Organizations are virtualizing more mission-critical applications and using more tools to manage their infrastructures.
That’s according to the results of Gabriel Consulting Group (GCG)’s 2010 x86 Server Vendor Preference survey, which came out this week. In the past, many administrators have been wary of virtualizing mission-critical applications, but that’s changing. In the survey, more than 60% of enterprise customers said more than half of their x86 workloads are mission-critical. That means people are starting to trust their mission-critical workloads on virtual servers, said Dan Olds, principal analyst at GCG.
“It ups the ante,” he said.
Admins are seeing the expected benefits of server virtualization — cost savings and improved hardware utilization — but only about half of respondents said their virtualized systems were easier to manage than their physical systems. Systems management remains a major virtualization hurdle, because people aren’t taking full advantage of the tools at their disposal and/or management suites aren’t doing their job, Olds said. GCG’s report highlights the inability to control VM sprawl as one major management headache.
Management is especially difficult for SMBs, because they tend to use numerous different management tools instead of one suite, Olds said.
“They need to be able to manage everything from a single pane of glass,” he said.
Vendors are slowly introducing management suites for smaller organizations, but the key for these products is not to “dumb them down,” Olds said. Instead, vendors should offer enterprise capabilities, but at a lower price that SMBs can afford, he added.
Combining tools from different vendors means more competition, leading to better products. But it’s also the reason management can be so difficult. If you have some VMware, a bit of Hyper-V and a dash of Xen all in one shop, you need different tools to manage each.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if you had a common set of tools with which you could manage VMware, Hyper-V, etc.?” said Olds. Indeed it would, but that could be a far-off reality.
Not saving money?
Lastly, only two out of three respondents said server virtualization saved them money. But if one third of customers aren’t saving money with virtualization, then why do it? Isn’t that the whole point of virtualization? Olds said many shops don’t do a full cost analysis, which means they might be saving money without even knowing it. It’s also possible that admins assume they’ll get more ROI further down the road, even if they don’t right away.