Comparing Virtualization Methods for Business


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Comparing Virtualization Methods for Business

  1. 1. S olitaire Interglobal Comparing Virtualization Methods for Business - A Summary A quantitative analysis of the business differentiators among x86, Unix, and System z virtualization technologies 1. Introduction Virtualization on an enterprise level has developed into a significant strategy for organizations that are watching costs without adverse impact on service levels. The increasing need for agile market response is also pushing more organizations to implement virtualization on an enterprise level, with more production VM images being deployed. Virtualization provides both an isolation and prioritization of resources that allows a single platform to function as if it were split into multiple machines. The conjunction of today’s technology-driven business marketplace with the economic clime pushes organizations into a continual search for higher efficiencies and better leveraging of IT resources. It is one of the most powerful tools increasing leverage and efficiency of those resources, while positioning strategically for a cloud-computing model. The choice of virtualization method and platform can be challenging, as businesses struggle to understand the requirements of their changing information delivery processes, support staffing and the critical decision elements. Since the impact of virtualization forms an underlying contribution to an organization that is a diffuse layer within the IT infrastructure, IBM engaged Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. (SIL) to conduct surveys, gather data and perform analysis to provide a clear understanding of the benefits and relative costs that can be seen when organizations implement IBM z/VM as part of their IT architecture. This analysis has been primarily directed at the value of virtualization from a business perspective, so that those whose role it is to provide business leadership can understand the benefit of the IBM z/VM virtualization offerings when evaluating its selection. During this study, the main behavioral characteristics of software and hardware were examined closely, within a large number of actual customer sites (79,360+) where virtualization has been deployed in production. This group has organizations that maintain both single virtualization standard and those that allow a heterogeneous mixture of virtualization methods and mechanisms. The information from these customer reports, and the accompanying mass of real-world details is invaluable, since it provides a realistic, rather than theoretical, understanding of how the use of different types of virtualization can affect the customer. In the collection and analysis of this data, a number of characteristics were derived. These characteristics affect the overt capacity, efficiency and reliability of the environment and its affects on operational and business performance. The behavior represented by these characteristics has then been projected and modeled into possible options for deployment. In order to build this understanding more than sheer performance is required. Although the performance of the virtualized systems is an important metric, the translation of that performance into business terms is more germane to today’s market. The business perspective encompasses a myriad of factors, including reliability, security, staffing levels, time-to-market (agility) and other effects. This ties directly into the decisions that IT managers, CTOs, project managers and business leadership have to make daily. 2. Findings The purpose of this analysis was to examine the real-world impact on businesses that deploy IBM’s z/VM virtualization product, compared to those using UNIX or x86 products. For the purposes of this analysis, the different variants of x86 virtualization have been grouped together and treated as a single entity. Likewise, the different UNIX variants have been grouped. The metrics used to analyze the differences in platforms were both objective and subjective. The objective metrics include reported data points on costs, run times, resource usages, and so on. The subjective metrics include responses on various levels and sources of customer satisfaction and perception. While overall customer satisfaction uses a variety of qualitative and quantitative measures, it still provides an end-result measurement of deployment success for the customer. A few of the highlighted findings can be seen in the quick summary below.Telephone 847.931.9100 180 South Western Avenue, # 275Website Carpentersville, Illinois 60110
