On the role of CMDBs in virtualization and cloud computing

Posted by virtualization.info Staff   |   Thursday, June 3rd, 2010   |  

Bernd Harzog, founder and CEO of APMExperts.com, recently published an interesting article about the role of Configuration Management Databases (CMDBs) in a world of virtualization and cloud computing. Or better: on the role that the four big infrastructure management vendors (BMC, CA, HP and IBM) may have in that world because of their CMDB solutions.

His point is that the use of CMDBs in virtual and cloud infrastructures has a number of challenges that can’t be addressed by existing solutions:

    1. A whole new class of data gets created by the virtualization platform – specifically how the virtualization platform itself is configured in support of the guests and the applications that run on the guest.
    2. A whole new set of relationships between the elements in this data get created – specifically new relationships between hosts, hypervisors, guests, virtual networks and virtual storage get created that existing CMDB’s were not built to handle.

    1. New information gets created at a very rapid rate. Hundreds of new guests can get provisioned in time periods much too short to allow for the traditional Extract, Transform and Load processes that feed CMDB’s to be able to keep up.
    2. The environment can change at a rate that existing CMDB’s cannot keep up with. Something as simple as vMotion events can create thousands of configuration changes in a few minutes, something that the entire CMDB architecture is simply not designed to keep up with.
    3. Having portions of IT assets running in a public cloud introduces significant data collection challenges. Leading edge APM vendors like New Relic and AppDynamics have produced APM products that allow these products to collect the data that they need in a cloud friendly way. However, we are still a long way away from having a generic ability to collect the configuration data underlying a cloud based IT infrastructure – notwithstanding the fact that many current cloud vendors would not make this data available to their customers in the first place.
    4. The scope of the CMDB needs to expand beyond just asset and configuration data and incorporate Infrastructure Performance, Applications Performance and Service assurance information in order to be relevant in the virtualization and cloud based worlds.

More than one year ago virtualization.info suggested that VMware is morphing into an infrastructure management company that may compete against the four big above.
As virtualization is generating the challenges above, no company more than a leading virtualization player can figure out how to solve them in a new way.

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