Physical Traits Evolve
Already as a result of virtualization, servers from Dell and HP and other manufacturers have added Secure Digital (SD) memory card slots inside the server to rapidly boot up the physical system into the enterprise hypervisor of choice. While the manufacturers I talked to wouldn't speculate on other hardware changes planned for the future, IT managers should expect hardware add-on components that speed hypervisor operations. It is clear that reliability, availability and serviceability will only grow in importance as the concentration of virtual machines on physical systems increases. Chad Fenner, director of product marketing for Dell's PowerEdge server portfolio, and HP's Ferguson both pointed out areas where their respective, competitive server-management tools can help make operations more predictable.
For example, preemptive hardware failure notification features already found in InSight Control help make the hardware serviceable and available. On-board server hardware sensors monitor memory, disk and CPU performance, and keep watch for symptoms that indicate an eminent fault will become more common across data center servers. And servers to host production workloads will increasingly have this monitoring telemetry with a focus on integration with the hypervisor monitoring tools that are already available. Besides hardware modifications, server virtualization has forced growth in server-management tools. Both Dell, with OpenManage, and HP, with Insight Control, today offer integration with VMware vCenter and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager. IT managers should expect to see even greater integration with these management platforms and a tie-in to virtual machine lifecycle-management tools that show operational costs along with service levels. The bigger physical and virtual machines of the near future will also be among the most monitored and measured systems in enterprise operations.