  2. 2. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A Summary Quick Summary Category Commentary Quick Byte z/VM provides enterprise-level support The more complex or volatile the environment, the more allCustomer Satisfaction for complex and changing customer aspects of customers reported high satisfaction with z/VM. needs. While TCA can be more for z/VM than some of the alternatives,Total Cost of TCO can be as little as 17.69% of the the TCO rapidly changes that picture, especially when a multi-Ownership (TCO) expense of competitive offerings. year view is taken. The normalized staffing levels for z/VM are smaller than those Staffing is far more effective with z/VMStaffing for the competitive offerings when a complex environment is – the same number of people can needed by as much as 13 times less than other options. support up to 3 times more VM images. The reported risk of deployment is considerably better for z/VM Enterprise resiliency from z/VMRisk users, with competition incurring as much as 11 times more risk safeguards the IT operations. to operations. The more virtualized the environment, the more critical the Enterprise strength availability from availability becomes. z/VM requires fewer platform and VMAvailability z/VM supports global operations and reboots than competitive platforms with very little downtime, midnight sales. either planned or unplanned. z/VM users are reporting faster deployment times by as much as 5 A well-managed z/VM system is directlyAgility times, and with much more predictable delivery of the new associated with faster and predictable systems and features. time-to-market. With the ability to push the utilization of the z/VM resources to The z/VM platform allows more IT substantially higher levels than any other platform, the z/VMSystem Efficiency workload to be done with fewer overall platform routinely supports more than 17 times more VM server resources. images than the competition. z/VM supports all forms of security control and isolation, No reported successful VM hacking inSecurity including those required for highly secure implementations, z/VM means organization assets are separating resources for memory, network, I/O and access. well protected. The ability of IT to support the business with reliable, safe and z/VM delivers enterprise-level quality ITIT Service Quality consistent services forms the base for quality. z/VM service services for all organizational business quality is as much as 5 times higher than the other options. needs.These key findings are all substantial reasons to consider z/VM for an organization’s virtualization and architecturalchoice. In addition to the key findings, an analysis of the relevancy of the mainframe architecture in today’sbusiness-case driven market provides a critical view of how it has changed in reference to the System z and z/VMarchitecture, showing that most of today’s businesses have a true business case for mainframe deployment.2.1. Business PerspectiveUltimately, IT and technology are designed to support business functions. So one of the primary perspectives of thestudy was the view of the technology by an organization’s business management, both executive and line-of-business (LOB). For the purposes of this part of the analysis, the patterns of operations from the studyorganizations have been grouped into similar categories and then compared to identify their affect on businessmetrics. These metrics are: • Customer satisfaction • IT stability and reliability • Total cost of ownership • Agility (time-to-market) • StaffingEach of these business metrics has measurable and significant differentiation when the projected IBM z/VMdeployment solution is viewed. The more granular business metrics are those measurements that show how aspecific measure of success is different in the general population of the implementers versus those that havedeployed z/VM. These are fairly broad in coverage and touch on areas of financial consideration, as well asorganizational quality. The metrics are presented with short definitions and the focused net effect of IBM z/VMdeployment. In order to be meaningful across a variety of industries, all of the metrics have been normalized on awork-unit basis1, and categorized by levels of organization size (medium, large and very large). The base measure1Work-unit basis has been defined using the published International Function Point User Group standards and are based onfunction point (FP) analysis.© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 2
  3. 3. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A Summaryhas been set by the medium company average, so that all other metrics are based on a variance from that standardset point. The implementations included in this study have been restricted to those implementations in production.Customer SatisfactionThe ultimate measurement of a successful implementation is customer satisfaction. SIL tracks this metric split outamong the end IT user, IT operational or LOB management, andexecutive management from each organization, since theperception of satisfaction may radically differ among those groups.The satisfaction of the end IT user about their computer systemstends to focus on the delivery of services, rather than thevirtualization itself. The satisfaction with IT implementation andoperation provides the most general metric for evaluation. Thisrating provides a singular perspective on the overall success ofvirtualization deployment.The advantages seen by the reporting clients show increasingsatisfaction in the applications run under z/VM, as attributed tothe number of tracked complaints from end IT users. Thefollowing chart shows the reported average monthly complaint count for the different platform groups. Thesecomplaints have been restricted to continued operational issues. The three top reasons cited by reportingcustomers for the satisfaction were: 1. Smooth running operation with little downtime 2. Consistent and dependable run times 3. Speed of implementationThe operational perception of the customer, based on a variety ofcomponent metrics (e.g. support levels, communication, price,etc.), demonstrates satisfaction