Network Management Dusted by Cloud, Virtualization?
Well, in case anyone had missed it, it does seem to be fairly official – Cloud is here to stay, as is server virtualization. But what does this really mean in terms of the impact it’s going to have on the daily lives of network engineers, managers, and operators? Will the network actually disappear into a haze of flat, virtualized routing and connectivity? With the systems managers take over the bulk of responsibilities for managing networks, leaving network managers with nothing but the access layer? Or is this really much ado about nothing?
EMA set out to figure that out through a recent research report entitled “Network Management and Responsible, Virtualized Cloud”. We surveyed over 150 IT professionals in November and December of 2010, with follow-ups and analysis running into the first couple of months this year. The final report was published this past month, and is available on EMA’s website. We also delivered a webinar summarizing the results, and provided downloadable slides.
In summary, we found that the vast majority of traditional network management practices, in terms of both monitoring and control, were considered to be highly relevant and very important for managing the network elements within both virtual server and Cloud environments. Importantly, this was a sentiment voiced not solely by network managers, but by a cross-section of IT planning and operations professionals across multiple levels of responsibility and expertise.
A couple of particularly interesting highlights include the fact that most Cloud and virtualization deployments are having direct impact on the selection and deployment of multiple network management tools and technologies. For instance, the majority of those surveyed indicated that they had reevaluated or changed their network performance management (NPM) tools as well as their network configuration and change management (NCCM) tools. A majority also indicated that in the case of managing Cloud services, application performance management (APM) were affected as well.
One key impetus for this research project was the finding from EMA’s 2009 research that network managers were the most likely to have some level of responsibility for Cloud service performance and quality, surpassing all other IT organizations. When we checked back in 2010, we found that network managers were still commonly involved, but were no longer first on the firing line. Cloud/virtualization support teams were now most commonly holding responsibilities, followed by storage/data management and data center/server operations. With that said, network engineering and operations was still the second most likely to be held primarily responsible for Cloud service performance and quality, though well behind Cloud/virtualization support teams. EMA interprets this as reflecting the fact that a year ago, there was little clear concept as to how cloud services would be put into operations, and proper priorities are now becoming clearer. Much more detail on the emergence of these cross-domain support and operations organizations are covered in a sister report, Operationalizing Cloud, which is also available in the EMA library.