WHITE P APER Support for Virtualized Environments: HP's Critical Advantage Sponsored by: HP Matt Healey
Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA 01701 USA
IDC OPINION Server virtualization has become one of the most discussed technologies over the past several years. The main reason for this is the ability of virtualization to reduce server costs, improve utilization, and improve IT responsiveness and flexibility. However, if the systems are not supported correctly once they have been deployed, then enterprises risk undermining all of the anticipated benefits associated with virtualization. To minimize this risk, enterprises should consider the following: ! Virtualized servers require support. In many cases, enterprises assume that because they have virtualized their datacenter environment, they will not need support for their servers and software. This most certainly is not the case. The main reason for this is that the complexity of these configurations can cause even the savviest end users to need help when things go wrong. Whether it be a hardware or software issue or user error, when servers are running missioncritical workloads, they require external support services. ! Approach to support needs to change. Despite the fact that enterprises do need to support their environments, how they support the (virtualized) environment does need to be different from the traditional server support model. Because their mission-critical data will be on fewer servers, when something goes wrong, it can have a broad impact across many departments in an organization. The ability to contact a vendor that has intimate knowledge of your entire environment will be crucial. ! Choice of support vendor is critical. As mentioned in the previous bullet, virtualization requires a vendor that can support the entire environment rather than just one technology asset. As a result, selecting a vendor that has a robust support portfolio and can look across all of the assets that are required to support the business processes becomes increasingly critical in a highly virtualized environment.
IN THIS WHITE P APER IDC examines the importance of understanding the support requirements for a highly virtualized environment. Specifically, as enterprises continue to adopt server virtualization, IDC believes that the support for these systems takes on an even more critical role.
SITUATION OVERVIEW To date, few customers have deployed virtualization for all of their workloads. Many enterprises are still engrossed in deploying virtualization for just tier 2 and tier 3 workloads. However, IDC believes that in coming years, this situation will change significantly as enterprises increase deployment of server virtualization. For tier 1 applications, this enhanced use of server virtualization will have a dramatic effect on the ongoing support approach and demands for these virtualized environments. From an ongoing support perspective, the early use cases for server virtualization tended to mirror the traditional requirements for high-end support. IDC research shows that the early virtualization deployments often were accompanied by customers purchasing a higher level of support for the virtualized server. IDC believes that there were two main reasons for this phenomenon. The first was lack of customer familiarity with the technology. In the early deployments, many customers were not familiar with server virtualization and as a result were not convinced that they would be able to support the server internally. The second reason was the concentration of workloads on a single server. In the past, when a single application was deployed on each server, if the application was not critical, the enterprise would tend to support that server at a low level. However, the aggregate importance of several applications on the same server increases the importance of that server and thus the need for a higher level of support. As a result, customers tended to purchase a premium support package. However, over the past several years, there have been two main developments. The first is that virtualization technology has improved. This improvement has made actively migrating workloads from one server to another easier. As a result, enterprise datacenters have become more flexible and agile. The second development is that enterprises have begun to virtualize increasingly critical workloads. While the technology for server virtualization has improved, customer perceptions about support have not kept pace. Specifically, IDC sees the following problems in the typical approach to supporting virtualized environments. ! Perception that virtualized environments do not need support. One of the features of server virtualization is the ability to actively migrate a workload from one server to another. In many cases, this can serve to move a workload from a failing server to a server that is functioning properly, thus avoiding any costly downtime for the enterprise. While this is clearly a very valuable feature, some enterprises have concluded that they can adopt this approach as their main form of support rather than contract for external support. IDC does not believe that this is a wise approach. As the migration of workloads becomes simpler, the complexity of the datacenter and the server environment increases. The increase in complexity often requires a support provider that can monitor an entire environment rather than simply monitor the performance of a single server. ! Belief that the same approach to support will work in the virtualized environment. The other main misperception is that taking the same approach to support and ongoing operations as in the past will work in the virtualized environment. Virtualization is a very powerful tool that enterprises can use to increase datacenter flexibility and agility. However, these increases come with a cost in terms of
complexity. A highly virtualized environment is more complex than a traditional environment. This requires that enterprises change the way they support the environment. Specifically, IDC believes that enterprises need to take a more holistic approach to support and focus on support for an environment rather than a server. ! Approach to expanding support needs to be addressed. In many cases, enterprises are deploying virtualization on myriad servers. Blades offer easier expandability and deployment capabilities, and individual servers offer portability to other locations. As deployments continue to increase, the more complex it becomes to cover those assets with proper support levels. This includes covering not only servers but all of the components of the IT environment at the correct levels. In many cases, customers may need to be educated and guided as to which support contract they should be purchasing. IDC recommends that enterprises investigate support options that offer the enhanced flexibility that blades and server virtualization require.
