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Virtualization Reimagined

By Dana Gardner
Jul 27, 2009 4:00 AM PT

Let's look at a series of three important considerations when moving to enterprise virtualization adoption.

Virtualization Reimagined

First, we'll investigate the ability to manage and control how interconnections impact virtualization. Interconnections play a large role in allowing physical servers to support multiple virtual servers, which themselves need multiple network connections. The connections themselves can be virtualized, and we are going to learn how HP Virtual Connect is being used to solve these problems.

Second, we're going to examine the role and importance of configuration management databases (CMDBs) in deploying virtualized servers in production. When we scale virtualized instances of servers, we need to think about centralized configuration, it really helps in bringing management to this crucial part of preventing server sprawl and an unwieldy complexity that can often impact the cost of virtualization projects.

Last, we're going to dig into how outsourcing in a variety of different forms, configurations, and values could help organizations get the most bang for their virtualization buck. That is to say, how they think about virtualization not only in terms of placement, but also in where that data center and even hybrid data centers will be residing and managed.


Listen to the podcast (32:56 minutes).

Here to help us to dig into these essential ingredients of successful and cost-effective virtualization initiatives, are three executives from HP.

We're going to be speaking with Michael Kendall, worldwide Virtual Connect marketing lead. We're also going to be joined by Shay Mowlem, strategic marketing lead for HP Software and Solutions. And last, we're going to discuss outsourcing with Ryan Reed, a product manager for EDS server management services.

Dana Gardner: First, I want to talk a little bit about how organizations are moving to virtualization. We certainly have seen a lot of the "ready, set, go," but when organizations start looking at the complexity, when they think about scale, when they think about the need to do virtualization for the economic pay-off, rather than simply moving one shell around from physical to virtual, or from on-premises to off-premises, the complexity in the issue starts to sink in.

Let me take our first question to Shay Mowlem. Shay, what is it that we're seeing in terms of how companies can make sure that they get a pay-off economically from this, and that it doesn't become complexity-for-complexity's sake?

Shay Mowlem: The allure of virtualization is quite great. Certainly, many companies today have recognized that consolidating their infrastructure through virtualization can reduce power consumption and space utilization, and can really maximize the value of the infrastructure that they've already purchased.

Just about everybody has jumped on the virtualization bandwagon, and many companies have seen tremendous gains in their development in lab environments, in managing what I would consider to be non-mission-critical production systems. But, as companies have tried to apply virtualization to their Tier 2 and Tier 1 mission-critical systems, they're discovering a whole new set of issues that, without effective management, really run counter to the cost benefits.

The fact that virtualized infrastructure has more interdependencies means there's more of a risk profile because of the services that are supported. The real challenge for those companies is putting in place the right management platform in order to be able to truly recognize those gains for those production environments.

Gardner: So, when we talk about rethinking virtualization, I suppose that it really means planning and anticipating how this is going to impact the organization and how they can scale this out?

Mowlem: Yeah. That's exactly right.

Gardner: First, we're going to look at the connections, some of the details in making physical servers become virtual servers, and how that works across the network. Mike Kendall is here to tell us about HP's Virtual Connect technology.

It's designed to help bridge the gap between the physical world and virtual world, when it comes to the actual nitty-gritty of making networks behave in conjunction with increased numbers of virtualized server instances. This is important when we start rethinking virtualization in terms of actually getting an economic payback from the investments and the expectations that enterprises are now supporting around virtualized activities.

So, let me take it to you Mike. When we go to virtualized infrastructures from traditional physical ones, what's different about migrating when it comes to these network connections?

Michael Kendall: There are a couple of things. When you consolidate a lot of different application instances that are normally on multiple servers, and each one of those servers has certain number of I/O for data and storage and you put them all on one server, that does consolidate the number of servers we have.

Interestingly, people have found that as you do that, it has the tendency to expand the number of network interface controllers (NICs) that you need, the number of connections you need, the number of cables you need, and the number of upstream switch ports that you need to accommodate all that extra workflow that's going on that sever.

So, just because you can either set up a new virtual machine or want to migrate virtual machines in a matter of minutes, it isn't as easy in the connection space. Either you have to add additional capacity for networks and for storage, add additional host bus adapters (HBAs), or add additional NICs. But, even when you move it, you have to take down and re-setup those particular network connections. Being able to do that in a way that is harmonious is more challenging within a virtual machine environment. ...

Gardner: Let's now move over to Ryan Reed at EDS. As organizations get in deeper with virtualization and as they consider on a larger scale their plans for their modernization and consolidation and overall cost efficiency of their resources, how do they approach this problem of placement? It seems that when you move towards virtualization it almost forces you to think about your data center in a more holistic and long-term and strategic perspective.

Ryan Reed: Right, Dana. For a lot of companies, when they consider large-scale virtualization and modernization projects, it often raises questions that help them to devise the plan and devise strategy around how they're going to create a virtual infrastructure and where their infrastructure is going to be located.

Some of the questions that I see are around the physical data center itself. Is the data center itself meeting the needs of the business? Is it designed in a way that can be built for resiliency and provide the greatest value to the business services?

You'll also find that a lot of times that's not the case nowadays for the data centers that were built 10 or 15 years ago. Business services today demand higher levels of uptime and availability. Those data centers, if they were to fail due to a power outage or some other source of failure, are no longer able to provide the uptime requirements for those types of business services. So, it's one of the first questions that a virtual infrastructure program raises to the program manager.

Another question that often comes up is around the storage network infrastructures -- where they are located physically. Are they in the right place? Is it available at the right times? A lot of organizations may be required by legislative regulatory requirements to keep their data within a particular state or country, national boundaries, or region. A lot of the times, when people are planning for virtual server infrastructures, that comes to be a pretty prominent discussion.

Another one would be around internal skill sets of the enterprise. Does the company or the organization have the skill set necessary in-house to do large-scale virtualization in data center modernization projects? Often times, they don't, and if they don't, then what is their action? What is their remedy? How are they going to resolve that skill gap?

Lastly, a lot of companies, when they're doing virtualization projects, start to question, whether or not all of the activities around managing the infrastructure is actually core to their business. If it's not core to their business, then maybe this is something that they don't have to be doing themselves anymore.


Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: HP sponsored this podcast.


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