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Boosting ROI with Multi Vendor Virtualization


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Virtualization offers compelling value. With virtualization, IT can more flexibly allocate computing power to diverse application workloads — thereby reducing costs, optimizing performance and …

Virtualization offers compelling value. With virtualization, IT can more flexibly allocate computing power to diverse application workloads — thereby reducing costs, optimizing performance and improving responsiveness to shifts in business demand.

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  • 1. A UBM TECHWEB WHITE PAPER APRIL 2011 Boosting ROI withMulti-Vendor Virtualization How a Mixed Hypervisor Environment Can Benefit Your Business Brought to you by
  • 2. Boosting ROI with Multi-Vendor Virtualization By Lenny Liebmann Virtualization offers compelling value. With virtu- the technology necessary to simplify the manage- alization, IT can more flexibly allocate computing ment of mixed hypervisor environments. power to diverse application workloads — thereby reducing costs, optimizing performance and improv- Does a single hypervisor really ing responsiveness to shifts in business demand. make sense? As they have adopted virtualization, however, Data center managers have taken a variety of data center managers have faced a problematic approaches to virtualization. Some were early choice: either to rigorously maintain a highly uni- adopters. Others waited a little longer for vendor form hypervisor environment or to utilize different offerings to mature. Some depended heavily on vendors’ virtual server platforms for different outside expertise to initiate their implementations. applications, as appropriate. Others focused on building in-house skills.2 Some data center managers believe that a However, as the benefits of virtualization uniform environment is the best option, because have become clearly evident — and as vendors’ it lets them keep things simple. The downside, hypervisor offerings have matured — most man- however, is that uniformity forces IT to use the agers have embraced the technology and are same hypervisor across the board — even when doing their best to take maximum advantage of that hypervisor may be either more expensive its benefits. or less robust than is necessary for a particular Some data center managers believe that one application. Strict uniformity can also be difficult way to get the most out of virtualization is to to maintain in the real world, and it can lead to maintain a rigorous uniformity in their hypervisor vendor lock-in. implementations. By using a single vendor’s hyper- A mixed virtualization environment, on the visor, these managers believe they can drive down other hand, allows data center managers to match their costs and achieve optimum results. the right hypervisor to each application based This belief is understandable — and may have on cost, skills and features. Unfortunately, mixed even been somewhat valid in the earliest days of environments have typically been very complex the market. The use of a single hypervisor reduces to manage — driving up total cost of ownership. complexity. It means that IT staff has to get up to The good news is that management of mixed speed on only one vendor’s technology. It elimi- virtualization environments has been greatly sim- nates the need to keep track of which hypervisor plified, so data center managers can now choose is being used where. It simplifies administration of the best hypervisor for each application — with- licensing and support contracts. ABOUT THE AUTHOR out paying an unacceptable “complexity tax.” However, adopting a virtualization strategy This kind of well-managed multihypervisor based on the use of only one vendor’s hypervi- Lenny Liebmann is a writer environment allows IT to further drive down costs, sor across the enterprise has several downsides, and consultant with more make much more extensive use of virtualization, which include: than 30 years of experience improve agility, and minimize the allocation of staff Licensing costs. There are substantial dif- in the application of informa- time and effort to data center housekeeping tasks. ferences between the cost structures for different tion technologies to real-world IT organizations embracing virtualization to hypervisors from different vendors. A blanket deci- business challenges. build private clouds should therefore strongly sion to use only one vendor’s hypervisor eliminates consider adopting both multiple hypervisors and the possibility of using a less expensive alternative,
  • 3. UBM TECHWEB WHITE PAPER | Boosting ROI with Multi-Vendor Virtualization “purity,” these deviations can throw a monkey It’s important to keep virtualization vendors wrench into the works. honest when it comes to contract negotiations. Companies For these and other reasons, a single-hyper- visor strategy may not make the most economic that put all their eggs in one hypervisor basket lose their or operational sense for your company — even negotiating leverage. though rigorously uniform virtualization can seem like a reasonable approach. such as Microsoft Hyper-V, where appropriate. As virtualization is rolled out across the enterprise, The rationale for a mixed hyper- these missed opportunities for cost savings can visor environment be significant. Based on the potential downsides of a virtualiza- Functional limitations. Use of a single tion strategy predicated upon a single hypervisor, hypervisor hamstrings IT with that single hyper- a strong argument