot in the door, but the real value of a fully functional, dynamic, cloud-ready environment will require a bit of perspiration.

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May 11, 2011 7:36 AM Alex Gutman Alex Gutman  says:


Thanks for the great post. I agree. Besides the savings IT orgs can realize on hardware costs, the smiles pretty much end there. A bit more complicated is putting it mildly. I thought I would chime in here with just one of the challenges Virtualization presents on the road to Cloud.

Virtualization offers great promise to IT environments, and enterprises are adopting it at a rapid pace. However, as enterprises strive to exploit virtualization opportunities and the deployment of virtual machines expands, new challenges arise, particularly in the area of change and configuration management

I invite you and your readers to check out:

Challenge: Virtual Environment - Real Configuration Challenges


5 Reasons Why Virtualization Could Turn into a Nightmare Without Configuration Management


Alex Gutman

Technology Evangelist

Evolven Software, Inc.


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