After the VM sprawl are we ready for the virtualization management sprawl?

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The amount and the entity of the announcements released by VMware during its VMworld 2008 require some time to be digested and properly evaluated. In some case the details are not fully realized until the first practical implementation arrives.
It seems the case for the Ready Management Initiative.

Under this name VMware is now grouping all the efforts to open vCenter (formerly VirtualCenter) interfaces to 3rd parties for standardized, interoperable management of the virtual infrastructure.

vCenterReadyAs the slide above clarifies, this interoperability is bidirectional: this means that 3rd party management consoles can integrate into vCenter as one would hope and expect, but also that vCenter can integrate into 3rd party management consoles.

A lot of key vendors already adhered the Ready Management Initiative but SAP is the first that shows up a concrete example of the last scenario described above.

The company in fact is working to integrate vCenter basic capabilities into its Adaptive Computing (AC) Controller:

…The AC UI will feature a new tab called “Virtualization”, adding core virtual machine functionality to the existing AC functionality (which basically treats a virtual machine as a physical system). In the “Virtualization” tab you can see which application service is running on which virtual machine on which ESX host, and you get information about ESX hosts and virtual machine usage data. You can also execute core VMware commands like start/stop/suspend/resume for a VM, and trigger a migration using VMotion through the SAP UI. Very cool is also the following feature: If you click on “shutdown” for a VM, the AC Controller displays a pop-up window listing which SAP services are running in the VM and asks you whether it is still ok to proceed with the shutdown…


This may sound fantastic for a SAP administrator but it sounds scary for everybody else:

  • What happens to the sysadmin in charge of the whole virtualization infrastructure when the SAP admin invokes a virtual machine migration from its brand new console?
  • How the SAP admin can know when it’s the right moment to perform a shutdown or a live migration without having the big picture?
  • What in-place security defenses are going to be defeated when the SAP admin moves or restart its virtual machines?
  • How much complex is for the virtual infrastructure sysadmin to coordinate the efforts of every sub-admin like the SAP one?

And so on.

Maybe VMware is preparing an impressively robust infrastructure for delegation and already addressed all the technical issues that this new model introduces.

Nonetheless, in a world where every 3rd party management console offers a piece of vCenter, there will be huge operational issues that VMware cannot solve.

It’s up to the company adopting virtualization figuring out the best way to manage the flow, but as far as we can see those companies today still have a hard time to build a solid operational framework for just a single management console.

Are we going to have a virtualization management sprawl?