How does virtualization affect visibility into our cloud services?

Virtualization is the backbone of most cloud services, but cloud virtualization expert Eugene Alfaro explains how it also poses visibility challenges for service providers.

What kind of visibility challenges does virtualization cause for cloud providers?

IT organizations -- regardless whether they are adopting public, hybrid or private clouds -- require visibility and control. The breadth of visibility and level of control demanded by the customers is relative to a number of factors, including, but not limited to their cloud compliance responsibilities, cloud security requirements, service-level agreements and general paranoia. Therefore, cloud providers must take this into account when designing and marketing their cloud services.

Enterprise IT architects and engineers with virtualization experience will likely be more open to public cloud services because they have grown accustomed to the separation of the physical hardware and software layers of a system. Concepts such as CPU and memory oversubscription, aggregate storage volumes and workload balancing are more readily understood by these types of customers. Therefore, cloud providers should understand that their concerns could include the following issues:

  • Inability to control provisioning decisions beyond the request because fulfillment is handled by the cloud provider;
  • Lack of performance measurements at the back-end services layer (e.g. storage subsystem, network, etc.);
  • Inability to determine resource contention caused by other systems not provisioned to the customer but used by another tenant;
  • Inability to view security controls;
  • Lack of control of network optimization and prioritization.

Those customers who have not engineered nor operated a virtual environment present additional challenges for cloud providers. In addition to the above concerns, they may also have difficulty with:

  • Interpreting performance metrics in the virtual space and consequently misinterpreting performance monitoring;
  • Adjusting from physical systems management to virtual resource management.

Cloud providers that design and market their systems and services with these in mind will attract customers and increase the probability of success.

Have a question for Eugene Alfaro? Send an e-mail to editor@searchcloudprovider.com.

This was last published in January 2012

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