can be made for an intention- visor’s functional limitations. Some hypervisors, ally heterogeneous approach. Key points in this for example, are better suited to certain types of argument include: workloads than others. Also, some hypervisors Optimized alignment of hypervi- are not able to flexibly move workloads between sor capabilities and costs with application Intel and AMD architectures — essentially lock- requirements. As noted earlier, one hypervisor ing IT into a specific brand of processor silicon. IT may make sense for certain applications and/or organizations that maintain a policy of rigorous use of multiple types of processor silicon — while standardization cannot overcome such limitations another may not. By granting themselves the free- by using alternative hypervisor solutions. dom to make choices that are appropriate for Vendor lock-in. IT organizations that com- each situation, IT organizations can better align mit to a single hypervisor wind up locked into that hypervisor capabilities and costs with applica- vendor’s virtualization platform prematurely. There tion requirements. This helps optimize application3 is still plenty of innovation taking place in virtualiza- performance and scalability while preventing tion. And it’s important to keep virtualization vendors unnecessary spending. honest when it comes to contract negotiations. Near-term and long-term flexibility. Companies that put all their eggs in one hypervisor Understanding and deploying multiple vendors’ basket lose almost all their negotiating leverage — hypervisors ensures maximum near-term and long- because the cost and potential disruption of migrat- term flexibility. If one vendor pulls ahead of the ing an entire virtual infrastructure from an incumbent competition in terms of technology, pricing or vendor to an alternative vendor will be prohibitive. service, simply adjust the hypervisor “mix” accord- Being intentional vs. being reactive. IT ingly. If an enterprise acquires a new business, the organizations that plan to use a single acquired company’s virtual servers can be accom- hypervisor across the enterprise often still modated regardless of which specific hypervisor wind up with heterogeneous virtual serv- is used — instead of having to bear the cost and ers. This can happen because some group disruption of a massive migration to the corporate deviates from the standard for some reason — standard. And organizations that plan for hypervi- or because some acquired business has adopted sor heterogeneity are in a better position to adopt another hypervisor solution. If the virtualization some entirely new vendor’s hypervisor if its value strategy is built on the assumption of hypervisor proposition is sufficiently attractive. Application Application Application Application Application Hypervisor Hypervisor Hypervisor Hypervisor Hypervisor A B B C B IT organizations that are free to choose the most appropriate hypervisor for each situation can better align capabilities and costs with application requirements.
  • 4. UBM TECHWEB WHITE PAPER | Boosting ROI with Multi-Vendor Virtualization Broader use of virtualization. By preserving allocated as necessary to meet the needs of the the freedom to use more economical hypervisors business. Just as important, this administration where appropriate, enterprises can roll out virtu- can be streamlined and automated to minimize alization much more broadly without breaking the TCO and ensure rapid, intelligent responsiveness budget or endangering performance, availability to changing allocation requirements. or other service-level standards. Hypervisor flex- The Dell VIS architecture comprises three key ibility can help enterprises employ virtualization modular components: • Dell Advanced Infrastructure Manager (AIM) simplifies data center management by If key challenges are addressed, IT organi- enabling administrators to allocate server, stor- age and network resources against application zations can fully realize the benefits of a mixed hypervisor workloads with point-and-click ease. Because environment — and thereby boost the total business value AIM supports multiple hypervisors and insulates administrators from the underlying complexity returned by overall investment in virtualization. of heterogeneous hardware and virtualization layers, it greatly simplifies dynamic re-allocation for 70 to 90 percent of servers — a big improve- of both physical and virtual IT resources. ment over the 20 to 30 percent threshold that’s • Dell VIS Self-Service Creator is a Web-based typical today. This broader use of virtualization can portal that speeds deployment of workloads significantly improve the efficiency of IT operations by automating the provisioning of necessary as a whole. It can also drive down TCO for virtual resources. It empowers authorized users to select servers through far greater economies of scale. and activate those resources from a defined Of course, a mixed hypervisor environment catalog — while allowing IT to define a set of also introduces the following issues: standardized processes and policies that govern4 • Insulating IT operations staff from the complexities workload provisioning. It thus drives down costs inherent in managing multiple vendors’ hypervisors and ensures control, even as it enables new • Enabling your current IT operations staff to man- services and applications to be activated in a age a larger number of virtual systems matter of minutes. • Easing the migration of applications and services • Dell VIS Director functions as the IT intelligence between different hypervisors hub for the