Virtualisation is riding a groundswell of popularity. Organisations are attracted to its promise of quick deployment and cost savings. These benefits, which are nothing short of a boon in the current economy, will continue to drive up adoption rates in coming months. Nearly two-thirds of enterprise IT shops expects to implement virtualized servers next year. Industry analysts, equally enthusiastic, have named virtualization as the No. 1 strategic technology for 2009.
Virtualisation has left IT decision makers with the daunting task of managing a burgeoning number of virtual machines (VMs) that are multiplying faster than they can possibly monitor. Not only are IT managers being challenged to keep track of virtually invisible components, but they are also charged with managing “hard” IT assets.
A complete management solution featuring a federated CMDB, can keep the process under control.
Virtualization Sanity Check:Stopping the Sprawl with Complete IT VisibilityA WHITE PAPERBy Tony PerriUntitled Document2Virtualization is riding a groundswell of popularity. All around the world, IT organizations are attracted to its promise of quick deployment and cost savings. These benefits, which are nothing short of a boon in the current economy, will continue to drive up adoption rates in coming months. Nearly two-thirds of enterprise IT shops expects to implement virtualized servers next year. Industry analysts, equally enthusiastic, have named virtualization as the No. 1 strategic technology for 2009.All industry acclaim aside, virtualization has thrown IT managers quite a curveball. The promise it held for simplifying IT management has, in fact, produced the opposite effect.1 Because of virtual sprawl, IT decision makers are now faced with the daunting task of managing a burgeoning number of virtual machines (VMs) that are multiplying faster than they can possibly monitor. Not only are IT managers being challenged to keep track of virtually invisible components, but they are also charged with managing hard IT assets.This hybrid environment is something IT managers will have to live with for a while. Although virtualization continues to grow at 20 percent or more per year, it is not expected to overtake existing physical architectures at least through 2010.2 To effectively manage both VMs and physical boxes, IT decision makers must have complete visibility into their IT landscape. They need to be able to view all VMs and their respective relationships to physical servers, storage units, and business services. In addition, they must have the ability to manage performance and handle changes in both physical and virtual components, across multiple platforms. This has presented a formidable challenge. Because no integrated solution has been available, IT teams have resorted to managing physical and virtual machines separately and the latter, with limited success. Remarkably, some businesses use no virtualization management tools at all, resorting to manual report coordination and correlation across multiple layers of people, processes, and technology. Nearly one-third of enterprises use only the management tools that come bundled with their virtualization technologies, which works better than manual management but still doesn t address the array of technologies in a typical virtual environment.3 Only 10 percent have third-party tools, which do well with handling the complexity of multiple virtualization platforms, technologies, and vendors but still fail to manage physical and virtual environments simultaneously.4A federated CMDB, coupled with the right monitoring agents, can tie IT s virtual and physical worlds together in a single desktop. With its ability to connect to diverse technologies, it can gather configuration information about any IT component, including VMs, the physical server they re stacked upon, and the business services that rely on them. This multilayered data provides IT managers with an expansive perception of their environment that is direct, immediate, and accurate. A complete management solution featuring a federated CMDB. This is the key to seeing outside the box, keeping virtual sprawl manageable, integrating abstraction with reality, and managing the broad, entangled web that has become IT s infrastructure.The Box Lives OnDespite virtualization s rapid growth, it will not entirely replace physical deployments any time soon (if at all), largely because of the fear of the unknown. Adding yet another layer of abstraction to IT s complex environment raises the troubling question of how (or even if) VMs can be completely managed. Pinpointing their locations is difficult enough, as VMs can be easily cloned and moved. Add to this challenge the prospect of applying traditional IT disciplines, such as application management; classic IT control functions; risk, governance, and service continuity; and performance and availability, and the virtualization scenario can become overwhelming. This uncertainty surrounding VM management is enough to keep some organizations from realizing the full benefits of virtualization. While other organizations are blazing forward (some blindly), all are treading lightly. Case in point: because of performance ambiguity, IT executives are keeping VM utilization rates around 30 to 50 percent, preferring to run high-volume, high-memory applications on dedicated physical resources. Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of IT resources, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device, or network resources. It may involve the creation of many virtual resources from one physical resource or the creation of one virtual resource from one or more physical resources. What is Virtualization?Untitled DocumentVirtualization Sanity Check: Stopping the Sprawl with Complete IT Visibility3Another factor giving some virtualization adopters pause is data security. While quick VM rollouts and lower utility and labor costs are seductive, these savings could come at a very high price. Because VMs are movable, any sensitive data they carry is exposed through their host system s vulnerabilities. Accordingly, if an unauthorized user gains access to a host operating system, data in the VMs attached to that system runs the risk of being compromised, if not completely copied and carried off discreetly on a flash drive.Industry research confirms the uneasiness surrounding VM security, and analysts predict that through 2009, 60 percent of production VMs will be less secure than their physical counterparts. Accordingly, many businesses are deciding to keep their sensitive data in physical repositories. So, for the foreseeable future, virtual and physical machines will continue to coexist. While IT managers try to get their arms around this multi-tiered complication, current economic conditions are pushing them to get the most out of what they have. The way to move forward is clear: IT teams must find a more efficient, integrated way of managing their hybrid environment. It s not a question of innovation; it s a matter of necessity. Mismanaging the InvisibleManaging VMs brings its own unique set of challenges, the most obvious being that their numbers continue to climb at an explosive pace. This is hardly surprising, given how easy it is to create VMs. Compared to the deployment of a new physical server, which can take up to six weeks, a virtual server can be provisioned in a matter of minutes.Managers of end-user performance and availability must have visibility across diverse and complex IT infrastructures, regardless of the virtual or physical state. Analysts predict that through 2009, 60 percent of production VMs will be less secure than their physical counterparts.More InformationPerformance and Availability in a Mixed EnvironmentUntitled Document4Fast implementation makes VMs ideal sites for testing and development. Through virtualization, production environments can be replicated, eliminating the need to configure an assortment of operating system combinations for possible test scenarios. Another reason for the rapid proliferation of VMs is their portability. Because VMs can be moved from one host to another, planned downtime can occur without service disruption. Businesses can increase their agility and keep their data intact while reportedly maintaining 80 to 90 percent of their computing capacity all for about one-third of the cost of physically duplicating their hard computing counterparts.The sheer profusion of VMs, coupled with the fact that they are easily moved, makes them difficult to track. In fact, it s not unusual for IT teams to forget about them. So, as more VMs are rolled out, few are readily archived or decommissioned a situation that typically leaves more than 30 percent of VMs unused in an organization. Whether they re fully utilized or not, VMs often fail to get software patches and updates, simply because they haven t been discovered or located within IT s landscape. This increases the risk of noncompliance with internal governance rules, best practice guidelines, and regulatory mandates. To lower capital expenditures (CapEx), IT teams are tempted to stack as many VMs as possible on a single physical resource. However, without knowing the number of VMs attached to a particular physical box, it s nearly impossible for IT teams to ensure that applications have the processing, storage, and memory they need to run smoothly and fulfill service level agreements (SLAs). Disparate technologies further complicate the prospect of virtualization management. An average of 11 different virtualization technologies runs in a single enterprise. On any one of these virtual platforms, multiple, heterogeneous operating systems are likely to be running. The lack of integrated, cross-platform visibility, coupled with VM mobility and the complexity of virtual stacks, makes oversubscribed hardware and slow performance more likely and troubleshooting, nearly impossible. These management complications are significant enough to offset virtualization s reduction in operation expenditures (OpEx), such as raw power savings, with increased personnel costs accumulated through hiring virtualization experts and/or training existing personnel on functions such as performance-tuning multiple guest images on a host machine. This increase in overhead, coupled with the rising potential for mismanagement, creates a substantial threat to virtualization s sizable ROI.5 Re-viewing the VirtualTo overcome the pitfalls of virtualization, experts advise adopters to think of it as an ongoing strategy within the entire infrastructure, as opposed to an isolated project. Ideally, this approach begins before introducing virtualization into the IT environment, allowing for potential operational and performance issues to be resolved up front. WhAT TO LOOk fOR In A MAnAgEMEnT SOLuTIOnApplication availability Applications often cross virtual and physical boundaries. Yet, most availability solutions work only in a virtual or physical environment, which can create a false sense of application availability. Look for an integrated solution that monitors both realms.Data availability Data protection solutions should work in hybrid environments. Finding one that unifies physical and virtual backup and recovery on a single platform is ideal, but point products can also be connected via a federated CMDB.VM sprawl When selecting a solution, search for one that offers complete visibility into VM locations and configurations along with the capability to manage VM lifecycles. What was once an asset while it existed as a physical, standalone machine, is no less an asset once it has been virtualized. Make sure your asset management tools can continue operating on the basis of virtual assets.Change management Moving VMs can improve server utilization as long as VM movement across heterogeneous environments can be tracked and resource utilization can be monitored. Solutions featuring autodiscovery and