Many IT and business leaders complain that they aren’t able to progress beyond rudimentary virtualization deployments. While there are many specific challenges unique to each IT environment, there are also two main categories of challenges; scaling up with limited IT staff and resources, and managing increasing complexity. If enterprises want to tap into the benefits of the private cloud, it’s essential to address the issues of VM provisioning, monitoring and automation. This article will briefly introduce the challenges of virtualization.
Complexity of Virtualization
“Virtualization lowers the amount of hardware required and reduces power consumption to some extent. But it also raises management complexity, since there is no longer a permanent and exclusive relationship between physical resources and the software that runs on it. As virtualization and cloud computing battle for attention, IT organizations are realizing the value of embracing more mature processes that enable IT and business to work together.”
F5, a virtualization service provider, has identified the following stresses that commonly plague virtual machine infrastructures:
- Depleted resources, which result in diminished performance and availability.
- Lack of application awareness; OS virtualization doesn’t virtualize the application.
- Additional unexpected costs which cause the virtual solution to cost more than the physical problem.
- Unused virtualization features due to the network limiting implementation.
- Overrun storage network because growth exceeded planning.
- Congested storage network.
- Management complexity due to management tools that don’t work together.
Although virtualization reduces the number of physical servers to manage and maintain, it ends up increasing the number of server instances, which means a drain on administrative time and systems to manage server operating systems, applications and data.
Virtualization initiatives that remain small and focused on simplistic workloads allow operations teams easy management. However, as volume of virtual servers and criticality of applications increases, this may cause major disruption and create a unique set of challenges.
Deploying IT services in a virtual environment requires team coordination and collaboration over a wide variety of tasks, including business operations, security, storage, network, server and applications. It’s important to note here that the legacy management, automation, processes, technology and approaches are not enough for this environment. This means that redirecting more IT human resources is not going to be a workable solution. Rather, companies need to establish management, automation and reporting that can standardize the virtual environment and facilitate IT teams in managing the new infrastructure in an effective, productive manner.
Several major challenges in virtualization are caused by not enough real-time information. Such challenges include ensuring high availability, fulfilling service requests, capacity management, controlling virtual sprawl, isolating performance and configuration problems, managing across multiple data centers and increase infrastructure complexity. All these issues can be more efficiently addressed should the right people have the right information at the right time.
Real-time information enables IT staff to identify obstacles and process changes before small issues become large problems. However, reporting and monitoring do not actually automate or proactively control the environment. A pragmatic approach to virtualization would integrate both virtual machine management as well as automation.
In a study conducted by Forrester research firm, the challenges posed by virtualization have been shifting over the last few years. A few years ago, the resolution of performance issues in production was a major cause for concern. Currently, the most challenging issue is the initial sizing and placement of virtual containers.
The study summarized the challenges to virtualization as the following:
- The server size needed to support the virtual containers is difficult to evaluate (56%)
- Performance problems are more difficult to resolve in a virtual environment (47%)
- The performance and workload of application virtualization candidates is difficult to assess (46%)
- Enterprises faced major performance issues at peak time because of resource contention between the containers (35%)
The study noted that,
“The major challenge for an IT organization is to effectively manage this [virtualization] complexity. As an immense amount of data is collected form monitoring infrastructures and applications, it has now reached a point where it is beyond the correlating capabilities of human beings.”
This article takes a look at virtualization and the challenges that surround it. Although virtualization offers enterprises a wide range of benefits and conveniences, it also comes with unique challenges, which should be addressed by with a pragmatic approach. This article takes a look at the common issues and challenges that plague the implementation and development of virtualization in an enterprise environment.
CCSK Exam Preparation
In preparation for the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK), a security professional should be comfortable with topics related to this post, including:
- Virtual machine security features (Domain 13)