Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Gordon Haff, Flint Brenton, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

Breaking Through the Virtual Glass Ceiling

'Virtualization…all the cool, smart kids are doing it!'

"Virtualization...all the cool, smart kids are doing it!" Or at least that is the message being pushed by the virtualization vendors. Mostly this is a true statement. There are plenty of market studies that show that more than three quarters of medium to large enterprises are leveraging server virtualization technologies of some kind. What is not evident in that statement is that for most enterprises, their overall use of the technology is not as widespread as is implied by the statement. For many organizations, virtualization utilization is in its infancy (from a maturity of use perspective) or not a material percentage of the overall IT infrastructure.

Even with the exponential growth of virtualization usage over the last few years, the majority of applications have been based on simple consolidation ROI and used primarily in areas of low risk (IT assets, or test-development environments). Recently the term "VM Stall" has been thrown out along with some research that identifies some of the top reasons why organizations have initially deployed virtualization at a high rate but then significantly slowed that pace down - a virtual "glass ceiling" built on a number of common factors. The good news is that all of these concerns are addressable, and organizations can continue deploying virtualization and reap not only the simple consolidation ROI, but also start moving toward the operational efficiencies promised by utility or cloud computing. The following sections will outline some of the most common areas of concern and provide some guidance on how organizations can break through that ceiling and achieve their virtualization goals.

Cloud Confusion
Cloud computing (or the vendors pushing it) must take some responsibility for putting the brakes on virtualization deployments. For over a year now, VMware has transitioned their marketing towards "cloud." Every ecosystem software vendor has followed suit with some angle on how their software enables cloud. The problem is that companies that are not sophisticated virtualization users are getting confusing and sometimes conflicting messages not just about what cloud is, but how it can be used. The result of this is that some CIOs are pausing and looking at their virtualization efforts and then attempting to reconcile cloud. Do I even need cloud? When? Do my current virtualization plans conflict with or complement a cloud future? These are all valid questions that unfortunately end with answers like, "It depends." This in itself is not a bad idea, but because of the mixed messages around cloud, making an informed decision can be complicated. My suggestion for organizations that are stuck in cloud confusion: Move forward and keep virtualizing! There are enough benefits to virtualization technologies that warrant moving forward, and based on the road maps of the major hypervisor vendors, the ability to leverage cloud from existing virtualization deployments will be a key feature of each vendor's solution.

Security Concerns
Another key issue that prevents some applications from being deployed in virtual environments revolves around security and compliance. Applications such as health care and financial transactions that fall under regulatory control of HIPAA or PCI have been the ones most impacted by these concerns. Partially this is due to a lack of specific requirements (in the case of HIPAA) or ambiguous language (PCI DSS) in the documentation. The PCI Council has addressed the virtualization concerns in their latest release of the DSS [1] and in its accompanying guidance document,[2] which specifically clarifies that use of virtualization is not specifically excluded from PCI environments. There is also concern over virtualization being "different." Though it's true that virtualization is a new layer in the IT stack, all of the traditional security domains apply. Actions like Access Control, Network Inspection, Segmentation, and Separation of Duty are all required in the virtual datacenter. For some items, existing security measures and software will suffice. In addition, as virtualization has matured, the hypervisor vendors as well as the ecosystem have begun to offer solutions to address these areas with specific attention to the virtual domain. Though virtualization is somewhat different, it's not new security practices that need to be performed, it's new approaches to the same practices that may require virtualization-specific software and staff knowledgeable enough in both virtualization and the security domains to be able to apply the security concepts appropriately.

Staffing Issues
The staffing issue is next in the list of concerns that slow down adoption. It's not just in the security area that a specific virtualization skill set is needed. For many enterprises, virtualization knowledge is held within a small team. This team is independent of the other traditional data center groups of infrastructure, security, storage and software applications. But virtualization is unique in that the domain crosses all of those groups. The typical scenario is that even though an enterprise has been successfully growing the virtual environment (in both size and sophistication), the team may not be keeping pace. At some point the team will start to lose their ability to manage the environment to its fullest, which can manifest itself in a non-performing environment or a reluctance of the team to take on more applications; both slowing and stopping growth. A solution to preventing the situation is first to fully accept that successful virtualization requires a much greater cooperation between what were traditionally siloed technology groups. Something that is easier said than done, but an absolute necessity. This allows for shared responsibility and distribution of the management of portions of the virtual domain to groups better positioned to own these technologies. This will cause a trend toward the virtualization team becoming more architects and conductors of the virtual environment, while the day-to-day management is broken down into the sub-domain experts.

In addition to a shift in the datacenter management staff strategy, it's also important to leverage management tools that enable the cross-domain approach. The virtualization ecosystem is filled with software solutions tailored to specific problems or tasks. If there is no alternative, IT departments must purchase some very specific point solutions to solve problems. The downside to point solutions is that in quantity they become very cumbersome to manage. There can be a long learning curve for each product and the combined costs may also reach a point where the operational costs cut too deeply into the expected returns of virtualization. The large software vendors and some forward-thinking smaller vendors are aware of this issue. While large vendors are buying up the smaller point solutions to integrate into their management portfolio, small vendors are busy building virtualization-specific, cross domain management tools. Both approaches are valid as there are many knobs and dials in virtual management, and it's highly likely that different staff in very different roles will need to access the same controls and information. The choice is to buy different tools for each group, thus driving up operating expense, or deploying software designed for the virtual datacenter that provides both the consolidated management and domain-specific controls and views. When choosing the tools, look for real integration of the tool sets in both user interface and reporting. The power of such tools is the ability to leverage data across multiple control planes through a common interface.

There is strong evidence that enterprises reach a level of virtualization deployment that causes the process to slow down, and that cloud confusion, security and compliance, enterprise/staff maturity, and manageability are top on many CIO's minds. Virtualization and cloud computing are a paradigm shift. With that shift lies the commonality in all of the suggestions above, a change in approach and thinking for how datacenters are managed, that will enable organizations break through the virtualization glass ceiling.


  1. https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/security_standards/documents.php
  2. https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org/documents/navigating_dss_v20.pdf

More Stories By Mike Wronski

Mike Wronski is Vice President of Product Management for Reflex Systems. He brings more than 15 years of industry experience to his role as VP of Product Management for Reflex Systems. Mike's broad IT experience, ranging from large carrier data networking to virtualization stems from previously held senior roles at Starent Networks(now part of Cisco), Cambia Networks, 3Com and USRobotics. Wronski holds a CISSP and Certified Ethical Hacker certifications, as well as an MBA, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from Florida International University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.