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Which is it: Physical, Virtual, Cloud?

Pooja Tiwari | July 7, 2011
One solutions vendor talks about the options available for building efficient and cost effective IT infrastructures.

Computerworld Singapore interviewed Barrie Sheers, Quest Software’s Vice President for APJ, recently. Sheers shared with us his company’s experience working with physical, virtual and cloud-based environments.

What do you consider to be the major challenges for senior IT executives in managing virtual and cloud infrastructures?
As the early benefits of virtualization have been exposed to upper management, Senior IT leaders have quickly grasped the concept and built it into their key strategies in delivering a more responsive IT service delivery model to the business.  As a result, the use of virtualization has skyrocketed - but so have the side-effects.  Those side effects have stalled IT’s ability to be as efficient with the technology as they once have hoped – and as leadership had anticipated.  Major factors contribute to this stall, including manageability outside of traditional IT and specific into the virtualization layer, as well as capacity planning and chargeback.  IT leaders also realize that what they are doing in virtualization now affects their ability to execute on a more nimble and cost effective cloud strategy (public, private, hybrid).

How different is the approach to virtual and cloud infrastructures, compared to the traditional approach towards managing data centers?
x86 virtualization pretty much defines the modern data center.  As organizations are becoming more mature with the technologies, they are becoming more efficient in its uses and are quickly adapting both management solutions and skill sets to best exploit all they can from their investment.  Cloud further pushes the envelope by instilling use cases that can be automated and adapted to support a highly dynamic data center model driving down costs and increasing efficiency.  Quest has built a successful management business from supporting traditional database, applications and network infrastructure.  Building on that success, Quest has made key investments during the onset of virtualization and cloud, developing an early market entry into virtualization and cloud management proving to be successful from the integration of vFoglight -  Quest Software’s virtual infrastructure monitoring and capacity planning  solution - and The Quest Cloud Automation platform, among others, into the overall product portfolio.
How much of a threat is ‘virtual sprawl’ in the current data centre environment and what are the best strategies to combat this?
Virtual Sprawl is a huge threat as unaccounted VMs soak resources that could better support high priority instances.  The inability for organizations to track, measure and control inefficient use of resource could lead to a negative ROI for virtualization.  Solutions like Quest vFoglight give customers unique visibility and control over their virtualized environments, allowing them to easily monitor and track performance and accountability of virtual machines, reducing sprawl and increasing overall runtime and efficiency.

What is the ideal model for a major enterprises when it comes to mixing virtual, physical and cloud environments?
The reality is that organizations will be running hybrid environments for many years to come. They will want to source services by leveraging the public cloud as well as virtual environments that form the foundation of the private cloud, while keeping some in the traditional data center. Determining the right mix of technologies to use for which workloads requires a carefully thought-out strategy best determined through an IT assessment model that brings together the needs of the business with the capabilities of IT. This model bridges the gaps between executive ambitions and the organization’s ability to execute on efficient delivery models, such as cloud and virtualization.  IT's charter fundamentally changes when their ability to deliver a better service faster can include resources outside of the walls of IT – this invariably changes the role of the CIO from managing hardware and software infrastructure to managing business services.

What sort of a challenge is complexity when it comes to managing hybrid data centre environments and, generally, how well are Asia and SE Asia enterprises coping with this?
In the US, organizations are well entrenched into virtualization and have begun to aggressively adopt both cloud based public (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) and private models.  IT leadership is weighing the cost benefits and manageability across the entire hybrid opportunities, and literally taking baby steps to test the waters.  On the other hand, internal departments within organizations are not necessarily waiting for IT to determine their course – they are rapidly adopting cloud services from shared storage to SaaS applications and the like.


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