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Virtual Machines Running Mission-Critical Workloads

Managing virtual machines, especially now that more of them they carry mission-critical workloads, remains a top concern among IT managers who have deployed virtualized servers in the data center, according to a survey on the floor of Interop in Las Vegas. A survey of 105 Interop attendees who were network engineers and IT managers found that 61 percent had deployed virtualized servers in the data center, up from 55 percent at Interop 2009. Of those who have deployed virtualized servers, 36 percent said they were hampered by the lack of monitoring tools to help them with their deployments; 30 percent said they didn't have a problem.

Even among the latter group, I suspect, you could elicit some agreement that existing tools could be improved. The virtualization vendors pay attention to the management space, but they don't have the long term view of systems management vendors, such as BMC, CA, IBM and HP, for managing varied hardware.

Nevertheless, 90 percent of those who have opted to virtualize part of the data center said they are now running mission critical workloads on it. This finding is likely to grow as more IT managers and database administrators come to realize it's possible to run database systems in virtual machines, something that's still an uncommon practice.

It appears to me that virtual machine management tools and virtualized server capacity management will become key sought after systems over the coming year. The virtualized servers can be lumped together and managed as a pool through a virtualization software layer. The pool of x86 servers in turn has the potential to become the core of a private cloud, in a manner I tried to lay out in "Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution," a McGraw-Hill book to appear May 14.

Earlier this year, an InformationWeek team visited Dell, where executives told us they were seeing interest in the private cloud mushroom. They had built up expertise in building servers suitable for public clouds and they expected to sell versions of those designs for the heavily virtualized environment of the private cloud.

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