and success at the most genericlevel. This metric examines the feedback from the operational sideof the organization. It comes from information reported both bythe IT departments and LOB groups. Their satisfaction with thez/VM deployments reflects the reliability and resiliency of theplatform, in addition to the integration benefits. The most highlycited reasons for the satisfaction were: 1. Smooth running operation with little downtime and complaints 2. Efficiency of operational support 3. Large amount of information available to manage operationsThe final verification of system success is in the executivemanagement feedback. The satisfaction of the customer executivemanagement tends to focus on the application and cost. An overallsummary of the satisfaction of the executive management of thestudied organizations shows some interesting patterns. One majorsource of the perceived success by executives is the number ofcomplaints that they receive about the system operation. Overall,z/VM displays a significantly lower number of complaints. Therelative comparison is a legitimate indicator of how well theoperating system supports the processing. The three top reasonscited for the satisfaction rating were: 1. Smooth running operation with little downtime and complaints 2. Low staffing 3. Speed of implementation on System z© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 3
  4. 4. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A Summary Since one of the main reasons for executive satisfaction is financial, further analysis was done to examine the degree of utilization, or efficiency, of each platform. In those cases where platforms are highly leveraged, the z/VM satisfaction increases substantially. It is very understandable low utilization of a substantial resource, such as a mainframe computer, would be a source of dissatisfaction with executives. However, the high degree of satisfaction for the efficient load and management of that resource shows that it is more of an organization strategy rather than a platform limitation. Research Note: The study shows a very high correlation between the system efficiency and the satisfaction of executive management. It also suggests that an evaluation of organizational business process and strategic resource management would be a reasonable approach for increasing overall satisfaction.Overall Expense (TCO)This cost perspective looks at the total cost to the corporation during a specific time period. This is normalized onthree bases: employee, sales revenue and legal entity count, and contains expenses associated with up to a 3-monthdeployment preparation phase. These expenses span all of those included in the operational cost metric and aresupplemented by expense contributions for physical plant,corporate overhead, long-term investments, etc. The TCOfinancial metric is more comprehensive than a straightoperational metric. It should not be viewed in isolation, sinceextraordinary expense patterns may cause minor variance in theexact comparison values. For this reason, the comparison metricshould be viewed as indicative and providing a general rangerather that an exact value. However, the data is sufficiently largethat, combined with the other business metrics, this comparisonhelps to set an appropriate perspective. The IBM z/VMapplication shows lower overall expenses (as much as 82.31%)over a wide range of organization size, although the smaller organizations do not see the efficiencies of scale.The cost of acquisition is higher with the System z platforms than for the smaller Intel and UNIX platforms. Thisdisparity in cost levels is obviated when virtualization and capacity demand increases. This switch in the definingmetric from TCA to TCO happens in all situations eventually, but is more rapid in the larger deployments. Since theTCO holds true as a metric, well past the usefulness of the TCA, the TCO has been used as the defining cost metric.The differential among the solutions is based largely on the lower expenses for the efficient deployment and thelower overall cost of the solution, including staffing. This is affected strongly by the scope of the virtualizationdeployment, with increased expenditure efficiency present as the complexity and size of the virtualizationdeployment increases. Customers of all degrees of deployment reported a consistent pattern of differentiation inthree main areas: 1. More highly-leveraged platforms 2. Lower datacenter costs (environmental, facility, etc.) 3. Lower staffing costs overall (due to tools, stability, etc.)An interesting metric can be seen if the efficiency of scale (EOS) isexamined for the virtualization options in this area. Thismeasurement looks at the change in the normalized cost as theimplementation increases in size and complexity in either thephysical deployment or the number of VMs. It reflects any efficiencythat tools and management flow provide in a specific virtualizationmechanism. Using the organization size as the driving principal, theTCO EOS trend can be summarized as shown in the graph.© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 4
