[Storage Switzerland] Managing your Cloud’s Lifecycle

One of the most important, recent shifts in enterprise IT operations is the migration of not only ever-increasing amounts of data to the cloud, but also the full complement of business services as IT begins to implement a cloud first strategy. This allows an operation to take advantage of the cloud’s ability to offer attractive pricing for unlimited storage and high performance computing resources on a pay-for-what-you-use basis.

VM Sprawl in the Cloud

One of the key components of a cloud first architecture is virtualization. One of the by-products of virtualization is a virtual machine (VM). Unlike a physical server, IT can create VMs very quickly and easily. But just like a physical machine, a VM also consumes memory, compute cycles, storage space, and needs protection during its lifespan. The ease of creation leads to the rapid proliferation of VMs in the cloud and in the data center.

But VM sprawl in the cloud can end up being just as expensive, if not more so, than if VMs are on-premises. This is because you have to rent all the resources in the cloud. A VM that is no longer being used and just sitting idle is still using compute cycles, memory, and taking up expensive, primary storage space that runs up a customer’s bill. If the VM is also being backed up on a regular basis, this will consume still more storage to hold multiple copies of the same image file.

When you multiply all these factors by hundreds or even thousands of VMs, the costs can add up fast. Just like data, organizations need a means to manage the lifecycle of VMs from their creation, through their use and operation and, ultimately, to their archiving and retirement. This allows IT to contain costs and maximize resources be they in a on-premises private cloud or an external cloud provider.

Avoiding VM Sprawl in the Cloud

While there are numerous tools that allow admins to check and monitor VMs to determine which are idle or in use, this is a very time consuming manual process. So is the process of shutting down and retiring VMs that are past their usefulness, then migrating their images to less expensive storage for future recall if necessary or for archiving. There is no real clear process to accomplish these very time consuming manual tasks.

What IT needs is a comprehensive, lifecycle oriented and policy-driven solution using customer-defined management policies that will automate the process of managing the lifecycle of VMs from creation to eventual retirement. It should be able to span disparate environments, automatically detect idle VMs and shut them down until IT needs them again – while also migrating their images to less expensive storage. The solution should also be able to pool and reduce redundancy across the collection of stored images with deduplication. It should also provide a customizable and comprehensive graphical management interface that simplifies the creation and implementation of user defined policies as well as managing the entire virtual environment from a single, easy to use console.

StorageSwiss Take

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