A Fundamental Shift in the Data Center Object Model
by Michael Hay on Oct 27, 2008
I know that all of the former mainframe folk are laughing about the recent discovery in the data center called the open systems virtual machine. Both LPARs and VMs have been around forever in the zSeries and for that matter in the iSeries as well. However to us young pups it is indeed new, but not for the reason of technology, but for the reason of business behavior change. Most interesting is the new Site Recovery Manager from VMWare which uses storage vendor plugins to control storage based replication. (Note that I fully expect Microsoft to follow suit with HyperV in similar way. Not that I have any confidential information, it is just a gut intuitive feeling.) I believe that there are two fundamental behavior changes which will come over the next two years from the rise of the VMs: 1.)Acceleration of x86 becoming the predominate processing platform purchased by corporations, 2.)Next the ability to test complex replication configurations from the application all the way through the storage infrastructure and the ability to document the success/failure of those configurations, I know for a long time people have predicted the demise of all other processor architectures, so I’ll just say that is my opinion and move on.
The second one is the most profound point in my opinion as finally application DR plans can be tested. After all I know, having been a sysadmin in the past, testing a DR strategy on a running production application is a risky proposition to say the least. Now with the VM approach it is possible to snap a copy of the application, and then use a point in time complete application replica with the underlying storage replication to test the DR implementation. Then administrators can document that point and they can feel assured that when those SOX audits come they can get the relevant information to their C level management even if a disaster has happened. One might think that this is not such a big deal, but being someone who has managed OSes and Applications in the past it really is.
An implicit point that I wanted to make is that the above is handled without specific application integrations. A single integration to the VM technology will do. This is unlike what one of our competitors touts, NetApp, namely that not only is VM to storage integration required, but also upstream application integration is required. Why? I honestly don’t get it. VMs by their very nature offer application neutrality so it means that if the integration work is done for snapshots, replication, provisioning, discovery, etc. then only one integration is required. Could it be that this competitor wants to make sure that their customers are buying their software which like has now achieved Dunsel status? I honestly don’t know, but I can say if I was a NetApp customer I would be questioning their logic. (Also if a NetApp representative or customer/partner could confirm or deny this point I’d be happy to retract it.) I’d be asking them to allow me to perform simple provisioning and replication management from the VM management console.
There is one thing that I want to also get across as well, which is that the VM management consoles from VMWare and Microsoft aren’t meant to be the mythical single pane of glass. Instead both companies will most likely focus on the value added use cases that make day to day operations of their audience that much easier. The truth is neither company should try to put all storage management operations within the VM console. That my friends is a bad idea. It detracts focus from what the VM console is supposed to do: manage VMs. In short there will always be separate management consoles so that storage consoles can solve storage problems really well and VM consoles can solve VM problems really well. Saying that a unified single pane of glass is needed for these two separate systems is a super bad idea I think. I’ve lived through the enterprise systems management wars where every IT woe was to be solved by either IBM Tivoli, HP ITO, BMC Patrol, etc.
Anyway I’m now rambling, but that is okay…
Comments (2 )
I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work
Well, yes I think that you are correct, there are some formatting issues with the blasting thing which crop up from time to time.