Hyperconvergence for ROBOs and the Datacenter — Virtualization Review

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

Convergence is a happy word to a lot of busy IT folks working long hours still standing up large complex stacks of infrastructure (despite having virtualized their legacy server sprawl), much less trying to deploy and manage mini-data centers out in tens, hundreds, or even thousands of remote or branch offices (ROBOs).

Most virtualized IT shops need to run lean and mean, and many find it challenging to integrate and operate all the real equipment that goes into the main datacenter: hypervisors, compute clusters, SANs, storage arrays, IP networks, load balancers, WAN optimizers, cloud gateways, backup devices and more. From a logical perspective, when you multiply the number of heterogeneous components by a number of remote locations, the “scale” of IT to manage climbs very fast. If you factor together the number of possible locations and interactions, the challenges of managing at scale can grow non-linearly (i.e., exponentially).

…(read the complete as-published article there)

Five VM-Level Infrastructure Adaptations — Virtualization Review

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

Infrastructure is evolving for the better, making the job of the admin easier in the long run. Here are five ways it’s evolving to work at the VM level.

article_adaptations-of-the-infrastructureIt used to be that IT struggled to intimately understand every app in order to provide the right supporting infrastructure. Today, server virtualization makes the job much easier, because IT can now just cater to VMs. By working and communicating at the VM level, both app owners and infrastructure admins stay focused, using a common API to help ensure apps are hosted effectively and IT runs efficiently.

But the virtual admin still has to translate what each VM requires, going beyond direct-server resources into the specialized domains of other IT infrastructure silos. While silos have traditionally pooled rare expertise to optimize expensive resources, in today’s virtualized world, silos seem to offer more friction than leverage. Here are five ways infrastructure is evolving to work at the VM level.

  1. TAKE 1
    VM-Centric Storage.

…(read the complete as-published article there)

The Internet of Things and Beyond: 5 Things We’ll Be Tracking for a Better Tomorrow

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

What the Internet of Things offers is this huge opportunity to build intelligent applications that can actively optimize and direct just about any system that is dynamically programmable. Here are the five types of things that are soon likely to be “sensorized” in your IT shop.

With the incredible rise in the number of mobile devices we can also see the advent of the Internet Of Things. Every device, mobile or otherwise, that has some ability to generate an interesting stream of data is getting “sensorized” and connected. The resulting streams of big data provide a wild new frontier for intelligence mining. We at Taneja Group see this trend opening up huge opportunities to build intelligent applications that can actively optimize and direct just about any system that is dynamically programmable.

Creating intelligent feedback and control loops has always been an engineering goal, whether it’s controlling home automation, a fleet of airplane engines, or your next IT “software-defined” data center. It all starts with getting all the devices that have a story to tell to stream back their location, connectivity, performance, capacity, health, usage, errors, and configurations dynamically. Now, some food for thought: Here are the five types of things that are soon likely to be “sensorized” in your IT shop.

  • TAKE 1 – User computing devices
    Laptops, tablets, and smart phones already generate large streams of interesting data, but printers, monitors, desktops, spare batteries, and even peripherals (e.g. do know where all your USB sticks are right now?) could get detailed sensors. Maybe even the break room coffee machine.
  • TAKE 2 – Each infrastructure box or “appliance”
    We get reams of data from the logical “application” side of systems today, but knowing where the physical boxes are racked or stacked, how each is experiencing temperature, getting jostled or vibrated, and using power will all get correlated with how each is delivering on its performance, capacity, and resiliency service requirements.
  • TAKE 3 – Cards, modules, and components

…(read the complete as-published article there)

5 Ways Storage Is Evolving

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

Be sure to take advantage of these storage industry trends.

article_5-ways-storage-is-evolvingWith its acquisition of Virsto, VMware certainly understands storage as usual doesn’t cut it when it comes to dense, high-powered virtual environments. This technology addresses the so-called “I/O blender” effect that comes from mixing the I/O from many VMs into one stream on its way to external shared storage. It does this by journaling what looks like highly random I/O to flash. Then asynchronously sorts it out to a hard disk. This is more optimization, though, than game-changing storage strategy.

Here are five broad trends in the storage industry that you can take advantage of today.

  • TAKE 1 Flash
    Flash has certainly changed the storage game. There are many ways it’s applied — at the server (such as PCIe cards from Fusion-IO, EMC XtremIO), in the network (such as Astute), or in the array (such as pure flash and hybrid storage from just about everybody). To make the most of your flash investment, keep an eye on factors like where high performance will have the best impact on the applications for which it’s best suited.
  • TAKE 2 Hyperconvergence
    We’ve all seen pre-packaged “converged” racks of servers, storage, networking, and hypervisor platforms from vendors such as VCE, Dell, and HP. These can be great deals if you want a single source and low risk when building a virtual environment. However, the storage isn’t necessarily different than what you’d get if you built it yourself. In some ways, running a virtual storage appliance is a type of convergence that architecturally shifts the burden of hosting storage directly onto your hypervisors. Taking things a step further are hyperconvergence vendors like Simplivity, Nutanix and Scale Computing. These collapse compute, storage and hypervisor into modular building blocks that make scaling out a datacenter as easy as stacking Legos. Purpose-built storage services are tightly integrated and support optimized and highly cost-efficient VM operations.
  • TAKE 3 VM Centricity

…(read the complete as-published article there)

How Delicate is Your Virtual Egg Basket?

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

Server virtualization has taken us to places we’ve never been before, but there is some truth to that old adage about having seen it all before.

article_secure-cloudSome have said there is nothing new under the sun, that it all comes around in circles. We think server virtualization has taken us to places we’ve never been before, but there is some truth to that old adage about having seen it all before. As has happened in many previous technology adoption cycles, first we struggle with assuring sufficient “correctness” and availability, then we work hard to guarantee performance, and as a third act, we have to eventually harden the solution to both internal and external threats.

