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Geek Speak

October 3, 2017 Previous day Next day

Managing federal IT networks has always been a monumental task. They have traditionally been massive, monolithic systems that require significant resources to maintain.

 

One would think that this situation would have improved with the advent of virtualization, but the opposite has proved to be true. In many agencies, the rise of the virtual machine has led to massive VM sprawl, which wastes resources and storage capacity because of a lack of oversight and control over VM resource provisioning. Left unattended, VM sprawl can wreak havoc, from degraded network and application performance to network downtime.

 

Oversized VMs that were provisioned with more resources than necessary can waste storage and compute resources, and so can the overallocation of RAM and idle VMs.

 

There are two ways to successfully combat VM sprawl. First, administrators should put processes and policies in place to prevent it from happening. Even then, however, VM sprawl may occur, which makes it imperative that administrators also establish a second line of defense that keeps it in check during day-to-day operations.

 

Let’s take a closer look at strategies that can be implemented:

 

Process

 

The best way to get an early handle on VM sprawl is to define specific policies and processes. This first step involves a combination of five different approaches, all designed to stop VM sprawl before it has a chance to spread.

 

  1. Establish role-based access control policies that clearly articulate who has the authority to create new VMs.
  2. Allocate resources based on actual utilization.
  3. Challenge oversized VM requests.
  4. Create standard VM categories to help filter out abnormal or oversized VM requests.
  5. Implement policies regarding snapshot lifetimes.

 

Operations

 

Unfortunately, VM sprawl can occur even if these initial defenses are put in place. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon IT teams to be able to maintain a second layer of defense that addresses sprawl during operations.

 

Consider a scenario in which a project is cancelled or delayed. Or, think about what happens in an environment where storage is incorrectly provisioned.

 

During operations, it’s important to use an automated approach to virtualization management that employs predictive analysis and reclamation capabilities. Using these solutions, federal IT managers can tap into data on past usage trends to optimize their current and future virtual environments. Through predictive analysis, administrators can apply what they’ve learned from historical analysis to address issues before they occur. They can also continually monitor and evaluate their virtual environments and get alerts when issues arise so problems can be remediated quickly and efficiently.

 

While each of these strategies by themselves can be effective in controlling VM sprawl, together they create a complete and sound foundation that can greatly improve and simplify virtualization management. They allow administrators to build powerful, yet contained, virtualized networks.

 

Find the full article on Government Computer News.

Recently, I wrote a post about the concept of a pre-mortem, which was inspired by an amazing podcast I’d heard (listen to it here). I felt that this concept could be interpreted exceptionally well within a framework of project management. The idea that thinking of as many variables and hindrances to the success of individual tasks, which in turn would delay the milestones necessary to the completion of the project as a whole, quite literally correlates to medical care. Addressing the goals linked to a person's or project's wellness really resonated with me.

 

In my new series of five posts, this being the first, I will discuss how concepts of IT code correlate to the way we live life. I will begin with how I see project management as a potentially correlative element to life in general and how to successfully live this life. This is not to say that I am entirely successful, as definitions of success are subjective. But I do feel that each day I get closer to setting and achieving better goals.

 

First, we need to determine what our goals are, and whether financial, physical, fitness, emotional, romantic, professional, social, or whatever else matters to you are success goals. For me, lately, a big one has become getting better at guitar. But ultimately, the goals themselves are not as important as achieving them.

 

So, how do I apply the tenets of project management to my own goals? First and foremost, the most critical step is keeping the goals in mind.

 

  • Define your goals and set timelines
  • Define the steps you need to take to achieve your goals
  • Determine the assets necessary to achieve these goals, including vendors, partners, friends, equipment, etc.
  • Define potential barriers to achieving those goals, such as travel for work, illness, family emergencies, etc.
  • Define those barriers (as best you can)
  • Establish a list of potential roadblocks, and establish correlating contingencies that could mitigate those roadblocks
  • Work it

 

What does the last point mean? It means engaging with individuals who are integral to setting and keeping commitments. These people will help keep an eye on the commitments you’ve made to yourself, the steps you’ve outlined for yourself, and doing the work necessary to make each discrete task, timeline, and milestone achievable.

 

If necessary, create a project diagram of each of your goals, including the above steps, and define these milestones with dates marked as differentiators. Align ancillary tasks with their subtasks, and defined those as in-line sub-projects. Personally, I do this step for every IT project with which I am involved. Visualizing a project using a diagram helps me keep each timeline in check. I also take each of these tasks and build an overall timeline of each sub-project, and put it together as a master diagram. By visualizing these, I can ensure that future projects aren't forgotten, while also giving me a clear view of when I need to contact outside resources for their buy-in. Defining my goals prior to going about achieving them allows me to be specific. Also, when I can see that I am accomplishing minor successes along the way (staying on top of the timeline I've set, for example), helps me stay motivated. 

 

Below is a sample of a large-scale precedence diagram I created for a global DR project I completed years ago.  As you start from the left side and continue to the right you’ll see each step along the way, with sub-steps, milestones, go/no-go determinations, and final project success on the far right. Of course, this diagram has been minimized to fit to the page. In this case, visibility into each step is not as important as is the definition and precedence of each step. What does that step rely on for the achievement of this step? These have all been defined on this diagram.

 

 

The satisfaction I garner from a personal or professional task well accomplished cannot be minimized.

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