Data centres lack virtual management

UK IT directors are not keeping up with the pace of virtualisation when it comes to data centre management, a new survey released to today has revealed.

Over two thirds (67 per cent) of them, questioned by researcher Vanson Bourne, said they did not know exactly how many virtual machines they actually have.

More than half (51 per cent) said they had not had time to adjust their data centre management strategy to meet the challenges of a virtualised environment.

The research found the most common reason UK businesses were turning to virtualisation was to cut costs, which was cited by 50 per cent. Nearly one in five (19 per cent) said they used virtualisation to make management easier, closely followed by eliminating server sprawl (17 per cent) and increasing device utilisation rates (14 per cent).

As a result, Tom Brand, senior consultant at survey sponsor, Morse said that virtual infrastructures could be difficult to keep track of because virtual machines were cheap and easy to create.

"The benefits of virtualised environments, which include less reliance on physical hardware, are outweighed by the fact that IT directors aren't seeing the costs of licensing and management reducing," he said,

But, over half (56 per cent) of IT directors in large businesses (of 3,000 employees or more) said they have a system to keep track of their virtual machines. Over a third (38 per cent) said their system offered de-centralised virtual machine management, allowing people to create and remove them at will.

Roy Illsley, senior research analyst at Butler Group, said that once an organisation gets beyond a certain number of servers, it often realises it needs integrated management tools across both physical and virtual environments.

According to the survey, the biggest concern (cited by 40 per cent of respondents) was not having the correct backup and recovery strategy for a virtualised environment. This was followed by a fear of server failure caused by mistakes when managing the much higher server utilisation rates that virtualisation allows and not having comprehensive management tools to manage changes, configuration and patching (polling 23 per cent each).

The current lack of standardisation that can over-complicate standardisation on a mix of open source and proprietary virtual machines or lock an organisation into one vendor's technology was less of a concern, with only 14 per cent of IT directors saying it was their biggest worry.

But Illsley said: "We're waiting for OVF [open virtual machine format] to mature and make online toolsets work across any virtualisation technology you've got. The vendors are moving towards this, but end users are realising they are going to have spend on management to get the value-add that virtualisation offers."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.