With virtualization, this cycle is perhaps more acute in that the whole point is to aggregate many clients and users into one cost-efficient shared resource pool. And the corresponding infrastructure convergence of formerly disparate IT silos concentrates the number of subject matter experts and admins while expanding the end-to-end scope and control of this talented remainder.

Security Is the Third Stage

Security should never be an afterthought, but in our rush to get out ahead of the competition — or even just survive economically to play another day — we stand something up as quick as we can just to see if it can be done. Then as we come to rely on it for day-to-day operations, we discover that it matters when it falls over or performs badly.

Enter big systems management corrections with add-on monitoring, automation, and optimization solutions. But security concerns may still seem a vague threat and an acceptable risk until we start really leveraging the new technology for our mission-critical applications — the most vulnerable “eggs” in our portfolio.

Many organizations have reached that third stage in virtualization whether they know it or not.

…(read the complete as-published article there)

Don’t Miss These VMworld 2013 Sessions

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

With 358 sessions, time is money. Here are five sessions where your time will be well spent.

article_dont-miss-these-vmworld-2013-sessionsTAKE 1 Directions in VMware EUC & the Multi-Device, Virtual Workspace (EUC4544)

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and related end-user computing capabilities are most definitely not dead. In fact, I think the technologies are finally starting to support practical and cost-effective implementations for every size business. VMware Horizon and Mirage likely have some hot things going, and it’s always interesting to see how PCoIP has evolved.

TAKE 2 Designing Your Next-Generation Datacenter for Network Virtualization (NET5184)

Can you spell VXLAN? If you come away from VMworld 2013 with a good understanding of software-defined networking (SDN) and network virtualization, you could be the geek hero of your IT shop.

…(read the complete as-published article there)

Converged Infrastructure, or ‘Where Did All the Silos Go?’

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

Quite a few companies are mashing up server, storage, networking and even the hypervisor into turnkey solutions that can scale up or down as data center needs dictate.

article_converged-infrastructureOnce upon a time as IT shops grew and matured, infrastructure subgroups would form to focus on complex domain-specific technologies. Servers, storage and networking all required deep subject matter expertise and a single-minded focus to keep up with the varying intricacies of implementation, operations and management. In large enterprises, fully staffed silos working in concert could leverage mountains of technology to great effect. But inevitably, turf battles, budget tightening and the fact that smaller organizations might not reach critical mass can make the silo approach costly and inefficient.

Virtualization solutions at first helped the silo model by abstracting the user of idealized IT from its physical implementation. Increasingly independent silos of underlying infrastructure could then be designed and managed very differently, and hopefully optimally, from what the end client sees. And in fact, virtualization became its own new IT domain, adding yet another layer of IT silo complexity.

But here at Taneja Group, we’ve noted several trends that are coming together to break down the traditional IT silo model. The virtual admin originally in charge of the hypervisor and server cluster is now on the verge of subsuming storage and networking too. New generations of “software defined” and cloud-provisionable technologies enable virtual admins to dynamically allocate increasingly enterprise-class resources to clients. And on the infrastructure side, converged infrastructure solutions make the physical implementation as simple as snapping Lego-like building blocks together.

For a while there have been bundled solutions that pre-package infrastructure into nice racks. Buying IT in pallets can be attractive in many growth or transformation scenarios, but at the end of the day they are still composed of racks of traditional enterprise infrastructure. In most cases, these solutions are adopted by customers that probably have the silo expertise to build their own, but are looking for a cost-effective shortcut.

What we are really excited about are the new “hyper-converged” infrastructure solutions that are designed from the ground up as scale-out units of IT. Server, storage, networking, and even the hypervisor may have been integrated as a single racked unit. Deployment and growth are simply handled by racking and stacking more identical (or similar as needed) units. They plug together and re-pool storage, cluster the servers and share key resources like flash. IT no longer needs deep silo staffing to deploy and operate enterprise quality solutions.

…(read the complete as-published article there)

Is Virtualization Stalled On Performance?

An IT industry analyst article published by Virtualization Review.

Virtualization and cloud architectures are driving great efficiency and agility gains across wide swaths of the data center, but they can also make it harder to deliver consistent performance to critical applications. Let’s look at some solutions.

article_virtualization-stalled-performanceOne of the hardest challenges for an IT provider today is to guarantee a specific level of “response-time” performance to applications. Performance is absolutely mission-critical for many business applications, which has often led to expensively over-provisioned and dedicated infrastructures. Unfortunately broad technology evolutions like virtualization and cloud architectures that are driving great efficiency and agility gains across wide swaths of the data center can actually make it harder to deliver consistent performance to critical applications.

For example, solutions like VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V have been a godsend to overflowing data centers full of under-utilized servers by enabling such high levels of consolidation that it has saved companies, empowered new paradigms (i.e. cloud), and positively impacted our environment. Yet large virtualization projects tend to stall when it comes time to host performance-sensitive applications. Currently, the dynamic infrastructures of these x86 server virtualization technologies don’t provide a simple way for applications to allocate a “real performance level” in the same manner as they easily allocate a given capacity of virtual resource (e.g. CPU, disk space). In addition, virtualization solutions can introduce extra challenges by hiding resource contention, sharing resources dynamically, and optimizing for greatest utilization.

The good news is that additional performance management can help IT virtualize applications that require guaranteed performance, identify when performance gets out of whack, and rapidly uncover where contention and bottlenecks might be hiding

…(read the complete as-published article there)