Virtualization Planning: Systems Management Keys to Success

The explosive growth of today's virtualization management market is good news for organizations looking to manage and optimize their virtual environments. Like every technology that has come before it, the route to success with virtualization lies in solid, standardized processes and management software to automate and govern the execution of these processes. Process discipline and streamlined management automation have long been operational mandates, but the advent of virtualization on industry-standard servers exacerbates these requirements.

Luckily, the growing demand for automated virtualization management tools has produced an array of software solutions. Many options exist -- too many, in fact -- and you must evaluate these options to minimize the risk of additional complexity and vendor dissolution. Buyers need to be careful in such a young market segment and remain pragmatic about the requirements and the role these technologies will play in the overall management portfolio. The real risk is the creation of yet another silo that will have to be absorbed later on. To avoid future headaches, organizations should include virtualization as just another technology domain in the consolidated management portfolio.

As businesses begin to evaluate tools to help manage their virtual environment, Forrester recommends focusing on four key system management capabilities; configuration management, capacity planning and VM placement, performance monitoring, and real-time automation. Keep in mind that each earlier step is a prerequisite of the next, making the priority of the list important. For example, attempting real-time automation without first conquering the challenges of capacity management will prove frustrating and ultimately futile.

1. Improve configuration management

It's important to start with improving configuration management because it is necessary to orchestrate the relationship among large numbers of dynamically changing VMs, physical servers, storage, and network resources. These tools are often referred to as "provisioning tools," which refers to a higher state of configuration change management.

2. Maximize capacity planning and VM placement

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