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Challenges in Virtualization
Companies looking at virtualization solutions need storage solutions that are flexible

By Sue Poremba

Virtualization has been a boon to enterprise as it makes IT operations more efficient. Some like its green qualities as virtualization saves on energy consumption, while others appreciate the storage capacity, as well as the data recovery solutions for if disaster strikes.

However, the virtual environment is invisible, and with that come more challenges in making sure it runs smoothly. The cloud might be simple to setup, but it becomes more complex over time. In addition, the more machines and data involved, the more difficult it can be to monitor for space, CPU spikes, network security and other indicators.

“If there is a bug or a discrepancy, I need to know that there’s a problem before my customer does. And though that is the biggest challenge, it’s also a great opportunity,” Russ Caldwell, CTO, Emcien Corporation said.

One of those challenges is making sure storage in the virtualized environment is adequate. “We focus on storage and database environments that scale as the customers grow,” said Caldwell. “Determining how fast customers grow and change is the biggest factor for determining the adequate storage size.”

Companies looking at virtualization solutions need storage solutions that are flexible so they can add or remove storage, as needed. Even though it may have been the right size in the beginning of a project, things change, and a flexible virtualization tool can give that peace of mind when things change. For example, when we’re working with slow-moving manufacturing data, we can determine the adequate storage size easier than when we’re working with hundreds of millions of bank nodes, where the growth is much more dramatic.

The key, according to John Ross with virtual solution company Phantom Business Development at Net Optics, is to truly assess the performance of the servers and the requirements of the virtual machines. This requires monitoring to be in place for the life of the systems to predict utilization and to modify placement based on performance. “When this is not accounted for, it can appear as though there is high CPU utilization on the hosts as well as the VMs,” said Ross, “With the use of protocols such as NFS and ISCSI, it can put quite a load on the network.”

Companies moving to the cloud also have to change how they think about networking. “It can be hard to understand how network connection works when there aren’t wires to simply plug it into a box, but instead virtual, invisible connections that need to be managed through APIs or online interfaces,” said Caldwell. One of the challenges for a company with multiple clients is keeping client data separate from one another. Grouping machines together and isolating them in their own network is the best approach in tackling this challenge. Using excellent monitoring tools smartly can ensure that the network is as reliable as possible.

“Network connectivity comes down to whether the network connection is a single point of failure: If your virtualization solution is off-site, it’s only as good as the quality of the Internet connection between you and your provider,” said William L. Horvath with DoX Systems. If you have a single connection between you and the Internet, that’s one problem. (You can reduce the risks by contracting with two or more ISPs and getting routers that support trunking.) Likewise, if your virtualization provider’s facility is in a single geographical location (say, Manhatten) that loses functionality for an extended period of time due to some natural disaster, you’re hosed. Our Chamber of Commerce lost access to a cloud-based service not too long ago because someone in the data center, which wasn’t owned by the service provider, forgot to disable the fire suppression system during emergency testing, which unexpectedly destroyed most of the hard drives in the servers.

To avoid the challenges involved in virtualization, Ross provided the following tips:

1. Plan on virtualizing everything — not just the servers but the network, the storage, the security … everything!

2. Standardize everything, from the operating systems on upwards through middleware and applications. The more uniformity exists within configurations, the easier it will be to scale and move these workloads optimally around the environment.

3. Ensure network capabilities are met. This will dynamically change and collapse. There will be huge flow changes as utilization and cloud are adopted.

4. Implement resource monitoring. Existing legacy tools will not provide the data or detail needed.

5. Implement a decommissioning process. Ross repeatedly finds several unused machines running. In a virtual environment, this can become a major issue, consuming resources and driving up costs.

6. Plan for backup and disaster recovery. This will drastically change in virtualization and must be addressed.

7. Train your team based on what the management will look like, not on the migration.

The cloud solves certain problems really well and it allows for SMBs to have the flexible infrastructures that they require — without a lot of capital or hardware or payroll costs. Using the cloud wisely with the right tools, companies can get a leg ahead.

Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.

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Cloud Expo 2013 East Opening Keynote by IBM
In this Cloud Expo Keynote, Danny Sabbah, CTO & General Manager, Next Generation Platform, will detail the critical architectural considerations and success factors organizations must internalize to successfully implement, optimize and innovate using next generation architectures.
Lisa Larson, Vice President of Enterprise Cloud Solutions of Rackspace Hosting Live From New York City
In the old world of IT, if you didn't have hardware capacity or the budget to buy more, your project was dead in the water. Budget constraints can leave some of the best, most creative and most ingenious innovations on the cutting room floor. It's a true dilemma for developers and innovators – why spend the time creating, when a project could be abandoned in a blink? That was the old world. In the new world of IT, developers rule. They have access to resources they can spin up instantly. A hybrid cloud ignites innovation and empowers developers to focus on what they need. A hybrid cloud blends the best of all worlds, public cloud, private cloud and dedicated servers to fit the needs of developers and offer the ideal environment for each app and workload without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all cloud.

Keynote: Driving Cloud Innovation: SSDs Change Cloud Storage Paradigm
Cloud is a transformational shift in computing that can have a powerful effect on enterprise IT when designed correctly and used to its full potential. Join Citrix in a discussion that centers on building, connecting and empowering users with cloud services and hear examples of how enterprises are solving real-world business challenges with an architecture and solution purpose-built for the cloud.

Go Beyond IaaS to Deliver "Anything As a Service"
Many organizations want to expand upon the IaaS foundation to deliver cloud services in all forms—software, mobility, infrastructure and IT. Understanding the strategy, planning process and tools for this transformation will help catalyze changes in the way the business operates and deliver real value. Join us to learn about the new ITaaS model and how to begin the transformation.


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GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabili...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborat...
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of ...
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SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
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@CloudExpo Blogs
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
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Lye
Oracle

O'Connor
AppZero

Crandell
RightScale

Nucci
Dell Boomi

Hillier
CiRBA

Morrison
Layer 7 Tech

Robbins
NYT

Schwarz
Oracle

What The Enterprise IT World Says About Cloud Expo
 
"We had extremely positive feedback from both customers and prospects that attended the show and saw live demos of NaviSite's enterprise cloud based services."
  –William Toll
Sr. Director, Marketing & Strategic Alliances
Navisite
 


 
"More and better leads than ever expected! I have 4-6 follow ups personally."
  –Richard Wellner
Chief Scientist
Univa UD
 


 
"Good crowd, good questions. The event looked very successful."
  –Simon Crosby
CTO
Citrix Systems
 


 
"It's the largest cloud computing conference I've ever seen."
  –David Linthicum
CTO
Brick Group