Cloud and hosting providers are aggressively investing in new Intel Xeon servers that can have as many as 32 cores per server (4 processors with 8 cores per server). Some of this investment is in response to current demand for actual capacity from customers. Some of it is investing ahead of the curve so that the cloud vendor is properly positioned when the demand arrives. The growth and the hype in the cloud is such that there is highly likely to be an overbuild of capacity at some point and then a crash and a period of consolidation – just as there was with ASP’s and the .com companies.
Business Agility ...
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The ROI from virtualizing tactical applications is driving by the consolidation in the number of physical servers needed once tactical workloads are virtualized. However, when virtualizing Tier 1 or business critical applications, it is likely that significant consolidation in the number of cores per workload is not possible – leading to the requirement to find a new way to cost justify these projects.
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With the release of vSphere 4.1, VMware has added to their Dynamic Resource Load Balancing (DRLB) suite of tools that I hinted at in my post on Dynamic Resource Load Balancing that I wrote last week as well as providing new memory over commit and other functionality. In essence, vSphere 4.1 is more than a point release, this update includes many features that aid in security, reliability, and is a direct response to customer requests.
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Microsoft is bringing its strongest assets – the installed base of its key products in the enterprise, and its library of commercial and custom built applications (and their associated developer communities) along with compelling new technologies like Server App-V to the virtualization and cloud fight. Leveraging Azure and App-V along with these existing enterprise assets makes Microsoft into a much more potentially formidable competitor to VMware than Microsoft is today based solely upon Hyper-V.
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Supporting Tier 1 applications on VMware vSphere requires real time and granular response time and latency instrumentation of the virtual and physical infrastructure. Virtual Instruments Virtual Wisdom complements the instrumentation provided by VMware by providing individual transaction level visibility into the SAN layer of the virtual infrastructure.
Cloud Computing ...
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VMware has already demonstrated a penchant for using open source technologies to fundamentally disrupt the value propositions for the products from competing vendors in the systems software and applications platform businesses. This has put the operating systems businesses at Microsoft and Red Hat, and the applications platform businesses at Microsoft, Red Hat, IBM and Oracle under pressure, by providing a cost effective and fully functional alternative to the traditional licensed software models of these companies. It is entirely possible that VMware will pursue the same approach in the management software industry thereby disrupting the business models and product positions of CA, IBM/Tivoli, HP, BMC as well as many of the vendors currently in the VMware ecosystem.
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Systems Management Frameworks have provided an indispensable function to enterprises with large and business critical networks and data centers. However, frameworks have become a category of expensive and slow to innovate legacy software leading many enterprises to conclude that they must move beyond these products in order to properly monitor their newest environments including those that are based on virtualization and public clouds. New virtualization and cloud focused tools are providing support for these environments that is not present in legacy management frameworks. Self-learning analytics may replace the frameworks as the “manager of managers” or new frameworks may emerge out of the open source movement.
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Virtualizing tier 1 business critical and performance critical applications will require that the virtualization team be able to provide assurances about infrastructure performance and applications performance to the applications teams and their constituents. This is a dauntingly complex requirement to meet due to the fact that meeting it requires the integration of tools that are not integrated today, and that virtualization adds risk to the equation due to the dynamic behavior of virtualized systems.
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The CMDB’s that were designed and architected for static physical systems appear to be unwieldy, too difficult to keep up to date, and not real-time enough to make the transition into the virtualized and cloud based world. Virtualized environment change too fast for existing CMDB’s to keep up, and the notion of keeping a CMDB up to date as assets are moved into and out of public clouds seems hopelessly beyond the intended original use case of a CMDB. A new category of datastore is needed that will address the needs of virtualized and cloud based environments, while incorporating performance information with configuration information.
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