Optimizing Resources – Data Centers

Optimizing Resource Management for Converged Infrastructure

May 2012

Adapted from Worldwide Enterprise Server 2012 Top 10 Predictions by Matthew Eastwood, Jean S. Bozman, Jed Scaramella, Lloyd Cohen, Michelle Bailey, Kuba Stolarski, Reuben Miller, IDC #232823 Sponsored by Egenera

In today’s datacenters, the massive growth in the numbers of devices, users, applications, and virtual machines (VMs) is putting significant pressure on IT departments to accelerate and optimize performance and availability. The siloed architectures prevalent in the past simply can’t scale effectively and economically enough to keep up with these changes. The concept of a converged infrastructure offering policy-based automation and resource allocation across pooled resources allows IT organizations to break away from many of these constraints. Virtualization has been a game changer in today’s datacenter, but many IT organizations are reaching a plateau of adoption, with the next step characterized by improved automation, management, and resource management as private clouds are developed. In anticipation, the industry is shifting to converged infrastructure and management software that can offer many potential benefits to IT organizations, including capex and opex savings and high availability. As a result, IDC anticipates that system vendors will adapt their converged strategies to include solutions that integrate third-party components to supplement their proprietary solutions. This paper provides insights into some of the major forces driving the development and adoption of management systems for converged infrastructure. In addition, it discusses the role that Egenera plays in this strategically important market with its PAN Manager solution.

Introduction

In today’s IT organizations, the massive growth in the numbers of devices, users, applications, and virtual machines must be accommodated. This expansion is putting significant pressure on IT departments to accelerate and optimize performance and availability. At the same time, another important parallel trend taking place is that enterprises want to shift more of their IT spending from maintenance and simply “keeping the lights on” toward innovation and growing the business. Currently, 70–80% of IT staff time is devoted to routine operations, maintenance, and break/fix troubleshooting. This needs to change.

The traditional siloed approach to IT isn’t keeping up with what leading-edge users are focused on, including:

• Reducing costs via a combination of consolidation, virtualization, and automation
• Business realignment toward modernization, analytics, and mobile applications
• Improved risk management, which includes business continuity, disaster recovery, and security

In part, this is because the siloed architectures prevalent in the past simply can’t scale effectively and economically enough to keep up with these changes.

All of these trends are prompting IT organizations to rethink datacenter architecture and explore the concept of a converged infrastructure that unifies storage, compute, networking, and management. This approach allows IT organizations to break away from many of these constraints. A number of forward-thinking IT organizations either are already actively exploring a move in this direction or are pushing ahead with implementation plans.

Trends in the Migration to Converged Infrastructures

Virtualization has been a game changer in today’s datacenter. There has been tenfold growth in virtual machine deployment over the past decade while the physical server base has remained flat. Many IT organizations are reaching the end of the first phase of virtualization adoption, which focused primarily on workload consolidation supported by multiple VMs per physical server. Overall, 20–40% of applications are now running on virtualized systems, with fully 50% of respondents to an IDC study reporting that 40% of applications were already virtualized.

However, many enterprises have indicated that they have reached a plateau of adoption, with the next step focused on moving business- and mission-critical applications into a virtualized environment. This process will bring its own set of special challenges and will be characterized by improved automation, portfolio management, capacity management, governance, high availability, and policy-based live migration.

In anticipation of the need for better management and automation, the industry is shifting to a datacenter architecture based on the concept of converged infrastructure. Converged infrastructure (sometimes called unified or fabric computing) involves the pooling of compute, storage, network, and systems management resources for flexible resource allocation. This shared/automated approach that leverages modularized industry-standard hardware also forms the basis for the implementation of private clouds. With server virtualization nearing the end of its cycle, the shift in emphasis will be on new resource management capabilities.

IDC research indicates growing interest in and adoption of converged systems. In a recent IDC study, over 25% of enterprises said they either are planning to use or are using converged systems, a sharp increase compared with previous study results. These findings demonstrate that converged systems are seen as a viable solution for IT simplification and its attendant cost savings as well as for increasing the flexibility of the infrastructure. Organizations identified as early adopters include larger enterprises with a higher rate of business change requiring more agility and smaller companies in resource-constrained environments.

Management requirements for converged infrastructure are still evolving, but these needs are well defined. With more real-time applications in play and devices becoming increasingly more diverse and mobile, IT organizations need integrated, automated policy-based management solutions to deal with the increasing scale and operational complexity of highly virtualized environments. Complexity drives up operational costs, so simplified management is needed. In addition, converged infrastructure is the first major step toward implementing private clouds. However, private clouds will need to extend from the on-premise datacenter into the world of service providers to help IT organizations manage workload at peak times, which are increasingly hard to predict.

