Virtually Speaking: Reaping Quantifiable Benefits

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Apr 22, 2008

Lots of incremental wheel-greasing stuff this week in the world of the virtual. The immeasurable benefits of a virtual infrastructure are now measurable.

For example, CiRBA's data center intelligence software, which aims to steer enterprises in their virtualization deployments, received a feature bump. New in version 4.6 is support for mainframes in its cross-platform consolidation analysis

CiRBA's software maps out migrations based on workload personalities, organizational risk tolerance, service-level agreements and performance requirements. It also evaluates the impact of iSCSI storage and network connectivity on virtualized servers, should that be of concern.

At the other end of the measurement spectrum is Symphoniq. Although Symphoniq is not specifically eyeing the virtualized infrastructure, measuring performance of servers and application is critical in any environment, especially one containing the complications inherent with virtualization.

Symphoniq's business case is predicated on the fact that no matter what the back-end looks like, it's the end user experience that really matters. The corollary to this, however, is Sun Microsystems' argument that the end user experience starts with the back-end architecture.

Whichever end you approach it from, however, the need to measure remains constant.

This week, Symphoniq unveiled a new version of its TrueView software. The new version of the performance measurement tool supports all major rich Internet applications platforms, providing visibility into Web applications (including Ajax, Flash/Flex and Silverlight) to monitor how usage and performance across heterogeneous environments, including J2EE & .NET, are affecting the end user.

TrueView 2.0 also offers support for tagging and tracing page and non-page-based requests through every tier of an application stack. It can isolate performance problems at the server, service, method call or SQL query level

CIOs love to quantify, especially when times are lean. As the measurement tools well-suited to virtualization grow in number and capability — and they already are beginning to — it will get increasingly easier to sell top management on the attendant costs of going virtual.

Another quantifiable perspective from the bigger picture to think about: Today, you've no doubt heard, is Earth Day. Media-hype has made environmental awareness cool. There's no shame in joining the chorus of "going green" and data centers are part of the march, but for reasons that are more practical than altruistic: Power and cooling are no longer commodity expenses. They are expensive, and aren't going to get any cheaper.

Ultimately, business decisions boil down to economics. With oil hitting record highs and landfills reaching new heights, efficiency is more important now than ever for server room, and more and more reliance will be placed on hardware.

This, no doubt, will be a boon for virtualization, as companies attempt to do more with less. A virtual infrastructure crams as much as possible onto a piece of hardware, and, it would be a bad thing for it to overheat due to overcrowding. Equally bad would be I/O overload conflicting apps and data loads. In other words, careful planning is crucial.

So if your CIO isn't quite sold on going virtual or green, combining the two, along with a healthy dose of cost savings (and a growing ability to measure), may well be the final nudge.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization since 2001.

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