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Taneja Blog / Software Defined/Virtualized Infrastructure

Podcast : Jeff and Dave discuss Virtual Infrastructure Optimization

Several months ago, Taneja Group introduced the concept of Virtual Infrastructure Optimization (VIO) as a category of solutions hitting the mainstream infrastructure management market today. This blog post is a summary of an attached podcast (click through on the title for the podcast), where two Taneja Group analysts (myself and Dave Bartoletti) dive into an overview of VIO. Note, you can find written articles discussing this technology online at InfoStor.com and at SearchServerVirtualization.com.

For many years, infrastructure management has dealt with a stack of services that are often sharply divided, and give the manager little opportunity to holistically view what is happening across the entire infrastructure. Even within single domains - for instance the network stack - we have multiple tiers of equipment and limited visibility across those tiers. Within the familiar OSI model, the enterprise may use certain types of equipment for physical layer connectivity, mainstream network equipment for routing and switching, and specialized intrusion prevention or over the wire analysis equipment for upper layer protocols. This example holds true in storage and often in server management as well. The administrator's ability to consolidate and view events and performance across these different domains has been little more than a pipe dream.

As the virtual infrastructure storms onto the scene, what has been a major stumbling block in the past for operations management is now becoming a crushing blow. The capabilities of the virtual infrastructure simply cannot be realized without visibility into what is happening, and what the impact of changes are. Management can't be executed, and automation can unleash unpredictable monsters. With no ability to determine the IO impact of a given application, nor the IO load on a given storage array, how can an administrator take action? Faced with a cloudy and opaque infrastructure, administrators dare not make use of capabilities like storage vMotion, and deny themselves the benefits of a fluid and adaptable infrastructure.

A number of vendors have for a long while worked toward revealing more information about the infrastructure, but their efforts often focus on enabling more effective planning. Planning isn't sufficient for day to day operational management, where action might be required to rebalance an out of balance infrastructure, or to free up infrastructure for a service event or outage. But a number of vendors are focused on analyzing on-going performance and/or over the wire events to give the administrator a view of what is happening in the moment, and then a big picture view of what has actually happened over time. Using these tools as fundamental instrumentation, the administrator can better fly their day to day infrastructure. We've termed this category virtual infrastructure optimization in part because the virtual infrastructure exacerbates the issues of limited visibility, in part because the virtual infrastructure makes reported data actionable and even automateable, and in part because the virtual infrastructure provides additional and better hooks on top of which active analysis and management vendors can build solutions.

The vendors on our short list most often look like Virtual Instruments, Akorri, Blue Stripe, and a handful of others. But many are nipping at the heels of the best in this category, or well-poised with the fundamentals required to eventually deliver a competitive solution. This includes vendors like Reflex Systems with an advanced security and IP networking pedigree, some array vendors like HP with their Performance Pack tools for EVA and XP arrays, and even the InfiniBand vendor Voltaire, as they become increasingly mainstream with multi-fabric solutions, but at the same time bring to bear their deep-visibility oriented Unified Fabric Manager.

  • Premiered: 08/04/09
  • Author: Taneja Group
Topic(s): Optimization Server Virtualization virtual infrastructures

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