Infrastructure Management Software Blog

Implications of virtualization on IT operations (Software Universe presentation)

Both HP Software Universe and HP Technology Forum and Expo will occur next week in Las Vegas. What is new this year is attendees of HP Technology Forum can attend a portion for HP Software Universe for a nominal fee. Details are available online or on-site during the registration process.

I am very excited and fortunate to be presenting the following presentation at both events.

Implications of virtualization on IT operations
Abstract:  Virtualization is becoming a key driver toward eliminating IT infrastructure costs (CAPEX) yet it is unclear as to the implications it will have on operating expense (OPEX). Virtualization implementations create a new set of challenges for IT Operations. In this session we will consider those challenges as compared with the lessons learned from past disruptive technologies (i.e. client server, web services, etc...) and use the conclusions reached to help you deal with the virtualization wave in an cost effective manner. You will also have an opportunity to provide feedback that will help influence HP’s future direction in event and performance management for the virtualization ecosystem.

Tuesday June 16, 2009 2:30pm at HP Technology Forum and Expo – Session 3761

Wednesday June 17, 2009 at 2:30pm at Software Universe – Session 1070

If you have any topics you would like covered during the presentations, please leave a comment on the blog or contact me directly.

The Operations Team will be posting updates from the show on this blog.

For Operations Center, Dennis Corning.

Driving down OpEx with technology

It's been a good number of months since I traveled in Europe but I just spent a couple of weeks hopping around on business. There were some interesting changes to the travel experience which got me thinking about parallels in the IT Operations world.
First was the check-in experience with Air France / KLM. Basically self-service check-in at a kiosk, with a bag drop. "Nothing new there!" I hear you say. Well what was new was that it was not optional - at least not as far as I could see. There were no check-in agents at desks - only a few floor-walkers minding the kiosks and folks on the bag drop. Obviously this represents a significant cost saving, but that is not my point.

We've all seen this stuff deployed in airports for a while but airlines have been cautious about forcing customers to use it. That was not the case here. All of the regular economy class customers had to use the automated check-in. I guess the airline has overcome (or over-ridden) any fears about the effectiveness of the technology or the danger of impacting the service provided to the customers in favor of some tangible reductions in OpEx.
At the other end of the trip I also saw changes in hotel check-out. Now the US has been pretty good at speeding check-out by providing express check-out services. You know the deal, your bill is posted under your door at some horribly early hour of the morning. Your credit card is charged the amount shown unless you decide to go and pursue the regular check-out service. Of course the hotel also benefits because they can deploy less staff to service the check-out transactions. Europe has not adopted this approach. I'm not sure why but I guess it may be some differences in legislation regarding charging someone's credit card without them being present.
So the challenge for European hotels is how to maintain quality of service (a rapid check-out) but reduce the OpEx of having lots of staff present during the check-out rush hour in the mornings. A Pullman Hotel in Paris had applied technology to solve this problem. As I headed into the lobby to check out on Friday morning I was ushered towards a bank of (you guessed it) kiosks. The experience was a carbon copy of the airport check-in - just different cards being provided by me and documents being printed by the kiosk. After I had been 'processed' I sat in the lobby waiting for some colleagues to join me. There were three check-out staff that I could see - one on a regular desk duty, two floor-walking the kiosks. The Pullman is a big hotel.
Then I started thinking about how the airlines and the hotel were displaying behaviors which are very similar to what we are seeing in the IT Operations space. The drive is to reduce OpEx whilst maintaining service levels. The approach adopted is to use technology to automate activities which have required manual interactions.
The technology is being put into service in spite of any misgivings over its ability to be 100% effective. The companies are willing to take some calculated risks in order to get a demonstrable reduction in OpEx.
I see the same behaviors in IT Operations. Forward looking companies are applying technology to automate wherever possible - automate event correlation, automate analysis and problem isolation, automate fixes, automate provisioning. The technology to do a lot of this has been around for years, but previous objections to its deployment - fears over the certainty that the technology will be 100% effective - are being pushed aside as the sights are firmly set on reducing OpEx.
For Operations Center, Jon Haworth

Virtualization: IT Nirvana or CapEx for OpEx Tradeoff?

Today’s post is from Kalyan Ramanathan, who manages virtualization initiatives for our data center automation group. This is the first in a series of posts on how organizations use automation to improve their IT infrastructure management.
- Peter

Even in this down economy, data center virtualization is all the rage and that is for a good reason - virtualization brings many benefits, including infrastructure consolidation, reduced power usage, data center footprint etc. Not everything is rosy in this picture, though. Virtualization also introduces several challenges and IT management is definitely a critical one.

The beauty of virtualization is that this dirty little “management” monster only rears its head once you are deep into the dungeon!

Let us explain what I mean in the context of a recent conversation that I had with the data center managers of a large financial enterprise. This enterprise started out with a consolidation project and instantly found value by virtualizing its servers. By consolidating its Windows and Linux servers, IT was able to see a 20-30% reduction in servers counts. Fewer servers meant lower power usage and freed up data center racks. Managing the initial virtualization candidates – print server, Web servers was not that bad either, and a basic set of scripts and tools sufficed. The CIO is thrilled with the instant CapEx saving and IT became a hero.

Fast forward a year.

With their initial success, data center managers pushed to virtualize a large portion of their data center. So now that same IT department has 3x the number of servers. IT has more vendor technologies to contend with – VMware, Microsoft HyperV, Xen, etc. and each of these servers – hypervisors and virtual machines - needs to be configured and patched in a economy that prevents any IT headcount increases. And what about the agility and flexibility benefits?

While managing the homogenous Web farm servers was simple, the same cannot be said of complex applications that depend on resources such as storage, network etc. The data center managers were facing a severe operational issue. Left unattended, this problem was only going to become worse. “We traded CapEx for OpEx”, noted the director of operations, as he articulated their management challenges.

Are you seeing similar problems in your datacenter? Post a comment about your key management challenges.

You might want to read a free e-book by Realtime Publishers on Virtualization and Service Automation for some shortcuts on how to start a virtualization initiative and several pitfalls to avoid.

For Business Service Automation, Kalyan Ramanathan

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