Perils, pitfalls and problems need solutions. So, I asked Jasmine Noel to continue her discussion and to focus on what an enterprise might do to address the issues. Jasmine -
Tools to Tame Heterogeneous Virtualization Management
As I mentioned in my initial blog, virtualization is elevating the daily stress for over-extended datacenter administrators to alarming levels. Higher business agility and lower capital costs through virtualization can’t be achieved without sophisticated, complete, and always-on management of heterogenous virtual computing resources. In other words, agile management of heterogeneous virtualization is critical for business agility and profitability. Hence, the reason administrator stress levels are going through the roof is that they don’t have agile management of heterogeneous virtualization.
It is vital, and not optional then, that IT organizations become adept at matching increasingly dynamic needs (be they automated workload schedules or on-demand service requests) with the resource flexibility afforded by virtualization’s rapid provisioning strengths. As such, system administrators are quickly realizing that they need to look for a different type of management solution. So what are the characteristics of this new solution type?
A policy-based approach is a key characteristic of this new solution type. Virtualization enables application images to move to different virtual machines very quickly (in some cases before admins get a chance to check their emailed service tickets). Policies enable IT to introduce some necessary controls around those moves and changes. Policies can also simplify the workload to resource matching process. For example, policies can ensure that multiple workloads all run on the same virtual machine in a particular datacenter location, or incorporate time of day requirements so that a workload spans ten virtual machines during the day but thirty virtual machines at night.
Centralized management of dense computing infrastructures (be they Blades, packaged Cloud systems, or mainframes) appears to be a natural extension of this phenomena because for the first time, administrators truly need a centralized management platform to manage virtual systems. Many IT organizations are learning the hard way about the sprawl created when virtual images are deployed at will with minimal oversight or visibility into how the environment is changing. System administrators need management solutions that make oversight and resource visibility as quick and seamless as deploying the virtual images. Solutions which afford centralized control over all virtualization options and extend across a diverse infrastructure enable optimal use of administrators’ time.
Besides centralization, the solution should also have a workflow-based approach to automation embedded in its design. Automating the many other tasks (patching, security checks, compliance checks, etc.) that surround virtual image deployment drive down the business risk of high-speed image deployment. When these tasks are orchestrated as complete workflows, IT productivity skyrockets, which gives administrators the time to focus on policy design and decision-related resource analysis.
There is no escaping these solution requirements. The system management status quo can’t deliver the agile management of heterogeneous virtualization that is essential for business agility and profitability. What administrators can do is demand that management vendors prove how they deliver on these requirements.
IBM is a client of Ptak Noel and has provided compensation to Ptak Noel for
participation in this interview.
Service Management on System z Blog
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Did you know that System z was a great platform for a private cloud? Software Group did a benchmark comparing a popular Intel based hypervisor to z/VM and observed the impact to CPU utilization, throughput (transactions per second), and response time of a sample application as they varied the number of virtual servers. Their results are documented in a paper: http://www.ibm.com/common/ssi/fcgi-bin/ssialias?infotype=SA&subtype=WH&appname=STGE_ZS_ZS_USEN&htmlfid=ZSW03125USEN&attachment=ZSW03125USEN.PDF
There is a companion paper that discusses the TCO implications of private cloud versus public cloud: http://www.ibm.com/common/ssi/fcgi-bin/ssialias?infotype=SA&subtype=WH&appname=STGE_ZS_ZS_USEN&htmlfid=ZSW03126USEN&attachment=ZSW03126USEN.PDF
Have you noticed that when the press talks about cloud, they're typically not talking about System z? I wonder why. I have some theories, but would be interested in your perspective.
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Perils, pitfalls and problems of managing heterogeneous virtualization
Recently I spoke with Jasmine Noel, founding partner of Ptak Noel and Associates, LLC, regarding her research on the increasing drive for virtualization. What follows are some interesting observations -
"Enterprises keep asking for more agility (i.e. deploy more stuff even faster) and lower capital costs (i.e. minimize idle resources). Virtualization seems like the perfect answer. Virtual images can be deployed faster to provide more agility. More virtual images can be packed onto fewer physical systems to lower capital costs.
If only that were the end of the story.
Datacenter operations teams are realizing that virtualization is not a homogeneous, one-size-fits-all solution. Enterprises seem intent on acquiring different virtualization platforms as well as heterogeneous hardware platforms. This heterogenous virtualization is changing systems administration in some very fundamental ways:
• Virtualization decouples the traditional server and OS management from the physical hardware. This means administrators are being given a bunch of new, overlapping tools to manage the different virtual systems, which increases the potential for errors that impact business services.
• Virtual image management becomes more important (because someone will have to clean out the inevitable virtual sprawl) and more complex (because someone will have to minimize the business risk of high-speed image deployment).
• Matching dynamic workloads to virtual resources that can be easily and automatically added, deleted, moved or changed can’t be done manually. Imagine trying to hitch a bucking rodeo bronco to a wagon that changes size every few minutes -- which doesn’t bode well for guaranteed completion of critical business workloads.
There is no escaping these issues. Every enterprise has virtualization strategies for different types of infrastructure and applications. No single form of virtualization fits every aspect of those strategies. Thus there will be different hypervisors in the enterprise -- heterogeneity will persist. So what can be done about it?
• Start educating the executives that a virtual image needs proactive administration to keep it healthy They also need to understand that managing a roster of hundreds of virtual images is vastly different from keeping a spreadsheet list of 10-20 golden configurations. IT staff will need a major productivity boost keep up.
• Start seriously thinking about managing resources via policies, since it’s the only way to control changes that can happen automatically.
• Start evaluating which of the repetitive administrative activities can be done in a cross-platform, cross-VM manner. The more those tasks can be automated, the more time there’ll be to spend on avoiding the perils, pitfalls and problems of managing heterogeneous virtualization."
IBM is a client of Ptak Noel and has provided compensation to Ptak Noel for participation in this interview.