Data centre virtualisation poorly managed

7 Sep 2007

While virtualisation is increasing in enterprise data centres, inefficient management is meaning that the full benefits are not being leveraged, new research has found.

A study published by Lighthouse Research found that although 45pc of respondents have implemented virtualisation technology, few are using automated management tools to improve efficiency and resource utilisation in the data centre. The study surveyed 411 enterprise data centre decision makers.

The study, sponsored by Novell, shows that as organisations move to adopt server virtualisation, the main challenges they face include lack of expertise, difficulty managing virtual servers and having a single point of failure. This is compounded by the fact that 61 percent of participants reported they either manually track or do not track server resource consumption, and 79 percent of respondents report they either manually manage or do not manage the reallocation of server workloads based on available resources.

However, the study found there was a growing trend towards adopting more automated management techniques. Some 72pc of respondents intend to implement automated software patching and updates in the next two years. Some 75pc also intend to increase the efficiency of their data centre by using automated server monitoring to combat the management complications exacerbated by virtualisation technology.

“Effectively managing a data centre has been a challenge for some time; however, the challenge increases with the use of physical and virtual machines in heterogeneous environments,” said Drue Reeves, vice-president and research director for the Burton Group. “Server virtualisation introduces a whole new world of resource mobility and growth. Data centre management software must scale to reduce the complexity associated with virtualisation-induced server sprawl and enable the automated, dynamic data centre.”

“Virtualisation brings opportunities to data centre managers that other technologies have yet to deliver,” said Richard Whitehead, director of product marketing at Novell. “However, as shown by survey respondents, virtualisation also brings a host of management challenges. To fully reap the benefits of virtualisation, data centre managers need a comprehensive strategy, from virtualisation straight through to automated management tools.”

The study also found that enterprises are evaluating data centre management services on the ability to save space (67pc) and power (65pc). Companies are also looking for key features in a data centre management tool, including: secured management capabilities (89pc), remote access and management (86pc), compatibility with multiple operating systems and platforms (85pc), automated monitoring and reporting (81pc) and policy-based automated software using preset thresholds (72pc).

More than one half of companies surveyed not currently using virtualisation reported they are considering the use of server virtualisation in the future.

By Niall Byrne