Apr 28


Less is not always more. We can agree that virtualization and server admins need less data to process and analyze. In a recent post, I mentioned some brilliant advances that are serving that end, including data compression technology, data crunching speeds and algorithm sophistication. We also agree that a virtualization management solution can and should minimize the need for root cause analysis. But the steps between a) the information about your virtual infrastructure and b) the data you must process and deal with to effectively manage the environment are important and varied.

Processing and storing the vast amounts of data about both the physical and virtual network and all areas of interoperability is hard—really hard. That’s why some vendors want to convince you it’s unnecessary. Their thought process goes something like this: You don’t really need all that data. It’s just for troubleshooting. Wouldn’t you rather have a solution that just solves your problems outright? And I have to admit, it sounds enticing, dare I say, too good to be true.

In truth, a virtualization management solution that strips out useful data required for effective problem-solving and performance management is doing you a disservice. That doesn’t mean the right solution leaves you overwhelmed underneath a mountain of data. Rather it’s what data you’re presented with—in the context of your unique challenges.

When a virtualization management tool skimps on data and analysis, you could end up wasting time, effort and money—in direct contrast to the promised benefits. Many of these tools base results on the most recent hour of data only—and probably can’t correlate that data with historical maximum resource usage. In consequence, the results and recommendations don’t tell the whole story about your virtual environment. You could end up moving resource workloads into some unnecessary places. And if the tool constantly makes recommendations from hour to hour, you’ll end up thrashing your virtual environment around for no real performance benefit. The most effective virtualization performance management solutions are aware of historical resource usage, and may go even further to place that usage into context. Following this example, the ideal solution remembers that a particular VM spikes every Tuesday at 2 p.m. without negative consequences, and shapes its recommendations accordingly. The knowledge is based on more comprehensive data collection, aggregation and analysis, but it means less work and wasted effort for you.

The problem isn’t too much data. The real problem is wrapping context around the data. We have devoted a lot of intellectual property to solving this challenge in order to put performance, capacity, right sizing, workload, configuration management, monitoring and security data into the proper perspective for our customers. It’s context, not simply less data, that enables more efficient and effective virtualization management.

Aaron Bawcom is the Chief Technology Officer for Reflex Systems, a provider of end-to-end virtualization management solutions based out of Atlanta, GA. Contact him at abawcom@reflexsystems.com.

written by Aaron Bawcom \\ tags: , , ,

Apr 10

Gartner 2012 TrendsRecently Gartner Group announced what they consider the top five server virtualization trends for 2012.   In the brief analysis which we are sharing below, they emphasize that while server virtualization is maturing it is still pretty dynamic and ever changing, so much so that it is actively impacting their own decisions and guidance to their clients.  As price and selection has become varied, it is important for Reflex to be diligent in providing the information and education our current and future customers need to make the best possible decisions on virtualization solutions for their environment.  We thought it was an informative and encouraging piece to share with our own followers, along with our thoughts on the 2012 trends that Gartner has identified:

1)     Competitive Choices Mature: VMware’s competition has greatly improved in the past few years, and price is becoming a big differentiator. Enterprises that have not yet started to virtualize (and they exist, but tend to be small) have real choices today.

We believe this growth in competition is great for customers and vendors. Not only are prices coming down, but customers now have more choice than ever, and are not beholden to VMware’s architecture or pricing model. We see customers making much more informed decisions, selecting solutions that deliver the breadth of functionality they need not just today, but for their future plans to grow and scale their infrastructure and develop private and hybrid cloud solutions at a reasonable price.

2)     Second Sourcing Grows: Existing VMware users may not be migrating away from VMware, but they’re concerned with costs and potential lock-in. A growing number of enterprises are pursuing a strategy of “second sourcing” – deploying a different virtualization technology in a separate part of the organization. Heterogeneous virtualization management is mostly aspirational, although there is interest.

We agree that many users are currently looking for additional solutions for virtualization technology and the lack of management is a current obstacle for these end users.  Specifically, management solutions from the individual hypervisor vendors can be problematic for the growth of second sourcing.  Cross-hypervisor management will become essential within the next 12-18 months as we see more diversification of basic virtualization technology. The integrated management platform strategy vs. a multi-point solution strategy becomes key when expanding consistent management capabilities across multiple hypervisors like VMware, Red Hat KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V, etc. to enable holistic management of the virtual and cloud infrastructure. We believe that the management layer will be the great equalizer as this market progresses.  Red Hat and Microsoft are beginning to embrace the ecosystem in a way that makes holistic management a real possibility.  We expect to be able to provide significant parity for VMware, Red Hat, and Microsoft as we enter 2013.  These advancements in the management market will help accelerate the adoption of other hypervisors and bring true flexibility to the market place because the management technology will provide the features that may be lacking in some of the hypervisors.

3)     Pricing Models in Flux: From expensive hypervisors to free hypervisors to core-based pricing and now memory-based entitlements – virtualization pricing has always been in flux, and trends toward private and hybrid cloud will ensure that virtualization pricing will continue to morph and challenge existing enterprise IT funding models.

We believe this is also a positive for customers, who now have alternatives to VMware’s pricing.  Customers do not like to be negatively impacted by a pricing model that penalizes customers for gaining the efficiency and benefits from virtualization.  Customers will be very mindful of pricing scenarios and choice of vendor as more continue to build out private and hybrid clouds.  These pricing practices serve to artificially stunt the growth of virtualization as customers pause to understand the financial impact.  As the management technologies become a larger portion of the budget allocation for virtualization, it is very important to make sure that the pricing model allows the customer to achieve the scale in the infrastructure as well as benefit from its efficiency and agility.  Consumption based pricing models are difficult for most enterprises to plan and execute today.  This may change over time, but the key is to find a way to allow the customer to grow its usage of the solution as it grows value in their enterprise without financial penalty.

