Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Scott Sobhani, Stefan Bernbo

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Ensuring Application Availability in a Virtual Environment

A successful shift to a virtualized data center requires meeting goals of cost-savings and high availability

Virtualization is quickly gaining traction in IT departments around the world. According to Symantec's recent Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud survey, 76 percent of enterprises are at least discussing virtualization. In the wake of the recent recession, the benefits are too valuable for businesses to ignore. Virtualization can reduce capital/operational expenditures, allow for faster deployment of computing resources, and facilitate management of business processes. Applicable to more than just servers, virtualization is becoming more common in a variety of different IT applications, including storage and desktops. Despite the inroads the technology has made in the data center, however, organizations have remained reluctant to virtualize business-critical applications.

According to the virtualization survey, among organizations implementing server virtualization, more than 50 percent plan to implement virtualization for Web and database applications over the next 12 months. When it comes to business-critical applications, however, 40 percent of CEOs and 42 percent of CFOs are reluctant to make the leap. The most common concern keeping enterprises from making the transition is reliability, cited by 78 percent of survey respondents.

Virtualization Challenges
A successful shift to a virtualized data center requires meeting goals of cost-savings and high availability. Tight budgets mean reduced staff and limited resources are the norm in IT departments today; and cost savings can only be realized if application uptime remains as high as possible. For the typical enterprise, the recovery time objective (RTO [the tolerable amount of application downtime for business-critical applications]) is less than one hour. In some cases, no more than a few minutes can be tolerated because downtime can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue or worker productivity. In light of these needs, IT staff should be aware of the following challenges inherent to a virtualized environment.

Consolidated Points of Failure
Virtualization can increase availability risks by consolidating the points of failure on fewer servers. In addition, further complexities are introduced by ensuring high availability for business-critical applications such as Exchange Server, SQL, SAP, and Oracle that are deployed on a combination of physical and virtual server nodes. For example, an ERP application may have middleware components running in a virtual server, but the underlying database is on a physical server. This combination of increased complexity and "putting all your eggs in one basket" can lead to single points of failure that could disrupt business operations if it is not addressed.

Visibility Limitations
One additional risk posed by virtualization is the lack of visibility into virtualized apps for troubleshooting purposes. When the application components such as the OS and drivers are encapsulated to make portability easier, the result is reduced visibility into the state of those components.

Human Error
Because multiple tools from varying vendors will increase management complexity, human error is more likely to occur with virtualized software. This increases because many high-availability tools are unable to monitor application health sufficiently. According to the Uptime Institute, a New York-based research and consulting organization that focuses on data-center performance, human error causes roughly 70 percent of the problems that plague data centers.

Take a Proactive Approach
In order to mitigate these risks and ensure high application availability, IT staff needs to carefully consider their organization's approach to virtualization. By taking a proactive approach to application management, rather than simply reacting to problems as they occur, you will significantly improve your uptime by avoiding problems before they occur.

Finding the right management software is the simplest way to ensure high availability, but most solutions from virtualization vendors fail to fully meet the scope of an organization's needs. As you consider implementing a comprehensive high-availability solution, look for the following characteristics.

Extensive Support
Look for a solution that provides support for not just the hardware, but also for the different operating systems you run, including UNIX, Windows, Linux, and virtual platforms, as well as a wide range of heterogeneous hardware configurations. Implementing one solution across all platforms will reduce complexity and increase reliability, with the additional benefit of minimizing costs related to training and administration.

Automated Failover
An effective solution will detect faults in an application and all its dependent components, including the associated database, operating system, network, and storage resources. In the event of an outage, the solution must be able to restart the application, connect it to the appropriate resources, and resume normal operations.

Automated Disaster Recovery Testing
With servers and applications constantly changing, the regular testing of a disaster recovery strategy is critical in order to guarantee a successful recovery in the event of a system or site-wide outage. Non-disruptive testing is necessary in order to maintain productivity while identifying potential issues.

Multi-cluster Management and Reporting
Visibility is one of the most important goals in virtualization, but it remains difficult to achieve. Administrators need to be able to monitor, manage, and report on multiple clusters on different platforms, ideally from a single location. The proper reporting tools also make it easier to resolve problems and streamline the operations of your virtualized systems.

Conclusion
The risk of downtime to business-critical applications keeps many enterprises from realizing the full benefits of virtualization. While there are increased risks due to the consolidation of resources and lack of visibility, these can be managed by implementing a virtualization solution with robust features. By automating as much of the process as possible, and improving visibility into virtualized applications, businesses can avoid the pitfalls and enjoy increased productivity and efficiency in the data center.

More Stories By Dan Lamorena

Dan Lamorena is Director, Product Marketing, Storage and Availability Management Group, responsible for Symantec's Storage Management and High Availability products. He has spent the last five years with Symantec working with customers to help them optimize storage and improve application availability and is a frequent contributor to industry trade publications related to storage and disaster recovery.

Prior to joining Symantec, Dan held product marketing, business development, and strategy management roles with Cisco Systems, Electronic Arts, Ernst and Young, and mobileID.

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
"We work in the area of Big Data analytics and Big Data analytics is a very crowded space - you have Hadoop, ETL, warehousing, visualization and there's a lot of effort trying to get these tools to talk to each other," explained Mukund Deshpande, head of the Analytics practice at Accelerite, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2016' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited t...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 6thInternet of @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profession...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Apixio Inc. has raised $19.3 million in Series D venture capital funding led by SSM Partners with participation from First Analysis, Bain Capital Ventures and Apixio’s largest angel investor. Apixio will dedicate the proceeds toward advancing and scaling products powered by its cognitive computing platform, further enabling insights for optimal patient care. The Series D funding comes as Apixio experiences strong momentum and increasing demand for its HCC Profiler solution, which mines unstruc...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...