  5. 5. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A SummaryIt is notable that the z/VM data shows a clear implementation of the efficiencies of scale, which is counter to thecompetitive offerings. The top three sources of this advantage were reported as: 1. Speed in production deployment 2. Efficient resource sharing 3. Stability of platform integration (storage, etc.)These factors have produced a realized savings in the cost per VM of about 68% for z/VM, when the complexity andsize of the virtualized environment moves from medium to very large, while the competitive offerings actually growin cost per VM, up to 1.35 times. This efficiency can be substantial when viewed for the enterprise, saving millions ofdollars in deployment and operational costs.StaffingAn underlying factor in many other areas is the effectiveness ofthe interface between the technical user and the infrastructure,including software, hardware and operating system components,and the subsequent effect on staffing. The efficiency of any of thespecific components influencing the user experience are difficultto break down into metrics other than in overly-detailedcomparisons that lose their effectiveness by virtue of the degreeof detail. Therefore, a general view of the full-time staff positionequivalents was reviewed to provide a general metric for theplatform comparison, based on a “gold standard” environment.The workload on the systems was normalized to identical levels.The set point for comparison was selected as the staff level for a medium-sized organization using VMware.Since different virtualization methodologies have varying sets of implementation standards, it is important to keepthe rigor of those standards in mind when reviewing the staffing. The noticeably lower staffing level for z/VMdeployment and use is directly attributable to an efficient unified workflow, as well as a substantially different andfully integrated mechanism to handle the allocation of virtualized resources. This is of special note as theorganization increases in size or if an organization is on the path to a cloud service delivery model. The normalizedstaffing levels for z/VM are smaller than those for the competitive offerings by as much as 13 times.IT Stability, Risk and ReliabilityRisk includes the stability and reliability of the platform, as wellas the chances of platform failure. IT stability and reliabilitymetrics include both planned and unplanned downtime. Thedependability of the implementation is a combination of theindividual reliability of each component, along with the qualityand effectiveness of the actual implementation. SIL viewsavailability as a combination of all outages, i.e., network,hardware, OS, DBMS, etc. The number of outages has beennormalized for consistent comparison basis. The chart shows thepercentage of time that those outages represent and includes allforms of unavailability, irrespective of source. There is asubstantial indication of how the z/VM virtualization contributesto both stability and reliability, due to the combination of high performance and native resilience. The three mostcited sources of the high availability from customers are: 1. Ability to automatically move resources to needed processes 2. Limited need to reboot the full platform 3. Fewer system patches and updates requiredIt should be noted that since SIL uses actual production data, recent significant losses of system uptime on highlypublicized virtual environments have contributed to the lower availability numbers. There are also significantvariations in uptime and availability among the different specific UNIX and x86 offerings.© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 5
  6. 6. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A Summary Research Note: Recent data shows that many of the availability numbers for both x86 and UNIX are dropping for production virtual environments, as the complexity and workload of those implementations increase. The decay of availability is NOT present for z/VM implementations.The practices of the individual organization make a difference in the amount of planned downtime. The overalltrend in availability is a definite indicator of platform stability. The cost of that availability is difficult to articulate,primarily because such a cost estimate has significant subjective components. A quick analysis of the customer-reported financial impact of outages yields a general metric that provides some interesting insights.SIL considers risk to be comprised of three components: • Percentage chance of component failure • Percentage chance of budget or timeframe overrun • Potential exposure, expressed as a percentage amount of overall budget or timeframe overrunThese three percentages are added to form the overall riskfactor for a scenario. The risk exposure for z/VM issignificantly smaller than the competition, with z/VMdeployments showing only 9% of the risk that has beenreported for other virtualization methods. Much of this lower risk can be attributed to the high resiliency of thedeployment and increased efficiency of the resource allocation within the virtualization component itself, whichsignificantly lowers the risk of component failure.AgilityAgility is defined as the average number of calendar days from the startof an initiative to the start of full production operations for a project.This is NOT staff days or hours, but the actual calendar span, includingall weekends, holidays, etc. All of the contributory factors, such asstaffing and reliability, radically affect the speed in which a companycan move a business concept from inception to market. While theperformance metrics were gathered on the production systems,additional