New found agility, reduced CAPEX and OPEX and centralized IT infrastructure management are driving the adoption of private clouds. But as organizations enter them their dark side of management complexities becomes more plainly seen. This is where HP’s heightened integration with Microsoft Systems Center 2012 with its Virtual Machine Manager component comes into play as it enables organizations to transform private cloud infrastructures from being dark and unmanageable into ones that they are easily visualized and controlled.
Organizations are adopting virtualization and private cloud infrastructures for three simple reasons.
- Centralized IT infrastructure management. Virtualization breaks the 1:1 relationship between applications and backend servers and storage. This facilitates the consolidation of this hardware into one location so it may be centrally managed with a better grasp of what applications are in use.
- Increased agility. Private clouds provide new freedom to move applications to the most appropriate server or storage hardware to optimize available capacity and resources which is now possible since they are all in one location
- Reduced CAPEX/OPEX. Being able to use the same server and storage hardware to host multiple applications lowers the upfront capital expenditures (CAPEX) on these items as well as ongoing operating expenditures (OPEX) such as power and cooling.
But as they reap the benefits of private clouds, organizations are also seeing their darker sides. For example, private cloud components (applications, operating systems, and server and storage hardware) each have their own interface that requires administrators to possess a sophisticated set of technical skills to manage them. Some organizations are also then building their own private clouds using components from various vendors adding to the complexity of private cloud management.
Organizations will minimally need an administrator that has moderate to high levels of technical expertise that is typically well beyond what most average IT managers possess. So assuming an organization can even find such an individual with this expertise, this person will not come cheap and may be difficult to retain.
Those organizations that go down the path of building their own private cloud using solutions from various vendors face an even bigger challenge. In addition to the need to hire a highly skilled person to manage their private cloud, they have also created a cloud without any centralized software to manage it.
These drawbacks of managing private clouds are why organizations are re-evaluating the best way to go forward with private clouds. This is why private clouds that consist of components that integrate with a comprehensive management platform are emerging as the best way to move forward with private clouds right now.
Resolving this complexity explains some of the genesis behind HP announcing a tightly integrated management offering with Microsoft Systems Center 2012. Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (MSCVMM) already does in-depth monitoring, management and visualization of private cloud infrastructures through its integration with common operating systems like Windows, Sun Solaris and various Linux/UNIX distributions as well as the three leading hypervisor platforms: Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and VMware vSphere.
However as private cloud adoption expands in enterprise organizations, the need for management integration of server and storage hardware with System Center 2012 in these private clouds has become more acute. This is why today we see how the tight management integration from server and storage hardware providers like HP enables a more holistic and simpler approach to private cloud management.
Making this integration particularly desirable from a SAN management perspective is that organizations may now use System Center 2012 as their primary portal to visualize and manage their SAN infrastructure. In this way organizations can use System Center’s wizards to centrally provision storage, re-allocate storage, monitor alerts and even place guest OSes on the most appropriate hardware to optimize available resources.
Equally notable is the caliber of HP server and storage hardware that MSCVMM can now manage. The ProLiant Gen8 servers and HP 3PAR Storage are HP’s enterprise class hardware offerings. So by adding support for these HP offerings, MSCVMM expands its appeal as an enterprise virtualization infrastructure management solution.
But possibly what makes HP’s storage management integration with System Center 2012 the most appealing is that it minimizes or even eliminates the need for organizations to hire SAN specialists to manage their private clouds. Now they can more confidently move ahead with a private cloud deployment without wondering how they are going to support it.
HP VirtualSystem VS3 for Microsoft automates the management of HP ProLiant Gen8 servers and HP 3PAR Storage as it comes pre-tested, pre-configured and ready to run with Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center 2012. This tighter integration now facilitates faster provisioning of new VMs on the HP ProLiant Gen8 server side. On HP 3PAR Storage, administrators may now:
- Consolidate event and alert management within the System Center 2012 Operations Manager console
- Centrally discover and then manage HP 3PAR Virtual Volumes and Snapshots
- Configure Live Migration and automate failover between different data centers
Private clouds are rapidly changing how organizations deploy applications but a similar transformation in how private cloud infrastructures are managed also needs to occur. This in large part explains why alliances and integration between providers like HP and Microsoft are deepening.
Organizations and vendors alike are coming to the realization that centralized visualization, change management and centralized monitoring, reporting and management of private cloud infrastructures can no longer be afterthoughts if private clouds are to realize their full potential. Using the high levels of integration that is now available between HP servers and storage and Microsoft System Center 2012, organizations do more than adopt a private cloud. They get a solution that delivers the functionality they need, the levels of visibility and control they want and the automation to manage it.