virtual environment, giving adminis- • Defining and executing a rational policy for the trators the ability to automate performance and use of each hypervisor. capacity management across their virtual data If these issues are not addressed, the advan- center resources. It provides a holistic view of tages of a mixed hypervisor environment are likely virtual dependencies and enables quick identi- to be offset by higher operational costs, slower fication and resolution of problems. It includes operational response times and an increased advanced reporting, system-verified trusted potential for operational error. If, on the other alarms, continuous self-learning, visualization hand, these issues are properly addressed, IT orga- of resource consumption, and trend analysis nizations can fully realize the benefits of a mixed capabilities that administrators need to proac- hypervisor environment — and thereby boost the tively optimize availability, performance and data total business value returned by overall investment center economics. in virtualization. By taking advantage of these Dell VIS archi- tecture capabilities, data center managers can gain Managing mixed environments a variety of valuable capabilities, including: with Dell Virtual Integrated System Unified management of multiple hyper- (VIS) architecture visors. Because Dell VIS architecture supports Dell has responded to evolving data center needs heterogeneous infrastructures with multiple with the Dell Virtual Integrated System archi- vendors’ hypervisor environments, it enables tecture — an open, capable and affordable set of IT organizations to mix and match comput- solutions for streamlining management of complex, ing resources as appropriate. So data center multihypervisor computing environments. managers can flexibly utilize a combination With the Dell VIS architecture, data center of Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESX and Citrix managers can administer their heterogeneous com- XenServer as part of a single “private cloud” puting, storage and networking assets as a single, environment — without driving up management common resource “cloud” that can be dynamically complexity or costs.
  • 5. UBM TECHWEB WHITE PAPER | Boosting ROI with Multi-Vendor Virtualization Policy-based hypervisor governance. Data especially important as personnel turns over and center managers can ensure the appropriate use of staff responsibilities change. different hypervisors by defining policies for their Extending virtualization to remote and deployment. For example, Microsoft Hyper-V could branch offices. Dell AIM abstracts workloads be specified for all Microsoft applications (such as from server hardware, enabling technicians to Exchange, SQL Server and SharePoint). easily add, move and change workloads running Consistent life-cycle workflow processes. on both physical and virtual machines (as well as Dell VIS architecture helps combat virtual server connectivity to the network and storage) within “sprawl” and rogue implementations by enforc- the span of a reboot. This allows virtualization to ing a consistent set of life-cycle workflows from be readily extended to locations where there may resource request and approval through resource not be any skilled technical staff. The extension retirement. The consistency of these processes is of virtualization significantly reduces operation DELL AIM AND MICROSOFT SYSTEM CENTER Another advantage of Dell VIS architecture is the complementary nature and convenient inte- gration between Dell AIM and Microsoft System Center. While Dell AIM addresses all aspects of virtualization at the hardware level — including provisioning of processor, memory, storage and network resources — Microsoft System Center gives IT the command and control it needs over the use of those resources from the virtual fabric to the application level. Application-level management can be particularly important when it comes to optimizing performance and scalability of services with high variability in demand (such as customer-facing database access), where it may be necessary to map specific application functions (such as SQL queries) to a defined set of virtualized processing resources. Dell AIM and Microsoft System Center make it easier to coordinate these two interdependent5 aspects of successful virtualization by providing shared naming of resource and services — and by giving technicians the ability to “click-through” target resources and services from one manage- ment screen to another. This streamlines virtualization management workflows and reduces the opportunity for operator error, while giving IT the complete control over resource allocation that is necessary to best meet the rapidly changing needs of the business. The AIM/Microsoft System Center combination enables IT organizations to effectively man- age even highly complex mixed hypervisor environments from a single point across the physical, virtual and application layers — allowing them to overcome limitations in staff headcount, experience and skill sets. As a result, companies of all kinds can better serve the needs of their business and achieve greater virtualization ROI. Dell AIM and Microsoft System Center Dell Delivery Center Dell VIS Self-Service Creator Dell VIS Director Microsoft System Center Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Dell Advanced Infrastructure Manager Dell OpenManage Compute Network Storage The combination of Dell VIS, Microsoft System Center and Hyper-V enables IT to effectively manage complex hypervisor environments across the physical, virtual and application layers.
