Welcome!

Containers Expo Blog Authors: Derek Weeks, Anders Wallgren, Jason Bloomberg, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 200 develope...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
Companies can harness IoT and predictive analytics to sustain business continuity; predict and manage site performance during emergencies; minimize expensive reactive maintenance; and forecast equipment and maintenance budgets and expenditures. Providing cost-effective, uninterrupted service is challenging, particularly for organizations with geographically dispersed operations.
SYS-CON Events announced today TechTarget has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechTarget is the Web’s leading destination for serious technology buyers researching and making enterprise technology decisions. Its extensive global networ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
As cloud and storage projections continue to rise, the number of organizations moving to the cloud is escalating and it is clear cloud storage is here to stay. However, is it secure? Data is the lifeblood for government entities, countries, cloud service providers and enterprises alike and losing or exposing that data can have disastrous results. There are new concepts for data storage on the horizon that will deliver secure solutions for storing and moving sensitive data around the world. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today Object Management Group® has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device. For more information, please visit https://www.mangoapps.com/.
The essence of data analysis involves setting up data pipelines that consist of several operations that are chained together – starting from data collection, data quality checks, data integration, data analysis and data visualization (including the setting up of interaction paths in that visualization). In our opinion, the challenges stem from the technology diversity at each stage of the data pipeline as well as the lack of process around the analysis.
Designing IoT applications is complex, but deploying them in a scalable fashion is even more complex. A scalable, API first IaaS cloud is a good start, but in order to understand the various components specific to deploying IoT applications, one needs to understand the architecture of these applications and figure out how to scale these components independently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nara Rajagopalan is CEO of Accelerite, will discuss the fundamental architecture of IoT applications, ...
The IoTs 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. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects). Bruce Swann has more than 15 years of experience working with digital marketing disciplines like web analytics, social med...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EastBanc Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EastBanc Technologies has been working at the frontier of technology since 1999. Today, the firm provides full-lifecycle software development delivering flexible technology solutions that seamlessly integrate with existing systems – whether on premise or cloud. EastBanc Technologies partners with p...
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC Software has been named "Siver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. BMC is a global leader in innovative software solutions that help businesses transform into digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive advantage. BMC Digital Enterprise Management is a set of innovative IT solutions designed to make digital business fast, seamless, and optimized from mainframe to mo...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
Customer experience has become a competitive differentiator for companies, and it’s imperative that brands seamlessly connect the customer journey across all platforms. With the continued explosion of IoT, join us for a look at how to build a winning digital foundation in the connected era – today and in the future. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Nguyen, Group Product Marketing Manager at Adobe, will discuss how to successfully leverage mobile, rapidly deploy content, capture real-time d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ContentMX, the marketing technology and services company with a singular mission to increase engagement and drive more conversations for enterprise, channel and SMB technology marketers, has been named “Sponsor & Exhibitor Lounge Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. “CloudExpo is a great opportunity to start a conversation with new prospects, but what happens after the...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? How do you coordinate the diverse moving parts that must come together when developing your IoT product? What are the key challenges addressed by Data as a Service? How does cloud computing underlie and connect the notions of Digital and DevOps What is the impact of the API economy? What is the business imperative for Cognitive Computing? Get all these questions and hundreds more like them answered at the 18th Cloud Expo...