IDC research shows that enterprises will continue to favor private clouds for critical applications. The adoption rate for private clouds is notably faster than the adoption rate for public clouds given the greater levels of trust, security, and availability the former can offer. In the private cloud, business- and mission-critical applications and databases are far more prevalent. This creates the need for high-availability management to ensure service-level agreements (SLAs), whereas in the public cloud, deployments will be driven more by Web serving, support for social media workloads, and application serving.

The Benefits of Optimized Management for Converged Environments

IDC believes that IT organizations will increasingly deploy converged infrastructures that centralize management to:

• Efficiently share IT resources
•  Ensure high availability and disaster recovery
•  Improve business agility and capacity planning
•  Accelerate time-to-market capability
• Bring optimal amounts of resources to individual workloads
• Lower IT service delivery costs
• Rightsize software requirements as needed
• Gain more efficient-energy utilization

Management software for converged infrastructure offers many potential benefits to IT organizations. Initially, there are capex savings related to reducing and consolidating IT hardware and managing greater numbers of devices, but the real value for many customers is opex savings. Management software solutions also enable quicker provisioning, monitoring, and management, which translates into IT staff savings. Reduced delivery time for new applications and flexible capacity planning can reduce operating expenses and alleviate overburdened IT teams.

IT organizations will increasingly run up against the reality that optimization at the component or silo level will deliver only small gains in efficiency now that adoption of x86 architectures and virtualization is nearly complete in many organizations. Moving to managed/converged infrastructure is a way to future-proof an enterprise’s data architecture and has the capability to provide much more extensive levels of optimization with price/performance gains up to 30% over traditional siloed optimization approaches.

Another benefit is high availability, which is especially important in private cloud environments. Management software can help optimize SLA performance via N+1 availability, which can automatically switch to alternate servers as backup in the event of component failure or the need for capacity adjustments. These same capabilities can be used for disaster recovery (DR) when system failures occur. The growth in virtualization of mission-critical workloads is driving the need for DR across both physical and virtual environments.

Vendor-agnostic management approaches can help companies realize the full benefits of converged infrastructure while avoiding the issues associated with vendor lock-in. While management systems are available from server and virtualization vendors, a third-party system that’s agnostic to hypervisor and server type will be attractive to enterprises. Many vertically siloed management systems on the market today tend to promote vendor lock-in and are often sold as an add-on to specific infrastructure hardware packages. However, IDC research shows that customers are favoring open solutions that include third-party components over proprietary solutions.

One reason for this response may be a wish to avoid vendor lock-in and its pricing disadvantages — a long-standing priority for large enterprises that are among the groups most likely to purchase an open solution. As a result, IDC anticipates that, going forward, system vendors will adapt their converged strategies to include solutions that integrate third-party components to supplement their proprietary solutions. Because vendor-agnostic systems have been designed to provide a set of value-added capabilities over and above the core offerings of virtualization or server suppliers, they can provide additional levels of capability not otherwise available. It’s also an important benefit for management software to have the capability to work in heterogeneous operating system environments, including Unix, Linux, and Windows.

Considering Egenera’s PAN Manager for Converged Infrastructures

Egenera has been a pioneer in the converged infrastructure space from the early days of the virtualization market. The company’s strategy revolves around reducing IT complexity and increasing application availability in mission-critical environments. PAN Manager is Egenera’s flagship product and is intended to provide IT organizations with improved management and automation in converged environments. PAN Manager’s value proposition is to deliver an agile and reliable IT environment at reduced capex and opex levels.

PAN Manager uses virtual pools of resources to create an agile environment that is able to quickly provision and reprovision infrastructure and to also fully automate high availability and disaster recovery. It is a vendor-agnostic solution in terms of hypervisor and server type and works in heterogeneous environments. The product pools compute, I/O, networking, and storage resources and manages these pools by matching them to workloads. It can do this whether or not servers are virtualized.

The product also virtualizes I/O and networking and provides hardware savings by eliminating the need for costly network and SAN cabling as well as HBAs and NICs. PAN Manager provides on-demand provisioning of server definitions for any physical or virtual server while automatically handling all physical-to-virtual conversions. These capabilities allow the enterprise to respond to business demands by quickly repurposing servers.