HP CRITICAL ADV ANT AGE SERVICE The Critical Advantage offering is the latest in HP's ongoing initiative to take a more proactive approach to support services. Critical Advantage is designed such that HP takes the lead for support across a variety of IT infrastructure elements for break/fix, preventive, and proactive care. HP will be able to provide an end-to-end approach to supporting a client's IT infrastructure. This process both elevates and advances the concept of the lead service provider. To address these challenges, HP has introduced its Critical Advantage support service. This offering is targeted at enterprises that have deployed virtualization on a large number of x86 servers and blades. Specifically, it is targeting midmarket and large enterprises with a significant investment in x86 servers and blades and a commitment to migrate additional workloads from proprietary platforms to a virtualized x86 environment. The main features of the offering are: ! High availability. As enterprises virtualize a greater number of more critical workloads, the need for high availability becomes critical. The HP Critical Advantage support offering has been optimized for these types of applications running on virtualized bladed environments. This optimization includes more than simply proactive and reactive support services that ensure the workload is operating. It also includes the deployment and optimization of management tools and processes that can help guard against unplanned downtime. ! Problem management. In addition to designing the service to help reduce unplanned downtime, HP has included a suite of problem management options that enable a customer to "mix and match" service levels to ensure that each business process is supported at an appropriate level. ! Capacity planning. As was mentioned above, one of the benefits of a virtualized environment is expandability. However, to be able to take advantage of this benefit, enterprises need to be able to anticipate and plan for additional demand. Part of the Critical Advantage offering involves developing and maintaining a plan to respond to this increasing demand.
! Firmware and software revision currency and compatibility. As enterprises begin to deploy more critical workloads into this environment, concerns with maintaining a current and compatible environment become more important. Specifically, keeping applications current in terms of software versions and firmware becomes a difficult challenge. To help assist in this process, HP performs periodic baseline and gap assessments of the environment. These assessments help customers ensure that their environment is current and that if there are issues, there is a baseline configuration that can be used to help diagnose and resolve the issues. ! Assigned account support team. The key deliverable in the Critical Advantage offering is a highly skilled dedicated staff to help support the customer's environment. This team includes an Account Support Manager (ASM), a Remote Support Account Advocate (RSAA), and a Mission Critical Hardware Specialist. These advisors are tasked with helping organizations meet IT goals. They are responsible for providing the core proactive services, flexible proactive services, and reactive services. ASMs provide customers with all of the proactive and flexible proactive support, which includes the critical tasks of understanding and assessing the needs of IT environments. RSAAs work with the Global Mission Critical Solution Center (GMCSC) to make sure that all hardware support requests are handled in a proper manner when complex requests require escalation. The GMCSC is unique in the industry with the ability to work across multivendor products to quickly assess and deliver a solution that will address service requests of very complex problems. With the reactive services or the hardware support portion of this offering, HP allows the user to choose the right level of support for specific hardware. The ability to customize hardware support levels helps drive a better return on investment. Figure 1 provides an overview of the key Critical Advantage components. Figure 2 provides details on the core proactive and flexible proactive deliverables. Figure 3 describes the overall reactive deliverables.
FIGURE 1 Key Critical Advantage Components
Optimize ROIT and realize the full advantage of the technology running critical applications in virtualized industry standard environments – Comprehensive infrastructure support for business critical IT – Flexible reactive support levels & proactive deliverables – Personalized support through assigned account team – Improve performance and Availability Comprehensive support solution designed to help reduce costs, improve performance and availability, and master complexity Source: HP, 2010
FIGURE 2 HP Proactive Services
HP Proactive Services Core proactive services provide the foundation for maximum performance and availability
Storage & SAN
OS & Hypervisor
Flexible proactive services are focused on Mission Critical X86/virtualized Environments
Account Management Virtual and Physical Technology Review Firmware and Software Revision Analysis Remote Support Solution Performance and Capacity Analysis for Virtual Environments
Virtualization Readiness Workshop for Critical Applications Availability Analysis for Virtual Environments Software License and Hardware Asset Inventory Insight Control Power and Thermal Monitoring Security Review for Virtual Environments Backup and Recovery Workshop for Virtual Environments
Source: HP, 2010
FIGURE 3 HP Flexible Break/Fix Support Solutions
Flexible Break/Fix Support Solutions Match support to business requirements
Minimize Downtime Choose the level of reactive support needed – Match the criticality of the components in your environment, choose from: • 6 Hour Call to Repair • 24X7 4 hour onsite response • 13X5 4 hour onsite response
" Remote Monitoring of environment through HP Insight Remote Support " Access to HP Global Mission Critical Solution Center " Assigned Remote Support Account Advocate " Rapid call management and response handling " Risk reduction and continual improvement " Post incident analysis leads to future incident prevention
Source: HP, 2010
CHALLENGES While this service fits a growing need for support in virtualized x86 environments, IDC sees these environments growing rapidly and increasing in complexity. As virtualized environments grow, the difficulties in supporting these environments will also continue to grow. Customers will deploy additional software functionality, security will continue to change, and integration with both external and internal or private clouds will need to expand. All of these changes will need a comprehensive and high level of support. IDC sees HP continuing to invest in people, tools, and processes that can keep up with the technology.
CONCLUSION IDC believes that this offering will address a growing need for enterprise and midmarket IT. By developing a support offering specifically targeted at highly virtualized environments, HP has positioned itself as one of the leaders in this segment. IDC believes that as the wave of virtualization deployments continues, enterprises will need this type of offering to ensure that their critical workloads are supported at the right level.
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