If you are like most companies, you are leveraging server virtualization in your data center. Virtualization has been around for almost a decade now, but organizations are still learning how to maximize the technology’s promised benefits. The latest advent of cloud computing in the market is both exciting and scary for organizations. It promises to deliver on-demand resources, but your readiness for the cloud is directly related to how well your virtual data center is automated and managed. The more effective you are at managing and automating, the easier your journey to the cloud will be.
Get comfortable with the cloud
The evolution of virtualization, categorizing an organization’s readiness to move to the private cloud, frequently begins with the tactical use of virtualization. At this stage, deployment is fairly simple. With a low number of physical servers virtualized, the primary focus is on simple workload consolidation and disaster recovery. IT typically hasn’t adopted any dedicated management capabilities or processes for the virtual data center. Time-consuming, manual processes and legacy management approaches prevail. Most notable, provisioning of VMs is performed manually in a non-standardized, ad-hoc fashion.
Still wondering if you are in this stage? Below are a few indicators that you are still getting comfortable with the cloud:
- Your admin to virtual machine ratio is 1:50 – 1:100
- Your provisioning cycle is 15 – 30 days
- Your infrastructure density is approximately 4 VMs per core
- Your resource wastage is approximately 35 – 50 percent
Most likely, you will experience a few critical issues in your data center that will force you to move into the next stage of virtualization. You need to have visibility into your server virtualization environment. This includes knowing where your VMs live in order to be in control and to continue to scale your virtual infrastructure. By managing and tracking your inventory, such as end-to-end VM ownership and expiration dates, you will gain valuable insight on where your assets are, how they are changing, their purpose, and who the owner is as your virtual data center continues to grow..
As you begin scaling up and out, you will quickly realize that not all assets need to be treated the same way. Look for a solution that allows you to create custom attributes to logically group, view and manage virtual assets. Automated reporting, notification, and detailed tracking of your VMs quickly becomes a requirement with policy-driven automation as the enabler to securely and confidently scale your management capabilities with your data center.
At this stage of the virtualization evolution, you are focused on increasing your consolidation ratios and migrating tier-two workloads to the virtual data center. Typical readiness indicators for this phase are:
- Your admin to VM ratio will increase to 1:100 – 1:250
- Your provisioning cycle takes 5 – 15 days
- Your infrastructure density is now up to 6 VMs per core
- Your resource wastage decreases from approximately 35 – 25 percent
You are cruising along but are beginning to realize the need for more formalized and specialized management processes and capabilities. Without proper planning and management, server and application performance will likely be impacted. The ability to constantly monitor changes and detect configuration shift and drift will minimize the risk and exposure of performance degradations.
With the rapid growth of virtual machines and increased demand for infrastructure, you will certainly face virtual sprawl and will need to manage capacity on an hourly basis. To ensure the optimal use of resources, an integrated solution that unifies capacity management with waste reclamation is required.
Ready to transform your virtual infrastructure
Clouds are on the horizon and you are beginning to realize the strategic and operational advantages of virtualization. Your IT team has scaled up to meet the demands of the business through predictable, standardized processes and the automation of routine administrative tasks like provisioning and decommissioning.
At this point,
- Your admin to VM ratio is anywhere from 1:250 – 1:500
- You provisioning cycles is 1 – 10 days
- Your infrastructure density is approximately 8 VMs per core
- Your resource wastage is minimal at approximately 15 – 25 percent
Holistic management and an automation solution ensure the consistent and reliable delivery of services to end users while integrated service management and standardized processes quickly becomes the gateway to the cloud.
Your private cloud is optimized
At this point, you are able to quickly and efficiently deliver a service-centric infrastructure to end users through self-service portals and a centralized service catalog, and you have arrived at your destination. Welcome to the private cloud: on-demand, real-time infrastructure that scales up and scales out to meet your rapidly changing business demands. Likely:
- Your admin to VM ratio is more than 1:500
- You can automatically provision services within five minutes to one day
- You have more than 12 VMs per core
- Your resources are optimally configured with resource wastage of less than 15 percent
By delivering infrastructure in private clouds you inherently gain flexibility and agility that can quickly respond to increased demand. By leveraging integrated IT costing and chargeback into your business model, you not only begin to curb consumption, but you begin to transform IT from a cost center to a strategic enabler.
Organizations certainly have the option to embrace functional areas of this evolution, but those that take a holistic approach to managing their virtual data center will increase the probability of making a transformation change to delivering IT services in the cloud. In parallel, this transformation shift will improve the quality of service being delivered, improve operational efficiencies, and reduce operating expenses.
Jason Cowie is Vice President Product Management at Embotics and oversees product direction and strategy. Previously, he was the General Manager at EMC, responsible for the Server Management business, and played a key role in the acquisition of Configuresoft. While at Configuresoft, he served as Vice President of Product Management, helping secure Configuresoft as the industry leader in security and configuration management. Jason’s extensive management background spans sales, business development, consulting, and product marketing at various companies including Microsoft, Scalable Software, and Mission Critical Software (merged with NetIQ in 2000).