Server Virtualization Complicates Network Management

Network adds, moves, and changes most challenging

Earlier this week, I blogged on the results of a polling question I asked a roomful of networking professionals at the ESG "Ahead of the Curve" event last week in Boston. Here's another. Question: "With respect to server virtualization, which of the following is your organization's biggest technical challenge?: Responses: 33%: Adds, moves, and changes in the network 27%: Provisioning/configuring VLANs 20%: Managing virtual switches 13%: Managing increasing network traffic 7%: Managing an increasing number of physical devices My thoughts: 1. Server virtualization creates more adds, moves, and changes which places an added burden on the networking team. As I stated in my last blog, the networking team may not have strong server virtualization skills so network configuration change issues become even more challenging. Clearly there is a need for more networking/server virtualization integration and automation. 2. Here's another hidden problem with server virtualization and networking: IP address management. Why? If servers are being provisioned and moved around, you better have IP addresses ready when needed. Of course, many organizations still use spreadsheets as their primary IPAM tool which can't meet server virtualization's requirements for scale and automation. I have a feeling that the phone is ringing at Infoblox more than it used to. 3. Server virtualization is causing rapid growth in the number of VLANs to manage. What's more, vSwitch VLANs and physical switch VLANs don't always share the same naming conventions. Networking professionals and vendors need to anticipate problems and come up with solutions here. 4. Only 13% of respondents pointed to issues around increasing network traffic but all organizations should anticipate problems here. As one large organization told me, "we are constantly tuning the network as we scale the number of VMs in production."

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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