The Trouble with Virtualization

Michael Vizard

[slideshow]

The biggest issue most IT organizations have with virtualization on a daily basis is a general lack of visibility between the applications running on top of a virtual machine and the underlying infrastructure.

A new survey of 750 IT executives conducted by Xangati, a provider of management tools for physical and virtual IT infrastructure, drives this point home, with 73.9 percent saying that understanding the behavior of multi-tier applications in virtual environments was either important or very important.

The biggest issue these IT managers have with virtualization is their limited knowledge of how different tiers of computing interact with each other over the network. Other major concerns were limited knowledge of how databases were interacting with their storage systems and how business logic components were interacting.

A shortage of access to sophisticated virtualization management tools is a big part of the problem. But as David Messina, vice president of marketing for Xangati notes, most of the issues with virtualization stem from a lack of visibility across the virtual and physical infrastructure layers. There are plenty of tools to manage virtual and physical infrastructure, but it's clear that IT organizations need a unified view of both virtual and physical infrastructure in order to correlate where problems may be occurring.

In the absence of such information, virtualization is unfairly blamed for every problem in the enterprise, which in turns contributes to a general stall in virtualization adoption.

Unless properly managed, virtualization can create an impenetrable wall in the enterprise that makes effectively managing IT almost impossible.



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Jun 25, 2010 6:06 PM Brindey Weber Brindey Weber  says:
Hi Mike, Those are some awesome stats to think about, and you make some great points about organization and application management. I think you are right that sometimes, disorganization can scare companies away from virtualization, and I look forward to tips on avoiding those issues. Brindey Reply
Jun 28, 2010 10:06 AM Marc Marc  says:
This is quite interesting, and I learned a lot, but I get the impression it only covers part of the troubles, as it does not say much about integration of relevant info from both the virtual and the non virtual components of the infrastructure. Most projects I see have a mix of virtual and dedicated servers hosting the most critical apps (database, web, etc.) as well as tons of network components. The key question is How to you keep it all under control, how to you get relevant feedback from a wide array of technologies. Reply
Jun 29, 2010 6:06 PM Len Len  says:
Good points in your article. The ability to resolve availability and performance issues related to the interactions of physical and virtual infrastructures is a major challenge for all enterprise data centers. Xangati is a viable solution from the LAN/WAN perspective, but to get the full picture as you astutely mention above, understandaing of how storage (the SAN) interacts with the virtualizaed applications is even more important when dealing with I/O intensive apps like databases. Virtual Instruments (www.virtualinstruments.com), with VirtualWisdom, is really the only monitoring and analysis solution that brings the SAN I/O data (in real-time) into the full view of the systems and server administrators. Only by having a comprehensive view, including a deterministic view into the SAN, can users resolve problems quickly and, more importanatly, proactively prevent them from impacting users in advance. Reply
Jun 30, 2010 1:06 PM Carsten Dreesbach Carsten Dreesbach  says:
So, yes, I'm tooting our own horn here (I'm the lead PS engineer for Netuitive), but we do have a complete virtualization monitoring solution (as well as being able to look into physical infrastructure) with our Netuitive product line. It is able to see the virtualization infrastructure (guests, hosts, clusters, resource pools, etc.) and you can even bring in agent data from agents (HP OVO, BMC Patrol, Tivoli, TeamQuest and many more) running on the VM guests to get an inside the box vs. outside the box view. It can also bring in SAN (sorry VirtualWisdom - you're not the only real-time SAN monitoring tool out there) as well as network data and display it all under one consolidated service view. Check out our website (http://www.netuitive.com/solutions/virtualization.php) for more information, I'm pretty sure you'll like what you see. ;] Reply
Jun 30, 2010 6:06 PM David Messina David Messina  says:
The posts that have come in from other vendors are missing the complete context of the Xangati survey which was around the challenges of virtualizing business critical multi-tier applications. See the full survey results for Part 1 and Part 2 at the link below. http://www.xangati.com/june22_press_briefing.php Key point: 82% of virtual infrastructure (VI) admins don't have confidence in managing the performance of business critical apps on their infrastructure--survey part 1. To do that they need to actually understand the applications (each and every one) and how each component of the app tiers interact. Not knowing this is the number one reason that VI admins think multi-tier apps are hard to virtualize--see survey part 2. This insight is what Xangati uniquely provides both in the physical and virtual domains and our solution ties this application awareness back to infrastructure performance. Reply
Jul 29, 2010 2:07 AM Lisa Dreher Lisa Dreher  says:
Hi Mike, thanks for the post and new stats; this is great for changing trends in the industry. I agree that one of the biggest issues with IT managers and virtualization is limited knowledge of how different tiers of computing interact with each other. Here is a great resource from Logicalis to help IT departments and managers become an active participant in the process, http://bit.ly/cBgAwF. Reply

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