monitoring agents are essential for effectively managing these changes. Vendor selection To accommodate the need to manage virtual and physical machines across multiple platforms, select a vendor with expertise in managing applications and hardware in both Windows Server and mainframe environmentsUntitled DocumentVirtualization Sanity Check: Stopping the Sprawl with Complete IT Visibility5However, because many IT organizations have taken a fast and furious route to virtualization, the best they can do is work backwards to establish centralized control. The key here is for IT teams to treat VMs as physical components, defining processes for their ordering, installation, and management. New policies may need to be introduced to accommodate the uniqueness of the virtualized environment. For example, it s a good security precaution to identify who can access the operating system that controls the virtualized landscape. And establishing procedures for VM provisioning and outlining specific processes for retiring VMs generally result in higher satisfaction with virtualization initiatives.While defining specific IT practices for virtualization makes sense, it can stimulate political resistance. No one likes change, even when the change results in improvement. Virtualization policies ask a lot from IT teams: not only must they relinquish some control over their physical world, but they must also cooperate with experts from different administrator groups (i.e., storage, server, and networking) that may have previously functioned independently (in silos).To get the most out of virtualization, IT managers need to adopt a broader, organizational view of what it is, how it works, what it impacts, and who it involves in both real and ideal manifestations. Not only must these insights resonate with IT decision makers, but they must also contribute to an integrated perspective of IT s hybrid reality.The federated ConnectionA federated CMDB, paired with cross-platform monitoring tools, is essential for managing IT s mixed, multi-vendored, multi-layered environment. In the virtualized environment alone, 90 percent of all enterprises have multiple vendors, and 50 percent have four or more.6 This situation is further complicated by the disparate technologies in a typical business s physical infrastructure, which are characterized by dissimilar processing platforms with different hardware capabilities and configurations, and different software release and modification levels.Whenever possible, organizations should take a proactive approach and follow best practices before VM implementation. Strategic Virtualization<Plan>Static AnalysisCapacity Baseline" Performance Baseline" Optimization Targets" Seed CMDB" 1<Steady State>OperationBusiness Alignment" Visibility" Capacity" Performance " Management, Fault, and Availability4<Execute>Dynamic AnalysisApplication Discovery" Dependency Mapping" Seed CMDB" Federate Sources" 2<Adjust>Decision SupportReview Progress" Report Results" Identify New Targets" 3Untitled Document6With a federated CMDB at its core, a comprehensive management solution would have the ability to connect to diverse, distributed technologies across virtualized and physical terrains and to present configuration information in a simplified, consolidated view. This would give IT decision makers a solid foundation for managing virtual and physical IT components together.And it would do so without compromising their differentiation. Because a federated CMDB stores attributes of configuration items (CIs)7 as well as their relationships with other CIs, it could when appropriately populated identify whether an IT component is virtual or physical. Moreover, it could map the connections between and among VMs, physical boxes, and the business services they support.Ideally, through federation, a CMDB would be capable of linking to other CMDBs (forming a Configuration Management System or CMS) as well as to multi-vendor solutions for discovery, incident/problem, asset, performance, and virtualization management. The connecting ability is a critical aspect of a seamless, virtual-and- physical management solution, which would include cross-platform monitoring agents, interactive dashboards, and autodiscovery tools for both hardware and applications.Ultimately, a cross-platform solution would move IT beyond silo-based management to synthesize:Management disciplines" Physical and virtual environments" Virtual technologies and platforms" IT and business objectives" Management teams and resources" According to independent consulting firm Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), the integration of these elements reduces the mean time to repair (MTTR), resulting in an average response time that is three times faster. Another benefit of managing virtual and physical items as a consolidated whole is improved availability, which EMA estimates to increase from an average of 99.95 percent to 99.99 percent.8Two Realities, One SolutionVirtualization brings substantial benefits to the table: quick deployment, lower hardware costs, and improved energy efficiency. To get the most out of this strategy, world-class people, processes, and systems must be in place, and the relationships between these factors must be visible. ASG s Business Service Portfolio" (BSP") for Virtualization Performance Management offers a complete solution for managing, monitoring, and reporting on virtual and physical systems in an organization s entire IT environment, regardless of platform. With a federated metadata repository at its core (ASG s metaCMDB"), ASG s BSP for Virtualization Performance is fully equipped to identify and handle complex relationships among IT components (both physical and virtual), data elements, and business services. TIPS fOR kEEPIng VIRTuAL SPRAWL In ChECkConduct an audit. Determine where virtualized resources are and how they are being used. Assess availability, peak utilization, security, and storage. Apply existing