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High availability tops virtualization concerns

Last week’s IDC Directions 2011 Boston conference was all about cloud, cloud, cloud. But if you haven’t made the move “to the cloud” yet, you’re probably chipping away at virtualization — a still-growing technology that many IT pros have concerns about.

Five years ago, people had two to four virtual machines (VMs) per physical server, but nowadays it’s more like six to eight, said Jean Bozman, an IDC research vice president. And 2011 is the first year when more VMs will be deployed than physical servers, said Michelle Bailey, also an IDC research vice president.

High availability (HA) is one of the top concerns among IDC clients because today’s admins have more VMs, and more are virtualizing mission-critical workloads, Bozman said.

With these increases, it’s no wonder people are concerned about HA. But for the best uptime, you need the best management tools, and many admins are still trying to manage VMs like they managed physical servers.

Things will really pay off for whichever vendor gets management right first, Bozman said. Many users feel even VMware hasn’t gotten virtualization management right yet.

What VMware has done is partner with other companies in an effort to improve HA services. Symantec’s ApplicationHA, for example, coordinates with VMware HA and can move individual applications to ensure their continuous uptime (whereas VMware HA moves entire VMs).

Cloud concerns
Security is another major concern for IDC survey respondents, especially when it comes to cloud computing — although, 32% of respondents in one study said cloud’s benefits outweigh its security risks.

Still, it seems not everyone is ready to fully trust the cloud. Most cloud deployments today include only non-mission critical applications, Bailey said. Bozman downplayed these trust issues.

“People talk about cloud computing as if it’s a different country, but it’s really just a continuation of everything that came before it,” she said.

Our columnist Mark Vaughn has warned against putting the cloud cart before the virtualization horse. That’s something to keep in mind as IT pros continue to work out HA, management issues and other virtualization kinks.

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