5 New Virtualization Challenges Impacting IT Pros and Data Center Management
August 30, 2013

Mike Thompson

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As virtualization capabilities are built into networking, storage, applications and databases giving shape to the software defined data center, problems with management and visibility across data center boundaries will emerge. A recent survey by SolarWinds revealed that more than 700 IT professionals in six countries across the globe agreed virtualization technology contributes significantly to management challenges, indicating the impact is undeniable and vast.

With the software defined data center transition an imminent reality, the following five management challenges should be on every IT pro’s radar in preparation:

1. Virtual Mobility Impacts Network Optimization

Virtualization has typically operated within a contained portion of the network such that changes in the virtualization environment didn’t usually impact the broader network. With improvements and increased adoption of workload mobility technologies like Metro vMotion and storage vMotion that make it easier to move workloads geographically, the rapid movement of workloads could cause new problems for the overall enterprise network.

2. Storage Tries to Keep Up with Virtual Mobility & Software-Defined Networks

Just like virtual mobility can impact networks, if both compute and networks become more software-defined and flexible then storage can get left behind. Advanced planning and technology investments will be required for storage to make sure that the storage systems can handle the mobility enabled by server virtualization and software-defined networking.

3. The Virtual I/O Blender Becomes Mission Critical

Storage I/O has been a limiting factor for virtualizing many I/O intensive applications like databases. With technologies like solid state disk (SSD) opening the door to many of these mission critical applications, failures in performance and capacity management will have an even greater impact on the business and end users. Further, IOPS demand created by desktop virtualization can be significantly different than server virtualization, requiring more low-latency, and usually more expensive hardware.

4. Application Control Meets Real-time Automation

Most failures are caused by something changing. As a result, applications teams have traditionally put very tight controls on changes to mission critical application systems. Virtualization and automation on the other hand, make it very fast and easy to create new systems or make changes to existing systems or even entire clusters of systems and application stacks. These two cultures will have to find ways to leverage the power and flexibility of virtualization without introducing instability into critical virtualized applications.

5. Virtualization Reaches Across Silos

Network, storage, applications, and compute all come together at the virtualization layer. While server virtualization is by far the most mature component of a software defined data center, the next challenge will be to look outside the compute boundaries to figure out how to best manage and coordinate changes/actions with other technology areas. As the pace of change increases across all the interrelated technology, the IT professionals managing the virtualization layer will increasingly have to be the coordinating “glue” to keep other teams aligned.

Mike Thompson is Director of Business Strategy for Virtualization and Storage at SolarWinds.

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