Last week, the topic of new data center management challenges was addressed – particularly how they would necessitate a more intelligent approach to capacity management. These challenges included an accelerated pace of workload efficiency due to workload mobility and transitory workloads in virtual infrastructures; balancing shared infrastructure for balanced and optimized efficiency; regulatory and policy compliance; and workload placement.
I was able to speak with Andrew Hillier, co-founder and CTO, CiRBA, who added that, “Organizations need to evolve thinking about the management challenges that exist in order to effectively address them,” as well as “need to completely change the way they look at capacity management if they want to achieve the benefits of virtualization and cloud.”
So how can these management challenges be tackled moving towards 2013? Hillier was kind enough to also share insight into what he sees changing in 2013 in regards to how organizations can better manage their environments for an easier transition.
The first thing Hillier mentions that should be immediately addressed is the issue of over-provisioning. “To reduce performance risk, IT has traditionally over-provisioned capacity. As a result, cost savings and efficiency targets for virtualization initiatives have not been met,” he explains. “Infrastructure managers are now being asked to take a harder look at how they make these decisions to address the issue, with the goal of driving up density and decreasing costs. One first step we see them taking is the implementation of processes and systems to capture upcoming capacity demand, through both reservations systems and cloud request portals, in order to more accurately model requirements.”
Additionally, Hillier can’t stress enough the importance of predictive analytics to achieve a well-managed virtual environment, which will help better overcome these challenges by enabling IT managers to make intelligent, forward-thinking decisions on such things as how to place workloads, allocate resources and how much infrastructure is required.
“Taking a forward looking view of requirements enables organizations to plan around upcoming demand, allowing management to be proactive instead of reactive. It means shifting from an operational model focused on fire-fighting, in which volatility and risk are high, to one in which planning is emphasized, resources are used efficiently and risk is significantly reduced,” he says, explaining, for example, that when considering workload placements, if a business relies solely on a real-time load balancer to determine all of the workload placements in their environment, then will not only increase volatility, but their ability to accurately plan will decrease.
Make no mistake – Hillier adds that taking a predictive view is just one factor in the management equation. Additional important management factors include:
Accurately modeling actual demand for new workload placements: When it comes to understanding infrastructure requirements, Hillier says this is key. “Beyond trends, this translates into the ability to bring business owner requests, planned transformations and other components of the ‘demand pipeline’ into the analysis model,” he explains. “This is key to helping organizations avoid the forecasting gap that leads to problems like falling short on capacity or being wildly over-provisioned.” This can be achieved, he adds, by implementing a capacity reservations system that captures and models actual demand from all sources, including trends to determine future infrastructure requirements.
Optimizing workload placements: By optimizing workload placements, organizations can increase efficiency. “Properly placing workload together on host infrastructure according to both workload requirements and policy requirements is essential to safely increasing density. We have seen organizations increase density by an average 48 percent simply by improving workload placement,” Hillier reveals.
Formalization of proper operational policies: This is what Hillier says is perhaps the most important aspect of managing a new, complex, dynamic environment. “These policies are the criteria by which an environment is managed, and are critical to achieving a well-managed environment, as they ensure efficiency, compliance and safety,” Hillier explains. “Policies surrounding SLA requirements, density, availability, compliance, operational cycles, etc. are fundamental in shared environments. If there is no system in place that can govern where workloads go and how resources should be allocated according to policy, then operating with agility and efficiency becomes an impossible task.”
Hillier concludes that many environments are rich in data, but lack the ability to leverage this data to plan for the future. This problem is becoming more realized as such things as virtualization, cloud and high-density infrastructure become more prevalent. The only way to free up stranded capacity for productive use, quantify true spare capacity and application headroom and proactively book it up to achieve optimal density is by having a capacity control system that looks at all of these elements.
CiRBA, a unique competitor in the space, provides a capacity transformation and control system that enables organizations to intelligently transform, control and automate virtual and cloud infrastructure. Not only does the company’s analytics enable organizations to plan virtualization, cloud migration, platform migrations and tech refresh, but it is critical to the ongoing management of environments.
“We have a purpose – built predictive analytics that will enable IT to gain control of their infrastructure – both from an operational and from a purchase perspective,” Hillier says.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein