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Virtualization 2.0 Is All About Manageability

IT organizations need a new breed of management tools

With virtual infrastructures becoming prevalent in production environments and often supporting critical business services, the second phase of virtualization is here. In Virtualization 2.0, it's all about manageability.

The shifting emphasis to business service management rather than just virtual machine management means that it is no longer sufficient to simply monitor the uptime or resource usage of virtual machines and servers and believe that the entire IT infrastructure is working well.

This article highlights the key challenges that virtualization administrators and architects face in Virtualization 2.0, and defines the core functionality that any Virtualization 2.0 monitoring and management solution must possess.

The first phase of virtualization, Virtualization 1.0, involved the use of virtual infrastructures primarily in staging and development environments. The emphasis during this phase was on making sure that virtualization provided many of the promised benefits, including space consolidation, power savings, easy configuration and deployment.

From a performance standpoint, the emphasis was on ensuring that the virtualized infrastructure delivered performance in line with that obtainable from a purely physical infrastructure. Often, this was achieved by over-provisioning the virtualized servers. During this phase, the overall focus was on functionality more than performance, and in enabling newer service delivery opportunities such as the use of virtualization to support remote desktop applications.

With the arrival of Virtualization 2.0, administrators have a choice of virtualization technologies, and the much-researched hypervisor is now almost a commodity. Faced with shrinking budgets, administrators are looking for ways to achieve the maximum with limited hardware and software resources through optimal resource allocation techniques, and to plan proactively for future demands. Overprovisioning of virtual infrastructures is therefore a thing of the past.

The challenge in managing virtualized infrastructures is that there are various layers of software - the applications, the protocol layers, the operating systems in the virtual machines (VMs) and the virtualization platform - that have to work together to ensure the proper functioning of the business service. Many of these software layers are outside the scope of the virtual infrastructure, so pinpointing the true root cause of a problem - whether in the virtual infrastructure, the applications, or in the network - becomes crucial. The faster a problem can be diagnosed, the shorter the service downtime and the better the overall service performance.

This combination of factors means that proactive monitoring and effective root-cause diagnosis across the entire infrastructure will gain in prominence in Virtualization 2.0. The acute shortage of IT professionals skilled in working with virtualized environments means that a management solution must offer superior automation and root-cause diagnosis to enable administrators with limited expertise to be effective in spotting problems and taking the proper corrective action quickly. This article defines the key characteristics that a Virtualization 2.0 Ready monitoring solution should have.

More Stories By Srinivas Ramanathan

Srinivas Ramanathan is the founder and CEO of eG Innovations (www.eginnovations.com), a global provider of performance monitoring and triage solutions for both virtual and physical IT infrastructures. The company’s eG VM Monitor software was chosen as the Gold level winner in the Application and Infrastructure Management category in the Best of VMworld 2008 Awards. He has a PhD in computer science and engineering from the University of California, San Diego.

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