rules and processes. Treat VMs as physical components. Integrate them into current best practice frameworks, adding new provisionsas applicable (e.g., security and decommissioning policies for the virtual environment). Limit administrative access to VMs. Think carefully about who is allowed to access the operating system (and create more VMs). Think before you stack. When deciding to consolidate, consider more than performance metrics. Will putting two servers on the same physical box potentially violate security restrictions? Untitled DocumentVirtualization Sanity Check: Stopping the Sprawl with Complete IT Visibility7With ASG s BSP for Virtualization Performance, users can monitor on a single desktop graphical user interface (GUI) both physical and virtual servers across a vast range of heterogeneous operating systems and databases. ASG s BSP for Virtualization Performance provides a comprehensive view of an organization s ability to deliver business services, regardless of the operating system or platform. It is the only true end-to-end performance and availability solution on the market. Through its unmatched performance management and service dependency mapping capabilities, ASG s BSP for Virtualization Performance:Discovers all components in the IT landscape, automatically " generating virtual and physical inventory (hardware and applications) Maps all dependencies between VMs, physical containers, " and business servicesAudits virtual and physical environments to manage licenses, " ensure compliance, and enforce best practices and security policies Detects unexpected infrastructure changes in real time, " including VM movementIdentifies new VMs that are missing standard patches or " management agentsIntegrates with all management tools, regardless of vendor" Determines server consolidation needs and manages the " virtualization processAnalyzes the performance of physical and virtual servers in " real timeProvides real-time availability and event monitoring and " performs root-cause analysis Produces on-demand reporting (including historical " usage trends)Presents an integrated, enterprise view of the entire IT " landscape through dynamic, customizable dashboardsASG s BSP manages both physical and virtual IT components seamlessly. Its federated CMDB connects to virtualization technologies, physical servers, and all management tools, resulting in a vital, data-rich picture of IT s infrastructure. This information, when combined with the ability of ASG s BSP to map other CIs (e.g., people, documentation, etc.) to virtual and physical IT components, provides end-to-end insight into the delivery of all business services, revealing opportunities for automation and other cost-saving efficiencies. ConclusionVirtualization helps organizations reduce costs while improving their business agility and service continuity. But it also adds another layer of complexity to the IT environment. With a federated CMDB, virtualization can be made visible; its abstraction layers, previously unmanageable, can be mapped to physical reality. It is this ability to see the physical and the virtual through the same lens, to perceive new connections across multiple domains that empowers IT to integrate its management efforts and to explore new frontiers.About the AuthorTony Perri, a technology marketing professional of more than 15 years experience, serves as senior director of marketing for ASG. Most recently Tony was director of marketing for direct response advertising agency Datamark and has managed marketing teams at Meridium Software, Mercia Software (Infor), and Logility Software. Tony holds an ABJ from the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia, Athens. Notes1 Initially, virtualization was expected to be the antidote to server sprawl: by running multiple VMs on one physical server, workload would effectively consolidated on fewer servers, resulting in what adopters anticipated to be streamlined management. However, as more organizations moved aggressively into virtualization, the number of virtualized servers grew, adding multiple layers of abstraction and making the IT landscape more complicated.2 Virtualization and Management: Trends, Forecasts, and Recommendations. Boulder: Enterprise Management Associates, April 2008.3 Ibid.4 Ibid.5 Virtualization experts report that, on average, server virtualization generates double the ROI of other comparable IT projects, delivers payback on investment in less than eight months, and reduces net total cost of ownership (TCO) by more than 30 percent. Some believe that these impressive numbers could heighten expectations for IT teams to deliver virtualization s cost savings across their operations. 6 Virtualization and Management&7 A CI is defined as any component that needs to be managed to deliver an IT service, such as hardware, software, buildings, people, and service-related documentation.8 Mann, Andi. Managing Business Service Performance in a Virtual Environment. Enterprise Management Associates and ASG joint webcast. 13 May 2008.Untitled DocumentAbout ASG | www.asg.com ASG provides software solutions to over 85 percent of the world s largest companies. Through its comprehensive Business Service Management (BSM) solution, Business Service Portfolio", ASG is an established BSM provider with a strong heritage in Content, Metadata, Applications, Operations, Performance, Infrastructure, and Identity Management technologies. ASG enables clients to reduce costs, enhance customer service, meet business objectives, and truly go beyond BSM. Founded in 1986, ASG is a privately held company based in Naples, Florida, USA, with more than 90 of ces around the world.Beyond BSM"ASG Worldwide Headquarters | 1333 Third Avenue South, Naples Florida USA 34102Telephone 1.239.435.2200 or 1.800.932.5536Copyright 2009 Allen Systems Group, Inc.All products mentioned are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.ASG_Virtualization_Sanity_Check_WhitePaper_20081216en