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A funny thing happened on the way to virtualization: Many IT managers discovered that instead of bringing simplicity to their busy data centers, the technology actually made things more complicated. Sure, physical server counts were reduced, energy costs lowered and hardware footprints shrank all thanks to virtualization.

However, complexity and confusion grew, and managing virtual environments became an almost unbearable challenge. The situation has left many with false assumptions, technology myths and, worst of all, a sense that virtualization can cost more than it s worth.

After all, the goal for most IT shops has been to do more with less, not less with more, and virtualization platforms have come to represent increased management needs, as well as higher operational overhead. Even so, the adoption of virtualization solutions grows, as does the dissatisfaction with how much savings can be delivered.

The truth is that this is not a technological problem, but a management problem. Luckily, that problem can be solved with technology, specifically virtualization management technology. However, before diving into that that aspect of virtual environments, IT professionals need to learn what the facts and myths of virtualization are before taking a deep dive.

One of the first things an IT manager should learn is that deploying a virtualization solution is never a quick fix for other problems. 

Frank Marshall, director of global retail support for The Est e Lauder Companies, has seen firsthand that deploying virtualization solutions is not without its challenges.

“Virtualization can present as many challenges as it solves,” said Marshall. “Management becomes more complex, thanks to hypervisor issues, platform changes and all of the associated components needed to build a virtualization platform. It takes a holistic approach, where virtual machines are monitored, managed and maintained to truly benefit from everything virtualization has to offer.”

During a recent presentation, Gartner analyst Thomas Bittman stated, “There will be more VMs virtual machines deployed during 2011 than in 2001 to 2009, combined.” Bittman warned that when deploying virtualization, an approach that is too cold won’t achieve potential savings, while an approach that is too hot will lead to virtual server sprawl, along with cost overruns and breakdowns.

Simply put, virtual server sprawl will become one of the biggest management issues for modern IT departments. Bittman added that management is the key to maximizing any virtualization deployment within an enterprise data center.

Srinivas Ramanathan, CEO of eG Innovations, which develops virtualization management software, agreed. He said, “You can quickly negate any savings if you don t measure and manage virtual environments properly.”

The main point of all this is that IT administrators have to show where the savings are. The department must be able to measure those savings, and that requires a management approach that incorporates the ability to monitor and effect change at every level of a virtualization deployment.

That means IT departments must be able to quantify loads, capacities, demands and usage, as well as track trends for those elements. The problem, according to Ramanathan, is that most of the management tools included with virtualization products lack critical capabilities, meaning that those seeking holistic management must turn to third-party solutions.

“Management is even trickier in some cases,” said Ed Laczynski, vice president of cloud strategy and architecture at managed services provider Datapipe. “You are introducing a completely new layer. This is where we think virtualization as a service and infrastructure as a service works for enterprises that don’t want to focus on undifferentiated technical chores.”

Effective management is critical for IT departments that have to show a decent return on the company s investment in the technology.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Virtualization Management Brings the Ultimate in Efficiency