measurements were also collected. The results demonstratea significant increase in agility when platforms running z/VM-virtualized environments were used. This increase in agility has beenreported to be as much as 5.1 times faster for the z/VM systems whencompared against the overall study group. This translates into a fastertime-to-market for business initiatives. It is apparent from thereported data that there is a definite agility advantage to using z/VM-deployed systems as compared to the overall experience. When asked for specific sources of the agility, the mostfrequently cited reasons from customers were: 1. Speed of movement from non-production to production environments 2. Ability to easily shift resources to accommodate new implementations 3. Management tools and reporting mechanismsThe differences in agility can be substantial, with z/VM showing faster deployment times by as much as 511.2%. Thefaster time-to-market advantage that is present with the z/VM system can be a major competitive advantage for anyorganization.© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 6
  7. 7. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A Summary2.2. Technical PerspectiveOne of the main perspectives for this analysis is from the viewpoint of the IT professional. Since IT needs tounderstand the underlying architecture and important characteristics of any technology, this perspective tends tofocus primarily on the objective understanding of what a deployment can contribute and will require. The moretechnical perspective still has pertinence for the business evaluation since it concerns those elements of operationthat result in significant risk, performance and efficiency factors. The metrics that fall into this area are: • System efficiency • Security • IT service qualityThese form a picture of the operational side that is the more granular underpinning for the business support ofvirtualization.System EfficiencyOne component in the technical quality of a virtualizationdeployment is system efficiency. The ability to leverage a largerpercentage of the IT asset in production is a measure of howeffectively the IT asset is utilized by the business. In general, theseare consistent within the platform architectural type, with Systemz averaging 98.8%, UNIX systems averaging 58.6% and x86platforms averaging 47.5%. This utilization includes the processingpower, network load, etc. Viewed from a virtualization-specificperspective, a key measure of system efficiency is the density ofdeployed production server VM images. The density of the z/VMdeployments is as much as 17 times the other platforms. When thereasons for setting the VM density were analyzed, the top threewere: 1. Acceptable risk levels 2. Platform performance constraints 3. Organization politicsThe cost of deploying each VM is another metric that spans bothbusiness and technical arenas. It includes the average platformresource and staff time expense, but excludes the application cost.This is especially important for organizations that have active andvolatile non-production environments, since the change in thoseenvironments is far higher than that of normal production.Thesecosts are normalized against the set point of a medium-sizedVMware deployment. The cost per work unit for virtualizedenvironments is an indicative metric for those planning a fairlycomplex environment. In this area, the z/VM advantage is as muchas 1.68 times cheaper than other options. This cost includeshardware, software, staffing and all other normal total expensecategories, which is a significant factor for enterprise-wide virtualization considerations.SecuritySecurity is an important part of any virtualization solution, since virtualization concentrates security topology moredensely. With the ability to create virtual machines within the same physical platform, the definition of IT securitystarts to evolve into more than simple access security. The concept of sidewise hacking, where access from one VMto another is broken has started to be a topic of discussion for security personnel everywhere. The protections thatthe VM software provides have to cover a wider variety of access points than are necessary for security at a wholeplatform level. In this situation, control over all aspects of processing needs to be in place. Many government andsecure installations require protection for the allocation and handling of the main IT spheres: I/O, network access,© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 7
  8. 8. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A Summarymemory management and overall normal execution access. Within the SIL heuristic database spanning 35+ years ofindustry oversight, z/VM has no reported incidences of a break in any of the VM security access points.IT Service QualityIT service quality is composed of various characteristics, which all affect the ability of the operational systems todeliver reliable, consistent services. The main components are: • Consistent delivery of data and application service • Environmental impact • Application efficiency • Management visibility and controlReliability can be somewhat limited in system views, since it is frequently only seen as uptime. This ignoressituations where the platform is up, but the application is not available, as well as a whole other dimension ofrepeatable, consist delivery. If a platform is not up, available and providing