  • 6. UBM TECHWEB WHITE PAPER | Boosting ROI with Multi-Vendor Virtualization More efficient use of staff time and skills. Total ROI (Economic benefits minus all costs) More-streamlined/ Management Costs automated manage- Licensing Costs ment of the private cloud means lower overall TCO for the computing infrastruc- ture — and the ability to allocate more staff resources to other Single Hypervisor Multilple Hypervisors Multiple Hypervisors Enviroment with Fragmented Management with Dell VIS Architecture critical tasks. and Microsoft System Center G re a t e r e c o n o - With Dell VIS architecture and Microsoft System Center, IT organizations can mies o f s c a l e . substantially reduce virtualization licensing and ownership costs — while C o m m o n manage- reaping even more of virtualization’s potential benefits. ment of a larger set of virtualized computing and infrastructure costs across remote and resources results in economies of scale that drive branch offices. further reductions of the overall infrastructure Integration with existing toolkits. Dell TCO. VIS architecture supports imaging processes such Long-term freedom to pursue savings. as Microsoft Windows Imaging (WIM), Linux Avoiding hypervisor vendor lock-in makes it pos- Kickstart, SUSE Linux AutoYaST, and hypervisor sible to pursue better value from virtualization cloning. It also provides out-of-the-box plug-ins6 for integration with image distribution tools from vendors such as BMC Software, CA Technologies, HYPER-V AND MICROSOFT Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Citrix. This enables IT SYSTEM CENTER organizations to take advantage of its capabilities Microsoft Hyper-V, which is included with without swapping out existing investments — and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 OS at no to better automate deployment and management additional cost, enables organizations to take of virtual desktops. advantage of Microsoft platforms already in place — a cost saver in terms of software and The business benefits of a well- IT personnel expenses — to help extend vir- tualization. Hyper-V can be used to virtualize managed multi-vendor private cloud tier-1 applications such as SQL Server, Office The demands being placed on IT infrastruc- SharePoint Server and Exchange Server to ture and personnel continue to escalate at a lower total cost of ownership, increase scal- pace that exceeds any increases in IT budget. A ability and maintain performance. well-managed mixed hypervisor environment is Because Hyper-V is built into Windows Server 2008 R2, it provides features such as live therefore highly desirable because of how it can migration and clustering without additional help stretch the budget to better meet the needs cost, and it enables existing IT staff resources of the business. to manage hypervisors. Windows Server The cost savings delivered by such an environ- 2008 R2 SP1 comes with enhanced ben- ment include: efits like Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX, which enable advanced memory functions, Lower cost of hypervisor licenses. The improved virtual machine density, and many ability to use lower-cost hypervisors, such as other performance enhancements. Microsoft Hyper-V, wherever they are appropriate Introducing Hyper-V into an existing data substantially reduces the overall hypervisor licens- center infrastructure enables rapid expan- ing budget. sion of virtualization and sets a cost-effective foundation for a private cloud infrastructure. More efficient use of physical processing Hyper-V and other hypervisors can happily capacity. By enabling more extensive use of vir- coexist in the same environment, especially tualization, a mixed hypervisor environment leads with Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine to maximum utilization of hardware resources — Manager and Dell VIS in the mix. even in remote and branch offices.
  • 7. UBM TECHWEB WHITE PAPER | Boosting ROI with Multi-Vendor Virtualization vendors as their pricing structures evolve over Long-term freedom to pursue inno- time — driving down future costs. vation. Avoiding hypervisor lock-in makes it The increased value delivered by such an possible to pursue new functional capabilities environment includes: from virtualization vendors as they continue Nimble response to changing business to innovate over time, enhancing future IT needs. As virtualization is implemented more service delivery. broadly, responses to business needs (for new The bottom line is that this combination of services, additional capacity, better performance substantial cost savings and greatly increased and so on) become faster and easier. business value can significantly boost virtualiza- Better governance, compliance and tion ROI in both the near and the long term. security. A single, automated and well-defined The ability to manage multiple hypervisors in a process for managing the life cycle of virtual unified, streamlined manner is therefore a critical servers and desktops puts IT in control of the competitive advantage in today’s technology- private cloud and helps mitigate risks associated dependent marketplace. ◆ with inadequately governed IT infrastructure. ABOUT DELL AND MICROSOFT Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL) listens to customers and delivers innovative technology and services they value. A leading global systems and services company uniquely enabled by its direct business model, Dell is No. 33 on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies. For more information, visit or to communicate directly with Dell via a variety of online channels, go to To get Dell news directly, visit Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ: “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services, and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft virtualization provides a completely virtualized infrastructure for the enterprise, from the data center to desktop to the cloud.