Live from Catalyst 2008: Day 1

This year’s Burton Group conference starts with a keynote from Drue Reeves, Vice President and Research Directory, and Chris Wolf, Senior Analyst.

Reeves starts talking about the current rigidity of the IT data centers, their under-utilized resources and the long amount of time need to change their infrastructure to react any new challenge.
To address these limitations the idea of Dynamic Data Center is emerging.

Such new infrastructure is service-oriented and can workloads around with new flexibility, is energy efficient and still enforces the security compliance.

Two major trends are concurring in providing these capabilities: virtualization and management orchestration/automation.
Both have challenges to address: for the former these are licensing, security and management, for the latter interoperability is the key problem.

Reeves acknowledges an increased adoption for server virtualization but some technologies which are directly related create additional issues: a broad support from storage vendors, the throughput bottleneck until I/O virtualization, the lack of a strong authentication model in storage facilities and more.

He also talks about the dynamic data center inhibitors: the IT staff’s fear to lose control, the CEO’s failure to understand the ROI.

Now Chris Wolf is on stage and his speech is specifically focused on virtualization.

Wolf acknowledges that the market is being populate by multiple good enough hypervisors. They may not compete feature by feature but all of the are acceptable solutions for customers.

Anyway, all of them introduce new challenges: licensing and support, high availability, security, interoperability, management, virtual desktops, storage.

At today supporting virtualization is still an unclear statement from most vendors.
Tracking licenses in a virtual, dynamic world is a complex task to accomplish.
High availability solutions still follow legacy, inefficient models which require a virtual machine full restart.
Security solutions are still unready for the dynamic data center: it’s impossible to attach a security policy or tool to the virtual machine, and when the VM is dynamically relocated the migration breaks any protection in place.
The current lack of management standardization prevents the interoperability and slows down the management vendors in providing valuable cross-platform solutions.
The management solutions available today need to become more effective in a lot of areas: controlling the VM sprawl, providing the compliance auditing, controlling the provisioning and more.
Virtual desktops and application virtualization are redefining the desktop paradigm, including the way we provide IT support to end-users.

At this point Wolf highlights an important point: ever vendor in the desktop space should have an effective VDI strategy. And he’s specifically talking about Apple, which is one few major vendors totally outside the virtualization market.

Back to the challenges: storage still has a lot of shortcomings that don’t make it very friendly-aware and need a lot of technology improvements.

The final advices from Wolf are: customers should continue to strongly demand for licensing, support and open standards improvements. At the same time they should start considering the adoption of virtual desktops and wide bandwidth 10Gb Ethernet as soon as possible.