4)     Penetration and Saturation: Virtualization hitting 50% penetration. Competition and new, small customers driving down prices. The market is growing, but not like it used to, and vendor behavior will change significantly because of it. And don’t forget the impact on server vendors – the next few years will prove to be a challenge until virtualization slows down.

We actually see the market for virtualization management growing just as fast, if not faster, than it has in the past. While straight server virtualization purchases may be slowing, customers are wising up to the fact that they need to manage these environments as well, if not better, than they have managed their physical environments in the past, if they want to really get the benefits virtualization promises. We believe the management market has tremendous growth ahead, and will provide most of the value added features that deliver on the promise of agile and elastic datacenters.

5)     Cloud Service Providers Are Placing Bets: IaaS vendors can’t ignore the virtualization that is taking place in enterprises. Creating an on-ramp to their offerings is critical, which means placing bets – should they create their own standards (perhaps limited their appeal), buy into the virtualization software used by enterprises (perhaps commoditizing themselves), or build/buy software that improves interoperability (which may or may not work well)? Not an easy choice, and winners and losers will being determined.

Many of our customers, who are cloud service providers themselves, realize that they must provide solutions that 1) customers are familiar with, and 2) can be integrated into a broader data center vision that includes both private and public cloud, leveraged for different needs of the business. Developing a platform that enables these two things is key to their success.  Service Providers have struggled to get enterprises to buy into the promise of a more efficient cost model using the public cloud.  This is primarily because they do not want to let go of the true business critical applications.  The private cloud is growing in popularity, and that is being driven by the technologies being delivered by a new generation of software companies that spend every day trying to solve these problems.  The service providers are going to have to embrace these technologies/vendors and work with them in a meaningful way in order to get true enterprise buy in for use of cloud services.

As virtualization continues to mature and shape how IT functions, organizations should become educated on the virtualization options available and look for a strong management solution that offers flexibility, scalability and comprehensive capabilities that evolve with the dynamic nature of the virtualized data center.

Preston Futrell is President & CEO of Reflex Systems.

written by Preston Futrell \\ tags: , , , , ,

Dec 01

The Solvay Group uses Reflex VMC to manage server consolidation, reduce costs and centrally control more than 500 virtual machines worldwide

The Solvay Group has implemented Reflex VMC (Virtualization Management Center) to manage more than 50 servers with 500 VMware-based virtual machines running in nine datacenters throughout Europe and the U.S. Solvay has significantly consolidated its physical servers, reduced costs, and gained complete visibility into all global virtual machines and hosts across multiple sites from a single console.

“The number of VMs we had implemented began to outgrow our tools’ ability to manage them efficiently. We needed a cutting-edge solution to centrally manage our entire virtual environment from a single pane of glass,” said Bruce McMillan, Manager of Emerging Technologies at Solvay, an international chemical, plastics and pharmaceutical organization with 2008 sales approaching 14 billion USD. “Reflex VMC has been become the cornerstone of our virtual infrastructure management. Not only does it enable one-stop-shop management, it allows us to put in place the corporate-wide standards that are critical to our success.”

“Solvay is a technology savvy organization that clearly recognizes the importance of using a comprehensive management and security solution to enhance its virtual infrastructure,” said Pete Privateer, president and CEO of Reflex Systems. “We’re extremely pleased that Solvay selected Reflex and is realizing such great benefits.”

The award-winning Reflex VMC solution enables next-generation datacenters to enforce IT policies, ensure compliance with government mandates, and manage and protect virtual servers, desktops, and networks across multiple platforms. The benefits Solvay has gained from using Reflex VMC include:

  • Total visibility across multiple, distributed sites: Using Reflex VMC, all of Solvay’s 50 physical server hosts and 500 virtual machines can be viewed, monitored and managed at one time. This enables Solvay to assess the current implementation and plan for expansion so that new virtual machines can be logically added without impacting datacenter service levels.
  • Consolidated servers and reduced costs: Leveraging Reflex, Solvay has reduced the physical host servers in each office. For example, its Atlanta office cut the number of physical servers from ten to 5, which run approximately 150 virtual machines. Other offices have realized a 12-to-1 consolidation. These high consolidation ratios have also helped to lower datacenter cooling and electrical costs.
  • Improved security: According to McMillan, “The Reflex VMC security features are robust and enable us to monitor network activity within our virtual infrastructure that you normally don’t see. The IPS lets us see a lot of traffic that we did not know was there before. It gives us the opportunity to know what is going on. If you are running VMs without Reflex VMC you are blind to this activity.”

McMillan added, “With the management, security and compliance that Reflex VMC offers, combined with the stability of today’s virtualization platform from VMware, there is nothing I wouldn’t virtualize.”

About Solvay Group

Solvay is an international chemical and pharmaceutical Group with headquarters in Brussels. Its companies employ more than 29,000 people in 50 countries. In 2008, its consolidated sales amounted to EUR 9.5 billion, generated by its three sectors of activity: Chemicals, Plastics and Pharmaceuticals. Solvay is listed on the NYSE Euronext stock exchange in Brussels (NYSE Euronext: SOLB.BE – Bloomberg: SOL.BB – Reuters: SOLBt.BR). Details are available at www.solvay.com.

written by Laura Armistead \\ tags: , , , ,