Virtualisation has on balance wrought a positive change on the bottom line, but has been a disruptive force in the datacentre.
Along with the benefits such as reducing capex, improving application availability and greater visibility through centralised management, virtualisation has also brought unforeseen complexities, security problems, latency bottlenecks and a raft of virtual machine (VM) management issues.
While hypervisor-based server and desktop infrastructure continues to be adopted en masse, supporting-platform ability has varied. IT departments are fighting harder than ever to deliver scalability and save money – often while trying to integrate infrastructure not specifically designed to work with virtualisation.
This can prove to be a real nightmare.
BYOD and virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI) simplify desktop management and centralise security and data protection. Keeping the end user happy requires on-demand access with low latency. Mission-specific, ultrafast connectivity and storage systems with SSD technology are needed.
Datacentre architects are looking for ways to implement infrastructure that delivers on the promises of cloud and the software-defined datacentre: a datacentre built with dynamic, efficient resource pools that support transient application workloads.
The ideal implementation is incredibly fluid and dynamic in nature – but too many are still trying to use physical data storage which is inherently inflexible. RAID configuration and the logical unit number (LUN) or volume management restrict VM agility.
Datacentres have to plan for up to 25 times the present levels of I/O demand. The only solution has to be further network and I/O virtualisation to ensure the integrity of the cloud model – seamless connectivity to any network or storage device, remote management and rapid provisioning.
Xsigo, which was recently acquired by Oracle, and Brocade VDX can provide a converged platform for all I/O, which ensures flexible networking and storage connectivity for the virtualised environment.
Green virtualisation aspirations
While virtualisation addressed server sprawl and made the compute side of a datacentre more efficient, in the process it created, effectively, storage sprawl. The additional rack space, power, cooling and other datacentre support infrastructure consumed has environmental and fiscal consequences and is a headache for the financial director, for whom greener IT may be a key responsibility.
The increasingly virtualised datacentre needs a purpose-built, holistic offering that can support a large number of VMs without wasting capacity or requiring constant management.
What is needed is a storage system that understands the I/O patterns of a virtual environment and automatically manages quality of service (QoS) for each VM, not LUN or volume.
Some VM-aware storage platforms deliver flash performance with intuitive management specifically for VMs. VM-aware storage allows businesses to take advantage of the benefits of virtualisation as it manages data with little interaction required from the IT manager.
Providing a robust and certified converged infrastructure is key to consolidating existing physical services; a virtualisation strategy should consider how to effectively pool resources from multiple vendors. Performance management tools, such as Embotics, are able to analyse information across all IT siloes.
We are aiming to continually evolve a best-in-class portfolio of products and services that can empower the channel to deliver on the promise that virtualisation brings, offering not just better support for virtualisation but deep, end-to-end datacentre transformation.
That is, really, the focal point for all these trends. Faster storage and networks are always welcome, but without the necessary insight into the changing nature of the increasingly virtual workload, it is not possible to harness the benefits or reap the operational efficiencies of which they are capable.
David Galton-Fenzi is chief executive officer of Zycko Group
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