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Virtualization: What You Don't Know Can Really Hurt You

When it comes to managing IT infrastructure, ignorance is never bliss. Proven true time and time again in physical environments, the introduction of virtualization technology has compounded that reality many times over.

As a result, what today's IT organizations don't know can cause both them and their business colleagues a great deal of pain. Negative impacts to revenue, customer satisfaction, and brand reputation are just a few of the potential consequences of inadequate virtualization management. A strong, unified IT management strategy is imperative for the rapidly increasing number of customers seeking to optimize the extraordinary advantages that virtualization offers.

Escalating customer enthusiasm for virtualization's many significant advantages mandates a broad-based answer to these obstacles. Today, BMC Software announced nine new, fully integrated solutions designed to help customers plan, control, automate and fully manage their physical and virtual IT infrastructures in a unified, integrated way, substantially reducing the risks and operational costs associated with virtualization. The new solutions are grounded in a BMC-invented, highly automated set of Closed-Loop Change and Configuration Management (CLCCM) process workflows that significantly reduce the latency, cost and risk associated with change management.
 
In June 2008, Gartner analyst David Coyle put his finger directly on several root problems that BMC's solutions are designed to solve. During his presentation at the firm's highly regarded Infrastructure Operations and Management Summit, Coyle referenced a virtualization management survey of CIOs and other IT operations leaders, wherein the audience reported that the biggest impediments to performing effective management of their virtualized server environments were, in order of priority:
 
-- Lack of knowledge and understanding of the dependences and relationships between virtual and physical resources;
-- Absence of management tools with analytic capabilities; and
-- Inadequate change management and auditing
 
In addition, more than 40 percent of customers surveyed by Gartner reported that they have not yet established formalized processes to understand what actions require a change request or require change tracking in a virtual environment.
 
Most importantly, however, the results of the Gartner poll showed that no single issue dominated effective problem isolation. Instead, several impediments often converged to impact performance in virtual server environments. All of these obstacles were related to knowledge and understanding of what was happening at any given time within the virtualized environment, as well as the ability to control and manage that infrastructure. Gartner found that the IT service and support organization can derive greater value if the data and processes for the physical and virtual environments are integrated together.
 
Customers clearly agree, with many ruling out any vendor attempts to manage virtualized machines separately from physical ones on the ground that it only makes the management challenges worse. To be effective, the various solutions have to be part of a unified management architecture.
 
"Many IT organizations approach configuration management in their server infrastructure in a piecemeal fashion," said Cameron Haight, research vice president at Gartner. "With the advent of virtual server technology, new complexities can undo even modest past configuration management progress. IT organizations should begin to act with a new urgency to not only ensure that they have a comprehensive plan to address physical server configuration management needs, but to also incorporate virtualization's new configuration-related dynamics as part of their overall configuration management blueprint."
 
Customers also are experiencing the "law of unintended consequences" as they implement virtualization without addressing other considerations within the enterprise. Billed as a way to significantly reduce capital IT expenses, virtualization produces a level of operational complexity that can send operational expenses into high orbit. Customers who do not complement virtual infrastructure with a proper management strategy can face challenges such as virtual machine sprawl, reduced IT infrastructure performance, inconsistent IT asset management, and compromised change control compliance. Deploying BMC solutions allow customers to avoid expensive, long-term professional services engagements that often increase internal complexity and costs by creating new processes, promoting new technology acquisition, and increasing management silos.
 
"The benefits of virtualization are already providing significant reductions in capital expenses for many enterprises, but most customers are still managing their physical and virtual environments separately," said Jim Grant, senior vice president and general manager of BMC's Enterprise Service Management business unit. "These competing, duplicative management strategies significantly increase operating expenses, eroding virtualization's often considerable upside. Many customers don't recognize the enterprise-wide impact of virtualization, and that changes must be made across their IT infrastructure in order to reap its benefits. Delivering unified management of both physical and virtual environments, BMC has worked closely with partners and customers to better assess how our technologies can help drive down these costs without adding new complications to the infrastructure. It's a simple equation: efficiency and ROI up, problems and costs down."
 
BMC today also announced full solution integration with long-time partners Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and VMware. See BMC's press release entitled BMC Software Launches Industry's Most Comprehensive Array of Virtualization Management Solutions for more details.
Published Tuesday, September 02, 2008 6:05 AM by David Marshall
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