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Does Virtualization Introduce New Configuration Management Challenges?


Does Virtualization Introduce New Configuration Management Challenges?

According to nearly 75% of IT professionals recently surveyed the answer is a resounding "Yes".

The global survey carried out by Evolven during a recent event conducted with Forrester Research reflects the concern by IT Infrastructure and Operations management with their ability to maintain stability and high performance levels for virtualized data centers. 

The surveyed audience included CIOs, IT Directors, Configuration Managers, Release Managers, System Operations Architects, and Change Managers from many Global 2000 organizations.

Definitive Survey Results

The attendees responded to the question: To what degree do you think virtualization introduces new management challenges?  

The participants could choose from the following response options with the results being:

  • 13% Extremely high, this is a totally new ball game, management wise 
  • 60% High, it requires adapting management practices and tools 
  • 8% Not sure, we are mostly physical 
  • 15% Low,  mostly the same, but there are some new aspects to focus on 
  • 4% Very low,  managing a virtual environment doesn't differ much from a physical one  

Managing a  Data Center of Constantly Moving Parts 

Evolven's CEO Sasha Gilenson commented on the results saying, "These reactions show that the implementation of virtualization in today's production environments demands more support for dynamically changing environment architectures and configurations, this will require automated configuration management processes that focus on control components."

Today's Complex and Dynamic Environments

From the initial implementation of a first virtual machine (VM) host, status quo policies and procedures for IT infrastructure are significantly impacted. This survey underscores the concerns of  IT professionals and illustrates how big the need is for addressing configuration management processes and technology for virtualized infrastructure.

With virtualization, data centers consolidate their hardware investments, and use their server hardware more efficiently, expanding application usage through virtual servers. The reduction of the number of physical servers, alone, brings benefits such as reduced floor space, power consumption and air conditioning costs. Virtualization contributes to lowering the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by increasing the efficiency of server resources and operational changes, as well as virtualization-specific features.

Need for Rigorous Controls in Virtualized Data Center 

The advantages of virtualization can be canceled out when the data center does not have an effective management strategy for the many configurations spawned in virtualization. This complexity can impact performance, lead to downtime and costly outages. Unauthorized, undocumented and untested changes to consolidated virtual servers can lead to unplanned impact event causing outages to many parts of the business that can't be fixed with a simple rollback. 

The speed of change facilitated by virtualization requires measurable and enforceable policies for change management and configuration management. With less than five minutes required to provision, configure or relocate a new virtual server, the window of opportunity for detecting a misconfiguration  is short.

So to prevent costly unscheduled outages, the virtual infrastructure requires tools with even more rigorous controls and robust configuration management capabilities., to retain the benefits and cost savings of virtualization.

Redefining Configuration Management for Virtualization: Take on Risk and Lowered Productivity in the Modern Data Center 

As enterprises expand their use of virtualization technologies, ensuring environment configuration stability and control becomes an even greater challenge. IT Operations are unable to validate the integrity of heterogeneous environments, with the limited visibility into image content, environment issues go unnoticed, hindering incident resolution. With sprawl, the possibility of devastating mistakes grows exponentially, and the lack of a business system perspective further magnifies the configuration challenges.

Evolven has redefined configuration management for the virtualized modern data center. Evolven's groundbreaking Configuration Analytics solution takes on the dynamics and complexity of the modern data center and cloud, in a way that was never available before. 

IT Operations and Infrastructure teams use Evolven to: 

  • Validate changes, application deployment and software deployment to prevent downtime 
  • Monitor and detect configuration drift to prevent incidents 
  • Investigate and carry out incident management to identify root-cause and cut mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR) 
  • Audit any changes made to improve processes and meet compliance requirements
Our customers, on average, report a 42% reduction in cost of downtime, 50% cut in mean-time-to-resolution, and a 35% drop in the number of incidents.


About the Author
Martin Perlin