Tech Analysis: Somewhere between the public and private cloud, between the way things are and the way they will be in the future, lies the very practical question of just how to keep a handle on all these newly virtualized resources.
Another study, this one from Prism
Microsystems, has just come out talking about the low rate of server virtualization.
Be that as it may, economic pressures and the technological advances in
multicore, virtualization-enabled processors mean that virtualization rates
will increase in the next couple of years.
That means this is the perfect
time to work on the strategic decisions that will guide server and other forms
of IT virtualization. As I've written on several occasions, effective
management of virtual resources will separate the weak from the strong. And
having spent several weeks running a modest-sized test lab on a Lenovo W510
mobile workstation, I have some advice for IT managers about where to look for
Go watch the coders in your testing
and development department to gather firsthand the clues that will shape your
management of the future. Developers are the people most likely to be dealing
with the prototype problems of virtual machine creation, maintenance, snapshot
creation, storage and decommissioning. And shortly after management comes the
inextricably linked question of security and how that affects the approach to
virtualization in a production environment.
Developers are likely to be the IT
equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider. Instead of universe-building
materials, developer use of virtualization can reveal the building blocks of IT
management techniques that will be essential in the next couple of years.
Although it's tempting to say we
already solved all of today's virtualization questions back when virtualization
was invented in the '60s, history doesn't actually repeat itself. Today's virtualization
is similar to that of the past, but different in significant ways. For one
thing, virtualization today was born not from scarcity but from abundance. Moore's Law led to great expanses of computing resources that
remained underused for most of the '80s and '90s. And, sadly, American
companies have only recently come to care about energy costs.
Developers in your organization-if
they are using desktop virtualization tools like VMware Workstation
-are very likely home-spinning solutions to the thorny problem of
keeping track of all these VMs. I'm hoping that they are, by virtue of
necessity, taking a somewhat more holistic approach than I've seen from most
commercial vendors. Lately I've been getting pitches for security tools,
management platforms and virtual widgets that take care of this identity
concern or that storage problem. I haven't really seen anything yet for the
virtual infrastructure that takes into account the overall interconnection. The
exception might be Cisco's UCS
-but that's a whole lot of premium, single-vendor
As I look at my own rather paltry
attempts to use paper and pencil to sketch out a management framework that can
bring order to chaos in my harried test lab, I do see the beginnings of what management
tools will look like in the future. Today, business-critical workloads
overwhelmingly run in private data centers. Economic pressures will consolidate
those workloads to take advantage of underutilized hardware. But virtualization
isn't stopping at consolidation. Virtual workloads make it possible-when
economically prudent-to move to multitenant public cloud resources. We are
approaching a time when there will be a real choice between running workloads
in a private data center and using a public cloud. And that decision point is
going to be sooner than later.
Between here and there, we, as IT
managers, will need to master the age-old questions of what's installed where
and who's got access. Unlike the '60s and '70s when the high priests were locked
in frigid, raised-floor rooms, the business side of the house has gotten much savvier
about how data systems work and have much higher expectations about where, when
and how information is made available to them.
As the cost-saving methods of
today transform into the standard way business is conducted tomorrow, savvy IT
managers will put management of virtual resources first. And the outlines of
effective strategies for doing so are likely being cooked up today in your test
and dev department.