– Q&A with Derek Slayton, vice president of marketing at VMTurbo (www.vmturbo.com):

Chris MacKinnon: Why is intelligent workload management useful in today’s enterprise data centers? Why should data center and IT managers care about it? How can they benefit from it?

Slayton: Virtualization has become common place and almost expected in any enterprise data center. Reasons to adopt vary from cost savings to decrease in management requirements. However, if a virtualized workload is mismanaged the cost is enormous.

Virtualized data centers, which share hardware resources to dynamically meet workload demands, must perform a balancing act between assuring mission-critical application performance while utilizing the virtualized infrastructure as efficiently as possible. To gain the optimum ROI of a virtualized data center, the system needs to know which workload to run where, and when. With an over-provisioned workload, the data center faces increased capital, operating costs, and the loss of resources that may be better used elsewhere. Under-provisioning may increase utilization, but quality of service – and consequently revenues – will suffer.

Therefore, intelligent workload management is a must that results in hardware efficiency gains, increased productivity, and lower IT costs, but the approach is not without its own unique management challenges.

MacKinnon:Where should intelligent workload management rank in terms of overall priority in the data center?

Slayton: Intelligent workload management should be a high priority for any data center seeking the best return on their virtual infrastructure. Real-time optimal workload placement and resource allocation can provide savings in:

1) Server and storage cost reduction due to improved resource utilization;

2) Software license cost reduction due to elimination of physical and virtual infrastructure sprawl;

3) Infrastructure cost savings due to lower electricity, A/C, floor space, and rack space costs; and,

4) Lower support/personnel costs through automation of tasks associated with incident/problem management, capacity planning, optimization and stakeholder reporting.

MacKinnon: What are the biggest challenges for data center and IT managers when it comes to workload management for virtualization?

Slayton: Virtualization is redefining the data center with benefits such as lower costs of operation, hardware consolidation, better utilization of existing resources, and lower initial investment – but the technology also redefines data center management needs. VM resource utilization and performance behaviors may be dramatically different from those of physical servers. In contrast to physical servers, VMs see their resources fluctuate dynamically and may experience bottlenecks from other VMs. The increased utilization of physical resources can also drive applications beyond the boundaries of safe operations if not managed properly.

MacKinnon:How can data center and IT managers overcome those challenges?

Virtualization requires new resources and performance management technologies to handle these new factors of complexity. Data centers need to replace manual partitioned management with dynamic, scalable, automated, and unified resource and performance management to maximize ROI.

MacKinnon:What advice can you give to IT and data center managers that have a plethora of similar solutions to choose from?

Slayont: It’s no secret the market is stuffed with vendors offering products to monitor and report on performance of virtual infrastructure. Many can even collect and report on a broad range of performance metrics. I think it is extremely important for data center managers to educate themselves on the solutions available and look for the one that best suits their needs.