Infrastructure Services are definitely undergoing a major transformation. How does one navigate the web of emerging technology trends and stay ahead of the game? Read on to learn more on our Infra Matters blog.

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February 28, 2013

VMware vs. Microsoft - is Microsoft leading the race?

(Posted on behalf of Akshay Sharma)

The race to lead the virtualization and private cloud space has been a close finish between two industry stalwarts - Microsoft and VMware.

But with the launch of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft seems to have stolen a lead over VMware - or has it?

Microsoft launched Windows Server 2012 last year and is positioning it as a cloud operating system. Windows Server 2012, with Hyper-V 3.0 and System Center 2012 put together is an impressive package that seems to have given Microsoft a significant lead on their strategy in the cloud space.

As organizations seek to deploy private clouds, one of the key requirements is to ensure there is a sufficiently large storage and computing power available in the form of servers and storage systems. To be cost effective, they require large virtual servers and virtual storage that can be easily added or removed with minimal disruptions.

In response to these challenges, Microsoft's Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V 3.0 brings a wide collection of features and capabilities. It has built-in storage virtualization which lets the user configure storage into a single elastic and efficient storage pool. It also provides high availability for applications by setting up failover systems within the datacenter or at a remote location. With the new Hyper-V, it is possible to virtualize extensive workloads, with support for up to 64 virtual processors per virtual machine (VM) and up to 4TB of memory per host.

However, VMware, the original kingpin of the virtualization space, has the vCloud Suite 5.1 - complete with all the requisite cloud characteristics. With their new offering, they are working towards pooling industry standard hardware and then running each layer of the datacenter as software-defined services. vSphere 5.1, the VMware core hypervisor is packed with new features like live migration with shared storage and supports virtual machines that are double the size of already existing ones.

Talk about a knockout round!

In addition to the computing and storage power, organizations also require the necessary datacenter management tools that are capable of managing heterogeneous virtualized platforms.
With System Center 2012, Microsoft provides a common toolset to manage infrastructure and applications across private, hosted, and public clouds. It offers comprehensive management of applications, services, physical resources, hypervisors, software defined networks, configuration, and automation in a single offering. It can also manage heterogeneous virtualized environments.

Not one to be left behind, VMware has also started experimenting with heterogeneous virtualized management using vCenter. With the release of vCenter 5.1, they claim to start managing Microsoft' Hyper-V via vCenter using some add-ons! Also, with vCloud Director 5.1, up to 30,000 virtual machines and associated resources can be created. Though vCloud does not automate every piece of datacenter management it can increase the speed and efficiency of management.

VMware leads the virtualization market with almost 80% of the virtualized workload running on it. They are specialists in the realm of managing virtual machines and automating data center operations. Microsoft is still trying to provide a good product in these domains.
Conversely, Microsoft seems to have taken a leap over VMWare with their Private Cloud strategy posing a challenge for VMWare. While VMware are market leaders in virtualization and data center automation, Microsoft may just manage to sneak up on them using their Private Cloud offerings.

Only time can tell what is to come next.

February 20, 2013

The Silver bullet for BYOD

Mobile workers and customers create new challenges and opportunities in the network space. BYOD is forcing a rapid WLAN evolution to handle the onslaught of new devices and applications on the access network. BYOD adoption seems to be accelerating day by day. Letting the iPad and other tablets onto your wireless local area network (WLAN) can create bandwidth competition that slows everyone down.

If the WLAN can't natively differentiate between vetted and potentially infected devices, the network is at risk. Wireless access points (APs) could be saturated with rogue devices, and DHCP servers are running out of addresses if IT does not have good visibility into how many devices are connecting to the network. BYOA trend is demanding a wireless LAN prepared to handle not just new devices, but the slew of new applications being brought into the workplace.

Organizations are trying to address this by redesigning and upgrading their WLAN topology, looking at solutions to improve the bandwidth and coverage, use of WLAN analyzers, spectrum analyzers and wireless intrusion prevention systems (WIPS) to identify and measure the network impact.

So the question is - Do we have the silver bullet yet?  No, IT shops are instead patching together various tools that range from mobile device management (MDM) to network access control (NAC) and traditional management systems. How long do we need to find the perfect solution.? how are you trying to address this at your organization.?


February 14, 2013

Opportunities for data center outsourcing - Gathering momentum

(Published on behalf of Shalini Chandrasekharan)

According to the Symantec State of the Data Center survey, 2012, complexity in data centers is 'pervasive' leading to a host of problems including longer lead times, increasing costs and reduced agility in responding to business requirements.

Small wonder it is then, to see organizations looking out for options that will bring higher scalability and agility.

Data center outsourcing is one such option. In his interview with Steve Wexler of the IT-TNA magazine, Chandrashekhar Kakal, senior VP and global head of Business IT Services at Infosys, talks about how data center outsourcing can enable organizations to attain higher levels of scalability and agility as demands on IT outpace budgets and resources. The reality of today's situation is that organizations must increasingly look to data center consolidation and outsourcing as critical levers to achieve agility, as well as manage costs and service levels.

The article also quotes inputs from Gartner and IDC on the proliferation of data center outsourcing models including Cloud and Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS offerings.

The full article can be accessed here.




February 4, 2013

Automation as the key to environment management

(Posted on behalf of Ruchira Anekar)


For years, software environments have played a key role in software development lifecycle. Now, with demand for agile software delivery and increased testing demands, there is a frequent need to build and test environments in order to support rapid delivery timelines and maintain quality.
However, the applications and infrastructure landscape has become much more complex. This has increased the challenges of managing software environments including planning, provisioning, configuration, deployment and testing of an environment.
According to Gartner, 40% of estimated effort during the software development lifecycle is wasted on resolving environment related issues. CIOs, therefore, will look to reduce the cost involved in managing the complex environments and keeping it up-to date so that business gets the required support.
Automation can play a major role in enabling organizations to cope with these challenges. Automation relevant to environment management includes a combination of pre-configured tools and scripts supporting the end-to-end environment management lifecycle.


Most software environments are managed manually, resulting in a surge in terms of costs and time required. However, some of these processes and activities could be wasteful activities actually resulting in a delay in time to market for the organization. Automation of such activities can reduce manual errors as well as reduce the cycle time. Some of the activities that could be automated include -

• Environment Provisioning, Configuration, Testing, Deployment and Operational Management
• Test Data Management and related compliance requirements
• Proactive monitoring of environment and self-healing for repeat incidents
• Configuration management with auto-discovery for environment asset  management and licensing
• Patching and upgrade of infrastructure components compliant with enterprise policies

A thorough assessment of existing environment management processes would help identify areas that need automation. Processes that are repetitive and time consuming in nature are good candidates for automation.
To support and enable automation, there are various tools available in the market. Some of these include HP Operations Orchestration, HP Server Automation, BMC Blade logic, UC4, IPSoft tool suites.

These vendor tools can be configured according to the needs of the organization and its readiness with respect to supporting service management processes such as Release Management, Testing, Configuration Management and Software License Management etc.

A good approach is to look at the core requirements for environment management, considering that provisioning needs to be fast and in accordance with the requirements of users.  In my next post, I will be covering the implementation approach to help overcome some of the challenges faced by organizations.