The Virtualization Practice

Virtualization Management

Virtualization Management covers all aspects of managing a modern virtual or software defined data center. This includes managing across virtualization platforms and clouds, monitoring the performance and availability of the virtualization platforms (hypervisors) and the clouds, monitoring the capacity of the virtualization platforms and clouds, ...
monitoring the performance of the applications running on these platforms and clouds, automatically provisioning these environments, securing these environments, and ensuring that the data in these environments is always protected and available.

There is a great deal of marketing hype about which hypervisor is better but I have spent some thinking about this and really have to wonder if the hypervisor is what we should really be focusing or concentrating on. A lot of third party vendors are starting to port their products to be able to work with both hypervisors but what about the management server itself? When third party application vendors design their applications to work with VMware or Microsoft hypervisors they have been writing plug-ins for their product to work inside the management server systems and or its client.

The security companies are looking into all aspects of virtual environment introspection to label, tag, or mark all objects for compliance reasons, inspect the contents of virtual machines for asset management (CMDB), and an early form of Root Kit detection.

Virtualization Security is not just about the firewall, it is about the entire ecosystem, auditing, compliance, and object management.

Is the CMDB Irrelevant in a Virtual and Cloud Based World?

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.

When working with VMware ESX there are some tips that I can share that can help you manage your environment. This tips are not anything really new or exciting but rather a reinforcement of some best practices to live by in order to improve auditing for compliance and troubleshooting. Use of the following in conjunction with remote logging functionality will improve your compliance stance and improve your ability to troubleshoot over a period of time.

How you may ask? By using a tool that logs all local administrator actions to a remote logging host. There are two ways to do this today for ESX (SUDO and the HyTrust Appliance) and only one mechanism for ESXi and vCenter (the HyTrust Appliance).

PhD Virtual has gained its second round of funding with investment from Citrix amongst others as discussed within our post News: esXpress is no more but what does this mean for XenServer? Up until this point it looked like Citrix was out of the server hypervisor wars and backing Microsoft’s Hyper-V play. Yet this looks on the surface like a basic shift to that direction. Yes, XenServer was placed into the OpenSource community and the latest improvements, such as the Open VSwitch integration and a new releases emphatically say that XenServer is alive and well and that its ecosystem is growing for that matter so is Hyper-V’s.

Java based applications can now be moved between not only a SpringSource TC-Server Java platform on VMware vSphere, but also between the same platform on VMForce, and now Google AppEngine. This level of support from VMware, Salesforce.com, and now Google is starting to make SpringSource look like the early leading technology for PaaS Clouds. This is a significant advance in the state of PaaS clouds as there were previously no examples that offered such broad support for one platform by such a diverse set of industry leaders. However as is always the case, platform advances have outstripped security, management and performance assurance capabilities.

CA Technologies (CAT) has announced three new virtualization management and performance offerings. This is the first example of a “big 4″ enterprise systems management vendor getting serious about providing virtualization and cloud focused solutions. This will be very reasuring for CAT customers and may will accelerate stalled virtualization projects.

Virtualizing Tier 1 business critical applications is a challenge for many enterprises due to the resistance to the concept on the part of applications owners and their constituents. Service Assurance for these applications is required in order for their owners and their users to go along with virtualization. Service Assurance requires the integration of Applications Performance Management, Configuration Management and a new category of solutions like VMTurbo to dynamically allocate resources based upon their highest and best use.

Just like a Telco, the ‘last mile’ of Virtualization is often the most difficult, I would say even more difficult than the initial phase of virtualization. What do I mean by the ‘last mile’?

The 5-10% of systems that you have LEFT to virtualize.

These systems are your most highly used, too X to virtualize, the most complex to migrate, dependent upon specific hardware, or travel around the world (such as laptops and other hand held devices). These issues are also highly political as well.