Room for improvement: Where virtualization vendors are falling short

For all the recent improvements, virtualization vendors and third-party providers are still falling short of customer expectations in some areas.

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Last November, on the eve of Thanksgiving, we asked our Advisory Board members what server virtualization technology they were thankful for. They pointed to some important new hypervisor releases that improved high availability and disaster recovery features. However, for all the exciting new features and improvements we've seen from major virtualization vendors and third-party providers, it is clear that there is still room for improvement. This year, we've flipped the question on its head and asked our Advisory Board members what is still on their wish list. Where can virtualization vendors and third-party providers do a better job to improve the quality of their products or services?

Christian Metz, First American

Today’s virtualization vendors still seem to be missing the mark in the realm of reporting. While VMware has made some great strides with vCenter CapacityIQ, it still seems to be lacking. If you want a performance report showing the host versus the VM, its available, but I get a lot of competing views on what the data really means. I find that built-in performance reporting could stand to be much more robust in capability but simple in execution. Microsoft's Hyper-V has some very granular reporting abilities, but deciding which counters to use and how to make sense of the data is very confusing.

There are many third party options available from companies such as NetIQ Corporation or Veeam Software, however these come at a cost. If you use these third-party products, your organization ends up absorbing a large cost to get basic reporting capabilities. These products come with a wealth of other options, which make them worth their price tag. However we should not have to incur additional costs for basic performance reporting. If there is one place I would like to see Microsoft and VMware focus, it would be on built-in performance monitoring.

Rob McShinsky, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

The pace of the virtualization market has left many third-party vendors scrambling to be the first to support a particular hypervisor version or feature, creating a growing number of “bugware” releases. This is not a new concept in technology markets, but the fast pace of virtualization enhancements and emerging revenue streams seems to make this even more prevalent. I compare this to the annoying people on comment lists that simply write “first.” Yes you are first, or early with your product release, but you have added nothing of substance. In other cases, this early support is based on a specific defined configuration without much scalability. Recently, I was working with a well-known backup software that claimed to support Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2, but in practice the software was a failure in larger environments. There were workarounds that might make it work, but with so many holes in a three year old supported product, it was clear this claim of support was just a check mark for the product team.

Third-party vendors are not the only ones I have gripes with. On the opposite end of the spectrum, major hypervisor vendors are often slow to implement missing features or sometimes even lack management support for their released products (i.e. System Center 2012 support for Windows Server 2012).

So vendors, please no more bugware, and have a plan beyond the initial release. Being first to support a new release isn't as important as a product that incorporates quality and flexibility.

Dave Sobel, Level Platforms

What vendors lack when dealing with the large pool of solution providers they work with is a clear understanding of their businesses. Most IT solution provider businesses have moved to selling services, and many to managed services (with it's focus on recurring revenue), yet most vendors are selling products. The two are closely linked, but many vendors don't understand the business models of their channel. This disconnect causes vendors to push solution providers to sell product (rather than lead with services), and marketing budgets aren't aligned with what solution providers need. This causes considerable waste in the channel -- to no one's benefit.

This was first published in November 2012

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