Add a smart management layer for superior service management
Virtualization has transformed enterprise IT—and among virtualization environments, VMware's portfolio is certainly the best known and most widely deployed.
Organizations that have pursued deep virtualization, however, may find that they can get an even better return on that investment by adding a virtualization-savvy management layer that provides additional features—or shores up certain weaknesses that might otherwise emerge.
Discovery and monitoring, for instance, are a greater challenge in a virtualized environment because of the flexible way technical assets and resources migrate or are allocated to suit changing business circumstances. Storage, in particular, is a resource that can often be virtualized in a superior way to deliver a superior outcome (if it's been virtualized at all). Data backup and recovery processes are also more complicated in virtual server environments. Security threats, which are more sophisticated and diverse than ever, result in the need for equally sophisticated and proactive security capabilities to minimize the business impact of those threats. And while cost-tracking becomes more complex with virtualization, that challenge can be met with leading tools to track and monitor costs at any necessary level of granularity or abstraction.
In every case, IBM Tivoli solutions can play a key role in ensuring you get the best business result from your virtualized infrastructure. Because they are modular, based on open standards, and in many cases directly integrate with the VMware platform, they can easily be tailored to suit your particular context.
And together, they reduce management complexity, increase IT agility, and generally help organizations abstract out the technical details in favor of what matters more: a better business outcome through enhanced, end-to-end service management.
Discovery and monitoring: key for visibility
How can you deliver a better response to business needs when you don't know the full range of assets available in the virtual infrastructure—and you can't establish, in real time, how well the infrastructure is hitting service level targets?
Helpful in this context are a variety of IBM Tivoli solutions that specifically target discovery and monitoring, and thus give organizations improved visibility of exactly the kind they need.
Consider, for instance, IBM Tivoli Application Dependency Discovery Manager—a powerful tool capable of automatically discovering the complex application interdependencies that typically exist in a virtualized infrastructure, and then creating a topology map that reflects them. This is essential information needed to isolate technical problems to root causes, then address those problems as swiftly and accurately as possible to minimize their business impact.
IBM Tivoli solutions such as Tivoli Monitoring and Tivoli Monitoring for Virtual Servers can also track and monitor particular assets or resources in real time by aggregating status information and analyzing it against business policies. Often, in this way, problems can even be predicted proactively.
For instance, imagine an external service experiences a usage spike over the holidays, requiring more storage than anticipated. By automatically generating alerts to appropriate team members, Tivoli monitoring solutions can accelerate the IT response—in many cases, before the problem has a chance to occur.
Virtualize storage for more business value
While many IT professionals continue to associate virtualization primarily with servers, and certainly that's the leading focus of the VMware portfolio, other IT assets and resources like storage can often be virtualized as well for superior business value. Doing so increases IT agility and decreases costs by helping IT get the best overall utilization from storage.
To make that goal happen, though, new solutions will often be required—and here, too, IBM Tivoli can help.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, for instance, delivers a single point of control over all storage in a virtualized infrastructure, including key functions such as utilization assessment, capacity planning, advanced data replication, and device configuration.
Effectively protect data in virtual environments
The ease with which an organization can create virtual machines in its computing environment has been a major contributor to the rapid and widespread growth of virtualization. However, the resulting sprawling numbers of virtual machines have created challenges for managing data protection. Backing up and restoring data for a dozen or more virtual machines that may reside on an enterprise server can bring all other operations on that server to a grinding halt.
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments, the latest member of the Tivoli Storage Manager family, eliminates the burden of running backups on a virtual machine by leveraging VMware's vStorage APIs for Data Protection. This software solution takes full and incremental snapshots of virtual machines at a block level, processes the backups and sends the results to an IBM Tivoli Storage Manager server. It provides automatic discovery and protection of new VMs and advanced, flexible recovery capabilities.
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack is an excellent choice for performing backups within VMware guests. It offers continuous block-level backup that is non-disruptive to VM availability and performance, and near-instant recovery of data from key Windows and Linux systems.
Batten down the hatches
From a security standpoint, virtualization is a mixed blessing. Infrastructural flexibility and resource utilization increase, but it becomes a greater challenge to lock down applications, servers, services, and data against all unauthorized access as well as continue to meet the terms of an ever-growing range of government regulations. When entire services can migrate from one host to another, or access resources on the far side of the infrastructure in new ways, end-to-end security is no simple matter.
Fortunately, IBM offers a number of solutions specifically designed to help. Among these, one of the newest and most powerful for virtualized infrastructures is the aptly named IBM Security Virtual Server Protection for VMware.
This offering directly integrates with VMware, and other IBM Security solutions, to shield virtual servers as comprehensively and proactively as possible—often, even before threats have a chance to manifest. It accomplishes this via a variety of special techniques and technologies, including security patch management, preemptive rootkit detection, firewall clustering to isolate security threats when they do occur, and automatic policy shifting (when virtual servers migrate across hosts, security policies migrate in parallel).
Thanks to automatic discovery that detects the creation of new virtual servers, this solution can automatically apply these security benefits whenever and wherever they're needed. This is a particularly appealing feature for advanced virtualized infrastructures, such as clouds, in which new virtual servers are continually being created without direct IT oversight.
Rounding out the product's capabilities are extensive logging, auditing, and reporting features that support current and future compliance initiatives, as well as assess how well a VMware environment is fulfilling the terms of internal security policies.
Cost-tracking and reduction
Given the flexible and fluid nature of virtualization, in which there is no one-to-one relationship between servers and applications, how can organizations possibly track costs accurately—let alone reduce them?
IBM's answer: through Tivoli solutions deployed in accordance with business needs. The aforementioned IBM Tivoli Monitoring, for instance, can collect key performance metrics such as CPU usage, memory consumption, and others needed for capacity planning. IBM Tivoli Monitoring for Virtual Servers can also help via software license tracking to ensure the number of software copies deployed remains in compliance with the number owned—or quantify how many more might be needed, which is useful for budgeting.
IBM Tivoli Asset Management for IT is also directly on point, thanks to a range of IT-specific features that can allocate costs and/or chargeback, as well as increase visibility into how money is spent, and thus assess profitability across different lines of business, services, or other layers of abstraction.
And perhaps most helpful of all is IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager. This powerful tool is capable of delivering quantified insight into costs generated throughout the virtual infrastructure in any necessary level of detail, whether technical or organizational. For instance, costs can be tracked by the application, system, service, or resource—all technical—but also in a business sense, such as by the user, group of users, business project, or organizational division.
Armed with this information, organizations can much more easily detect trends and create policies to reduce costs, or even justify chargeback in appropriate cases.
Pulse Comes to You 2011
At Pulse Comes to You (PCTY) 2011 events around the world, IBM Executives and Industry Leaders will share how Integrated Service Management can deliver the Visibility. Control. Automation.™ needed to deliver differentiated services and build competitive advantage on a Smarter Planet.
Leverage and contribute to the collective wisdom around Tivoli