consistent performance, it is verydifficult to deliver quality services to the users. The variance in runtimes among the platforms for ongoingequivalent business services and transactions differs widely by platform type, with the z/VM consistency muchhigher than competitive offerings. This consistency of delivery is important on many dimensions, since it sets notonly customer expectations, but also the base for operational schedules, service level agreements and resourceallocation.An increasing factor in today’s business world is the environmental impact of an organization, including its powerand resource usage, carbon footprint and other eco-impact factors. Although implementation of virtualizationmethods can vary widely, the average can be used for a high-level indicator for global citizenship. The System zplatform, coupled with the z/VM mechanisms, has a synergy that significantly reduces the impact on theenvironment. This impact affects the square foot area required within a datacenter, the electrical powerconsumption necessary to run the equipment, the cooling necessary to handle radiated heat within the physicalfacility, and also the overall carbon footprint. With the z/VM density of deployment higher levels, the cost to theenvironment is minimized significantly.Application efficiency reflects the work done in an environment to produce the targeted information product. Thisincorporates the number of machine instructions that are issued to accomplish the different activities, as well as thenumber of base-level bits that are transferred to and from memory, network, internal storage components, etc. Inthis area, the underlying OS, coupled with the middleware and the design of the application have to be viewedtogether, so that the synergies among all of the operating components can be compared equivalently. This affectsthroughput, turnaround, latency, as well as the resource demand of the application. The efficiency is seen in thenumber of supportable VMs, platform resiliency, and other quality factors that differentiate z/VM. The averageimproved efficiency for System z compared to the other architectures in the reporting group can be summarized as: • application execution - 74.7% better • network communication - 55.8% better • communications between applications - 67.0% better • memory access - 75.1% betterThis substantial synergy of System z platform components working with z/VM results in a strong reason to considerz/VM for hosting all applications in a virtualized world.The control and management of the environment is also part of the quality matrix. In order to manage ITprocessing there are some common visibility and control points that can be loosely defined as: • Monitoring of load and activity • Data on data (e.g., events, timeliness, etc.) • Data synchronicityIt is useful to examine the oversight coverage expressed as an average percentage of the production VMs deployed.There are very spotty coverage percentages for some of the architectures. Part of the variations in coverage is due tothe oversight functions that are present in the native platforms. z/VM automatically has the oversight tools© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 8
  9. 9. Enterprise Virtualization with z/VM – A Summaryavailable, while UNIX and x86 has a system activity data collection, with a mechanism for the system activityreport, or third-party tools. The cost of equivalent tools on the UNIX and x86 platforms can be extremely expensive,so oversight is often shortchanged on these platforms, which contributes to the higher risk ratings for thoseplatforms.2.3. ConclusionThe SIL analysis of operating systems shows that the IBM z/VM virtualization method has significant benefits for awide range of organizations. The z/VM advantages increase the effectiveness of application deployment andtranslate to real-world positive results. More than 80% of the study’s organizations have a strong business case forz/VM deployment, when viewed with cost, workload, availability, security and IT services quality in mind.While success can be measured in different ways and looked at from varying perspectives, the bottom-linemeasurement of deployment success is overall customer satisfaction. This incorporates a wide variety of qualitativeand quantitative components. As outlined in the analysis, the customer satisfaction with the z/VM choice is high inmore complex environments, from both a business and technical perspective. The economic benefits of thevirtualization choice are also apparent in the control of overall expense.This study has identified critical business and performance metrics that can be used to understand the advantagesand key strategies that will help an organization to choose the optimal virtualization method. Whether anorganization is looking to deploy cloud architecture, or simply desires a quality, consistent, dependable and efficientIT deployment in a virtualized world, the choice of virtualization strategy is critical. Any organization consideringall of the factors will see that z/VM is both a viable and relevant option.This document was developed with IBM funding. Although the document may utilize publicly available materialfrom various vendors, including IBM, it does not necessarily reflect the positions of such vendors on the issuesaddressed in this document. ZSL03210-USEN-00© 2012, Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. Page 9