That pinnacle of IT operational perfection—the self-healing data center—may seem a nearly unobtainable goal, but it’s more a reality today than ever. If we were to package the SHDC, you could say that in 2017 VMware released its next-gen version, with complete cloud management and operational intelligence now available for all software-defined infrastructure from a single, easy to use platform. But, of course, there’s more work to be done. Today our vRealize Operations 6.6 management platform delivers state of the art in what can be done, with solid platform extensibility for what still lies ahead.
Despite amazing advances throughout the industry in the past few years, IT shops still struggle with the sheer magnitude of administrative tasks demanded of them. And many enterprises still have at least a portion of their critical applications running on-premises; the data center is now a hub for all applications, whether the workloads are managed there all the time or not.
The self-healing data center promises a new day for the IT admin, finally freeing them to focus entirely on innovation, customer service and delivering amazing customer experiences. Automated remediation delivers fixes to most routine issues and shuffles workloads where there is outage to ensure business continuity. As Forrester recently stated, thanks to innovations from VMware, workload placement—once a major hit to IT’s time—is nearly a thing of the past.
Why does it matter? Because IT shops are still struggling greatly with administrative overload. While innovations from the software-defined data center to cloud have greatly streamlined enterprise operations, the enterprise itself continues to grow and continually add new apps to the mix. Witness containers, which were barely on the horizon less than 10 years ago: while it was once thought they might replace VM’s, it turns out VM’s are the most efficient way to deliver containers—which sometimes live for just minutes or hours—safely and reliably.
The foundation of any self-healing data center is the management control plane
This platform manages workload placement, automation and remediation based on policies rather than rules. vRealize Operations 6.X brought automated remediation and predictive distributed resource scheduling (pDRS), among other key functions, into the mix for today’s dynamic workloads. vRealize Operations today delivers all the ingredients for a self-healing data center in one platform: automation, lifecycle management, proactive alerting, predictive scheduling and a single but extensible point of control.
Ultimately, the fully automated, self-healing data center ought to be able to run even more efficiently than one run manually, but today that remains elusive, especially for shops running an amalgam of tools for data center, cloud and a variety of applications. In fact, a recent Forrester report shows that IT still fights a lot of fires in capacity management. Yet interviews with VMware cloud management platform users show a 20% improvement in overall efficiency, a 75% reduction in unplanned downtime, and a 10% reduction in hardware costs.
Workload placement and optimization is a big factor in IT admin overhead
It’s easy to see why even smaller shops opt for solutions that automate that never-ending task. But without intelligent workload management—using a solution such as VMware that applies cost-benefit analysis to every workload based on policies set by IT—most solutions scurry workloads about without much thought as to benefit. Clearly a workload moved to run at less efficiency is not the goal, but without policy management workloads can move for a marginal upside that becomes less operationally efficient than keeping it where it is (see related post here).
With predictive DRS (distributed resource scheduler), workload placement is a step closer to full automation. vRealize Operations 6.6 learns the behavior of apps to easily identify—and eventually anticipate—what is an anomaly, what is a problem, and what is normal for that app. To the extent that the admin is involved, what that means is incredible decision support—like having an assistant just bubble up the “net-net” in cases where intervention is required.
With an increasingly dynamic environment, platform extensibility of analytics and management to the broader datacenter infrastructure and common enterprise applications are key to performance and of course to offer customers the flexibility they expect. Our relationship with Blue Medora delivers great value here: their extensibility packs for vRealize Operations deliver functionality you can’t get from any other vendor.
And with vRealize Business for Cloud you gain cloud cost visibility, which helps determine which workloads could exist beneficially in public cloud infrastructure. Again a single platform is key here: any time third party add-ons are used there could be conflict and/or efficiency lost to tool alignment rather than ecosystem management.
That holy grail—a full night’s sleep thanks to a data center that runs itself—may still be in the future. VMware has the most mature offering out there and is on-track to get you there sooner than anyone.