New Tools for the Virtual Management Arsenal

Virtualization has proven to be a lot more unpredictable than most people realized at the outset.

First, there was the dreaded notion of “virtual sprawl,” which held that unchecked and unregulated virtual machines would proliferate throughout the enterprise, clogging up physical resources to the point of unusability. Then came the threat of virtual stall, in which enterprises maxed out on the number of virtualized servers in their plant based on how much existing storage and networking could support.

Of course, the easy answer to both problems is to bolster physical infrastructure to support greater virtualization, although that tends to eat into the capital savings that the technology was supposed to provide in the first place. That’s why many organizations are turning to increasingly sophisticated virtual management stacks.

One of the problems, though, is that virtual environments are exceedingly more complex than physical ones. This requires a new generation of intelligence and adaptability on the part of the management system to ensure virtual resources are operating correctly. For ScienceLogic, for example, the goal is to establish a kind of digital triage in which the most serious aberrations get top priority so as not to flood management with trivial alerts. The package works with management systems from HP, IBM, CA and VMware and can also extend to IaaS platforms like GoGrid and Amazon Web Services.

More organizations are also moving beyond simple server and I/O virtualization to bring virtual desktops on board, adding yet another challenge to management. Quest Software has added VDI capabilities to its vWorkSpace platform with the Foglight for Virtual Desktops 5.6 module, essentially tweaking the company’s application monitoring tools to virtual desktop environments. In this way, the company is able to fold desktop management into its end-to-end virtual infrastructure platform to generate full monitoring and diagnostics from a single source.

Ensuring that the virtual doesn’t overwhelm the physical is one thing, but some platforms are taking the next step to enhance VM coordination across workloads. VKernal recently added software called Smart Business Views to its vOperations Suite that lets you compile various VM sets according to a series of operating attributes. This allows enterprises to link machines according to the jobs they are tasked with, improving data efficiency and resource utilization. The company has also added support for Hyper-V environments.

At the same time, other components of the management stack continue to extend onto the virtual layer. App management firm ManageEngine has added support for VMware’s V-Fabric Application Server to its Application Management suite, giving it the ability to support databases, app servers, Web servers and other apps in virtual environments. The company has also added a new runbook automation tool to simplify workflow management.

If there is a central theme to all of these developments, it appears to be the overarching goal of allowing enterprises to cope with the fluid nature of virtual environments without veering too far from the tools and techniques that have governed physical resource management for so long. It’s not exactly a one-to-one comparison, but the more you can simplify the management structure the more you’ll gain from your investment in virtual technology.

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