PAN Manager 7, the latest product release, provides greater disaster recovery functionality and scalability than previous versions. In terms of scalability, the number of blade servers that can be managed has been doubled to 256. Going forward, the solution will enable customers to manage, provision, and fail over between and across unlike or heterogeneous hardware — all from a single user interface. Egenera has taken this approach because most large enterprises have multiserver platform computing environments.

Egenera partners with many systems vendors. The product is now included on:•  HP ProLiant blades

• Dell PowerEdge servers
• Fujitsu PRIMERGY blades
• NEC SIGMABLADE servers
• Selected IBM servers

Through a series of announcements and joint marketing activities, HP has the largest of these go-to-market programs with Egenera. Both companies are selling this solution directly to customers using blade servers and converged infrastructure sold by HP.

PAN Manager supports a range of hypervisors and hypervisor management systems, including Citrix and VMware. In addition, the product supports heterogeneous operating systems, including Linux, Windows, and Unix. It also supports different technology generations of vendor server platforms.

The product is designed to optimize SLA performance via N+1 high availability, which allows the designation of an alternate physical or virtual server as backup to multiple production servers. Based on established policies, PAN Manager monitors each server’s health and automatically migrates workloads as a result of component failure or the need for more CPU and memory.

Disaster recovery capabilities enable IT organizations to automatically restore services in the event of demand spikes, system failure, or site disaster without reliance on complex configuration synchronization between production and recovery sites. When an event occurs, PAN Manager migrates the entire datacenter configuration to a secondary location. During this process each physical and virtual server configuration, including operating system, hypervisors, and applications, is moved in its entirety to the secondary site. A single site can be used as backup for multiple production sites, and backup systems can be used for noncritical applications or development when not involved in recovery processes.

Challenges

Egenera faces several market challenges. Competition for unified computing management will continue to come from a variety of sources, including major server vendors, unified computing suppliers, and virtualization vendors that sell management stacks. Egenera will need to continue to convey clear vendor-agnostic messaging concerning the value-add it provides over and above those solutions working either in conjunction with or in some case in lieu of alternative converged management approaches. In cases where Egenera is selling its solution on top of management software sold by a server vendor, the company will need to continue to make customers aware of the price/performance benefits of using its solution. Systems management extends across physical and virtual resource pools with multiple technologies deployed in many IT shops. Companies selling into these accounts must be able to demonstrate value to customers looking to improve service levels and lower operational costs.

Conclusion

IDC believes that while the current market for converged solutions is relatively small in the context of the overall server market, it represents the future for many enterprise datacenters. Although we are in the early days of the cycle, IDC sees converged infrastructure becoming tightly aligned with highly automated and virtualized private cloud environments. IDC forecasts that more than 120 million physical and virtual servers will be installed worldwide by 2015, and converged infrastructures optimized to support both bare metal and virtual workloads will thrive.

Converged solutions are the infrastructure building blocks for customers on the road to developing private clouds. Further, IDC research shows that enterprises will continue to favor private clouds for critical applications. The growth rate for cloud adoption is notably faster for private clouds than for public clouds given the greater level of trust, security, and availability that private clouds offer.

Enterprises view converged systems as a way to efficiently share IT resources, improve business agility, accelerate time to market, improve availability, simplify management, and lower IT service delivery costs. IDC believes the adoption of converged computing will increase in the near future because its benefits address many of the key challenges facing IT organizations. However, an important key to successful implementation will be the ability to manage converged systems. For managing converged infrastructure, some customers will opt for a complete integrated solution from a single vendor, but many customers will prefer a converged solution that includes third-party technology. IDC believes vendors will be more successful if they offer both a proprietary solution and an open solution, allowing the customer a degree of choice.

Egenera’s PAN Manager offering is an open solution designed to address the requirements of the converged datacenter and respond to business demands by quickly repurposing servers; providing unified management of servers, networks, and storage; and ensuring both high availability and business continuity. It supports port consolidation and can also eliminate the need to cable, configure, and manage an HBA and a NIC for each server provisioned. These benefits, when successfully implemented to leverage the strategic fit that exists between server platform and workload, have the potential to offer IT organizations both capex and opex savings.

ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication was produced by IDC Go-to-Market Services. The opinion, analysis, and research results presented herein are drawn from more detailed research and analysis independently conducted and published by IDC, unless specific vendor sponsorship is noted. IDC Go-to-Market Services makes IDC content available in a wide range of formats for distribution by various companies. A license to distribute IDC content does not imply endorsement of or opinion about the licensee.

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