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How to Gain Visibility and Control Across Your Virtual and Physical Environments

April 28, 2011

Summary

Learn how IT organizations can reduce the complexity in their data centers and achieve the goal of delivering IT as a service.
Talk to IT directors at most large enterprises today and a few common priorities quickly become apparent. They want to improve operations in their complex physical and virtual data centers. They want to decrease storage costs. And they want to reduce downtime.
Increasingly, these IT leaders are turning to cloud computing models to tackle such challenges. It’s no exaggeration to say that cloud computing is transforming IT service delivery. With the right strategy and technologies, organizations can realize the cost and operational benefits of the cloud while mitigating the potential risks.
Continue reading to learn about a private cloud delivery model that provides the visibility and control needed to manage business services across virtual and physical environments along with the capability to deliver storage as a service and maintain high availability.

Understanding virtualization and private cloud trends

By now, most enterprises have tapped virtualization to consolidate their application workloads onto a smaller number of physical servers. Thanks to virtualization, deploying new applications and moving application workloads dynamically has never been easier.
Storage management, however, presents challenges. For one thing, it’s harder to maintain visibility and control in virtual environments than it is in non-virtual environments. Tracking the dependencies between applications deployed on virtual servers and their underlying storage resources can be complicated.
But that’s not all. A recent survey of large organizations by Forrester Research found that virtualization presents additional challenges to storage environments. Respondents said they are concerned about a lack of best practices on how to integrate storage into virtual environments. They also fear that virtualization could lead to an explosion in storage capacity requirements.¹
The same survey found that private clouds present storage challenges as well. For example, organizations now have to provision storage capacity more quickly to meet demand. Respondents also cited security and availability as the biggest hindrances to mass adoption of private clouds.
While the Forrester survey reflects many concerns and challenges when it comes to virtualization and private clouds, it also sheds light on numerous benefits. According to the respondents, virtualization can provide many storage advantages, including a smaller storage footprint through consolidation, quicker deployment of storage capacity, increased utilization, and flexibility in storage allocation.

Managing across virtual and physical environments

Of course, realizing those benefits requires plenty of careful planning. Symantec’s approach to managing an increasingly heterogeneous environment focuses on three key initiatives:
  • Gain visibility and control across virtual and physical environments. IT teams need to centrally manage application, server, and storage environments from a single console. With a summary dashboard that displays the state of these resources, administrators will be in a position to monitor the data center infrastructure and drill down to manage any risks or faults in the environment. They also need in-depth storage reporting for applications running in virtual machines to optimize storage usage and performance. Reports on storage utilization, cluster activity, availability trends, product usage, licensing, and patching are required as well. And because today’s multi-tiered applications increasingly run in physical and virtual environments, administrators need a single “push button” to start and stop them properly. Bottom line: administrators need to overcome disparate tools and manual processes to manage from a “single pane of glass.” This visibility will allow them to quickly identify the root cause of faults and repair them online, leading to faster application deployment times, higher service levels, and reduced risk of human error.
  • Provide storage as a service. IT organizations pursuing a private cloud model need to deliver storage as a service to enable faster deployments and simpler management. That requires a clear understanding of how their existing storage is used. But a significant obstacle stands in the way. According to IDC, the amount of storage capacity shipped in support of file-based storage is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 60.1% through 2013.² As can be imagined, pinpointing ownership, understanding data usage, managing data consumption, and protecting specific data become extremely difficult when the amount of incoming data overwhelms the ability to maintain it. IT managers need to see who created, who utilizes, and who is responsible for data. That way, individual users can be mapped to a department or line of business for consumption reports or chargeback. This allows for improved efficiencies of storage consumption by giving IT the ability to hold business units accountable for the storage space they use. According to Forrester, chargeback is a “critical path element” of a private cloud. Forrester goes so far as to say that “without metering, it’s not a private cloud.” ³
  • Deploy quickly and offer plenty of customization. Today’s IT organizations need tools that make deployment faster and easier than was the case with traditional resource management tools. Ideally they should also use a single tool to manage a wide array of server, virtualization, and storage platforms, thereby increasing efficiencies and reducing errors. In addition, they should be able to improve operations with tools that let them script their own health checks, patch management, and custom reporting.

Inside Veritas Operations Manager

Veritas Operations Manager is a storage and availability resource management solution for virtual, physical, and private cloud environments. It improves the availability and manageability of business services that span physical and virtual platforms by providing visibility to their underlying dependencies and automating their start and stop with the push of a button.
Veritas Operations Manager helps IT organizations deliver storage as a service to enable faster deployments and simpler management. It also enables organizations to automate many provisioning operations and get a better understanding of storage usage across multi-vendor storage environments.

Conclusion

Today’s typical enterprise data center is more complex than ever before. There are too many disparate tools and too many manual processes. As if that weren’t enough, the adoption of new technologies such as virtualization introduces even more challenges. The result is reduced visibility and control of the infrastructure, reduced utilization of storage assets, increased challenges in scaling operations, and an increased risk of unplanned downtime.
The challenge for IT organizations is to maintain end-to-end visibility and control of an increasingly heterogeneous environment, as well as to optimize data center assets without affecting the availability of mission-critical applications.
Veritas Operations Manager provides the visibility and control necessary to manage business services across physical and virtual environments and the capability to deliver storage as a service with on-host storage provisioning, storage tiering, and storage usage and chargeback reporting for multi-vendor storage environments. For IT organizations, it’s an opportunity to reduce complexity in the data center and achieve the goal of delivering IT as a service.
  • ¹ “Global Cloud and Virtualization Storage Initiatives,” Forrester Research, March 2011
  • ² “File-Based Storage Taxonomy: Capitalizing on the Diverse World of Files,” IDC, November 2009
  • ³ “Global Cloud and Virtualization Storage Initiatives”

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