[Ed. Note: Robbie Wright's post is related to an upcoming SolarWinds webinar with VMware vExpert and author of Maximum vSphere, Eric Siebert, on Thursday, December 8. For more information on “The Top 5 Things You Need from a Virtualization Management Tool" click here.]

Cloud computing and virtualization are changing the IT landscape. You’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware of their far-reaching effects on our environments. Virtualization took some time to catch on, but it’s now the foundation of the shift toward the cloud. The problem is that sometimes that foundation doesn’t seem so firm. The conventional IT management practices we’ve learned over the years now have to change to effectively manage a virtual environment. Recent studies show that 80% of virtual environments are growing at a rate of 10-50 VMs per year and 63% of today’s IT professionals have some responsibility for managing virtualization. So, the majority of the IT world is experiencing the challenges of managing a growing virtual infrastructure. 

At first, we thought virtualization was just a tool for server consolidation: we could get more from our under-utilized servers, thereby saving money by buying less hardware and avoiding costly data center expansion. Unfortunately, we didn’t save as much money as we thought we would — virtualization software licensing was (and still is, in many cases) expensive — and, lo and behold, there is a host of new virtualization management challenges we didn’t anticipate.

We eventually realized that virtualization is most useful when viewed as a data center agility tool: you can now seamlessly move an application from one piece of physical hardware to another or deploy a new virtual server with a new application without turning screws and routing cables. That should eliminate a lot of the issues of a single-application-to-single-server environment, right? In reality, most of those issues are still there. They are just less concrete because they’re virtual instead of physical. There are also new challenges like capacity planning that become both more abstract and urgent. The graphic below gives you some revealing statistics and a few tips on how to overcome challenges in your virtual environment.

We need our virtual infrastructure to be more transparent so you can fix issues before they arise. We need to understand the relationships between virtual infrastructure configuration, capacity, performance and applications. With the emergence of cloud computing, you need a better grasp on what applications are good candidates for public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud architectures. 

It seems like everyone and his or her brother has a virtualization management solution today. It’s important to note that not all virtualization management tools are created equal, but it’s often tough to tell the difference. A good way to differentiate between virtualization management software is to break it down to the fundamental tasks and compare functionality across them. A solid virtualization management solution should have the following elements:

  • Virtualization Capacity Planning

  • Storage I/O bottlenecks in a Virtual Environment

  • Virtualization Performance Management 

  • VM Sprawl, and 

  • Virtualization Chargeback and Showback.


With these virtualization management tools in your arsenal, IT
professionals can be proactive in managing their virtual infrastructure instead
of reacting when it breaks. Comprehensive management allows users to do things
previously thought impossible like virtualizing mission critical applications
and moving towards a true IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) model with enhanced private

For more insight into what is needed for a Virtualization
Management strategy, join SolarWinds and VMware vExpert and author of Maximum
, Eric Siebert, on Thursday, December 8 for a live webcast covering,
“The Top 5 Things You Need from a Virtualization Management Tool.” You’ll also
get a chance to ask questions and see how SolarWinds
Virtualization Manager
addresses each of these areas of concern. To
register, please sign up here.  

Robbie Wright is the Director of Product Marketing for
Storage & Virtualization at Solarwinds. He comes to SolarWinds from
Rackspace Hosting, where he helped build private, public, and hybrid cloud solutions
for Large Enterprises emphasizing the VMware & OpenStack cloud
orchestration platforms. He also spent seven years driving Virtualization &
Storage solutions for Medium & Large Enterprises at Dell, Inc. Robbie holds an MBA from the Fuqua School
of Business at Duke University and a BBA from Texas Tech University.