What options exist for IT infrastructure management services?

An IT industry analyst article published by SearchITOperations.

What kinds of as-a-service IT management options are available? Are IT management services only coming from startups, or do established management software vendors have options?

Mike Matchett

Various companies offer IT infrastructure management services hosted and operated in a remote, multi-tenant cloud. This as-a-service model provides core IT management services to private, on-premises data centers, remote offices, rented infrastructure in colocation or other infrastructure as a service hosting, or some hybrid combination of these deployments.

As an early example, when Exablox launched, it targeted IT shops generally seeking to squeeze the most out of constrained storage budgets — organizations that would gladly give up the pain and cost of installing and operating on-premises storage management in favor of just using a cloud-hosted storage management service. This approach radically evolved call-home support based on daily data dumps into online operational IT management as a service.

At that time, some businesses were dismissive of the idea that IT infrastructure management services would not require operational software they could directly host in their own data centers. Some forward-thinking startups, such as VM management provider CloudPhysics and the deeper infrastructure-focused Galileo Performance Explorer, noted that large companies would consider remote performance management tooling, as it’s based on machine data and log files with little risk of exposing corporate secrets. And performance management activities don’t sit in the direct operational workflow.…(read the complete as-published article there)

IT management as a service is coming to a data center near you

An IT industry analyst article published by SearchITOperations.

IT management as a service uses big data analytics and vendors’ expertise to ease the IT administration and optimization process. IT orgs must trust the flow of log and related data into an offsite, multi-tenant cloud.

Mike Matchett

IT management as a service finally breaks through. Where does it go from here?

Perhaps the über IT trend isn’t about hailing a ride from within the data center, but adopting and migrating to newer generations of tools that ease the cost and pain of managing infrastructure.

It’s not efficient for each IT shop to individually develop and maintain siloed expertise in managing every vendor-specific component. The physical — and financial — limits of IT shops are by and large why cloud service providers continue to gain ground.

Today, there is an inexorable transition toward commoditized physical equipment with differentiating software-defined capabilities floated in on top. Using commodity hardware offers direct CapEx benefits. However, by taking advantage of software resources — and virtualization — to pre-integrate multiple infrastructure layers, converged and hyper-converged platforms also eliminate significant IT time and labor required by traditional, siloed architectures. In freeing up IT, the converged and hyper-converged options also improve overall agility and help IT groups transition from equipment caretakers to business enhancers.

In a similar bid to lower management OpEx pain, IT operations and management solutions are slowly and inexorably increasing inherent automation. Policy-based approaches help an IT organization address scale and focus on building the right services for their users instead of remaining stuck in low-level, tedious and often reactive “per-thing” configuration and management. And much of the appeal of cloud computing is based on offloading IT by offering end-user self-service capabilities.

But even in running a hyper-converged or hybrid cloud data center, there are still plenty of IT hours spent thanklessly on internally facing operations and management tasks. Operating a cloud, a cluster, a hybrid operation — even just maintaining the actual management tools that run the operations and automation — can still be a huge chore. Similar to how many businesses now use the cloud as a source of easy, catalog-driven, self-service, elastic, utility-priced application computing, IT is starting to look to the cloud for IT management as a service.

The broadening acceptance of public cloud services is inverting the traditional IT management paradigm, moving management services into the cloud while preserving on-premises — or hybrid — computing and infrastructure. This has been a long, slow battle due to ingrained IT tradition, security fears and worries about losing control; there’s a reluctance to let go of the private management stack. But the drive to make IT more efficient and productive is now taking priority.

We are seeing the inevitable acceptance and widespread adoption of remote, cloud-hosted IT management services, from remote performance management to hybrid cloud provisioning and brokering and even on-premises “cluster” operations. These services can be referred to collectively as IT management as a service, or IT MaaS…(read the complete as-published article there)

Siloing stifles data center growth

An IT industry analyst article published by SearchDataCenter.

It’s time to knock down those silos, one by one. IT is transforming from a siloed set of reactive cost centers into a service provider with a focus on helping the business compete.

In the old days of IT, admins built clear silos of domain expertise; IT infrastructure was complicated. Server admins monitored compute hosts, storage admins wrangled disks and network people untangled wires. Implementing parallel domains seemed like the best way to optimize IT. The theory was that you could run IT as efficiently as possible, allowing experts to learn specialized skills, deploy domain-specific hardware and manage complex resources.

Except that dealing with multiple IT domains was never optimal for anyone in the data center. When IT is organized into silos, anytime there is problem — troubleshooting application performance, competing for rack space, or allocating a limited budget — the resulting bickering, finger-pointing and political posturing wastes valuable time and money. And heterogeneous infrastructure is not very interoperable, despite standardized protocols and thorough vendor validation testing.

Navigating a byzantine organization just to try out new things can stifle business creativity and innovation, but things are beginning to change. There is a massive shift in IT organization and staffing…

…(read the complete as-published article there)

Managing It All By Reflex – Virtualization Performance, Configuration, AND Security

(Excerpt from original post on the Taneja Group News Blog)

We all want to virtualize deeper into our application portfolios, but those darn mission-critical applications are tough to break loose from their rock-solid physical infrastructure. One big problem is that we have long-established, mature and trusted IT management in the physical realm that’s hard to simply replicate in the virtual world. Who knew that being so good at something would become such a problem?

As we journey down the virtualization management maturity path, it seems the common approach is to just continue layering on increments of management capability. It’s as if the virtual server farm beast is alive and growing organically. There are at least two things with many-layered beasts that we have a right to be suspicious about – increasing complexity and spiraling management cost.  

Reflex Systems is claiming that they have a better way with their fully integrated virtualization management approach. It may be an uphill battle to convince skeptics that they can sit in the middle of all management and replace a raft of proven best-of-breed solutions, but Reflex does have a refreshing architecture intentionally designed from the ground up to support integrated management. Their single “platform” solution is designed to support the total management lifecycle of performance monitoring, capacity planning, provisioning and configuration management, and policy-based security all extensible with open API’s both in and out.   

A question I often hear from IT virtualizers is “what is a private cloud compared to what I’m already doing, really?”  I think Reflex provides a big clue here in their integration and implicit optimization across multiple IT management disciplines.

…(read the full post)