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Dell Predictions: 2013 - The Year of Hardware and Management Software "Convergence"

VMblog Predictions

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013.  Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed article by Alex Rosemblat, Product Marketing Manager for Virtualization Management at Dell

2013: The Year of Hardware and Management Software "Convergence"

An oft repeated theme at the beginning of many virtualization presentations is how the abstraction of hardware has led to the "breaking down of silos" in the IT organization. Virtualization in effect, mixes together server, storage and networking resources to achieve increased efficiency and provide an application that needs 1 CPU and 3 GB of Memory with that exact prescription. However, due to unforeseen changes, misconfiguration or mismatches between the hardware provided and an application's requirements, the underlying resources that are provided to a virtual machine do not always match the VM's needs. These inefficiencies cut down on performance, and as a result, require data centers to spend more on certain hardware components to ensure that no weak links will slow down their VMs.  At the same time, virtualization has added additional "virtual" infrastructure layers to the application delivery path, likewise resulting in additional failure points that can impact performance if not monitored.  Converged infrastructure has been seen as a remedy for efficiency and performance for many years. Previous solutions have been viewed as too expensive or too niche. As more organizations continue to grow their virtualized infrastructure in breadth and scope, the increasingly tailored needs for specialized projects such as a VDI or cloud implementation - as well as the desire for top performance - will make 2013 the year of data center "convergence" for systems management and hardware.

Hardware Convergence - Creating a "data center in a box"

With the combined efforts from established hardware vendors, such as Dell, and a whole slew of start-ups funded by big-name venture capitalists, IT departments will begin to invest more readily in converged infrastructure (CI) hardware solutions. These will take on two flavors on the opposite end of the pricing spectrum. On one extreme, high performance applications will appear on high-end CI platforms. On the other, small companies and individual departments of larger companies will consider buying a "data center in a box" to be more cost-effective than a best of breed hardware strategy. This move to CI will also be supported by the recognition that "reinventing the wheel" through manual hardware selection for each kind of IT project is time-consuming and can be unnecessarily expensive and worse, doesn't always yield the right results. With a large number of converged infrastructure solutions making it into the market as tailored "recipes" for certain kinds of projects, it'll be cheaper, faster and easier to go with a CI platform in many cases.

Management Software Convergence - Unified Monitoring

Virtual objects such as VMs and datastores have become links in the chain from the application to the actual hardware, causing the number of nodes that can fail to increase drastically. These interconnections require monitoring systems to evaluate all infrastructure areas simultaneously and correlate issues together to identify where exactly a problem is occurring and why. Yet, most existing management systems are niche, best-of-breed solutions that cover only a single infrastructure area such as network or storage. In the increasingly virtualized data center, having a multitude of non-integrated systems to monitor each hardware or software area in isolation will simply not work. For example, an issue in storage may be caused by increased usage in memory that leads to swapping with the SAN. A storage engineer will only see the increased disk utilization, but will be unable to identify where the issue is coming from, and equally powerless to fix it.

Management software in a virtualized data center will have to gain visibility into all infrastructure areas, both virtual and physical, and correlate the performance of each infrastructure area with the actual performance of an application. The real competitive advantage for such a product will derive from the ability to communicate what the issues are, and how to fix them in a digestible fashion for the specific audience that is noting that there is a problem. For example, a DBA whose slow database performance is being caused by a storage issue will not understand what the exact problem is within the storage array. However, arming this person with the knowledge that the issue is originating in storage, and providing high level information to relay to the storage engineer, who can then find the storage-level issue detail will be a catalyst to solve issues across disciplines. Developing this clarity will require extensive domain knowledge, and a great deal of usability design as virtualization projects become increasingly more complex, and mix previously siloed infrastructure even further.   

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About the Author

Alex Rosemblat is the Product Marketing Manager for Virtualization Management at Dell.  Alex joined Dell through the acquisition of VKernel, and has over eight years of experience with enterprise software and related technologies through IT consulting, product management and pre-sales engineering within Symantec and Epic Systems Corporation. He holds an undergraduate degree in Commerce, specializing in IT from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Published Monday, December 10, 2012 7:00 AM by David Marshall
Comments
VMblog.com - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 15, 2013 7:00 AM

First, I'd like to personally thank everyone for being a valued member and reader of VMblog! Once again, with the help of each of you, VMblog has been able to remain one of the oldest and most successful virtualization and cloud news sites on the Web

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