Application support, licensing still dog vm deployments

App vendors use of virtualization software ironic

According to its proponents, virtualization has taken the world by storm, but for end-users requiring application support, migrating services from physical to virtual machines is not so easy.

Glenn Gore, CTO at hosting and domain provider Melbourne IT, said the application software vendors are still dragging their feet when it comes to helping their customers adopt virtualization.

With 3500 servers running 1000 virtual machines and 600TB of storage, Gore claims Melbourne IT was one of the first hosting providers to implement virtualization, which was first looked at to add flexibility.

“Application support is not as bad now as it was four years ago [but] software vendors are saying you can run a product in a virtual machine, but if there is a problem you need to re-create the problem on a physical machine which is a pain,” Gore said.

“What's the one thing that is hard about managing and IT environment? It's the unpredictability and virtualization helps overcome that.”

Gore said during any 24 hour period Melbourne IT will move 30 per cent of its vms to different locations within its server farm and 60 per cent of new business is hosted on vms.

“It is ironic that the same companies that don't certify their products for vms also ask for the app to be sent back in a vm for testing and they don't have a problem using virtualization for internal software development.”

Gore also sympathised with the application vendors saying the support issues of the environment – like the workload of the vm – may be unclear if vms can be configured and moved so readily by the customer.

“Managing big, complex environments has become much easier with vSphere,” he said, adding Melbourne IT also uses VMware's vShield virtual firewall product as the “foundation” of its cloud.

Regarding licensing of application in the virtual world, Gore said vendors should look at a combination of “per instance” and “workload” as licensing per CPU or core becomes less relevant.

“There is no consistent way among the vendors of licensing application software for vms and this is a real nightmare,” he said, adding some vendors allow running of their software inside a vm, but it still must be licenced per physical server.

VMware Australia and New Zealand managing director Paul Harapin said the problems associated with application support in the virtual world are subsiding as vendors begin to see the benefits of virtualization.

“Some application vendors still require problems to be re-created on physical machines, but we provide tools to automate this so it's less of a concern,” Harapin said.

Harapin said while some application vendors don't officially “certify” their products to be used in virtual machines, at the same time they will still support them.

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